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Eastern NC Taqueria/Authentic Mexican thread

I haven't seen a thread on this subject, so let's do it! I'd like to leave Tex-Mex places out of the discussion unless they have a decent amount of authentic Mexican items on the menu, or something that's really unique and spectacular. And let's keep it east of I-95.

Greenville:

El Picante Mexican Grill
111 W Fire Tower Rd
Winterville, NC 28590

Probably the most gringo-friendly of the Greenville places. The owner and most staff speak English fluently, and they take plastic. They have several different types of tortas, tacos come in al pastor, tripe, tongue, chicken, and azada. They also have Nayarit style tacos(shrimp, fish, and breaded chicken), which have melted cheese and a special sauce whose flavor is hard to describe. They're very good though, and a unique item- I haven't seen this kind of taco anywhere else around here. The tacos al pastor are the best in town.

Supermercado El Rancho
2500 Charles Blvd
Greenville, NC 27858

This is a grocery store/carniceria that has an attached sit-down restaurant. The menu is a bit more extensive than El Picante, but I don't feel like the preparation is quite as good for most items. They have several really unique, somewhat baroque tortas- I've had a couple but the "española" sticks out in my mind, with its chorizo and egg. They also do really excellent fried quail. Birria and pozole are served on weekends. There's a good sized salsa/condiment bar.

El Rodeo Carniceria
102 Airport Rd
Greenville, NC 27834

El Rodeo is another carniceria, this time on the other side of town. I've only eaten here once and was pretty unimpressed. They had an impressive list of soups and stews which included birria and consomé de borrego, but I was told that they didn't have any soups or stews(despite them comprised about half of the menu). I ordered a couple of tacos instead, and both were pretty bad. The salsas had a bitter, acrid taste to them and were kinda gross. Avoid!

El Azador
1200 N Greene St
Greenville, NC 27834

Right across the street from El Rodeo. I haven't been in probably two years since El Picante and El Rancho are so much more convenient, but I did have some pretty good tacos de chorizo there once upon a time. I'd like to go back and try there pollo azado- they make a big deal out of it being cooked over coals.

Wilson:

There are tons of places, but I'm really only familiar with Taqueria Guerrero, having eaten from their taco truck a few times in various places.

Robersonville:

La Esperanza
305 W 3rd St
Robersonville, NC 27871

This is a grocery store with a small attached restaurant. I just found out about it recently, so I haven't had the chance to sample it in any great depth. The major quirk here is that they don't have a menu- one of the employees will tell you what they're serving that day in so-so English. I had tacos al pastor when I went, and they were good. The salsas were above average, too.

Roper:

Los Garcia's Store
6201 Mackeys Rd
Roper, NC

This was a favorite of mine when I worked in Plymouth. Could use a status update, as I've heard that it has closed, but I haven't been down that way to verify. It's out in the country and has a country store atmosphere- many of the customers are non-Hispanic. My favorite was always the sopes and the green hot sauce.

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  1. La Esperanza in Robersonville has turned into a regular lunch spot for me. I alternate between tacos and the daily specials. My favorite of those has been the bistec en salsa roja(the salsa roja was unreal), although they do really good tamales on Friday and Saturday. I had tamales for lunch today and the place was absolutely packed- all the more incredible when you consider the fact that Robersonville is a tiny town of perhaps 2-3,000 people.

    Robersonville is on US64, so if you're headed to the Outer Banks from points west or north, I'd recommend giving La Esperanza a shot.

    1. We tried La Esperanza and El Picante Mexican Grill. La Esperanza was for dinner and they were closing soon. We had the special, a grilled pork chop with sauce and a few tacos. Everything was o.k. but not great. We're thinking that this was due to the hour. Next time we will go for lunch.

      El Picante Mexican Grill was quite nice despite their not selling beer. ;) The chicken enchilada verde was delicious. The tacos al pastor were good but I've had better. I'm certain that there are other delights on the menu and we will definitely be back, brown bagging it, to try other dishes.

      Thanks for the head up Naco...

