From cheap Mexican cantinas to elegant tapas bars, these 10 restaurants serve the most authentic Hispanic and Latino food in Wake County.
Here’s the thing: We’re blessed with outstanding Hispanic food in NC.
It’s a testament to the diversity of North Carolina, and its growing profile as a destination for foodies. Wake County, home to the NC capital in Raleigh, is a prime spot good eats.
Here are 10 of the most authentic Hispanic and Latino restaurants to visit in Wake County and the Raleigh area. Your mouth will be watering by No. 2.
Location: Six locations in the Triangle area
La Guasaca is not only No. 1 on Tripadvisor for Latin restaurants in Raleigh, it also comes in first for the list “Quick Bites in Raleigh.” Think Venezuelan Chipotle. It’s not only fast and casual, it’s likely nearby. The beloved Venezuelan restaurant now has six different locations in the Triangle area, so you might not have to travel far to indulge in the deliciousness.
What locals rave about: The guasaca bowls (the restaurant is named after Venezuela’s version of guacamole), arepas, and fast service.
Arepa Culture NC
Location: 6274 Glenwood Ave., #100, Raleigh
Arepa Culture NC is an award-winning food truck and fast-casual restaurant in Raleigh. Because Arepa Culture makes its arepas gluten-free, it’s a great place for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities to munch on some tasty Hispanic food. It also has vegetarian options.
What locals rave about: The friendly staff, sauces (especially cilantro), and cachapas (cheesy, Venezuelan corn pancakes).
Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken
Location: 10 locations in the Triangle area
For authentic Peruvian food in Wake County, look no further than Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken. All of its chicken is hormone-free, local, and free of all major allergens. The award-winning chain has locations in Raleigh, Durham, Garner, Chapel Hill, Knightdale, Morrisville, and Apex, so there’s bound to be one near you.
What locals rave about: The flavorful and tender meats, sauces, yucca fries, and cheap offerings.
Barcelona Wine Bar
Location: 430 W. Martin St., Raleigh
If you want to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by enjoying fine dining, make a reservation at Barcelona Wine Bar pronto—or shall we say, rapido? Serving chef-driven Spanish tapas with an award-winning wine list, the beloved chain has locations in Raleigh and Charlotte.
What locals rave about: The elegant and classy atmosphere, patatas bravas, and olive oil cake.
Gonza Tacos y Tequila
Location: Four locations in the Triangle area
Gonza Tacos y Tequila is featured on many roundups of the best Latin food in the Triangle area, as it has locations in north Raleigh, downtown Raleigh, Wake Forest, and Cary. The award-winning Colombian and Mexican restaurant now has a food truck, too, so be sure to keep up with the calendar to see when it’s headed your way.
What locals rave about: The Mexican Flag meal, colorful decor, and exceptional service.
Location: 106 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh
Centro is a women-owned restaurant in Raleigh that serves locally sourced Mexican cuisine with other Latin American dishes mixed in. There’s a mezcal bar called Gallo Pelon located above the restaurant, so you can stick around awhile after dinner (as long as you’ve got a designated driver). The eatery also serves brunch on Saturdays.
What locals rave about: The innovative cocktails, enchiladas, and funny ambiance.
Location: 102 N. Salem St., Apex
Due to its authentic Mexican fare and fast service, La Rancherita Grill & Tequila Bar in downtown Apex (with additional locations in Crabtree and Six Forks) has garnered a devoted base of regulars.
What locals rave about: The extensive menu, quick service, and chips with salsa.
Location: Two locations in the Triangle area
When a restaurant has more than 1,000 reviews on Google and still averages close to five stars, you know it’s good. With locations in Apex and Durham, Los Tres Mexican restaurant is beloved by tons of North Carolinians.
What locals rave about: The attentive service, house margaritas, and tres leches cake.
Location: 500 E. Davie St., Raleigh
Located in the oh-so-cool Transfer Co. Food Hall, Che Empanadas averages 4.6 stars on Yelp and is known as “a little corner of Argentina right here in Raleigh.” They serve up the most authentic handmade empanadas in the area.
What locals rave about: The chimichurri and sweet beef empanadas.
Kokí – Creative Puerto Rican Kitchen
Locations: Two locations in the Triangle area
The folks at Kokí (formerly called Spanglish) live by the motto “Barriga Llena, Corazón Contento,” which translates to “Full Belly, Happy Heart.” You will certainly have both when you visit their fast-casual spots in Morrisville and Durham. The tasty Puerto Rican cuisine includes rice bowls, mofongo, empanadas, sandwiches, and more.
What locals rave about: The excellent customer service, bold flavors, and empanadas.
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