José Rodriguez’s bright white chef’s coat, proudly embroidered with his name, is the first clue that the deli inside the Galaxy Foods supermarket on Arrowood Road is something special. El Rinconcito – “the little corner” in Spanish – is a place to discover carefully prepared dishes from Honduras.
A steam table features different selections each day, usually including a chicken stew and some tender-cooked pork. There are always black beans, rice and sweet fried plantains. Get an agua-fresca to drink: it’s like orangeade but with mango and/or pineapple juice that Rodriguez squeezes from fresh fruit.
Pupusas are a specialty. The thick tortilla-like stuffed pancakes are the signature fast food in Honduras and neighboring El Salvador. Get them stuffed with beans or cheese. Or try the loroco, a green flower bud grown in Central America. Or the pork belly and cheese, rich and bacon-y.
Another specialty at El Rinconcito is Chicken Francese, an Italian dish. Why Italian?
Most immigrants to Charlotte arrive here after a stop or two elsewhere in the U.S. For Honduras-born Rodriguez, that meant the Morristown, N.J., area. It’s now an epicenter for Honduran arrivals, but a generation ago it was heavily Italian.
Rodriguez learned to make Chicken Francese when he apprenticed at an Italian eatery in Morris Plains. A tender chicken breast, lightly breaded and quick fried, is topped with an herbed lemon-and-white-wine sauce.
Whether you’re Honduran, Italian or just a hungry Charlottean, it’s an unexpected treat at a supermarket deli.