One restaurant, three Latino food traditions

Salvadoran-born Estefani Segovia welcomes customers at her family’s Salvadoreña Restaurante.

By Tom Hanchett

When is lunch more than lunch? At Salvadoreña restaurant in east Charlotte, it’s a one-stop opportunity to discover favorite dishes from El Salvador, Mexico and Honduras.

Teachers at nearby Devonshire Elementary did just that recently during a CMS teacher workday. Their student body is 54% Latino, largely from Mexico and Central America. Getting to know Latin American cultures is a priority for Devonshire staff, says principal Mary Sturge.

Estefani Segovia, whose family opened Salvadoreña in 2009, helped organizing teacher Amy Trakas pick menu options. “Everyone thinks Hispanic food is just tacos and burritos,” Segovia chuckled, but actually tacos are rare outside Mexico. So Segovia and Trakas selected three dishes that symbolize three distinct national cultures:

Three pupusas, a signature dish from El Salvador, come with a side of curitido — a cabbage salad similar to coleslaw.

* From Segovia’s native El Salvador: pupusas. Plates came with three corn pancakes, one stuffed with beans and cheese, one with chopped pork, and one with green flower-buds called loroco. “Tastes like zucchini,” noted Trakas, approvingly.

 

 

 

“For the hungry eater” — Mexican torta with American fries at Salvadoreña.

* From Mexico: a sub sandwich called a torta, filled with grilled chicken, plus American french fries on the side. “For the hungry eater,” said Trakas.

 

 

 

* From Honduras: a baleada — a sort of quesadilla, but filled with beans. Charlotte now has many immigrants from tiny Honduras, so Latino restaurants are adding baleadas to the menu.

A baleada, a favorite from Honduras, is a bit like a quesadilla, but with beans as a filling.

 

 

 

 

As teachers tasted and talked, José Hernández-Paris, Director of Latin American Coalition, told of his own experience as one of Charlotte’s first Spanish-speaking students in the 1970s. Argentinian-born Sil Ganzo, whose OurBRIDGE for KIDS afterschool program welcomes immigrants from around the globe, chatted informally at each table.

Principal Mary Sturge said that she and other Devonshire teachers would be back: “The more we talk, the better we understand. Where do we talk? Around the table.”

Salvadorena is not just a restaurant but also a panaderia (bakery).

Salvadoreña Restaurante – Panaderia – Pupuseria
Monday 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Wednesday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Friday – Saturday 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sunday 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Closed Tuesday

5724-G East WT Harris Boulevard (corner of Sharon Amity Road)
Charlotte, NC 28215
(704) 537 – 1615

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