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Mar 30, 2011 11:54 AM

Looking for...a good Tex-Mex Restaurant in Charlotte...

I am a NC transplant from Houston, TX and in a desperate search for some good Tex-Mex in Charlotte.

Any suggestions??

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  1. The only place that comes to mind for me is Paco's Tacos in the Southpark area - but I haven't been. I think it's a TX-originated chain so you're probably familiar.

    4 Replies
    1. re: lynnlato

      Paco's Tacos is a Tex/Mex concept owned by the same group that owns Big Daddy's, Mama Ricotta's and Cantina. Paco's Tacos has some darn good brisket, light years better than the dry excuse for brisket that they serve at Mac's.

      Big Daddy's Restaurant
      206 K Ave, Kure Beach, NC 28449

      Mama Ricotta's Restaurant
      601 S Kings Dr, Charlotte, NC 28204

      1. re: GodfatherofLunch

        I've never had dry brisket at Mac's. I haven't had the brisket plate in quite a while, but my SO just had it a month or so ago and enjoyed it. I had their brisket tacos then and they weren't dry at all. Pretty good with raw onion and a good deal at $3/taco.

        1. re: GodfatherofLunch

          I live in Houston and ran across this on the discussion board. Paco's Taco's grand opening was attended by Houston self-proclaimed TexMex guru and author Robb Walsh.

          I looked at the menu and it looks good, if they can pull it off. I don't know if the NC locals are going to like the nachos, however, as they are done the Texas way, individual chips with cheese plus, not the pile of everything on top that everyone excpet Texans seem to like. The carnitas also look good, again if they can pull them off, as lots of places down here can't. The only thing I wouldn't call TexMex is the chimichanga, more a CalMex thing. I hope they do a good job, and the original poster enjoys, as TexMex tends to get a bad name around the country, but when done right, it is great comfort food to any Texan. Oh, the chicken and veggie fajitas, really no such thing, and I'll explain if you are curios.

        2. re: lynnlato

          I was under the impression that Paco's was one of Frank Scibelli's restaurants, not a chain.

        3. I coincidentally just tried Paco's Tacos the other day. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, given its a Scibelli restaurant and I haven't heard great things, but I was pleasantly surprised. I tried both types of shrimp tacos and they were great. One had fried shrimp and the other had grilled. The rice, slaw, and especially the charro beans were all good. Others in my party enjoyed the beef and fish tacos. The real winner was the fried jalapenos - regular sliced pickled jalapenos fried like pickles. Great idea.

          EDIT: I should say I'm not sure I've ever had "good Tex-Mex", so I can't say if this is or not...

          1. Hi, I'm from Dallas and have lived here for five years. You will want to revoke my Texan citizenship when I tell you the Mexican and Tex-Mex food here is so bad, we go to On the Border. It's literally the closest to what I grew up with: yellow cheese enchiladas with onions, etc. I earned my Tex Mex street cred in taquerias on the wrong side of the tracks in San Antonio and upscale chic Dallas places like Mi Cocina. I don't know about Paco's, haven't been there yet. But I've been everywhere else and it's bleak, sister, it's bleak.

            9 Replies
            1. re: DFWnative

              The step up from On the border to Pacos Tacos is so hugh your ears will pop. The TexMex streeet cred you speak of at Pacos Tacos is in part from TexMex authority and cook book author Robb Walsh who helped design the menu.

              1. re: GodfatherofLunch

                Thanks, I will give it a try. Saw the menu and it does look interesting, but seems a few combo plates short of real Tex-Mex :) worth a visit, though, which I will make on your rec!

              2. re: DFWnative

                Have you been to the taquerias, carnicerias, etc. on the "wrong side of the tracks" here in Charlotte? Because we have several very good, authentic, Mexican places around town. We have a significant Mexican population in Charlotte for a city of this size. Man, if you had gone to the Mexico vs. Iceland FIFA World Cup friendly last year at Panther Stadium you would've sworn you were in Mexico City!

