The Best South American Restaurants in Charlotte
Delicious South American dishes can be found all around the city. From mom-and-pop shops to food hall additions, the bright flavors found are sure to transport you to the vibrant streets of our South American neighbors.
by Charlie Leonard
Neighborhood: Lower South End
Just a short walk from the Woodlawn light rail stop is Brasas Arepas, a Colombian-Venezuelan fusion that showcases the best of these two countries. You’ll find a wide selection of dishes with corn flour dough as a central ingredient, including cachapas – a Venezuelan, pancake-like dish wrapped with meats and toppings – and arepas – a hybrid dish featuring dough with meats and toppings stuffed inside. Other menu highlights include a list of vegetarian arepas and empanadas, vibrant main plates and even fast food style offerings.
If you live in Statesville, or you’re just visiting for the day, the Colombian Bakery restaurant is a fantastic place for a bite to eat. Visit today for delicious dishes like their bistec de carne or chuleta de pollo – breaded chicken – paired with one of their fresh fruit juices.
Right off I-85 on Franklin Boulevard is El Sombrero Bakery. Like their name suggests, there are plenty of great baked goods, like their pan de bono – bread made fresh from the bakery up front. If you’re there in the morning, order the Arepa con Todo with grilled beef, pork crackling and sausage, rice and beans, and plantains. For lunch or dinner, their take on bandeja paisa is the way to go.
Hello Chicken is a Colombian rotisserie chicken restaurant that shares the same shopping center with Las Americas. Besides the chicken, you’ll discover highly sought after empanadas, pork ribs and an extensive vegan menu.
Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a special dessert treat, Las Americas has everything you could want from a Colombian restaurant. Alongside classic beef dishes like churrasco, saltado, bistec a caballo, carne asada and the bandeja paisa – one of Colombia’s signature dishes featuring grilled beef, pork crackling, sausage, eggs, rice, beans, avocado and an arepa – are a variety of scrambled egg plates for breakfast, pork and fish dishes for lunch and dinner, and specialty items like empanadas and baked goods to take home for later.
Right off South New Hope Road in Gastonia, the Las Palmas Bakery provides a great opportunity to try classic Colombian dishes. Alongside their homemade empanadas and bandeja paisa, you’ll find some exceptional baked goods including their tres leches cake, churros and cheese bread.
Located in Pineville – arguably the epicenter of Colombian food in Charlotte – Los Paisas serves authentic Colombian cuisine just like mom or dad used to make. Their menu has traditional dishes like bandeja paisa and chuleta de cerdo – breaded pork loin with rice, beans and plantains – and other popular selections like skirt steak and jumbo shrimp served several different ways.
With a couple of locations spread around Charlotte, Mi Tierra is another one of the more popular Colombian restaurants. Each one is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a unique lunch special during the weekdays.
Other South American Favorites:
If you’re looking for crafted empanadas in a trendy location, Optimist Hall’s Felix’s Empanadas is the place to go. There’s a little bit of everything here ranging from classics like beef and chicken to more experimental choices like cheeseburger, shepherd’s pie and lobster empanadas.
Neighborhood: Camp North End
Camp North End’s La Caseta is another mix of Latin American staples. Inspired by their motto, “Mother Made Latin Food,” La Caseta has crafted tacos, empanadas, arepas and pupusas – a griddle cake dish from El Salvador and Honduras – from recipes that have been passed down for generations. It’s the perfect treat after a day exploring all that Camp North End has to offer.
Sabor Latin Street Grill is another local powerhouse of South American cuisine. Drawing their inspiration from many Latin American countries, you’ll find a little bit of everything on the menu including, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, arepas and plenty of popular street food.