Skip to content

Latino Bakery Feeds a Region

Tom Hanchett

Delivery man Jose Eric Flores loads the van.
Delivery man Jose Eric Flores loads the van.

It’s Friday morning and boxes and bins fill every available surface at Las Delicias Bakery on Charlotte’s east side.

Shell-shaped concha, brightened with slashes of colored sugar. Torpedo-like loaves of bolillo bread. Empanadas filled with pineapple jam. Piglet-shaped puerquitos. Oreja, like little elephant ears, crisp and mildly sweet to go with coffee. All are carefully packed for transport.

Jose Eric Flores is loading the 2001 Toyota van for his twice-weekly run up I77 and into the little towns where Latinos are now a sizable presence.

He’ll visit Esmeralda, a Mexican tienda (general store) in Mt. Airy. The model for Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, Mt. Airy is now nearly 10% Latino. Then he’ll swing over to Dos Rosas in Sparta, N.C., where Hispanics are the second largest ethnic group, 15% of the population, far ahead of African Americans. Crossing the border into Virginia there’s a stop at Jarochita in Galax, also 15% Latino.

All told, he’ll hit over a dozen spots this morning. They’re part of a transformation quietly taking place across the South, according to John Chesser of UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute. Small towns, losing population for decades, “have seen surges of Latino immigrants over the past decade that are changing their demographics, sometimes dramatically.”

Manuel Betancur runs Las Delicias Bakery. Educated as a navy engineer, he fled his native Colombia during its decades of unrest. He met and married Zhenia Martinez, whose Mexican immigrant parents had started Las Delicias in Charlotte in 1997.

Betancur began the rural bakery run in desperation when the 2008 recession pushed Las Delicias to the brink. He knew the territory from a stint as an Americorps worker teaching English and farmworker safety. He gave away baked goods, cajoling skeptical store owners. “I made $40 the first week,” he remembers with a rueful smile. “Not even enough to cover gas.”

Today regional sales comprise half of Las Delicias’s business. And Betancur is hoping to line up a loan to buy a second van.

Las Delicias BakeryLasDeliciasConchas
Monday – Sunday 6 a.m. – 10 p.m.
4405-C Central Avenue

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
Ready for Laotian food in Charlotte?
Psst! There’s a European Market hidden just south of Ballantyne
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
Russian picnic fare
Armenia in Matthews
Katayef – holiday dessert at Pita Kabab in Matthews
Crispy NJ pizza comes to east Charlotte
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
Mexican Seafood
You buy – We fry
Dominican Deli
French/Vietnamese pastry arrives in east Charlotte

North Tryon, UNCC area & northward
Asian Moon Cakes
Mexican carnitas
Beef on Weck from Buffalo
Dominican fruit shakes, pressed subs
Mexican ice cream
Louisiana Viet crawfish
Salvadoran comfort food
NYC pastries – Lake Norman
Vegetarian eats from south India
Indian Dosa Night
Middle East via Lynx
Bahn Mi Brothers
Ethiopian sandwiches
Turkish near UNCC
BBQ from Pakistan
Find a taste of Hyderabad at Nawabs Kebabs
The Patio at Our Lady of Guadalupe
NC fish camps
Fried baloney
Grits & cornmeal
El Tamarindo
Laos in Kings Mountain
Lawrence Caribbean
Multiple Places & Food Trucks
5 eateries for Black History Month
Charlotte’s International food scene
South’s Love Affair with Soft Drinks
5 Places to “Eat Northern”
Northern Favorites: Six More Eateries
Curry journey: Vietnam, Trinidad, India
Spiedies – Food Truck
5 best bites on Albemarle Road
Lao Sausages – Food Truck
Western Indian – Food Truck
Himalayan flavors – Food Truck
Shaved ice goes global in Charlotte