Munching on Central

by Tanner Latham and Lisa Miller

Restaurant owner Jamile Shiekh is a refuge from Somalia who moved to Charlotte in the mid-1990s. Photo: Tanner Latham

We’re still talking about the chicken suqaar from Jamile’s.

Yes, the shrimp rolls at Ben Thahn (Vietnamese) were fresh and delicious. And the tres leches and flan from El Purgarcito (Salvadoran) sweetly capped our afternoon.

But Jamile’s (Somali) chicken suqaar—a stewed chicken dish prepared with greens, salad lettuces, and spongy bread called canjeero—was flat out phenomenal.

The three restaurants were part of the Munching Tour last Saturday sponsored by the Levine Museum of the New South and UNC-Charlotte’s Urban Institute. Tom Hanchett and Mary Newsom from those respective organizations led us stop to stop to sample the variety of flavors and cuisines found within two blocks on Central Avenue, the city’s most diverse cluster of ethnic eateries and markets.

Summer rolls, with dribbles of peanut sauce, from Ben Thanh. Photo: Tanner Latham

Many of us wrapped the chicken suqaar and greens into the canjeero (flat, spongy) bread like it was a fajita. For an extra kick, we laced it with the green jalapeno and garlic sauce. Photo: Tanner Latham

A slice of tres leches cake from El Purgarcito. Photo: Tanner Latham

Shelved spices at Cedar Land Mediterranean Market. Photo: Tanner Latham

Audio Extras:

Click the photo to listen to the Munching Tour group discuss the plethora of ethnic businesses represented in one shopping center off Central Avenue. Photo: Tanner Latham

Click the photo to listen to Tom Hanchett from the Levine Museum of the New South talk to Henry Chirinos of El Purgarcito about his diverse cooking background. Photo: Tanner Latham



Filed under Food, Photo Blog, Restaurants

3 responses to “Munching on Central

  1. Della Freedman

    Glad you got to taste some of the fabulous food on the east side of Charlotte. You can visit three different restaurants during the annual Taste of the World in October. Check out Charlotte East’s website.


    We live a long way from Charlotte, about 20 minutes northwest of Boone, but we found Central Avenue years ago. It’s our “go to” spot for great ethnic food, especially Vietnamese food. Our favorite is the pho at Pho An Hoa, but you can’t go wrong on Central.

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