ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — One way for anyone to experience Hispanic culture is through food and people in the Roanoke region have more choices now than ever before.
If you want to take a quick trip to Peru, all you have to do is take a short drive to Inka Grill in Roanoke, where staples like rice, plantains and potatoes are elevated to dishes that appeal to both the eye and the pallate.
“The majority of these meals are traditional recipes from our grandparents,” Liro Ramirez, Inka Grill’s marketing manager, said.
The restaurant’s owner, Percy Rojas, was born and raised in Lima, Peru before arriving in Miami.
“And he always tells me that he never felt at home,” Ramirez said. “And I ask, what was it about Roanoke that made you stay, and he always tells me, it’s the people. I love the people in Roanoke and the community and the sense of being home when I’m in Roanoke.”
And with every dish, Inka Grill serves up a taste of family that continues to grow.
“I think it goes back to that soul meal. Something that fulfills your heart. And it comes with great conversation like we’re having today,” Ramirez said. “It goes back to building relationship. Building that family oriented atmosphere.”
While restaurants like Inka Grill have been around for several years, newer places like Delicias Boricuas are adding to an already diverse food scene in Roanoke.
“It has been crazy. We are very very excited. The response from the community has been just huge,” Delicias Boricuas co-owner Karyna Nevarez said.
She started Delicias Boricuas originally as a catering business seven years ago.
“We had a lot of new clients. A lot of big evens for some reason during pandemic and I guess by word of mouth we ended up doing corporate events and we’ve been expanding ever since,” Nevarez said. “And that brought us here.”
From a kitchen on the ground floor of an office building in downtown Roanoke, Nevarez serves up food from her native Puerto Rico.
“Let me tell you, the one thing that always sells them is when you open that pan up and they’re able to see it and smell it. It’s definitely a seller. It’s like they said, say no more,” Nevarez said.
With a mix of daily specials alongside Puerto Rican favorites, Nevarez is happy to offer a taste of the Caribbean in Southwest Virginia.
“”We had one person that started crying with one of our dishes because she said it tastes exactly like my grandmother’s,” Neverez said. “It was definitely a blessing. We were not expecting it. It was just definitely an opportunity that knocked on our door and we said we definitely have to take on it.”
Places like Delicias Boricuas are a welcome addition to those that already occupy a prominent place in the area’s food landscape.
“I don’t see it as competition. I see it as diversity,” Ramirez said. “Now you have an option to come to Inka Grill today or tomorrow but you have an option to try something else. I don’t think it’s a negative thing to have more restaurants with different cultures and different food.”
From Peru to Puerto Rico, Roanoke foodies have more options to take a trip with what’s on their plates.