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Dominican street food comes to Central Avenue

Tom HanchettLopezEspaillata
I didn’t expect much when a restaurant called Three Amigos opened recently on Central Avenue at the edge of Plaza Midwood. With that clichéd “American” name, it couldn’t possibly have interesting eats, right?


Three Amigos really is run by three friends, from El Salvador, Mexico, and leader Dalton Espaillat from the Dominican Republic. They chose Mexican food because Mexicans are Charlotte’s largest immigrant group and it’s also a cuisine that American customers like. Thanks to cook Alejandra Lopez, who brings fresh regional flavors from her birthplace in central Mexico, the fourteen tables regularly fill up with a mix of eager Latino and non-Latino eaters.

Success convinced Espaillat to take a chance. “I miss the street food from the Dominican Republic. Coming out of a bar late at night, grabbing a chimi-churri or an empanada from a street cart.”

So now, from 10pm til 4am on Friday and Saturday nights, Three Amigos offers a special menu of Dominican street treats.

What’s that chimi-churri? No relation to the Argentine steak sauce of the same name, it’s a hamburger with specially marinated meat that carries big flavor. The empanada? Seasoned – but not spicy – ground beef in a pastry pocket.

There’s also a riki: ground beef and grilled cabbage on a fluffy roll that is pressed like a Cuban sandwich.
And at the bottom of the menu is quipe (“KEE-pay.”) Order it and you get a meatball with bulgur wheat, quickly deep-fried, to produce something like a bun-less sesame-seeded hamburger. “It’s like kibbeh in the Middle East. Lebanese immigrants brought it to Dominican Republic,” explains Espaillat.

Now a Dominican immigrant brings it to Charlotte.
Three Amigos
10:30am – 10pm Monday – Thursday
10:30am – 4am Friday and Saturday
10:30am – 10pm Sunday

2917 #A Central Ave
Charlotte NC 28205
Phone: 704-536-1851

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