Whether you’re reuniting with someone special at North Carolina State University or you’re planning your next outing with friends, a Mexican restaurant may be in the cards for you. From freshly made tortillas chips to limey margaritas with salted rims, we completely understand why a Mexican restaurant may be your go-to. Here are some of our favorites in the area that can maybe become some of your favorites, too.
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Authentic Mexican cuisine boasting crispy, fresh fried chips
4721 Atlantic Ave | Raleigh | torerosmexicanrestaurants.com
If you go to Mexican restaurants for the basket of chips placed in the center of your table to start, Torero’s is a must. They churn out crispy, fresh fried chips all day and night.
If you want these chips to be the highlight of your meal, the Nachos Torero’s or the Fajitas Nachos are good choices. If you prefer chips with a side of guac, the Fresh Guacamole Mix is your best bet.
Other featured items include Steak, Chicken, Pork, or Shrimp Fajitas, Molcajete, and Birria Tacos.
“Great Mexican food and atmosphere. Usually they will have live music and everyone is friendly and helpful. Has a small bar that makes a great Margarita. Have it hand made rather than premixed. All combinations are huge and always leave with takeout.” - Yelp Review
True taco stand fare
2444 Wycliff Rd | Raleigh | chubbystacos.com
Chubby’s began as a taco stand. Although Chubby’s is now a chain with locations in Raleigh, Durham, and Myrtle Beach, they have stayed true to true taco stand fare.
At Chubby’s, flavor explodes in your mouth upon each bite. Some menu favorites are Carlito’s Chubby Chile Relleno Taco, the Spicy Tinga Chicken taco, and the Baja Fish taco. You can also get burritos, bowls, nachos, enchiladas, quesadillas, fajitas, tortas, and the “Chubby” Changa, a deep fried tortilla with cheese, queso, and your choice of protein.
The 8 different salsas offered at the salsa bar ensure that you experience a fiesta in your mouth no matter what you order.
You will also find plant-based options, a kids menu, and a variety of delicious desserts. Fried Plantains, Chubby’s Churros, Pina Colada Fried Cheesecake… what did we come for again? Tacos?
“Chubby's Tacos just entered my top places to eat tacos! Their tacos are fantastic. Chips and salsa, a given. Their pico is fantastic (they don't charge for it +++) and their salsa verde top. Great service, great location, great food.” - Yelp Review
Local chain serving margaritas and beer in a casual setting
329 S Blount St | Raleigh | elrodeonc.com
If you’re looking for a casual spot to drink margaritas and snack on chips and salsa with friends, this local chain is just the place.
The art and colors of Mexico on the walls allow for a feel-good atmosphere that will keep the drinks and conversation flowing. Their menu features everything from tacos and burritos to chicken and seafood platters. Come hungry!
You can order a margarita in one of four sizes: Chico (small), Mediano (medium), Grande (large), or Jigante (monster). Stick to original lime or get a flavor for 50 cents more. They offer strawberry, peach, mango, and coconut. As for beer, there’s domestic, imported, and draft.
“Best Mexican food in DTR. Let me repeat this for those who think Glenwood has good Mexican food...this is the best and has authentic specials.” - Yelp Review
Guadalajaran fare with margs made with freshly squeezed fruit
222 Glenwood Ave | Raleigh | lasantanc.com
The food at La Santa is made using the owner’s mother’s recipes from Guadalajara, and they only hope you come to love them as much as they did growing up. From offerings such as Torta Ahogada, Guadalajara’s most popular dish made with Mexican bread (bolillo), carnitas, ahogada sauce, and onions to Tacos Gringos, ground beef or chicken on a flour tortilla topped with sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and queso fresco and served with rice, La Santa has a wide range of offerings from traditional Guadalajaran to American for you to enjoy.
We love that their margaritas are made to order from freshly squeezed fruits and a large collection of high quality tequilas. The Skinny Marg, which comes in lime or strawberry, is a great choice if you really want only the essential ingredients, however the Passion Fruit Marg is very tempting. They also offer a variety of Mezcal Cocktails and other cocktails
‘If you want delicious food in a beautiful location La Santa is the place. The wait staff is so kind. They helped us choose different foods that were so delicious. They have fresh signature drinks at the bar. I am speechless.....” - Yelp Review
Family-friendly authentic Mexican
5300 Homewood Banks Dr | Raleigh | sanmarcosrestaurant.com
This family-friendly Mexican restaurant offers a fun atmosphere including wall art, string lights, and stained glass windows in addition to authentic Mexican food.
Be sure to start off with the Carrusel Dip. Choose three of your favorite dips from Guacamole, Queso, PicaGuaca, Queso con Chorizo, Espinacas Dip (Spinach), Pico de Gallo, Bean Dip, and Sour Cream, to enjoy with tortilla chips.
From chimichangas, tacos, and enchiladas to Ceviche de Pescado and Pollo Yucatan, you get your favorite Mexican dinner or try something new.
Their kids menu features combos such as Burrito & Taco, Enchilada, Rice, & Beans, and Taco & Enchilada, in addition to items like Chicken Tenders & seasoned fries and Cheeseburger & seasoned fries.
