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Jul 12, 2010 06:26 PM

HELP!! is there any authentic mexican food in western north carolina?

I know everyone mentions LaPaz in Asheville. It's good, but it's more fusion-y. I recently relocated from southwestern Michigan and am really craving the deep-soul stylings of my favorite Mexican joint in the mitten (a great place called Su Casa in a dinky farming community called Fennville).....I'd settle for a good authentic taqueria or taco truck, but is there any place around here that does slow-cooked, deep-flavored grandma food like homemade mole sauce or pork stewed in red sauce until it's falling apart, or regional specialties, or anything of that nature? Any insight that anyone could provide would be great. I work in Asheville and live further west, if that helps narrow the search at all.

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  1. I haven't been to Asheville in a few years, but there was a fantastic taqueria on Merrimon Av. near the library that we went to a few times. I saw several other places that looked like candidates. Employing my theory that most authentic Mexican places are single proprietorships named:

    El/La/Los/Las/Taqueria [Esoteric-to-Gringos Mexican Geographic or Cultural Reference], the health department listings for Buncombe County yield the following:

    El Chapala
    La Carreta
    La Piedrita Carniceria
    Las Cazuelas
    Taqueria Fast

    Likely candidates that violate some of the aforementioned conditions:

    Tacos Jalisco
    El Rebozo

    The list:

    2 Replies
    1. re: Naco're not saying those El/La places are authentic Mexican are you? They're all identical, out of a can places. I'm confused.

      1. re: danna

        I was saying that they were good starting points. This is how I scout out a new area that I'll be traveling to.

        I have to say that it strikes me as highly unlikely that someplace billing itself as a carniceria is a bog standard Tex-Mex place, though.

    2. I no longer live in Asheville, but there had been several on Patton Ave, all East of New Leiscester Hwy. The one in the white strip center where the Salvation Army thrift store/Sally Beauty Supply/paint store was the best imo. This is on the S. side of the road, just west of Louisiana.

      Looking forward to your updates!

      5 Replies
      1. re: meatn3

        Thanks for the rec's! I'd seen the vast number out of Patton, and was wondering if any of them really had the goods! I'll check out the one you mention, as well as the one on Merrimon--it may even be near where I work!

        1. re: meatn3

          I'm fairly certain there's excellent Mexican food to be had in Western NC. You may have to seek it out. Naco's recommendations are spot on.

          I can't offer a specific tip for A'ville. Finding possibliities for good ethnic food is pretty easy if you know what to look for, though. First, look for older shopping centers that have seen their better days. In these shopping centers, look for ethnic markets. Successful ethnic markets indicate that there's a population nearby willing to support such a store. In the same shopping center, you'll probably find something good to eat. If nothing else, you'll have some fun on your lunch hour.

          1. re: Tom from Raleigh

            The markets themselves are usually good places to look. Meat markets have to undergo health department inspections just like restaurants, so many of them apparently decide that they may as well go ahead and have a small restaurant. Every ethnic meat market here in Greenville has a restaurant/grill attached to it.

            1. re: Naco

              Yep! My two faves back in Michigan were in spaces behind supermercados. And I agree, anyplace with their own meat counter's gonna be GOOD! I'm definitely going to seek out the carniceria and see if they have an attached restaurant or want to talk about where to eat......

              AND! I sought out the closest Mexican joint I could find near the Merrimon Ave. library, which turned out to be El Chapala, in a mall-ish thing sort of up behind the library. I just got enchiladas rancheras off the lunch special menu, and they were nice! Great flavor to the pork and the sauce on top, and good gaucamole. It seems like it would be hard to mess up guacamole, but I've been amazed at how many times I've seen it happen. Anyway, I'll definitely go back to ElChapala and try some more dishes.

              I also spotted a little storefront cash-only taqueria on......haywood? Is that the road that Admiral and Harvest REcords are on? It was a little way from them. That looks likely, too! I'll let you know if I have a chance to try it out!

              1. re: dingey

                Dingey, the place on Haywood, Taqueria Gonzalez Grill, inside the tienda, will be exactly what you are looking for. My family are regulars and my children beg for it. Tortillas made there, sometimes while you wait, all the traditional stews, everything from scratch, cooked down from the cheap but wholesome cuts of meat, very traditional. I am not hispanic in spite of my name here on CH, and I can tell you there is no menu and they pretty steadily don't converse in english, but mostly are very friendly and will work with you to figure out your order. Come back on different days of the week and you will find always a different stew and always different -stuff on the steam table - the mole and the pork in verde are not every day. And for $25 you can feed a family of 4 and have 2 meals of leftovers. The pastor is great, carnitas usually great, I like the lengua although it is simple, and their tamales are special, but best when fresher.

          1. re: Spreadhead

            In my experience, you will find good tacos at most flea markets.

          2. Is Smiley's in Fletcher? Is there a booth in there that sells food or something? Hmmmmmmm, curious!

            And THANK YOU for the report on Taqueria Gonzalez Grill! I stuck my head in there once, but had no cash on me and, of course, they had no take out menu that I could score. Somehow this suggested to me that Taqueria Gonzales was probably exactly what I've been looking for! I've been meaning to go back with cash in pocket. Now I will FOR SURE! Just hearing that they sometimes have lengua and mole tells me that this is a sure-fire spot to hit.

            5 Replies
            1. re: dingey

              Mr Suave is a tortilleria on Patton Ave that just added tacos, tortas and the like to their menu. I bet they are pretty authentic...

              1. re: miss piggy

                The name alone has been enough to attract my attention when stuck in traffic on Patton! Have you tried their other goods? Mmmmm, it seems like tortas should be good--I've seen several Mexican bakeries around town!

              2. re: dingey

                Yes, its in Fletcher and there are several restaurant/stands inside and they are all very good.

                1. re: Spreadhead

                  We ate at Taqueria Gonzalez today and it just blew me away. It's exactly what I've been looking for. Personally I can't stand most of the Mexican places in Asheville (like El Chapala, El Charro, La Carreta) and I've been craving something like this. I wrote a Yelp review, so I'll just copy it here. Thanks so much for this suggestion!

                  Wow. This place is amazing. I hate most of the "Mexican" places around here -- they all seem to have the same exact menu, the same problem with oversalting, the same cheap ingredients. This place is the real deal. When we went they didn't have the enchiladas or barbacoa (I think what's available changes daily, so you might think of the menu board as more of a suggestion list and ask them what they actually have), so we all settled for tacos al pastor -- delicious, marinated, pork nestled in a warm, homemade tortilla so much better than anything you've ever tasted, and split a tamal between 3 people. We went a little crazy at the condiments bar (that red sauce is HOT), but everything turned out perfectly. The service was friendly, and we got to watch the original Spanish-language _Ugly Betty_ (_La Fea_) while we enjoyed our meal. Freaking fantastic.

                  1. re: alimcghee

                    Papas and Beer (brevard road location) serves great california mex. (it would hold its own in SF/LA - from a CA local)
                    El Rebozo in Arden is very good
                    La Carretta may be the worst 'mex' I've ever had - shudder...
                    Glad to see Mr. Suave is back to making food! They stopped a few years ago and it was good...
                    The Taqueria on Haywood rd - blanking on the name - has great tacos and lastly, taqueria Fast on Merrimon has the closest to a 'mission style' ( I know, not actually a mexican dish) I've seen outside SF.

              3. Crazy Donkey in Brevard. Very good Mexican food. Often full of Mexican workers when I've been in there.

                It's just as your coming in to Brevard from Pisgah Forest in the small shopping strip w/ the Walgreens.