5534 Albemarle Road, #101
“Every good composition is above all a work of abstraction. All good painters know this. But the painter cannot dispense with subjects altogether without his work suffering impoverishment.” – Diego Rivera, www.diegorivera.org
Anything in life worth doing, should be done well and “from the heart,” adds Juan Sanchez Gonzalez, owner of Carnitas Guanajuato Restaurant on Albemarle Road. The restaurant is part of the Taste of the World event in East Charlotte for several years, and the staff is ready to welcome this year’s tourists with warm smiles and delicious cuisine.
I recently had the pleasure of dining at this restaurant, where I enjoyed the hospitality and learned much about food, history, and culture. The restaurant serves all authentic Mexican cuisine designed not to be adapted or reflavored for standardized American tastes. The restaurant’s name is indicative of its specialty, “carnitas“ – tender pulled deep-fried pork. As Sanchez Gonzalez explained, every state in Mexico has its own version of this food (much as we find in the battle for best barbecue both in North Carolina alone, as well as throughout several other Southern states). In fact, carnitas was the meal that gave Sanchez Gonzales his start: he and his wife began by selling the food at festivals and rodeos and were ultimately able to start their first restaurant in Monroe (located at 1702 Walkup Avenue and still in business). Later, they opened the Albemarle Road restaurant which will be featured on the tour. No matter what time you arrive, I recommend saving your appetite for this restaurant. I tried the carnitas with cactus – yes, cactus! – as well as corn tortillas, rice, and beans. Not only filling, this food was delicious. The basic ingredients were complimented by subtle spices. Sanchez Gonzalez also pointed out that the tortillas are specially made for him and do not contain preservatives and that the cactus is fresh not canned – any foodie will know that this makes a difference in the taste and consistency. Gastronomy is indeed an art, and Carnitas Guanajuato has focused on the ingredients and preparation to lead to a delicious dining experience. In addition to the food, there is always music playing, which adds to the pleasant ambiance. During the week, songs by artists from various Latin American countries are played throughout the restaurant, and there is live music on Sundays.
The restaurant is well-received by natives. Sanchez Gonzalez has said that several people from the region have mentioned that they are glad to have found a place that serves the food with such an authentic flavor. Anyone who has called another place home or has a fondness for a particular region or country and its cuisine knows and understands that special nostalgia that the senses, such as taste, can bring.
Sanchez Gonzalez explains that although life in the Charlotte area is a very “different way of life” from life in Mexico, he enjoys the sharing and blending of the two cultures. He feels that at Carnitas, the staff is creating a “new fusion of both cultures; not oversalty, not overspiced, not overcooked, but everything in balance.”
Whether you are experiencing TOTW as a newbie, as an experienced participant, or just looking for a new restaurant to try, Sanchez Gonzalez explains that the restaurant is welcoming to all. For those who already know true Mexican food, they can “enjoy having a place where they can come back knowing they can get that, and for those who have not had the opportunity, then they will enjoy it and may end up finding a new place.” He assures that no matter which category a diner is visiting, “we’ll be glad to see them.”
– Profile written by Stacy Campbell Remy