¡Hurra por Cinco de Mayo!

April 24, 2018

If you’ve followed my blog for very long, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I’m from Texas and that I take two food groups seriously: barbecue and tacos. There’s a holiday approaching that Texans go crazy for, and that’s Cinco de Mayo (5th of May). This day is really nothing more than an excuse for us to drink margaritas and eat Mexican food, but I’m just fine with that. For the last couple of months, I’ve been scouting Mexican restaurants and keeping an eye out for Cinco de Mayo happenings. I’m happy to report that Cumberland County does have its fair share of tasty Mexican eateries, as well as several events to help you celebrate the holiday.

cinco de mayo

Get Your Taco Fix Here . . .

I recently started meeting up with friends on random Saturday mornings to embark on what I call “The Great Taco Hunt.” We wanted to find the best taquerias in Cumberland County. By taqueria, I mean a hole-in-the-wall eatery where you’ll find authentic Mexican food. I’m also sharing with you two restaurants that are local favorites here.

Taqueria Angelito

When you think of tacos, you’re probably thinking of soft or hard, ground beef or chicken, with several toppings. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of taco, but for an authentic foodie experience, you must try “street tacos.” Any taqueria worth its salt will have these on their menu, and that is exactly what my friend Mindy and I found at Taqueria Angelito, in the Town of Hope Mills.

cinco de mayo

cinco de mayo

With street tacos, you can go one of two routes: get adventurous (tongue, head or liver) or stick with the familiar (steak, chicken or pork). At Angelito, just like most taquerias, the meat is served on small corn tortillas and topped with onions and cilantro, lime wedges on the side. On my visit, I ordered the Tacos de Lengua, Asada and Carnitas (tongue, steak and pork). My friend Mindy declared their tacos “the best I’ve ever had in my life.” Along with my Jarritos Mandarin soda, my taco trio meal was perfection. For sure, this is the best taqueria I’ve found here. (Follow Mindy's adventures here: Sweet Tea & Pasta.)

La Cocina Restaurante Mexicano

There’s one big reason why I love this Hope Mills restaurant so much: margaritas. Hands down, La Cocina makes the best marg’s in Cumberland County, and I’m partial to their Texas Margarita. Let me warn you about this drink, though; it packs a punch, with a heavy dose of Grand Marnier and Cuervo Gold. Tread carefully, amigo.

cinco de mayo

cinco de mayo

So, what do I order to soak up that margarita? Either the tacos or the enchiladas. I believe I’ve tried all nine types of tacos, and my favorite would have to be the Tacos Al Pastor (pork) or Tacos de Carne Asada (steak). As for their enchiladas, I request an off-the-menu plate of shrimp and spinach enchiladas with tomatillo sauce (crucial to the dish). If the weather’s nice, ask for a table outside. It doesn’t get much better than a marg and good eats on La Cocina’s spacious patio.

Taqueria Las Delicias

The next time we went taco hunting, my friend Ingrid said we had to try this Fayetteville taqueria, located right down the street from Fort Bragg. Word had spread about our hunt, and five other folks showed up to join us. Again, taquerias are usually hole-in-the-wall joints, and I’d driven by this eatery several times without ever noticing it—the true sign of a gem.

cinco de mayo

cinco de mayo

This time, I got adventurous and ordered a Taco de Cabeza (beef head), along with my standard faves and guacamole. I’ll be honest here and say, cabeza is not for me, but hey, I’m always willing to try something once. I was impressed with the restaurant’s salsa bar (see pineapple salsa!), and my guacamole was served with homemade chips (extra points for this). Meanwhile, I was practically drooling over my friends’ Breakfast Burrito and Eggs with Chilaquiles, so I know what I’m ordering when I return to Taqueria Las Delicias.

El Cazador Mexican Restaurant

The Alvarez family has been in the restaurant business for over 50 years, and they’ve included several family recipes on their menu. For instance, their quesadilla recipe came from Guadalajara, and was on the original menu. This week my coworker Myron suggested we go eat lunch here. Knowing how much I love Mexican food, he couldn’t believe I hadn’t tried El Cazador yet. This restaurant is conveniently located in the heart of Fayetteville, near the Cross Creek Mall and many other shopping options.

cinco de mayo

cinco de mayo

Right off the bat, I was impressed with their salsa. One bottle contained a mild, and the other a hot. I can tolerate spiciness well, but the hot one pushed me to the edge of my comfort zone (a good thing). In scanning over the menu, I noticed El Cazador has a special menu that gives vegetarians 17 meal options—impressive! Although tacos are my weakness, I do branch out from time to time. Here, I ordered the lunch beef fajitas, and Myron ordered a beef taco salad. Both dishes came out quickly, and we dove right in. Even with a lunch portion, I still had to ask for a to-go box. They do not skimp on anything, to include the guacamole. I’ll be back for more.

Tip: Although it’s not a Mexican restaurant, Fowler’s Southern Gourmet debuted their own fusion-barbecue take on tacos for “Taco Thursday,” and they rate up there with some of the best I’ve had in my life (see photo above, at top of blog). Smoked pork + pickled onions + avocado crema + corn tortilla = heaven. Look for Fowler’s weekly taco special and be sure to check out their Jerk Tacos and The Q-rrito, as well.

Get Your Sombrero Ready for This . . .

From outdoor recreation to downtown happenings to nightlife fun, our Cinco de Mayo weekend is packed full of celebratory events. Pull that sombrero out of the back of your closet and use this guide to plan your weekend in Cumberland County.

cinco de mayo

Tip: While you’re out and about downtown, you HAVE to stop by Pressed - A Creative Space for an infamous LocoPop. These popsicles are like nothing you’ve ever tasted, because the genius behind this Durham-based company traveled to Mexico to learn the art of making pops. I suggest you grab a Horchata or Mexican Chocolate pop, inspired by the Mexican beverages, and get ready to fall in love.

cinco de mayo

As April ends, we’re still celebrating NC Beer Month in Cumberland County, and there’s plenty of brewery happenings and other events taking place here; read more about those on “Take the Hometown Hops Challenge!”. To discover more fantastic Mexican restaurants and other eateries, check out the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau’s (FACVB) list of Restaurants. Then scroll through the FACVB’s Calendar of Events to find all the festivals and visitor-friendly happenings year-round.

Fowler's taco pic courtesy of @fowlerssoutherngourmet; La Cocina patio pic courtesy of @LaCocinaHopeMillsNC; Pressed LocoPop pic courtesy of @pressednc.

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