Stadium food can be generic. But what’s being done inside Time Warner Cable Arena is actually pretty exciting. The Charlotte Hornets and Executive Chef Aaron Cox have a long list of new foods and local restaurants debuting inside the arena this year — from fine dining to a new massive burger on the concourse.
The team has already been moving toward more local ingredients and concepts and this year’s additions move even further in that direction. Two years ago, the team put in a craft beer garden that’s become my favorite spot in the arena. I got the chance to visit Time Warner Cable Arena on Monday to sample some of the new options. Here’s what’s happening.
Local restaurants by the craft beer garden
I’ll start with the bit I’m most excited about. The craft beer garden on the second level concourse has already become a popular spot, with NoDa Brewing, Sugar Creek, Triple C and Foothills (Winston-Salem) beers on tap.
Now they’re putting in two local restaurants into that space: RuRu’s Tacos and Tequila and IOS Greek Kitchen. You’re obviously not going to get a full menu here but this is a great addition. Think tacos and pitas and gyros. You’ll apparently also be able to buy a souvenir beer cup around here.
On the main concourse
- There’s going to be a new sandwich this year that is intended for four people but I guarantee you somebody is going to finish it themselves. Called Hugo’s Boss, it’s a four-pound hand-crafted giant cheese steak stromboli.
- Buffalo bagel dog: Giant all-beef dog wrapped in cheese and then a salted bagel crust. Served with buffalo sauce and blue cheese.
- Chicken parmesan calzone: Your regular chicken parm wrapped in pizza crust.
- New chicken burger option
- Double cheese bacon burger. This was described as the type of burger you want when you want a massive hunk of meat and juices are just going to flow down your arms.
Queen City Q’s new spot
I’ve always made a bee-line to the stand where they had Queen City Q nachos. This year, they’ve taken over the entire spot right by the main entrance to the arena. The restaurant is an official sponsor and partner this year and will have the lower-level location as well as one on the upper level.
The fancy stuff
A nice new option for food in suites this year (side note, if you have access to a suite, invite me) called the “Chicken Shack” package. Here’s what you get.
- Corn flake fried chicken sandwich on ciabatta bread. Tossed in hot sauce
- Roasted chicken lollipops. Three flavors: Buffalo, barbecue and Yeppanyaki
- Bucket of fried chicken.
- Sides of honey butter, spicy pickles, “corn spoon bread” — this is cornbread but much lighter and airier — plus orange soda cole slaw.
Hornets regular season home opener is November 1. Soon all these seats will be filled.