A GO-GO AND THE PO-PO

Gringo A Go-go

From the guy that brought you Lilly’s Pizza comes another great taco joint.  I’m one of the few Raleigh locals that don’t really like Lilly’s Pizza…I know I know…but pick your jaw up from off your lap and re-direct your attention over here to the tacos.  I’ll explain my feelings towards Lilly’s at another time.

Gringo had their soft opening in December 2013 and their hard opening in April.  They are located on Person St. and have a pretty nice little corner spot.  Don’t get too excited about the web link…they don’t have their site up and running yet.

http://gringoagogonc.com

Overall: 3.8 out of 5 

Food/Beverage: 3.5 out of 5

Ambiance: 4 out of 5

Value: 4 out of 5

Service: 4 out of 5

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Gringo takes up a spot that must have been an old lube station, which seems to be the new trend.  It’s kinda cool and has a lot of attitude.  Their patio is spacious but not well shaded and even with the umbrellas we earned ourselves a lot of pink skin during this visit.

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We had a server that perfectly matched the ambiance.  Tattoo covered, white shirt pink bra, and just enough attitude to seem like the kinda chick that may have worked in a lube shop in an alternate universe.  She knew enough about the menu, gave good recommendations, was attentive and fast with our order.

As for the menu, there were plenty of choices! And they all sounded great. We ordered a few things and split them.

First, of course, the chips and guacamole…and salsa.

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They have several selections of salsas, ranging in heat from mild to extra hot, and listed that way on the menu.  The guacamole was good, obviously fresh but a little under seasoned.  The salsa was just not…salsa.  We ordered the chipotle salsa, from the hotter end of the menu.  It was more like hot sauce than salsa.  The jalapeño and one other choice came with our meal and they were the same way – runny, watery, but full of flavor.  I was torn.  The chips were fresh made from the corn tortillas they purchase from a Mexican Mercaodo that is local in raleigh.  While I loved the tortillas, the chips kinda tasted more like fritos than tortilla chips.  Not bad, but not exactly…chips.

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They had several very tasty sounding drinks on the menu and offer daily drink specials.  Today’s special was $3 Tecate.  I don’t know if this is a great deal or not but it’s less expensive than Tecate typically is at a restaurant.  I ordered the house margarita.  For $8, it was a great deal! Awesome flavor, HUGE portion size and lots of salt on the rim.  I really liked it.  I’m very excited to try some of the other options.

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Having read great reviews about the fish tacos ($12 for 3), we decided to give them a try.  They were a solid good.  The fish was a vegetarian fed catfish, as opposed to those meat eating catfish used at other restaurants, and was a little mushy, as was the breading.  But the taste was great.  Good amount of cilantro, and paired with the jalapeño “salsa” and some of the items from the condiment plate, they were even better.

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This was an additional $2.50 and in my opinion was necessary.  A nice selection of topping additions, including pickled onions and jalapeños, a roasted jalapeño, radishes and cabbage.  Very cool!

The other tacos I ordered were the two vegetarian options from the Taco menu.  photo 5

The potato taco, pictured left, was basically a large portion of smashed potatoes in a tortilla.  Exactly what you’d expect from a potato taco.  I ended up taking about 1/2 the potato out, putting that in my other taco, and topping the potato one with a bunch of items from the toppings plate. After that, it was awesome!  Had the potato taco been loaded with cheese, topped with jalapeños and salsa, I would have been beside myself.  The other taco, the Nopales, had sautéed cactus, jalapeño, radish and cilantro.  With the added potato it was also very good.

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My dining partner ordered a carnitas taco and LOVED it.  She said it had great flavor, but without the toppings from the condiments plate, it would have been a little bland.

I’d say, overall, I really really liked Gringo A Go-go.  I am super excited about going back now that they have a bartender and will be offering drink specials on a daily basis.

Ambiance wise, the fun atmosphere was only made better by the scene we observed.  While we waited for our food, we saw this guy punch a car, then the car speed through the red light at the corner.  The man then ran over to the patio and started demanding that we call 911 and also get him a cigarette.  He was agitated past the point of redirection.  Running back and forth in front of Gringo, blasting music from his phone and shouting about being a smoker since he was 12 and how he NEEDED a cigarette if we expected him to calm down.  Being a behavior analyst seated at the table with a counselor, we were beside ourselves analyzing the situation.  Finally, the man told us that the people in the car had kidnapped his wife, a story he later changed for the police.  By the time the police arrived, the man was hobbled on the ground, stating that he had been hit by the car.  After about 45 minutes of talking with the police, they came over for our version of the story which didn’t match his.  Our checks came as we finished talking to the police.  By that time, those of us on the patio were well enough acquainted to share a little bit of the desert that Benji, the owner, had brought to them.  It was very crunchy, seasoned with plenty of cinnamon and sugar.

What a great night! I can’t wait to go back and have another night at Gringo.  And even though I know changes are slim that we’d see such an amazing site, I will have my fingers crossed that we will.  And because the website isn’t up and running, here is a picture of the menu.

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