“I love Mexican food and their food is delicious. So much flavor and fresh ingredients. Their guacamole is super good just which it served in a bigger plate or bowl. The margarita was on point. I'm excited to come back.” - Yelp Review
6101 Glenwood Ave | Raleigh | dostaquitosraleigh.com
Dos Taquitos has been serving their signature steak tacos and enchiladas de puebla since 1991. Since then, some of the walls of this colorful cantina have been painted by the owner’s young daughter herself, and they still served their signature tacos and enchiladas and more.
For your marg, choose from 10 oz, 20 oz, or 60 oz frozen or on the rocks. Get La Fresca (Skinny) if you prefer all natural sweeteners in your drink - it’s made with house tequila, triple sec, agave nectar, and fresh juices. While Fresita is a good choice if you want your drink on the sweeter side - this one is made with in-house infused strawberry tequila, triple sec, strawberry simple syrup, and sweet and sour mix. Other specialty drinks include mojitos, palomas, and micheladas.
You may be compelled to start off with taquitos, rolled-up fried corn tortillas stuffed with shredded chicken and cheese-potatoes topped with chipotle cream, jalapeños, cabbage, and queso fresco. Be sure not to fill yourself up too much though, because El Original Steak Tacos are a must. These two grilled flour tortillas with melted Chihuahua cheese, avocado, pico de gallo, and their famous carne asada (served with rice and beans) are absolutely delicious.
Come on Margarita Monday for $2 off any single margarita and 50% off apps at the bar!
“Huge fan of this restaurant! It's a little hole in the wall place that is simply delicious! Another alluring feature of this charming establishment is the decor! I love how funky it is and the walls are COVERED in this unique style.” - Yelp Review
Authentic Mexican with amazing lunch specials
1028 Oberlin Rd | Raleigh | lacarretaraleigh.com
If you’re looking for an affordable yet filling lunch special, La Carreta has got you covered. From $10 burritos to $11 plates, you can enjoy just about any authentic Mexican dish at an affordable price.
Looking to make dinner plans instead? Come in around dinnertime to enjoy one of their House Specialties such as Agua Chili, Mojarra a la Diabla, or Fried Chimichangas. And of course, you can also choose from fajitas, seafood plates, tacos, and more.
Their kids menu offers burritos, tacos, enchiladas, and quesadillas with rice and beans as sides, as well as corn dogs and chicken tenders with fries as a side.
“Great service, great food, and lots of vegetarian options. We usually sit on the patio, which is very cute and the service is great. The menu is similar to your typical American Mexican restaurant, but the quality sets it apart.” - Yelp Review
Locally-sourced Mexican and Latin American cuisine
106 S Wilmington St | Raleigh | centroraleigh.com
This Mexican restaurant is a staple in Downtown Raleigh. Their queso is famous, so be sure to order their Chips & Queso - yellow corn chips served with their homemade queso.
For mains, their menu is relatively small. But that’s because they believe in quality over quantity. You can get steak, chicken, pork, or fish tacos. Their Tacos Pibil is our favorite - two corn tortillas with sour orange-achiote pulled pork, pickled onions, and cilantro, served with rice and beans. Other plates include Mole Poblano, made of grilled chicken breast, cilantro rice, fried plantains, 20 ingredients mole poblano, and fried cilantro, and Enchiladas de la Familia, chicken, bean, and steak, enchiladas topped with tomatillo, crema, and chipotle salsa, served with rice and beans.
Their desserts are just as tempting as their drinks. From Capirotada, Flan, and Tres Leches to Luchadora, Picosita, and Aniversario, it might be hard to pick just one of each.
“I love the decor & ambiance at Centro. It just feels very authentic. But more importantly, the food here is delicious. The guacamole is the best I've had, and that's saying a lot b/c I consider myself a guac aficionado.” - Yelp Review
Baja California inspired cuisine
6006 Falls of Neuse Rd | Raleigh | www.saltandlimecabo.com
The cuisine of the Baja Peninsula in California ranges from street food and tacos to European style dishes. It centers on bold, modern, and fresh flavors. Salt & Lime Cabo Grill is dedicated to serving these distinct Baja flavors, so you don’t have to travel all the way to California to experience Baja cuisine.
You will find a variety of signature margaritas on their menu. Our favorites are Blood Orange, Grilled Grapefruit, and Strawberry Lemonade. If you like your margarita on the spicier side, try the Desert Fire or the Habanero Peach.
The Baja Trio is a great starter for the table, but the Cabo Rolls are something you won’t find anywhere else (besides Baja California, of course).
Some menu favorites are the Cabo Street Chicken, Shrimp & Grits, and Surf & Turf Burrito. The California Street Tacos are also a must. Try the BBQ Mahi, Classic Fish, and Braised Short Rib.
“My fiancée and I popped in for a dinner date. It was delicious--their chips and queso was to die for! Margaritas are yummy, wait staff are friendly and check in regularly. Will definitely be returning!” - Yelp Review
From authentic Mexican to Baja Mexican, classic margs to habanero peach margs, no-frills to insta-worthy decor, there are so many amazing Mexican restaurants in Raleigh to get your marg on. Let us know in the comments which of these Mexican restaurants in Raleigh you try first!