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Best tacos al pastor in Durham/Triangle area?

Does anyone have a favorite place in Durham or the greater triangle area for tacos al pastor? Personally I like Los Comales on Roxboro Rd, but was wondering if there is something better out there that I am missing. Does anyone know of a place that makes the pastor the old-fashioned way on a spit?

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  1. Funny, I was just thinking the same thing the other day. I haven't come across any that do pastor the old school way, but love the pastor tacos at superior (in the big market on roxboro road).

    1. ive seen al pastor on the menus of the taco trucks i frequent, but i cant remember if ive tried it. i like barbacoa a lot.

      1. none of the places i've been ever do the pineapple either...hmmph!

        3 Replies
        1. re: TSQ75

          I agree. The pineapple is key. I've found that Compare foods off of Roxboro Rd. sells uncooked pastor with pineapple ($2.99/lb) that is pretty tasty. Their chorizo is good (and cheap) as well.

          1. re: sweetmung

            their house chorizo really is good. They had samples out one saturday, and i thought it was amazingly flavorful, with just a little smoky heat

            so their pastor is pretty good? hmmm

          2. re: TSQ75

            There's a little tacaqueria in Cary (name escapes me, something like Rancho Nuevo) on Maynard near Chatam (just up from Sea Depot, near SAS Soccer Park) that had pinapple in the pastor.

          3. My favorite so far has been El Paraiso. Don't think it's the old-fashioned way, but the love is just dripping off these tacos. I was not overly impressed with Los Comales. I guess I'm not a fan of the fixin's bar. There's no love at the fixin's bar.

            7 Replies
              1. re: tacostacoseverywhere

                That's, like, the mad sketchy one, right? On Alston? The place doesn't even have a menu and the tacos are like $2 per, but they were surprisingly good.

                1. re: BryanZ

                  Yep. On Alston close to Durham Freeway. Go before the sun goes down. The little girl there is super friendly and will ease any tension that you may have about the sketchiness. I want to go there right now.

                  1. re: Shag Waits

                    Nothing like instant gratification. I convinced my wife and we took our baby into the heart of sketchiness and got some tacos to go. Guess what? They were just as freaking good after 15 minutes in styrofoam. Lengua = love. Pollo = love. Pastor = love. El Paraiso, I love you.

                  2. re: BryanZ


                    El Paraiso looks sketchy but I've been there many times without any difficulty. They have some of the best Mexican food in the Triangle, perhaps some of the best I've ever had.

                    WRT al pastor, I could take it or leave it. Pineapples and pork remind me of the abomination- hawaiian pizza

                    1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                      To be sure, I've been a couple times. Though the complete lack of menu (no, the poster board with random Mexican foodstuffs written on it seemingly at random doesn't count) and general, umm, look of the place can be a bit unsettling. I'm a La Vaquita man myself, but if I'm down at American Party Rentals then Paraiso makes a good lunch.

                      1. re: BryanZ

                        I dropped by el Paraiso once with friends who had a baby in tow - it was in the afternoon and there was really loud music blasting and we just couldn't stay. I've been meaning to go back and check it out minus baby. I have no fear of Alston Ave., but I just haven't made the trek. This is going to happen very soon, but my Spanish is pretty minimal. You mentioned there's no menu, so my question is: what should I order there? since there's no "loveless" fixins bar, what do I ask for? A friend of mine likes the posole. Do they always have that?

              2. Taqueria La Vaquita (2700 Chapel Hill Rd) in Durham is the best taco stand I've ever found (our Mexican friends agree). They were featured recently in Gourmet magazine and make their own tortillas. Very friendly and sweet pwners/staff. Phone 919-402-0209.

                5 Replies
                1. re: kwin

                  I used to go the taco cow all the time and told all kinds of people about it, but haven't been in a while. I'm inspired to go back. What's your favorite thing there? I didn't know they made their own tortillas - that wasn't the case when I used to go.
                  I'd still like to try el Paraiso - it would be nice to be able to sit down and maybe even have a beer. That's the only problem with the cow.

                  1. re: suse

                    Blaringly loud music is a cultural thing in Mexican establishments ,at least here and in Chicago. I've kind of

                    I've been to El Pariso several times. BryanZ doesn't say that they don't have a menu, merely that he doesn't recognize what they have as such. I've always been able to navigate the menu on the greaseboard (perhaps this is where Poole's Downtown Diner got the idea of not having a printed menu). I've always been struck by the tastiness of the rice and beans served on the side.

                    I've made the trip from Raleigh several times. Before one goes for the first time, I recommend reading Jim Leff's report from his ChowTour a few years ago for a little background. http://www.chow.com/tour/156

                    1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                      Thanks for the info. I had seen that a while back actually and always find it amazing when Durham pops up on the national scene. I'll definitely make sure I try the beans and rice along with whatever else I get.

                    2. re: suse

                      Luckily, I live about 2 blocks from La Vaquita, so it's great for take-out... my favorites are, coincidentally, tacos al pastor, and also the mole is delicious. Most of the time we get a group of friends together and our Mexican friends just do the ordering! (Lazy, I know.)

                      1. re: suse

                        I went to La Vaquita last night, and the owner said that the family has recently taken over a sit-down taco place on Hillsborough Road. He says they didn't change the name to La Vaquita, but that the food is just as good. 3409 Hillsborough Road.

                        I should also add that La Vaquita was great for vegetarian stuff -- pretty much everything on the menu is adaptable to vegetarian.

