For years I have been hearing about Guacamaya Fresh Mex, formally Chubby’s Tacos, but just haven’t had the chance to go. Well, I finally got to sink my teeth into some tacos and I’m here to tell you about it. Chubby’s has been serving up some of the most famous tacos in Raleigh for years, and they now have five locations across the triangle – two in Durham, one in Cary, and two in Raleigh. After a recent rebranding, Guacamaya still offers the same great taste it used to, with fresh ingredients and even a new full bar with drink specials.
Upon walking into the Wycliff Road location of Guacamaya, you’re greeted with bright colors and neon lights on the walls. The restaurant is small but not too crowded, and the atmosphere is incredibly casual. The menus are posted on a board above the cash register where you order, along with a few specials on a chalkboard next to the register.
While Guacamaya is famous for their tacos, they also offer burritos, quesadillas, tortas, and a number of other Mexican dishes. You can order individual menu items or chose from a number of different combos. Once you have finally narrowed down your choices, you order and pay at the cash register and your food is brought to the table when it’s ready.
Since I was eating with another foodie, we decided to split a few different items so that we could try as much as our stomachs would allow. We started off with a cup of Queso ($3.99) and chips. Let’s be honest, I don’t think I could ever get Mexican food and not get quest. The cheese was nice and creamy, but not terribly different from anything I’ve had before. It was very thick and didn’t have that little touch of spice I love in my favorite queso dishes. We were also left with the eternal problem of eating all of our chips and having half the bowl of queso left over… so sad.
Next we moved on to tacos. The first taco we tried was the Carnitas Taco ($2.49), which was roasted, pulled pork topped with cilantro and onions. This taco was perfectly moist without being too messy or watery. The pork was very flavorful on its own and I didn’t feel like it needed any type of fancy sauce to complete it. Then came the Al Pastor ($2.49), which consisted of pork topped with pineapple. While I always love a touch of pineapple, I didn’t feel that this taco was quite as flavorful as the last. It was a little dry and needed just a touch of something else to help it hit home. This however, is where the salsa bar came in handy. Towards the back of the restaurant there are a number of different fresh salsas you can try. On the Al Pastor taco, I thought the tomatillo salsa added some great, refreshing flavor. The final taco to round out our trio was the Chorizo Taco ($2.49). This one was my personal favorite because it was just packed with flavor. Like the Carnitas taco, the cilantro and onion on top were all it needed to pull it together. It was nice and juicy with just a hint of spice to give it a little flair.
To go along with our tacos we also tried a Torta ($5.49) with the special for the day, Camarones Diablo, or Devil Shrimp. The soft torta bread mixed with the chile sauce on the shrimp made for a messy, but delicious combo. The shrimp had just enough kick to it without making you sweat.
I can’t wait to go back to Guacamaya and try even more menu items. The reasonable prices and casual atmosphere make for an easy lunch or dinner stop. I’m so glad I could finally see what all the hype was about, and I definitely understand why their tacos are known throughout the Triangle.
Melissa Guido is a currently a dietetic intern in the Triangle area. She studied nutrition at NC State and Meredith College. Her favorite part about nutrition is showing people that healthy food can be exciting and delicious. Melissa loves travelling and learning about how food fits into different cultures. In her free time she loves trying new restaurants, cooking, and obsessing over her dogs. Follow her on Instagram @made2order and at www.madeorder.wordpress.com.