Raleigh, N.C. — Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, which means a weekend stock full of tacos, mariachi bands, and of course, mas tequila. In honor of this holiday, we decided to rank our five favorite Mexican restaurants in Raleigh. Don't worry, we won't be serving up any of your typical "re-fried" restaurants.
Gonza Tacos Y Tequila: I'm embarrassed to say that last week was my first visit to Tacos Y Tequila. I feel I have been deprived of real Mexican food. Without visiting here, I should never have honestly called myself a "taco connoisseur."
Gonza has handcrafted an authentic award-winning Mexican menu. After much deliberation, I went with the "Callo de Hacha" which was three flour tortillas filled with scallops, pork belly, pico de gallo, cheese and chipotle sauce. Of course, everything is better with bacon, and this is no exception to the rule.
The waiter also recommended their award-winning pork tacos and tortilla soup. I wanted to be thorough in my review of the restaurant, so of course I had to try it all! Everything was wonderful and tasted so fresh! To wash it all down, I had their spicy margarita, which contained jalapenos. The margarita was unlike anything I have had. I love the bite in your throat after you take a sip.
On Cinco de Mayo, Gonzoa will have live bands, salsa lessons, face painting, a cash bar outside and much more. The party starts at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Chubby's Tacos: We recently did a restaurant review of Chubby's. Since we went a few months ago, I have to admit it has become my regular spot for a Sunday Funday. With the option to do a la carte tacos for $2 and $3 or grab my favorite, a smothered chubby for about $5, this is a great place to get awesome Mexican food even on a budget. Don't forget to try their fresh salsa bar.
This weekend Chubby's is not only celebrating Cinco de Mayo, but also their 5th anniversary. Cinco de Chubby's will include drink specials, food specials, live music and giveaways, including Chubby's T-shirts. Drink specials include $2 Coronas and $3.50 margaritas.
Centro: Centro is Spanish for "center" and is definitely the go-to spot for Latin American brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks in Raleigh. Centro uses fresh, organic and local ingredients in all of their recipes to stay true to their culture while also supporting the community and local businesses. Any restaurant that has a brunch is OK by me, especially one with Mexican and Colombian food and habanero-infused Bloody Marys.
Centro is staying open until midnight on Saturday to get the Cinco de Mayo celebration started. On Sunday, they will open at 3 p.m. and will have a special menu, drink specials, a mariachi band and a DJ.
Jibarra: Jibarra is not like any Mexican food I have ever had. They take traditional Mexican dishes and use modern cooking techniques to create unique entrees. The location – in the Raleigh Depot – and decorations are almost as good as the food.
Jibarra will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo Friday through Sunday with live music, new menu items and margarita and tequila specials. On Friday there will be live jazz, and on Saturday there will be a DJ starting at 6 p.m. with mariachi at midnight. On Sunday, get brunch until 5 p.m. There will be a photo booth and a salsa band from 6-8 p.m.
Dos Taquitos Xoco: Uno, dos... there is no need to go to tres when you have Dos Taquitos. Dos Taquitos Xoco is located in the Gleenwood South district of downtown Raleigh. Xoco means "little sister" in Aztec and is the sibling of the original Dos Taquitos in North Raleigh.
If you are looking for your typical Mexican food, this is not the place for you. The owner Carlos Salamanca set out to open a restaurant that reflected the music, art and food of Mexico while staying away from the commercial side of things. If you are in the mood for unique Mexican dishes and a fun atmosphere be sure to stop by. Try to get a table in the middle, there is a train that carries the chips and salsa to those tables!
This weekend come see what the Dos Taquitos version of Cinco de Mayo is all about at their Weekend de Mayo celebration. They will be throwing huge block parties at both of their locations. All weekend there will be live music featuring rock-Latino, salsa and jazz-Latino bands, drink specials, tasty Mexican food, games and more. The party kick off Saturday at the Glenwood Avenue location and continues there through Sunday. The party starts at noon both days and lasts until 11 p.m. The festivities at the Creedmoor location start at noon on Sunday and live music begins at 5 p.m.
Check out our list of other places celebrating Cinco de Mayo in the Triangle.
And if you are a taco fan, we also picked our Five Faves Best Tacos in the Triangle this week.