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Just the sign “Mi Barrio Halal Latin Grill” promises a mix-up adventure. “Mi Barrio” means “my neighborhood” in Spanish. But “Latin Grill” is in English. And “Halal” – that’s the Arabic word for meat prepared according to Muslim rules of purity.

Mike Nguyen and Michelle Tu came from San Jose to start Crackin’ Crawfish near UNC Charlotte.

On a cold and rainy Saturday in December, every table is full at Tacos El Nevado on Central Avenue, and more people are streaming in. “Se Vende Champurrado” – champurrado for sale – says the small sign taped to the door.

For people from India, Diwali is the beginning of the New Year. But it’s also a bit like American Thanksgiving – lots of family visiting, lots of traditional cooking, says store manager Nikunj Patel. “People go to each other’s house to celebrate, light candles.”

There’s a little bit of Laos these days in the old textile town of Kings Mountain, just west of Gastonia. The family-run Pho 98 restaurant is named for the signature soup of Vietnam, and there are also familiar Thai curries and noodle dishes on the menu.

Tom Hanchett
Tom Hanchett is staff historian at Levine Museum of the New South.
CharlotteObserver.com