Al Carbon is not just a charcoal chicken rotisserie. Locals will smile when they hear you’ve been there because they love its traditional Mexican flavor and the familiar vibe of this hidden, simple restaurant. Located in the northern outskirts of Charlottesville, Seminole Trail and Woodbrook, it is only a ten minute drive from downtown.
Twenty years ago, Myriam Hernandez landed in Denver from her hometown in Morelos. A Montessori teacher, she immediately realized that the Mexican food there was not authentic at all. She was missing the flavors of the traditional Mexican dishes her grandma put together when she was a little girl. So she started flirting with the idea of opening a restaurant. In 2014, her dream became reality with the help of her husband Claudio Hernandez, originally from Puebla, México.
The menu’s flagship rotisserie chickens are marinated for 24 hours in a secret spices mix and slowly roasted in a green charcoal oven imported from Peru. The sides are delicious Mexican street food specialties like Elote con Mayonesa, Fried Plantains, camotes, roasted cactus or frijoles charros, among others. Also the “cemitas,” sandwiches served on sesame seed bread with avocado, adobo chipotle peppers, fresh Oaxacan cheese, and red onions, are very popular. You can choose the filling from milanesa de res, chicken, chorizo, carne asada or vegetarian options. If you want to go for the more traditional treats, then tamales, huaraches and seasonal soups are going to delight you. Not to mention the “cajeta” filled with churros as dessert.
Claudio and Myriam work hard at getting the best products from Mexico and improving their restaurant. Myriam herself travelled last year to study traditional Mexican food with renowned chef Yuri de Gortari to improve her skills. “Sometimes I feel like a grandma to some UVA students. We are very happy to have the restaurant bustling every day,” Myriam explains.
In addition to tradition and good ingredients, you will find soul and hard work at this restaurant, which belongs to a couple of dreamers. They are thinking of moving to a bigger space soon. Stay tuned and don’t miss it!
Phone: (434) 964-1052
Hours: Tue-Sun from 11 am to 9 pm
Text and photo: Edu Bayer