A new Mexican restaurant will open in West Charlotte in the former Picante area

A new Mexican restaurant in keeping with the 1980s Mexican “Gossip Girl” era has opened in West Charlotte, where Picante used to be.

According to owner Manuel Flores, Que Fresa, which is owned by the owners of Que Onda themselves, will serve “preppy tacos” and “ritas.”

why does it matter: Picante has been a staple in West Charlotte for over a decade—a rarity in one of Charlotte’s fastest-changing neighborhoods.

  • “We couldn’t have done it without our wonderful staff and wonderful clients,” Picante owner, Anthony Deresh Restaurant manager Lisa Mac wrote in the restaurant’s latest Instagram post.
  • Flores tells me that Deresh and Mac have reached out to him about taking over the place on the condition that he retains the staff, which Flores tells me they now mostly work in Que Onda restaurants around Charlotte. “Most of them have worked at Picante for more than six years,” Flores said.

Dramatic background: “Fresa” means strawberry in Spanish, but it’s also Mexican slang for a novice.

  • Flores explains that it was a term popularized in Mexico in the 1980s, when Mexico began to boom financially, and parents began sending their children to private schools and bilingual schools. The students began to learn English, watch American television, dress and act in a certain way. “As if you were playing golf or at the Kentucky Derby,” Flores said.
  • Flores said he doesn’t know the exact origin of the term but says it derives from the character Strawberry Shortcake, which was also very popular at the time. He said, “People started calling them ‘Frezita’.”
  • Paola, Flores’ wife, grew up in Mexico in the 1980s – I asked Flores if she was Frieza, and he said “Great time! That’s where the inspiration came from.”

Yes, but: “Preppy” doesn’t mean expensive, according to Flores. The majority of taco prices range between $3.95 and $4.95.

  • “We still want to be accessible to everyone,” Flores told me.

the food: There will be 15-20 signature tacos on the menu, as well as shareable platters, sandwiches, wraps, and desserts.

  • Flores also said that they will continue the daily Picante food and drink specials that have made the place so popular and affordable—yes, that means Taco Tuesday is here to stay.
  • Wants to maintain quality and affordability. “Our menu will be more culinary, more than the best appetizer will be,” Flores told me.

Drinks: The full-service bar will serve beer and liquor, with a primary focus on margaritas.

  • Flores said they’ll play with fun margarita flavors like blueberry prickly pear, jalapeno orange and have a dairy-free margarita.
  • “Like the light service you see at Chick-fil-a or McDonald’s,” Flores said.

details: Similar to the Picante, Que Fresa will have indoor and outdoor seating for around 80-90 people. The main draw will be the casual fast food menu that Picante is famous for.

  • local artist valentine Ramirez will paint a mural and possibly sculptures for the restaurant.
  • From the note: There will be a piece of Picante on permanent display at Que Fresa, the iconic lip catcher holding a chili. Flores says that honoring the restaurant that came before is a tradition in all of his restaurants.

What’s Next: Flores hopes to open the Carolina Panthers preseason, but that depends on how quickly he gets the passes approved.

  • Next, he hopes to work with chef and business partner Roger Lemos to open other locations in and around Charlotte “Ballantine, Belmont, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Kannapolis, Harrisburg” are all options, according to Flores.

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