                My guess is if you are going to places like On The Border (a place I would never step foot in for food of any sort), you're not at all familiar with places like La Unica or Lupita's Tortilleria y Carniceria, etc. Lupita's has some of the best carnitas and beef barbacoa, and the house made corn tortillas and salsa verde are well worth the long trek up to N. Tryon St. @ Eastway. I think the food at Senor Tequila in South Charlotte/Piper Glen is pretty solid also.

                As for Tex-Mex, I'm sure you're probably correct.

                1. re: lynnlato

                  Yes, I've been to a lot of those places. It's all very traditional Mexican food. There are some Salvadoran and Honduran places too, as I understand. The thing that non-Texans don't understand is that "Mexican" is is not Tex Mex. Yes, Texans use the term "Mexican food" and almost never use the term "Tex Mex" within their home state's borders. We use it to distinguish between "Mexican" and "Tex Mex" in other places, such as Charlotte. I've checked out the menu at Paco's but I'm a little leery because "Chimichangas" are listed as a Texas speciality and you'd be hard pressed to ever find anything called that in Texas. "Chimichanga" is more of an Arizona and Californian thing.

                  And I never said I liked On the Border! Your assumptions are all wrong, about me and about Tex Mex. I've traveled extensively throughout Mexico and there are many regional differences between the northern border states, Central Mexico, the Yucatan, the Baja....and I love a lot of it. But none of it is the food I grew up on in Dallas.

                  1. re: DFWnative

                    You said you went to On the Border because the Mexican and Tex Mex food available to you in Charlotte was so bad. Sounds like you like it. Otherwise, why keep going?

                    1. re: DFWnative

                      Sorry, I read "Mexican food here is so bad we go to On the Border" and I took that to mean "Mexican" and not "Tex-Mex". My bad.

                      I guess we just misinterpreted your post. Things can get lost in translation. Oh, and I'm so glad you clarified that you don't like On The Border. :-)

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        Actually, it said "the Mexican and Tex-Mex food here is so bad, we go to On the Border" so one can see where you where coming from.

                        DFWNative, I think you will find that people on here understand the difference between Tex-Mex and Mexican.

                      2. re: DFWnative

                        I think we all get the concept of Tex Mex. To my knowledge the only restaurant in Charlotte that bills itself as Tex Mex is Pacos Tacos. The same group owns Cantina an extremely successful Mexican restaurant. They could have opened a third location of Cantina but they opted to go with a Tex Mex concept place.

                      3. re: lynnlato

                        Lynnlato...Lupita's Tortilleria y Carniceria is the next place on my list! I've heard many great things about that place on this discussion board. I'm a huge fan of both barbacoa and carnitas! I'll be picking some up after work very soon!

                    2. Well hubby and I went to Paco's Tacos last night and were pleasantly surprised! Everything was really good! You know you're at a good Mexican/Tex Mex (whatever you want to call it!) restaurant when the chips and salsa are good! I had the Paco's Taco (brisket taco) and the Big River (white fish) Taco. I've never seen a brisket taco on a Tex Mex menu but WOW! It was AWESOME! And the El Dorado margarita? Probably one of the BEST margaritas I have ever had! I'm pretty sure I woke up drunk this morning after only drinking ONE...LOL!

                      The menu is definitely "fancier" than most Tex Mex places I've seen in Texas, but the food was great! Will definitely be returning again, and next time I think I'll try the fajitas!!

                      El Dorado
                      2811 Brentwood Rd, Raleigh, NC 27604

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: crissy2011

                        Crissy, so glad you had a great experience. I guess I need to put Paco's Taco on my list of must try places.

                        Let us know how you like Lupita's. I'm a huge fan but it's SO far away for me that I don't get up there too often.

                        Incidentally, I'm a huge fan of brisket tacos and have found an amazing recipe. It's easy enough to make, and if you braise the brisket and let it sit overnight and then shred it - it's so good the next day. Freezes well to. Oh and I don't do it in a crockpot (not a fan). I braise slowly in the oven. Here's a link in case you're interested: