Hubbard’s Off Main is a premier dining destination in this Alabama town
Food brings people together, there is no doubt about it. And creating a gathering place for conversation and camaraderie, as well as great food, was one of the reasons behind Hubbard’s Off Main in historic downtown Oxford. That’s because restaurant owner Charlotte Hubbard is one of her city’s most steadfast champions.
Hubbard has served on Oxford City Council since 2012, but she has been involved in her community for most of her life. She is a retired Oxford City Schools educator, and before owning a restaurant, she owned an antique store. Hubbard was instrumental in the $ 3 million revitalization of Oxford and the preservation of its historic city center. Oxford became a Main Street Designated Community in 2014. It proudly boasts the popular Saturday Main Street Market – with music and makers and food trucks and producers – which attracts people from the city and beyond.
Many of these people also come to Oxford to eat at Hubbard’s Off Main.
The restaurant has grown into more than Hubbard originally envisioned. âI just wanted to make soup and salads, and we ended up making more southerly type foods,â she says. âWe found out, you have to find out who your customers will be, who will come. â¦ You need to find out what these customers want and start doing it.
What they wanted was familiar foods, and the food at Hubbard’s is that; it’s also delicious and made with local ingredients. The produce comes from Watts Farms down the street in Munford, Hubbard says. They buy from Forestwood Farm and Evans Meats & Seafood in Birmingham. They get pecans from a farmer with an orchard on County Line Road and honey from Eastaboga Bee Co. Their coffee vendor, Southern Girl Coffee Co., is across the street, and they get olive oil and gourmet ingredients from The Main Olive around the corner. . âWe buy as much as possible locally,â says Hubbard.
In the kitchen, Chef Jordan Smith uses these fresh, local finds to create a varied and tasty menu for restaurant dining and a thriving catering business. Smith is young (26), but she creates dishes with the knowledge and confidence of a cook with decades of experience added.
âThe biggest compliment I’ve ever received is when people tell me I cook like their grandmother,â says Smith. âIt really touches you because everyone loves their grandmother’s cooking and it really brings you home. That’s what I love to do for peopleâ¦ give them that experience that they might not have from their grandmother.
This translates into homemade chili cheese, crab cakes with homemade remoulade, and their own take on shrimp and grits made with Cajun cream sauce and polenta. There is a hamburger; po ‘boys catfish or shrimp; fish and chips made from fresh grouper; an Oxfordian salad with feta, berries and roasted pecans on fresh greens; a 12 ounce hand-cut rib eye and an 8 ounce tenderloin; and Chicken Marsala. You will also find country cuisine such as ground beef, fried chicken and catfish as well as meatloaf. Don’t miss the award-winning cabbages.
Hubbard’s Off Main is winning fans for its Low Country kindness from the Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.
One of Hubbard’s most popular dishes, Low Country Chicken, garnered the restaurant regional acclaim when it was listed on the state’s Department of Tourism’s Top 100 Foods to Eat in Alabama list. In this dish, a tender chicken breast is topped with a Carolinian-inspired sauce of sweet corn, bacon, fresh tomatoes and cream. This is delicious.
All of these dishes are prepared simply, but with care, to order. âIt’s southern comfort food,â says Smith, who particularly enjoys cooking vegetables. âI like to taste the food. I like to keep it simple. So you just add a little bit of herbs and garlic to something, and you can really taste the freshness of a simple squash, let’s sayâ¦ I don’t like dominating food too much, that’s for sure. â¦ I want people to know that they are getting something really cool.
Hubbard’s has a full-service bar with craft cocktails like Main Street Lemonade spiced with Jim Beam bourbon and sparkling ginger ale, and an Alabama Slammer made with Tito, Amaretto, and Southern Comfort vodka. There is also a nice selection of local and regional wines and craft beers.
The restaurant itself, with its textured century-old brick walls and glossy heart pine floors, is almost as inviting as the food. It is a beautiful and unique space with character. He invites you to linger.
âI think people are looking for places to gather,â says Hubbard. “It’s hard to get together in a chain or somewhere that isn’t really inviting because theyâ¦ turn a lot of tables.”
Hubbard’s Off Main had been open for six years when the pandemic hit and had built a loyal following. (Brittany Dunn / Alabama NewsCenter)
Hubbard’s has become a community favorite in Oxford. (contributed)
Hubbard’s has become a community favorite in Oxford. (contributed)
Hubbard’s Off Main’s main dining room was once a clothing store. The historic building was originally a timber frame structure built in 1885. In 1901 the timber building was replaced by a masonry brick building by Thad Gwin, who owned and operated the clothing store. Hubbard renovated the interior and exterior in 2015.
Today, large storefront windows light up a main dining room decorated with period photos and furnished with an eclectic assortment of antiques, including small communal dining tables, pianos, a sofa in a dining room. comfortable waiting, copper and wooden bowls on the tables and various other interesting pieces. Most of the items came from the antique store that Hubbard owned. Her favorite piece is an old cooler she bought over a decade ago while campaigning for her first term on city council. He was sitting under a woman’s carport. Now it’s tucked away in a small hallway that leads to two private dining rooms – one a small one-room setting with glass windows that provide airy privacy and the other, a long, narrow, anchored room. by a magnificent carved wooden bar, where Hubbard opened his restaurant eight years ago.
The current main dining room once housed his brother-in-law’s music store and a performing arts center. Oxford is a place where history matters, so there is always music here. Local bands perform on Friday and Saturday nights on a small stage near the front door. On Thursdays there is music in the ring, with local musicians performing their own work, Hubbard says.
She and her staff recently added an outdoor seating area – Hubbard’s Out Back – to provide more options for socially distanced dining. She says she used the CARES Act money to make it happen and help keep her business busy and moving forward.
Hubbard’s has become a hub in this tight-knit city. During the first days of the pandemic, the community helped Hubbard keep their business going with curbside pickup and take out orders. “Fortunately, we had beenâ¦ open for six years, so we had established this clientele thatâ¦ came every week – or two or three times a week.” Hubbard, in turn, helped his community by providing meals to the city’s elderly residents and homeless people who, at the time, could not get into the shelters they usually went to for food.
There is also a sense of community inside the restaurant.
Smith says, âAlthough I’m known as the chef and the chef here, you can’t do it without a really great team that backs you up and is ready to work hard and be reliable. And we have a really good team here – from the front of the house to the small team at the back. And I just, I couldn’t do it without them. And Charlotte too. â¦ I admire him so much. She is the hardest working person I have ever seen. She really cares about this place.
Smith means the restaurant, of course, but also the city.
Hubbard, still a defender from Oxford, says she sees new signs of progress every day and welcomes them. She lives in a loft above her restaurant and has a perfect view of what’s going on downtown. âI think downtown is going to be very popular,â she said. “We have a few people now working on buildings to come downtown with restaurants.”
There will soon be another restaurant next to Hubbard’s Off Main. In the meantime, she welcomes the food trucks that come for the nearby Saturday market.
Hubbard sees all of this as an opportunity for cooperation rather than competition. A group of restaurants will attract business for everyone. The progress, she says, is exciting – and great for her city.
Hubbard’s Off Main
16 Choccolocco Street
Oxford, Alabama 36203
Lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day except Monday.
Dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.