Los Cuates – Why would you ever go to a chain???

September 14, 2007

The Triangle, and Durham in particular, is flush with good, authentic Mexican restaurants. Some are true taquerias and others are more full service establishments. Colman Andrews had a feature on the Durham Latino scene in the September Gourmet. No mention was made of Raleigh, and that’s probably appropriate, as we certainly don’t have the number of Mexican restaurants as the Bull City.

Nevertheless, we do have my favorite lunch place, Los Cuates, located (where else?) in a non-descript strip mall in North Raleigh (4524 Old Wake Forest Rd.). I eat here about once a week, getting a couple of lengua tacos, or a green chile burrito, or a torta. And I always — ALWAYS — get one of their refreshing agua frescas, which now come in 6 flavors. They have a condiment bar with 4 different salsas, some pickled carrots & jalapenos, cucumbers, radishes and lime. Chips are complimentary. Oh, and that burrito and agua fresca will set you back a whopping 6 bucks, with tax and tip.

Sure, you order at the counter. And yes, it’s not the fanciest place in the world. But it’s always good if not great. I love this place.

But my big question is why the hell is this place almost always 2/3 empty and places like Moe’s or Chipotle are inevitably packed to the rafters (and be careful, I just might slug the next person who “welcomes me” to Moe’s next time)? Are we, as a consuming, eating society, that dumb? I’m not without hope, as I see big crowds at Dos Taquitos all the time (but that just might be because of their margaritas!).

Think about it, you can go to Moe’s and get crappier, less tasty food that costs more money, still ordering at the counter. You can get your sweet tea or Diet Coke. At Los Cuates, the food and drink choices are far more extensive, but you don’t even need to be adventurous. You can get your chicken burrito or steak taco (and they’ll actually taste like chicken and steak, too!!). But there’s so much more. And it all tastes so much better. So dare to make a change and go somewhere other than the usual joints and support the owners of this great establishment.

Los Cuates

4524 Old Wake Forest Rd.

Raleigh, NC 27609


(they also have a drive-thru at 3505 Capital Blvd.)