A Survey of Must-Visit Latin American Restaurants in Charlotte

Charlotte’s best bets for arepas, Yuca fries, birria tacos, and California burritos
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Mal Pan’s West Coast-inspired menu includes housemade tortilla chips, the Mal Pan bowl, Cochinita Pibil tacos, Camaron Royal tacos, sweet potato tacos, and Jardin tacos. Photo by Peter Taylor.

Latin cuisine encompasses a variety of flavors from South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Here in Charlotte, some restaurants have adapted their dishes to American palates, while others are more authentic to their country of origin. From tamales to Tex-Mex, we’ve provided a sampling of our local favorites.

See our website for a full directory of restaurant listings.

 

FEATURED RESTAURANT

Taqueria Mal Pan

Owner Andre Lomeli brings a Mexican and West Coast-inspired menu from his former restaurant in San Diego; his tacos, burritos, and enchiladas have the pizzazz of a food truck’s and the flavors of his native Yucatan Peninsula. The blue corn tortillas loaded with shredded chicken punch up a typical Taco Tuesday. The torta de cochinita pibil, a traditional Mexican sandwich, is stuffed with braised pork, black beans, queso, guacamole, and all sorts of sauces and spices you probably wouldn’t think to put on a fluffy white roll. And the California burrito, packed with skirt steak, queso fresco, salsa, and guacamole is the best you’ll have in Charlotte—spoiler alert: it has French fries inside. 4625 Piedmont Row Dr., Ste. 115-D, 980-298-6138

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The Masa Frita at Havana 33 is crunchy fried pork and pickled red onions served with rice, beans, and plantains.

Havana 33
637 Williamson Road, Ste. 100
704-799-0875
Enjoy lake views and authentic Cuban dishes like picadillo and mojo chicken with Yuca fries and sweet plantains.

El Thrifty
1115 N. Brevard St.
980-949-7837
The Mexican cantina and gaming venue in Optimist Hall serves creative tacos and cocktails with a side of duckpin bowling.

Sea Bass Ceviche Miami Trip

Sea Bass Ceviche is one of the teased dishes at Calle Sol. Courtesy photo.

Calle Sol 
1205 Thomas Ave.
704-565-8291
Charlotte’s first cevicheria has the warmth and decor you’d find at a neighborhood joint in Tampa’s Ybor City. Dishes use plantains, tropical fruits, and aji amarillo peppers sourced from Peru.

Three Amigos
2917-A Central Ave.
704-536-1851
Feast on enchiladas and other Mexican staples like tinga de pollo and carne asada tacos. It’s always fresh, too—they’ll never save rice, beans, or meat for use the next day.

Superica
Multiple locations
Atlanta chef Ford Fry brings his Tex-Mex menu of tacos, fajitas, and enchiladas to Charlotte.

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Carne asada, baja fish, and chicken adobo tacos at SouthBound. Photo by Kim Hummel.

Southbound
2433 South Blvd.
704-912-1889
The breezy vibes and bright flavors at this taco joint call for a Pacifico or a margarita.

Cantina 1511
4271 Park Road
704-331-9222
This easy, casual spot draws crowds for its fresh takes on Mexican cuisine and fine margarita list.

Paco’s Tacos & Tequila
6401 Morrison Blvd., Ste. 8A
704-716-8226
You’ll find plenty of options on this menu that includes 10 varieties of tacos and more than 130 kinds of tequila.

Cabo Fish Taco
3201 N. Davidson St.
704-332-8868
This NoDa “Baja seagrill” serves up the title dish as well as quesadillas, burritos, and salads in a fun, surf-themed atmosphere.

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Empanadas come with chicken, beef, or chickpea filling at Roy’s. Photo by Peter Taylor.

Roy’s Kitchen & Patio 
3112 N. Davidson St.
704-910-2031
Come for a fruity cocktail, but don’t expect a trip to Margaritaville—this is a relaxed neighborhood hangout with cornhole, ping-pong, and rotisserie chicken you can smell from down the street.

Machu Picchu
315 S. Polk St., Pineville
704-889-0801
Enjoy six types of ceviche, plus a shrimp cocktail-inspired version and a three-shot marinade sampler called leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk.

Charlotte, Nc April 18th Sabor Latin Grill Take Out Food. Make Your Own Empanadas And Areapas And The Family Meal Kit. Photographed In Charlotte, Nc On April 1st, 2020. Photo By Peter Taylor

Sabor’s DIY arepa and empanada kit comes with everything you need to create and fry your own masterpiece.
Photograph by Peter Taylor.

Sabor Latin Street Grill
Multiple locations
Get signature arepas, empanadas, and nachos, as well as Taco Tuesday specials at this popular local chain.

Velvet Taco
Multiple locations
Get chicken tikka masala and bacon cheeseburger tacos at this Dallas-based, fast casual taco joint.

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The Quesabirria at Maria’s Mexican Restaurant. Photo by Logan Cyrus.

Maria’s Mexican Restaurant
5234 South Blvd.
704-525-5075
Feast on quesabirria, a quesadilla-taco hybrid with melted cheese and slow-cooked beef, plus other birria variations that include a burrito, ramen, loaded French fries, and pizza.

RuRu’s Tacos and Tequila
715 Providence Road
704-332-7933
The “I’ll Have What She’s Having” is a standout here, with grilled mahi mahi, lettuce, avocado, cilantro, and pineapple salsa. But don’t pass over the Long Duck Dong, with Korean sweet-and-spicy steak, pickled cabbage, sesame seeds, and cilantro.

Krazy Fish
2501 Central Ave.
704-332-1004
Don’t miss the Spicy Potato Cake Tacos, which are thick flour tortillas stuffed with savory chunks of fried potato and ladled with Krazy Fish’s signature—and addictive—blueberry tamarind chutney.

Tacos El Nevado
Multiple locations
Tacos El Nevado doesn’t have a proper Taco Tuesday special, but most of its tacos are $2 every day, so it’s always a solid deal.

Charlotte, Nc August 17th: • Steak & Shrimp Combination Plate From El Pulgarcito In Charlotte Nc On August 17, 2019. Photo By Peter Taylor

The steak and shrimp combination plate at El Pulgarcito. Photo by Peter Taylor.

El Pulgarcito
4816 Central Ave.
704-563-6500
Eat ceviche like you’d have it in Peru and skirt steak done Central American-style, plus tacos with your choice of asada, pollo, chicharron, and chorizo.

The Tipsy Burro Saloon & Cantina
2711 Monroe Road
704-249-3317
This Tex-Mex spot in East Charlotte does it big, whether it’s sizable chimichangas or the decadent South of Philly Cheesesteak.

El Puro Cuban Restaurant
5033 South Blvd.
980-219-8339
Come for live music every night of the week and eat Cuban classics like Queso Frito, Ropa Vieja, and Croquetas.

Categories: Food + Drink