                        Also wanted to add to the chorus of support for La Vaquita. Friendly owners, lots of love in the food, super fresh.

                    3. La Carnecerita Toledos in RTP, near the intersection of 54 & 55. Go! It's awesome. I eat there all the time. I had the pastor the first time I went and it was perfect. With pineapple. Lately, I can't seem to stop thinking about their gorditas. The place in Cary is called Rancho Grande on Maynard, across the street from the trailor park. I ate there last night in fact for the first time. It was quite good. Very authentic. I think Toledos is a bit more authentic, personally. As I understand it, Rancho Grande is a Mexican taqueria run by Hondourans. Either one is a good choice.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: eightlegeddj

                        Can you tell me where exactly this is located at the intersection of 55 and 54?

                        1. re: aldog

                          Absolutely! Let's say you're coming to that intersection from I-40. Get off I-40, going towards that intersection. At the light, take a left towards the train tracks. Cross the tracks, and it is immediately on your left. It's the little pink shopping center you'd never think of going to.

                          Hopefully this link will take you a Google Maps picture of the place.


                      2. Los Comales is my favorite of the many excellent taquerias in D-Town. I'm not sure what Shag Waits' issues are with the condiments bar: cilantro, pico de gallo, limes, 3 hot salsas, hot pickled veggies, shredded cabbage, and radishes do it for me. I would have to say their fresh homemade tortillas are another strong draw. I do still need to check out El Paraiso, though.

                        1. La Vaquita rocks. Friendly personnel. Wonderfully authentic Mexican food at a fair price. Los Comales is good as is Superior.

                          1. Fonda y Birrieria Jalisco in Raleigh does tacos al pastor on a trompo(this is the rotisserie type thing) with pineapple.

                            1. Ate at El Paraiso on Alston Ave last night for the first time and was blown away by the food. The tacos al pastor were great, but the tacos de lengua were absolutely amazing, best I've ever had (sorry mom). I personally love that they stack the tacos with more than the sparse, traditional ingredients. The green salsa is amazing, you really get the flavor of fresh tomatillo. Next time I'm going to try the posole. I didn't see it on the carton menu, but anyone know if they offer pipian?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: efe781999

                                I have yet to find a place that offers pipian. If anyone finds one please let me know. Maybe Fiesta Grill des but I haven't been there in awhile.

                              2. Though I prefer Vaquita overall - Comales had the best pastor I've had to date.

                                Am I the only person who didn't enjoy El Paraiso? My order was greasy, too greasy by half, and the tortilla was a bit gummy. Granted, it was only one meal - still...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Der_K

                                  I got tacos pastor at Taqueria Rubio (aka the red taco bus on Hillsborough Rd.) this evening. They are simply awesome. This makes three weekends in a row I've gotten these little lovlies at Rubio.

                                  1. re: Der_K

                                    I tried it several months back, very enthusiastic about the prospects of good pastor in the area ans was extremely disappointed. Not good at all. I am mexican and lived 4 years in Jalisco; my humble opinion is that El Paraiso was not good.

                                  2. It's not in Durham, but it's pretty close depending on which part of Durham you are at: Don Jose La Tienda Mexicana. I don't know if they cook the pastor on a spit but I do know that their taco shells are made fresh on site. I wrote about it a while back on if you want to read it. Tell me what you think should you decide to try it out! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/616803

                                    1. What about in the area North of 540? I know is going to be difficult, but.......

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Rafael

                                        An acquaintance was telling me about a taqueria in Raleigh on Capital Blvd (in the same palza as a Wal-Mart?) that cooks their al pastor on a spit and they carve it off when you order it. Does anyone know about this place?

                                        1. re: ToothTooth

                                          That sounds like Fonda y Birrieria Jalisco, although it's off Wake Forest Rd(on Ronald Dr., IIRC), not Capital. It is in a strip mall in front of a Wal-Mart. They do pastor on a spit.

                                      2. Someone on another food blog stated that El Buen Sabor (in Durham on University near Academy... bright red and yellow) did a good Al Pastor and actually had Pineapple in it.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                          Yeah, I can vouch for El Buen Sabor. Their tacos al pastor are in my top 3 for the triangle area.

                                          1. re: ToothTooth

                                            Cool. That one is actually close to my house. Do you recommend anything else there? Is it generally good, or is it just the tacos al pastor?

                                            1. re: suse

                                              Their pupusas are awesome and an incredible deal to boot. You can get a shredded chicken and cheese pupusa for $2! I love their tortillas because they are hand made to order. This makes it take longer to get your food but it is so worth it. It is even better than places that make machine made tortilla on premises. Their tortillas are thicker so they don't require doubling like other places and they don't fall apart as easily-- and they just taste better. They also sometimes add avocado slices to their el pastor tacos, which for $1.745 is also a bargain. That said last time I went the el pastor was overcooked, some pieces were almost like jerky. For consistency and awesome condiments I also like Los Comales, so I give these two places a tie.

                                              Los Comales
                                              2103 N Roxboro St, Durham, NC 27704

                                              1. re: bbqme

                                                Everything bbqme stated about the handmade tortillas at El Buen Sabor is 100% spot on. Great tortillas and the avacado slices on the tacos area really nice touch.

                                                Also not to be missed: The avacado/tomatillo salsa on the salsa bar at El Buen Sabor is terrific.

                                                They also have tacos de nopales on the menu, which you don't see everywhere, but I've never tried it.