“Spanish food” from NYC in an east Charlotte deli

Tom Hanchett

Federico Rios (left) with Ramon Antonio “Tony” Tejada at Tony’s Deli inside Compare grocery on Milton Road.
Federico Rios (left) with Ramon Antonio “Tony” Tejada at Tony’s Deli inside Compare grocery on Milton Road.

“Dominican food, Puerto Rican food, that was ‘Spanish food’ to us,” says Federico Rios, recalling his youth in Queens, New York. “In Charlotte, the best place to get the Spanish food I grew up with is Tony’s Deli.”

 

Rios and I are inside the Compare Foods supermarket on Milton Road at the corner of W.T. Harris Boulevard and Sharon Amity Road, eating and talking with Ramon Antonio “Tony” Tejada. He’s turned the old deli counter of this big supermarket into homey twelve-seat Tony’s Deli, cooking the foods his parents and grandmother fed him back in Jarabacoa in the island nation of Dominican Republic.

A side of pinto beans with chicken stew and fried plantains.
A side of pinto beans with chicken stew and fried plantains.

Tejada tells how he got into the restaurant biz. Driving taxis that took dignitaries to the capital of Santo Domingo, he discovered fine dining. In NYC he learned to cook in restaurant kitchens — living a neighborhood away from Federico Rios, it turns out. He came south for a job in the Compare grocery chain, founded by Dominican immigrants. Five years ago he launched Tony’s Deli.

Rios has ordered Tony’s fried fish. I get chicken stew. We both have fried plantains, soft and sweet, plus a side of pinto beans swimming in rich, soupy gravy. “Africans, French, Spanish, and the Taino Indians — all those cultures contributed to this food,” enthuses Rios, who leads Charlotte’s office of International Relations.

Tejada tells how he slow-cooks the beans in his own version of the Latin herb mix called sofrito. That’s also the key to the chicken stew, which includes slices of potato, yucca and carrot.

Rios’s fish is a Friday-only special, fried head-on, with a crispy skin covering tender and juicy meat. There’s a Saturday-only special: seafood soup. And on Sundays look for sancocho, the Caribbean’s signature soup.

“Typical Dominican plates,” says Tony Tejada with quiet pride. For Federico Rios, born in New York City to a Puerto Rican dad, it’s a taste of home in east Charlotte.

Tony’s Deli

Monday – Sunday  8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
3112 Milton Road
Charlotte, NC  28215
(704) 957 – 7924

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
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
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
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
Westward
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