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Milagro’s jibarito sandwich — gluten-free fun

Tom Hanchett

Plantains substitute for bread in the traditional Puerto Rican jibarito sandwich.

Maybe you’re trying to avoid bread and other foods with gluten? Or maybe, like me, you’d gladly order extra gluten if you could? Either way, you’ll enjoy the gluten-free jibarito sandwich at Milagro’s Latin Cuisine.

Milagro’s is Charlotte’s newest Puerto Rican spot, a cuisine under-represented in this part of the U.S. until recently. Puerto Ricans historically migrated to the New York / New Jersey area, not to the South.

 

Gladys and Hector Gonzalez were living in Nutley, New Jersey when a friend invited them down to Charlotte’s first big Puerto Rican festival in Marshall Park in 2015. “We didn’t want to go back home,” she recalls, laughing. They launched a food truck, then opened their restaurant near I485 exit 32 in 2018.

Hector Gonzales, Sr., and Gladys Gonzales started with catering and then a food truck before opening their restaurant.

Milagro’s menu is not limited to Puerto Rican specialties but that’s its strength, from codfish fritter appetizers called bacalaitos, all the way to flan for dessert. Teenage son Hector, Jr., at the counter, will help you order.

I often get the jibarito [hee-bar-EE-toh], a traditional Puerto Rican sandwich. Instead of bread there are two thin slices of plantain, mashed flat and flash-fried. In between you’ll find generous hunks of roast pork, so tender that it falls apart. Look for a pink tinge of mayo-ketchup, a mix of mayonnaise and ketchup that comes in its own bottle in Puerto Rico.

Yuca escabeche is Puerto Rican comfort food.
Yuca escabeche is Puerto Rican comfort food.

For a side dish, consider yuca escabeche [YOO-kah es-cah-BEE-chay ]. Yuca is a root vegetable that resembles potato. Milagro’s serves it cooked warm and soft, topped with thin slivers of sweet peppers and onions in a drizzle of olive oil and garlic.

Why the name Milagro’s? “Milagro means ‘miracle,’ right?” I ask.

Says Gonzalez, “My mother came to New York from El Salvador in the early 1970s, working as a housekeeper. She so impressed her employer that he signed a citizenship application not just for her, but for her four daughters. Her hard work helped put all of us through college.”

That does sound like a miracle, I agree. But why “Milagro’s” with an “s” at the end?

“Milagro is our mother’s name,” says Gladys Gonzalez, her eyes moist. “This restaurant stands as a tribute to her.”

Milagro’s opened in 2018 near PNC Music Pavilion, one minute east of I485 exit 32.
Milagro’s opened in 2018 near PNC Music Pavilion, one minute east of I485 exit 32.

Milagro’s Latin Cuisine

Tuesday – Thursday 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Friday – Saturday 11 a.m – 7 p.m.
Sunday noon – 5 p.m.
Closed Monday
(look for later weekend hours starting mid February)
11915 N. Tryon Street (one minute east of I485 exit 32)
Charlotte, NC 28262
(704) 280 – 1355

https://milagrosfoodservice.com/

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