Go deep into Mexican take-out on South Boulevard

Tom Hanchett

Fonda Mexicana El Paraiso, roughly translated, means “little restaurant that’s a Mexican paradise.” Not a bad description for this take-out-only eatery on South Boulevard that may have the city’s deepest menu of Mexican fast food.

Regular tacos, of course, but also deep-fried Tacos Dorados filled with potato or chicken. Huaraches — like tostadas but with a corn cake as the base — and also Huaraches De Nopal, topped with cactus.

Don’t miss the tortas, chubbier cousins to the American sub sandwich. A pillowy loaf of bread is stuffed with all manner of fillings. The Torta De Pierna is a standout, featuring thick slashes of roast pork garnished with avocado, tomato, mayonnaise and onion, plus bits of jalapeno pepper.

Another star torta is the Pambazo. Crumbled chorizo sausage, flavorful but not spicy, makes up the filling along with Mexican white cheese, potato and lettuce. The bread is doused in tomato sauce and quickly grilled, giving the sandwich a characteristic reddish color — and making it a challenge to eat without lots of napkins. “I think it’s unique in Charlotte,” says Jennifer Sandoval, behind the counter most Sundays. “But it’s so traditional in Mexico.”

Sandoval, raised in Charlotte, switches back and forth easily from Spanish to English as she swiftly serves a mostly Latino clientele peppered with non-Latinos including clerks from the nearby Manifest Discs CD store. Her god-mother Teresa Alpizar and family opened El Paraiso ten years ago. “They had a restaurant back home in Toluca, Mexico,” Sandoval says, but economic opportunity pulled them to Charlotte.

Fonda Mexicana El Paraiso
Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

6105 South Blvd
(near Archdale LYNX stop)
Charlotte, NC 28217
(704) 643 – 5833

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