      2 Replies
      1. re: DaveN

        With the daily specials at La Esperanza, I'll often add some salsa from the bar; this really perks them up. The tamales are very good too, and Friday seems to be their busiest day because of that. One more thing- they're closed on Wednesdays- I didn't know that at the time of my first post.

        I'm a little behind on the menu at El Picante- they made some changes a few months back. But do try the tacos Nayarit, especially the fish or shrimp. Also, pretty much anything in salsa verde is going to be really good there.

        1. re: DaveN

          BTW, El Picante has beer now.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. I had lunch at Tacos y Tortas El Mexicanito in Wilson today. I was really impressed; the salsa roja was the best I've had in a while. I had two carne asada tacos and one taco with chorizo, all excellent. I was there in the middle of the afternoon(3:30pm or so) and they were bumping full, always a good sign. I'm going to have to get back soon and try the pastor.

            It's at 403 S. Tarboro St., corner of Tarboro and Hines St.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Naco

              Went back to El Mexicanito yesterday. The first thing I noticed was the giant slab of seasoned pork being spit roasted behind the counter. *Tacos al pastor*. Oh yes.

              The meat was really well seasoned and flavorful. Both the salsa roja and the verde were superb- I preferred the verde by a very slim margin. El Mexicanito also grills their tortillas perfectly; they're crisped ever so slightly and the corn flavor really shines through. The tacos were also on the small side(2-3 bites each), which I like. The only thing I'd knock was the lack of pineapple. But in general, everything was fresh and flavorful, and they get most of the little details right.

              Definitely worth driving from Greenville.

              1. re: Naco

                I was in Wilson this week and thanks to this thread had some great fare at El Mexicanito. Had 1) chorizo, 1) lengua & 1) buche taco. They were $1.50 a piece and just about perfect taco stand tacos. They were so good, I didn't use any salsa one them. Buche is pig stomach. I always thought tripa was general stomach, but I guess it refers to beef stomach alone or something. They also have huaraches. Good stuff. Very friendly service. Thanks for the heads up, Naco!

                1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                  Cool, glad you enjoyed it. As for tripa, my experience has been that it can be used somewhat imprecisely, and as you see with buche, there are more specific words that refer to particular types of offal. Beef stomach is typically called pancita.

              2. re: Naco

                Naco,
                You are my hero. I ate dinner at Tacos y Tortas Wilson tonight. I just returned to my room. I skipped lunch and arrived at TyT around 5:30 pm.
                When I arrived I was sure they were closed, no cars in the lot (except one parked in the old drive through), no visible people. I tried the door and it was open, but the place was empty. However, a very nice woman appeared and I had 4 tacos, lingua, al pastor, chorizo and buche. That was my first buche, and I started with it. I loved them all.
                Then I had a huarache with chorizo. As I asked the nice woman, "where has that been all my life?"
                Their salsas were great, especially the green one.
                I asked her how business was and she said ok, but only 2 people came in while I was there, but it was early.
                I will return the next time I am here.
                Again, Thanks!

                1. re: Tee

                  I imagine they're doing okay. They've been pretty busy every time I was in there. I actually drove over with a friend yesterday, and we had a bit of a wait for our food because they were short staffed and had a bunch of take out orders to make before ours.

                  1. re: Naco

                    Naco,
                    What time do they close at night? this time I arrived at 6:20 pm only to find it locked and dark. Talk about disappointing!

                    1. re: Tee

                      I have a business card from them that says:

                      Mon, Tue, Thurs: 10am-8pm
                      Wed: 10am-7:00pm
                      Fri-Sun: 10am-10pm

                      I ate there just before closing this summer. But most of the times I've been, it's been for lunch.

                      Las Palmas is nearby and is also good if El Mexicanito is closed. There's also a place called El Pollo Loco(which I haven't tried yet) on 42 as you come into Wilson. I think this is Herring Av. inside of Wilson.

                      1. re: Naco

                        Thanks Naco.
                        I guess they closed a little early lasy night. I saw El Pollo Loco as I was headed to my hotel but didn't stop.

              3. Spotted:

                El Taco Loco on Hwy 55 in New Bern, just outside of downtown.

                Selena's Luncheria on Hwy 70 near La Grange.