Finding Guatemala in east Charlotte

By Tom Hanchett

hoenesWhen UNCC religious studies prof Eric Hoenes suggests an eating adventure, it’s smart to say yes. Especially if Central American food is on the menu, since Hoenes hails from Guatemala.

We met fellow UNCC professor Nicole Peterson and started at Panaderia El Quetzal on Eastway Drive near Garinger High. The bright green and red quetzal bird is a national symbol of Guatemala. And “panaderia” means bakery. Sure enough, we were soon filling paper sacks with Guatemalan pastries. My favorite: thin crispy sugar cookies called champurradas.

The bakery’s co-owner had just opened a restaurant, announced a wall banner. Off we sped up The Plaza, where we found Guate-Linda — Guatemala the beautiful — with half a dozen tidy tables and an eight-page picture menu of traditional dishes.

“Start with an enchilada,” Hoenes advised. Familiar Mexican enchiladas consist of a tortilla rolled around beans and cheese, but the Central American version uses a crisp flat tostada. It’s piled with ground beef, bright red pickled beets, slices of onion and hard-boiled egg then drizzled with tomato sauce. “The messiest kind of thing to eat,” said Hoenes happily.

He struck up a conversation in Spanish with grandmotherly cook and co-owner Nora Guerra, in Charlotte ten years from Pasaco in southern Guatemala. “They drive out to a farm to get their chickens,” he reported. “Store-bought chickens just don’t have the right flavor.”

quetzal-bakerySo I ordered chicken soup. It came with a roasted quarter bird that you pull apart and add to the vegetable broth, along with rice and avocado, where it instantly soaks up flavor.

Eric got pepian, “a Guatemalan national dish with roots in pre-Columbian cooking,” he explained. It arrived with a chicken leg submerged in a rich brown sauce, alongside chubby hand-made Guatemalan tortillas ready for dunking.

After that, we didn’t really need dessert. But we had those paper sacks of pastries….

Panaderia El Quetzal
Monday – Sunday 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
925 Eastway Drive
Charlotte, NC 28205
(704) 536 – 9408

Guate-Linda
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday, Saturday 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday 7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Closed Wednesday
6016 The Plaza
Charlotte, NC 28215
(980) 237-8125

foodheader
Center City & nearby
Carolina apple cider
Indian street food
Greens from South Carolina
Upstate NY Italian sausage
Swiss-German bakery
Blackberry memories of Brooklyn
Puerto Rican kabobs
South Boulevard, South Tryon & southward
Mexico + Greece = holiday treats
Cuban box pig
Snack foods from India
SC meets Vietnam
Little corner of El Salvador
Arepas from Venezuela
Indian sweets for Diwali
Colombian soup
Korean at China Wing
Indian food in south Charlotte
Mexican take-out
Mexican Tamaleria
Fort Mill — real Chinese
Independence Boulevard, Monroe Road & environs
Nigeria in east Charlotte
Korean BBQ
Brazilian bakery
Secret Greek grocery
Colombian BBQ & snacks
Detroit hot dogs
New York bagels
Halal Latino
Russian-Turkish Grocery
Iran Kabobs in Matthews
Ramen in Matthews

Central Av, Albemarle Road & vicinity
Family-style Ethiopian
Dominican street food
Jamaican black cake
Somali stew and sides
Schawarma from Jerusalem
Oriental buns
Greek pastries
Bosnian sausages
‘Tis the Season for Champurrado
Latino bakery feeds a region
Taste Monterrey, Mexico
Tamales in Plaza Midwood
One restaurant, three Latino traditions
Guatamala in east Charlotte

North Tryon, UNCC area & northward
Asian Moon Cakes
Mexican carnitas
Beef on Weck from Buffalo
Indo-Chinese
Dominican fruit shakes, pressed subs
Mexican ice cream
Louisiana Viet crawfish
Salvadoran comfort food
NYC pastries – Lake Norman
Vegetarian eats from south India
Westward
The Patio at Our Lady of Guadalupe
NC fish camps
Fried baloney
Grits & cornmeal
El Tamarindo
Laos in Kings Mountain
Lawrence Caribbean