by Arthur Wooten
Pacos Tacos Photo Credit Remy

For authentic Tex-Mex dining, look no farther than Paco’s Tacos.

Pacos Tacos (Photo by: Remy)

On a recent visit I came to a new conclusion regarding dining in this beautiful city: there is an incredible diversity of ethnic cuisines.

Here find some of our Traveling Gourmet’s recipe favorites from his Charlotte Travels.


Chef Charles Gardiner
At the Ballantyne Hotel, The Luxury Collection
10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy
(704) 248 4100

Pumpkin & Burrata Recipe

Burrata and Pumpkin at Gallery Courtesy of The Ballantyne A Luxury Collection Hotel Charlotte

Burrata and Pumpkin Gallery (Courtesy of The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte)


Spiced pumpkin seeds
• Pumpkin Seeds 1 cup
• Coriander (ground) 1 Tbl
• Cumin (ground) 1 Tbl
• Cayenne Pepper .5 tsp
• Olive Oil 1 oz

Burrata Spices
• Pink Peppercorns (ground) 2 oz
• Sumac (ground) 3 oz

Roasted Pumpkin
• Whole pumpkin (recommend using a local farms pumpkin for baking not a jack- o – lantern pumpkin) we use butterkin Pumpkins. If not available any type of winter squash like butternut may be substituted.
• Coriander Ground 2 Tbl
• Cumin ground 1 Tbl
• Allspice 1 tsp
• Nutmeg .5 tsp
• Smoked Paprika 2 tsp

Ingredients to Finish
• Fresh burrata
• Shiso micros for garnish (fennel tops are a good alternative or arugula)
• Pumpkin seed oil
• Apple Balsamic Vinegar
• Maldon Sea Salt (large Flakey Salt)

Preparation Instructions
For roasted Pumpkin: Cut Pumpkin into wedges with skin on, season with spices and salt. Roast until fork-tender. Remove skin and cut into large bite-sized pieces about 1” in size.
For Burrata Spices: Combine ingredients and reserve.
For Roasted Pumpkin Seeds: Toss all ingredients in a bowl mix well to coat all the pumpkin seeds toast in 400f oven until browned for approximately15 minutes. Mix every five minutes while cooking.

To Serve:
Place pumpkin pieces on an oven-safe pan and warm for approximately 5 minutes in a 300-degree oven. Cut the burrata into desired-sized pieces and arrange on a plate with the pumpkin. Garnish with pumpkin seeds, and sprinkle the burrata spice directly on the pumpkin. Sprinkle Maldon Sea salt on the entire dish to season. Drizzle with pumpkin seed oil, apple balsamic vinegar, and finish with shiso or other item used for garnish. Pair with a California Chardonnay and enjoy.

Chef Shai Fargian
Plaza Midwood 1331 Central Ave  980.224.8007
Southpark 720 Gov Morrison Steet   704.365.7130
Dilworth 1231A East Blvd   980.224.7758

Grilled Eggplant Dip, aka Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush from YAFO Photo Credit Remy Thurston

Baba Ghanoush from YAFO (Photo Credit Remy Thurston)

Your best new party trick. While you are waiting for the coals to turn white for grilling, throw a couple eggplants over the open flames and make this dish for optimal outdoor snacking.

2 large cloves raw garlic – Chopped or grated on a rasp-style grater
Juice of one lemon – about two tablespoons
1 cup tahini paste – store bought or homemade
2 teaspoons salt – kosher preferred
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 large eggplants

  • Dock the eggplant with a paring knife along the sides once or twice to release the steam during the grilling (otherwise it will burst from steam escaping).
  • Roast the eggplant over a hot grill or an open flame charring all sides. Place on its side and grill for 6 minutes.
  • Rotate 90 degrees and grill for 5 minutes. Rotate again to create a triangle and grill for 4 minutes. Check the bottom of the eggplant, it should be soft, but if not, stand the eggplant on its bottom and grill until soft (about 2 minutes).
  • Eggplant should be completely charred on the outside.
  • Take off the grill and place in a strainer inside of a bowl to collect the liquid draining out of the eggplant. Let sit in until cool enough to handle with hands.
  • Peel the charred skin and dispose of it. It is ok if some charred bits are left, it adds smokiness and flavor. Place the eggplant flesh in the bowl with the added liquid.
  • Add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, olive oil and cumin. Mash together until desired texture is achieved. Chunky or smooth, there is no wrong way to eat it.
  • Let cool down to room temperature, transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with some unfiltered olive oil and chopped parsley.
  • Serve with fresh pita bread or pita chips. Cold beer optional.

Little Mama’s
Frank Scibelli
4521 Sharon Road
(980) 209-0323


LIttle Mama's Tiramisu Photo Credit Thurston

LIttle Mama’s Tiramisu (Photo Credit Thurston)

Yield: Serves 4-6
Mascarpone Mousse
4 egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
8oz mascarpone cheese, softened for 15-20 minutes
4 egg whites

Add egg yolks and sugar to a bowl and whip over a double boiler until light and fluffy and reaches 165F. The mixture will increase in volume. Remove from heat and continue whipping to help it cool. The mixture will be thick. Allow to cool briefly and then whisk in mascarpone until just combined. Set aside.

In a separate bowl using an electric mixer, whip egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside. Gently fold egg whites and whipped cream into the egg yolk mixture until just combined.

Assembling the Tiramisu
1 package lady fingers, approximately 24
1 3/4C Strong cold coffee or espresso
2T Kahlua
2T Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Mix the cold coffee with the Kahlua and dip the ladyfingers into the mixture quickly. Just enough to get them wet.
Arrange them in the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish.
Spoon half the mascarpone mousse over the ladyfingers.
Repeat the process with another layer of ladyfingers.
And another layer of mascarpone mousse.
Refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours before serving to allow for the cream to set.
Dust with cocoa before serving.

Mojito at Calle Sol Photo Credit Remy Thurston

Mojito at Calle Sol (Photo Credit Remy Thurston)

Calle Sol Latin Café & Cevicheria

Chef Paul Cruz
1205 Thomas Ave
(704) 565-8291

Recipe for our Mojito with
No Name

2 oz light rum
2 sprigs fresh mint
2 oz lime juice
1 fresh lime
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz. soda water

In a shaker tin, add mint, syrup and half of a lime. Muddle together until aromatic. Fill tin with ice, rum, lime juice
Cover and shake until tin is too cold to hold onto any longer. Strain into tall glass and top with soda water, garnish with a sprig of mint that you have bruised lightly.

Midwood Smokehouse
Pitmaster Mathew Barry
Plaza Midwood 1401 Central Ave
(704) 295-4227

Cast Iron Cornbread


½ cup of creamed corn (we use house-made but feel free to buy your favorite brand)
¼ cup butter
2 large eggs
4 tbls white sugar
½ cup butter milk
1 cup AP flour
2/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 diced and seeded jalapeño

Corn Bread at Midwood Photo Credit Remy Thurston

Corn Bread at Midwood (Photo Credit Remy Thurston)

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and liberally grease an 8” cast iron skillet. Combine the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until creamed together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl halfway through. Add each egg individually, mixing until each is combined. Stir in creamed corn and buttermilk. Sprinkle in remaining ingredients, mix together and stop right as the batter begins to look homogenous. Pour batter into skillet and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Serve still warm.

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