Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 to October 15, is a time to learn more about and celebrate Charlotte’s Hispanic community. One of the best ways to do that is through food.
Hola Charlotte Festival, the popular annual event celebrating Latin American culture, went virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Its first night, October 3, featured livestreamed dances and musical performances, and you can expect more of that this coming Saturday, October 10, for round two.
Beyond the virtual festival, you can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by visiting local Hispanic- and Latinx-owned restaurants. And don’t stop there — add these spots into your regular takeout rotation.
Manolo’s Bakery, formerly known as Las Delicias, was one of the first Mexican bakeries to open in Charlotte. Here you’ll find favorites like empanadas and tres leches cakes.
Location: 4405 Central Ave.
Must-try item: A concha. It’s a traditional Mexican sweet bread roll with a crunchy topping.
[Related Agenda Story: 10 must-try Charlotte bakeries, and what to order at each]
This food stall in Camp North End makes traditional Latin cuisine served with a street style flair.
Location: 1801 N Graham St #101, Camp North End
Must-try item: Taco al Pastor is adobo pork carved straight off a trompo, served in a handmade corn tortilla with onions, pineapple, cilantro, and salsa verde.
How to support: Head to their food stall in Camp North End, order online, or call 980-226-5188.
Born and raised in Honduras, Cris Rojas Agurcia, a.k.a. the Batchmaker, has been baking cakes and brownies since she was a young girl. The idea behind The Batch House bakery is that customers can come in for one sweet treat or a whole batch (go with the latter).
Location: 1429 Bryant St.
Must-try item: The oatmeal cream pie.
How to support: Stop by the brick and mortar location in West Charlotte to pick up a batch box (get there early — these sell out quickly) or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chilito Tacos is chef Hector González-Mora’s latest food venture that’s inspired by his Mexican and Los Angeles roots. You can find the food bicycle parked outside of Resident Culture Brewing Co. on Saturdays, but a brick and mortar location is coming soon.
Location: 2101 Central Ave, Resident Culture Brewing Co.
Must-try item: Any of the breakfast tacos. Fillings include barbacoa, pork belly, or chorizo. There are vegan options, too.
How to support: Preorder through Instagram.
For over a decade, Tacos El Nevado has been serving up authentic Mexican dishes. Christopher Santiago, the restaurant manager says that being in business has definitely been a rollercoaster ride. But he’s grateful for the support seen over the years, especially during these unprecedented times.
Location: 4719 Central Ave.
Must-try item: Any of the tacos. Choose from Asada (grilled steak), Pollo (chicken), shrimp, or fish among other options. Pictured here, from left to right, are the campechano (steak & Mexican sausage), chicken, and steak tacos.
Many dishes at Tacos El Nevado originate from Oaxaca — a state and city in Mexico that is known for their food. In fact, it’s widely considered to be the gastronomic capital of Mexico.
How to support: Order online or dine in. If you choose to dine in, be sure to wear a mask. Christopher also says leaving them a review on Yelp or Google really helps out a lot.
This bakery with Cuban roots has been around since the early ’90s. Known for its specialty cakes and pastries, tea cookies, and gourmet cupcakes Suárez Bakery is iconic in Charlotte’s baked goods scene.
Locations: Suárez Bakery has locations at Park Road Shopping Center and Optimist Hall.
Must-try item: Tres Leches Cup. It’s vanilla cake soaked in sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and whole milk, with whipped cream, caramel, and cinnamon.
Location: 5234 South Blvd.
Must-try item: The QuesaBirria which is a meat-packed quesadilla/taco hybrid filled with cheese and beef stew served with beef broth for dipping ($5.50), and the Aguachiles which is shrimp cooked in lime juice and topped with Maria’s signature green salsa ($18.99).
How to support: Order online or dine-in. People dining in are spaced apart and masks are required when walking around the restaurant.
[Related Agenda Story: 6 best Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in Charlotte]
A passion for cooking and hard work are Eunice Marcano’s secret ingredients to creating what she says are the best arepas in town. And by the way, an arepa is a cornmeal cake that’s crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. It’s a daily staple in Venezuela. It’s been nearly ten years since Marcano opened Arepas Grill on Old Pineville Road, and she says she’s grateful for the community’s support.
Location: 4740 Old Pineville Rd.
Must-try item: Reina Pepeada (literally translates to “curvy queen”). Chicken, avocado, cilantro, and mayonnaise packed into a delicious corn arepa ($9.95). If you want to add a kick of heat, ask for a side of the green “Picante” sauce.
How to support: Order online for pickup or delivery through the Arepa Grill website. If you order in-store, a mask is required.
Havana Carolina has been a family affair since the Maldonado family purchased it back in November of 2017. Before coming to the states, Idael Pérez Maldonado and his family owned a bed and breakfast when they previously lived in Cuba. Just a month after the Maldonado’s purchased the restaurant, Idael died tragically in a car accident. His wife and two adult children work each day to keep their father’s dream alive.
Location: 11 Union St S Suite #108, Concord. A second sister concept is coming next year to Madison Park.
Must-try item: Ropa Vieja, Cuba’s unofficial national dish. It’s shredded beef brisket marinated and simmered in a homemade tomato sauce with onions and peppers.
How to support: Dine-in or place an order online for curbside or delivery.
In addition to Lupitas’ wide selection of meats, you can find fridge staples like eggs and milk. Meat orders are done by the pound, so you get to assemble the taco yourself.
Location: 5316 South Blvd.
Must-try item: Barbacoa de res on a corn tortilla.
How to support: Takeout only. Masks are required in-store.
Ricky Ortiz started Tacos Rick-O Food Truck after being inspired by the bold street food flavors he enjoyed while growing up in Durango, Mexico. A brick and mortar location is coming soon to NoDa.
Location: Check Ricky’s Instagram for weekly locations.
Must-try item: Any of the tacos. Add your choice of chicken, chorizo, shrimp, or veggies.
Here are some other must-visit Latinx-owned restaurants in Charlotte:
- Bae’s Burgers – Check their Instagram for weekly locations.
- Bocao Sushi – 1000 North Carolina Music Factory Blvd., c1
- Tacos El Regio NC – 8829 E W.T. Harris Blvd.
- Fonda Mexicana El Paraiso – 6105 South Blvd.
- Medellin Food Truck – Check their Instagram for weekly locations.
- Ely Tortilleria – 6301 N Tryon St.
- Javier Morales, also known as QC Javi, is exploring traditional dishes like pozole or concha on his Instagram page for Hispanic Heritage Month. He also runs the account Latinos in Charlotte, which shares things to do for Charlotte’s Latino community.
- The City of Charlotte has a great guide of more ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month beyond food. Writer Wynee Bermudez asked local entrepreneurs about what inspires them and more.
- If you’re confused about the difference between Hispanic and Latino, here’s a great graphic. Hispanic is about language (countries where Spanish is the first language), whereas Latino is about geography (countries in Latin America). Latinx is considered a more inclusive term unattached to gender.
- And read this Agenda article from June during the pandemic: Charlotte’s Latinx community accounts for over a third of COVID-19 cases. Why these numbers keep rising, and how to get help