Food & Drink » Wine & Dine Review

Wrap Around

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2001-09-01
You might be tempted to make assumptions about the 60-seat Salsarita's Fresh Burrito. Just another fast food burrito joint, you may think. But Salsarita's is the inspired offspring of Bruce Willette and Thang Nguyen. They opened their first store in the Carolinas Place Mall in November 1999 and now have shops in Cotswold, Huntersville and University, with Quail Corners and downtown locations opening soon. In addition, they sold a franchise in Greensboro. Willette isn't a stranger to franchises. Through B.R. Ventures, Inc., a Charlotte-based corporation, Willette owns five area Frank & Steins and the Cotswold location of Dairy Queen. Salsarita's, however, is his original concept. "This is not the place for gourmet wraps," said Willette. "We're trying to stick to Mexican food with as high a quality as possible. We only use the freshest ingredients." The dinner buzz had begun at Salsarita's and the employees were bustling behind the counter. The vibrant interior design, which includes the open preparation area, is by the Charlotte-based Shook Design Group. On a Friday night at the Cotswold location, patrons at the outside tables enjoyed live music from a neighboring restaurant. Inside tables were filled with a mix of large groups, couples, and families. On the menu are tacos, nachos, quesadillas, and burritos. The burrito varieties include chicken, beef, shrimp, vegetarian, "bare" or "wet" onto which you can pile an assortment of fillings: rice, black beans, grilled vegetables, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheeses, jalapeno peppers, black olives, sour cream and flavored sour cream, guacamole, and cilantro. With these are some housemade salsas ranging from mild to hot. Salsarita's also has an ABC license and subsequently sells margaritas and beer. A sleek shrimp burrito had beans and rice coalescing neatly around vegetable fragments and tender small, almost miniature, shrimp. Enhance this with salsa and you have a first rate wrap. The chicken burrito is equally tantalizing and flavorful. Salsarita's Fresh Burrito is fast and inexpensive,and the burritos, although simple, are deliciously clean tasting. No wonder the neighborhood has embraced Salsarita's so quickly. Salsarita's Carolina Place Mall, 11025 Carolina Place Parkway, Pineville,704-759-9700; Cotswold Village Shopping Center, 300 S. Sharon Amity Road, 704-442-0655; Quail Corners 8600 Park Road, The Terraces at University, Highway 29, 704-548-8719; Rosedale Shopping Center, 14320 Reese Boulevard, Huntersville, 704- 875-7272, and Overstreet Mall, 101 North Tryon in the Bank of America building. Hours 11am until 9pm Monday through Saturday (except mall location which opens at 10am); noon until 8pm Sunday.

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