A new player on Charlotte's vibrant culinary scene, El Camino greets diners with a menu of fresh, scratch-made Tex-Mex dishes that are as innovative as they are family-friendly. Meals often start with the kitchen's signature guacamole, which contains traditional ingredients—hand-smashed avocados, fresh tomatoes, and cilantro—but with a creative addition of roasted peppers. Warm flour tortillas play triple duty; they envelop spinach and cheese to create quesadillas, hold unusual fixings, such as fried chicken or beef brisket, inside half a dozen taco varieties, and wrap themselves around nine kinds of overstuffed burritos. The El Camino kitchen prepares north-of-the-border specialties as well, including Cowboy Burgers topped with pepper jack cheese and a West Texas chili made with five varieties of peppers.
The glow of flat-screen televisions and neon beer signs glints off glistening dollops of queso and sour cream, which Cueva De Lobos' chefs plop atop mexican pizzas, chimichangas, and burritos. Servers dart between tables to deliver Mexico's tastiest exports, flooding the casual eatery with the enticing aromas of sizzling chicken and beef. Nearby, bartenders pour pitchers of beer and concoct their specialty fishbowl margaritas.
Hass avocados, cilantro, and fresh lime juice are just a few ingredients diners might recognize as a chef whips up guacamole right before their eyes at Poblano's Mexican Bar & Grill. From the restaurant's grill come specialty dishes including the alambre mixto, a dish typically found in Mexico City that combines grilled steak, chicken, shrimp, and chorizo with grilled peppers, pineapples, and melted cheese. The taqueria offers up five suggestions for specialty tacos that include carne asada, pork carnitas, shrimp, sliced pork, and grilled fish. Poblano's also delivers fresh flavors via catering for special events such as luncheons, parties, or the day fifth graders win their citizenship by reciting the preamble to the Constitution.
From the Spanish word meaning the appetizer, La Botana references itself as "a modest little restaurant with big flavors." Modest is right. With its vegetarian menu alone boasting more than 30 dishes, the eatery was named the Readers' Choice for Best Mexican Food 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 by Smitty's Notes, among a slew of other awards.
The full menu, which is rife with mole-slathered entrees, sizzling fajitas, and lime-infused seafood, comprises multiple regions of Mexico, including Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon, and Oaxaca. North Carolina craft beers are also available to wash down spicy morsels or put out small table fires caused by rubbing your hands in anticipation.
Tony, the owner of Bandido's Mexican Caf?
, learned the tricks of the trade while working at his family?s Mexican restaurant as a teenager. Today, he and his wife own and operate two Bandido?s locations, which serve sizzling fajitas, crisp tacos, and burritos stuffed with beef, chicken, pork, or saut?ed spinach. The Herald-Sun's readers praised Bandido's as the Best Mexican Restaurant in 2009, and the restaurant returns the favor by awarding individuals who finish the El Gigante burrito?a massive compilation of steak and chicken fajitas, rice, black beans, and shredded cheese?with a T-shirt and gentle pats on the back. The restaurant often hosts live entertainment, and the Hillsborough location supplements its selection of lunch and dinner fare with a Sunday brunch menu served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Customers won't find any heat lamps within The Wing Co.'s kitchen, but that doesn't mean their made-to-order wings aren't hot. Instead, the increased temperatures come from nine sauces, which run the gamut from sweet chili to Cajun to teriyaki. However, the cooks aren’t content to just spread sauce on wings. Upon customer request, they can also splash the tasty liquids over salads, riblets, and sandwiches—including their signature wing burger.
Matching the wings’ heat is the dining room's firefighter-themed decor. Hardhats and helmets double as lampshades, while firefighter boots, tanks, and clothing hang from the walls, in case of an emergency costume party.