Dos Taquitos (Food Seen)

All in the Familia

In Eat, May 2022 by Lauren KruchtenLeave a Comment

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Most likely, whenever you’re craving Mexican, you end up at the same two or three spots. As it turns out, there’s a reason they’re your go-tos: All nine of these local faves are interconnected through strong, local families that who maintained a huge influence on the city’s Mexican restaurant scene, taking “keeping it in the family” to a whole new level. 


El Rodeo
Est. 2000
Owners Jose and Joel Ibarra
Some people might think El Rodeo is a chain, but the Mexican mainstay is actually a local family affair. It all started with the first El Rodeo location in Durham (nee 1989, but closed after 32 years of business in 2021), eventually expanding to three other locations in the Triangle, including the remaining uber-popular City Market spot.

Jose and Sons
Est. 2013
Owners Charlie and Hector Ibarra with Oscar Diaz
Here, Ibarra brothers and chef Oscar Diaz celebrate their forefathers’ Mexican roots in the form of traditional Mexican comfort food fused with Southern influences. Originally located in The Depot in DTR, Jose and Sons moved to their father Jose’s (hence the resto name) former El Rodeo location on Pleasant Valley Road in 2020, continuing the family’s then-25-year legacy in the building.

Chido Taco
Est. 2019
Owners Salvador Alvarez
and Joel Ibarra

Despite the fact that Chido is the first fast-casual sup spot for co-owner Alvarez, it doesn’t skimp on flavor—especially when it comes to fan-fave quesabirria tacos, served with a steamy, flavorful broth you’ll want to drink by the cupful. Also not to be missed are the extravagant margs, served in all sorts of color and flavor combos that always hit the spot.

La Rancherita 
Est. 2015
Owners Salvador Alvarez and Joel Ibarra
You can’t go wrong with anything on La Rancherita’s extensive (five-page!) menu, which this duo (who also own Viva Mexican Kitchen in Morrisville) managed to pack with a diverse range of Mexicellent dishes—from tacos and enchiladas to burritos and quesadillas to casual authentic faves like chimichangas. And, luckily, there are four Triangle locations to get your fiesta on. 

La Buena Vida
Est. 2022
Owner Salvador Alvarez
The newest la familia of Raleigh Mexican hot spots to splash on the scene is just-bowed La Buena Vida (aka “the good life”). Alvarez—who, fun fact, is married to Sanford’s Fonda Lupita owner Biridiana Frausto—says the upscale menu is inspired by dishes from his hometown of Jalisco. (And menu items from the uberpopular Fonda Lupita made the cut as well!) @labuenavida_oficial



Est. 2007
Owner Angela Salamanca
Angela Salamanca was just 17 when she immigrated to the U.S. from Colombia to work at her uncle Carlos’ Dos Taquitos restaurant. Later, when Carlos was looking to open a new Dos Taquitos in DTR, he paired up with Angela—only Carlos left the country to get married, and Salamanca was forced to open what was then dubbed Dos Taquitos Centro on her own. Centro slowly evolved into Angela’s own unique venture, a fresh take on Mexican food inspired by her visits to Oaxaca.

Gallo Pelón 
Est. 2015
Owner Angela Salamanca
Mezcal lovers flock to this mezcaleria above Centro, which is the state’s first mezcaleria and is stocked with one of the largest selections of mezcals in the Southeast (!). Over 35 mezcals grace the menu—order a round of shots or spring for the mezcal flight (served with grasshopper salt!)—while Colombian- and Mexican-influenced food offerings include mole tostadas, flauta and burritos.


Dos Taquitos 
Est. 1991
Owner Pamela Salamanca
An institution on the Raleigh scene for over 30 years, Dos Taquitos was born from the heart of Carlos Salamanca, who traveled frequently to Mexico to learn more about its food and culture before ultimately deciding to open his own Mexican restaurant that channeled that same flavor and spirit. Although relocated from its original location in 2015 by Salamanca’s daughter, Pamela, Dos Taquitos still upholds its signature vibrant, colorful energy (and oh-so-delicious dishes) that make it a Raleigh fave.


Gonza Tacos y Tequila
Est. 2011
Owners Gonza Salamanca and Carlos Rodriguez
Cousins Rodriguez and Salamanca (the latter is also the brother of Dos Taquitos’ Carlos Salamanca) opened the original Gonza in North Raleigh with only $10,000 to their name—but it didn’t take long for the Latin-style Mexican resto to rack up a plethora of regulars. Now with four Triangle locations, Gonza is a go-to for tacos and tequila.

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