4816-A Central Avenue
Salvadoran & Honduran
Owners: Henry and Delmi Chirinos
The love story of how the El Pulgarcito de America owners Henry and Delmi Chirinos came together is only outweighed by the love of the food that is served at their east Charlotte restaurant. Delmi was the pioneer of her family, moving from the devastated war-zone of El Salvador to New York in 1990. Meanwhile, Henry moved to New York in the same exact year from Honduras. Little did either of them know when making that big trek into America that eventually they would come together in love and food.
Delmi had big dreams, wanting to come here to study and take hold of the many opportunities America had to offer. Henry was working in a restaurant in New York when he met Delmi. They fell in love with each other as much as with the food they loved to cook. They partnered with friends in opening a restaurant in New York and thrived for two years…until the shocking 9/11 tragedy occurred. This made Delmi and Henry decide it was time to move on.
During her stay in New York, Delmi visited her brother & sister in Charlotte and loved the city. She says it was quiet and peaceful. Henry and Delmi decided this was the place to which they wanted to move and open a new restaurant. Thus, the birth of El Pulgarcito de America. They have now been in business for over 12 years.
El Pulgarcito specializes in Salvadoran and Honduran food, in honor of Delmi and Henry’s heritages, but rounds out its menu with Mexican dishes. One item that is very typical to El Salvador is the Pupusa, so much so that it is considered the national food of El Salvador. Pupusas are variations of meat (usually pork), beans & cheese stuffed within a thick-style handmade corn tortilla, complimented with a traditional spicy cabbage slaw that is called curtido. The Honduran choices on the menu are heavily weighted towards fish and shrimp. A favorite on the menu here is the Mojarra, fried fish served with sides of rice, salad, green plantains & tortillas. A dish that is popular in both El Salvador and Honduras is Huevos Al Gusto, translated in English to “eggs to your pleasure”. Pleasure is indeed what you will find in this hearty breakfast dish, offered Revueltos (scrambled), Estrellados (sunnyside up), or Con Chorizo Ranchero (with chorizo sausage). To fulfill any desire for Mexican food, they also serve options like Fajitas and Enchiladas. Interesting to note, plantains and yucca are true to Salvadoran and Honduran selections and not found in Mexican dishes. Additionally, the spices used in Salvadoran and Honduran dishes are kinder to your heat index than in Mexican dishes. The milder seasonings allow you to taste more of the key ingredients in their food.
One dish closest to Delmi’s heart is the Beef Rib Stew. She says, “This is very special. I remember when I was little and everyone in my country would eat this. And the little restaurants would always serve it.”
Though the restaurant interior has a golden stucco effect on the walls with beautiful, Pacific blue booths and well placed art that represents El Salvador and Honduras, Delmi states that they do not have lots of décor, as she wants the focus to be fully on their food. “This is a dream come true,” says Delmi. “The customers always say the food is good.” Her youngest daughter, Ashley, agrees. That is confirmation that El Pulgarcito has built a true following and will continue to flourish.
– Profile written by Cassie Garrett