For great Mexican food, look no further (Demo)

Gringo a Go Go is nestled on the corner of Person and Edenton Streets in downtown Raleigh. After having tried to start the restaurant in the building that is now The Station, further down Person Street, owner Ben Sherman ended up in the current location which had been Biscuit Station for decades and then after that, a few short-lived sandwich shops. When asked why he decided to open a Mexican restaurant Sherman said, “I really like Mexican food and there isn’t really any real Mexican food around here.” He traveled around Mexico gathering recipes and ideas for a business that is regularly filled to bursting with customers. Sherman considers their chilaquiles (fresh tortillas sautéd in a tomatillo cream sauce and topped with sour cream, cilantro, onion with choice of grilled or vegan chicken), al pastor (roasted pork marinated in a sauce made of dried chilies, spices and pineapple), and the enchiladas to be their specialties.
I have been to Gringo a Go Go several times. Over the course of these visits, my friends and I have tried almost everything on the menu. The menu has some of what you would expect of most Mexican restaurants: tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos and some unexpected choices like empanadas and torta. To go in all of those choices are five meats, and four vegetarian and vegan choices in filling. The salsas are all absolutely delicious and range from a relatively mild orange salsa filled with tangy orange pieces and a few bits of jalapeños to the incredibly spicy habanero and some interesting ones in the middle like peanut salsa.
Simply put, the food is fantastic. From slow roasted pork carnitas and chorizo, to potatoes and nopales (prickly pear cactus pads), I have not had anything that was disappointing. On the latest trip I ordered one of each of the meat fillings in tacos to remind myself of all of the flavors. I’ll get the warning out of the way here: if you are looking for something like El Rodeo or Taco Bell, don’t go to Gringo. The food here is as authentic as it can be. That was Sherman’s goal, and he achieved it. Everything is made fresh and in house and the tacos are made as they should be. They aren’t dressed up with all kinds of garnishes, although a condiment plate with onions, jalapeños (pickled, grilled and raw) and radishes is available upon request. When you order a taco they bring you a small tortilla with the filling you asked for and a pinch of cilantro and a slice of lime. This allows the freshly made fillings to stand out. The burritos and quesadillas do have things other than the fillings, but that filling is the center of attention in every bite. They also offer several bottled Mexican sodas and two types of agua fresca which change regularly and range from cantaloupe to watermelon to hibiscus and occasionally horchata, something that in my opinion they should have more often because it is great.
If you plan to go during the lunch rush or for dinner on Friday or Saturday, make sure you have time. At those times the restaurant is packed and until the weather warms up enough for people to sit outside, seats are at a premium. Also when the restaurant so packed, the meal will take a while. It gives you plenty of time to sit back and enjoy your company and have a drink. (Gringo serves the best margarita in the city.)
The staff is very friendly and apologetic when the kitchen starts getting backed up. and are very attentive. I can see it being a problem if you have a movie or show to make it to and the wait time can get frustrating if you are really hungry. The food is fairly priced. At $3 a taco I can’t find a reason to complain.
Overall I’d give if four and a half of out of five stars. While the service can be slow and the room can be crowded, I feel that it is completely worth the wait to get a meal at Gringo a Go Go. If you want authentic Mexican food and you don’t want to spend a bunch of money on plane tickets, look no further.
For more information visit: http://gringoraleigh.com/

Nopales taco
Nopales taco

Al Pastor burrito
Al Pastor burrito

From left to right, top to bottom: chorizo, asada, pollo, al pastor and carnitas tacos (all of the meats)
From left to right, top to bottom: chorizo, asada, pollo, al pastor and carnitas tacos (all of the meats)

Asada quesadilla
Asada quesadilla

Peanut and orange salsas and chips
Peanut and orange salsas and chips

Leave a comment