Since I can’t go to Mexico whenever I crave guacamole and because I don’t always feel like making my own, I set out to find some of the best places to get it in Raleigh. After six long months of trying guac around the city (rough job!), here are some of my favorites, including some honorable mentions and (gasp!) a store-bought brand. I also include a link to my own recipe that I posted earlier, as I feel it is a great contender to all of the wonderful guacs listed here.
Nofo at the Pig – 2014 Fairview Rd., Raleigh, N.C. 27608
Nofo at the Pig is a great restaurant and gift shop, located in the former Piggly Wiggly grocery store at Five Points. It’s a fun place with lots of eclectic character – the restaurant is downstairs and has a good menu with many vegetarian options and a nice little bar area as well. The gift shop upstairs has some great one-of-a-kind items, perfect for funky presents as well as some specialty grocery fare.
This guacamole is, well, not really guacamole, but more of an avocado salad that is a side dish to the black bean quesadillas ($7.50). So it’s not a separate item on the menu. It should be – Nofo could sell it by the gallon! With huge chunks of avocado, tomato, red onions, cilantro, garlic, etc., this stuff is absolutely amazing. I could eat it 24-7. (BTW, the quesadillas are tasty, too.)
Café Capistrano – 8471 Garvey Dr., Raleigh, N.C. 27616
Café Capistrano is a cozy place located in a strip mall off of Durant Road, between Falls of the Neuse Rd. and Capital Blvd. It is light and cheerful, and its walls are adorned with pieces of art for sale. The cafe refers to its cuisine as “California Style Mexican” with an emphasis on the freshest of ingredients and healthy cooking.
This guacamole has a wonderful consistency, and according to the menu, each order is made with an entire avocado. It had big chunks of avocado, with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, etc. It came with lots of chips and some salsa, which was good, but nothing to get excited about. That’s okay, the guacamole was certainly exciting by itself! I added a little bit of salt and some hot sauce, but that’s a personal preference. At $6.48 (including tax but not tip) it is well worth the price!
Dos Taquitos – 5629 Creedmoor Rd., Raleigh, N.C. 27612.
Located at the corner of Millbrook and Creedmoor Roads, this place, as it calls itself on its website, is an “organized mess.” But what a fun mess it is! Bright and colorful, with Mexican arts and crafts occupying every available space – it is more than the eye can take in. There is usually a wait for a table (especially on the weekends) since the food is so good. Instead of giving you one of those electronic beeper flashy things to let you know when your table is ready, you get some sort of “token” – a stuffed animal, a plastic toy, etc. It is quite festive. I recommend going to the bar while you wait for your table and order one of Dos Taquitos’ marvelous margaritas (subject of a future blog).
Dos Taquitos refers to its guacamole as “guacamole dip” on its menu ($5.00). When I think of dips, what usually comes to mind is something that is smooth in consistency. Luckily, since I prefer chunks of avocado in my guac, this “dip” has them, along with diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice and jalapeños. The chips are good, and you get a nice-sized portion. Again, another most flavorful guacamole.
Jibarra – 327 W. Davie St., Raleigh, N.C. 27601
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, Jibarra is my favorite upscale Mexican restaurant in Raleigh (click here for the full review.) We have had the tradicional guacamole by itself as an appetizer, but this time we decided to try the “Los Cuatro!” ($12.00), which is a sampler of all four of Jibarra’s guacamoles (oh, the sacrifices I make for this blog!)
The “tradicional” guac is made with avocados, tomato, onion, cilantro and jalapeños. “A la Piña” has avocados, pineapple, habañeros, onion, cilantro, tomato and oranges. “Al Mango” consists of avocados, mango, jicama, chipotles and pico de gallo. And finally, “A la Cabra” has avocados, goat cheese, tomato and poblano peppers.
Brad and I both liked the “tradicional” the best, but all of them were good. If you decide to order the Los Cuatro sampler, bring a healthy appetite or a friend or two – it’s a lot of guac!
The Raleigh Times Bar – 14 E. Hargett St., Raleigh, N.c. 27601
I would have never even considered the Raleigh Times Bar as a place for great guacamole, but after reading a few online reviews on how wonderful it is, I decided to give it a try, especially since it gave me a great excuse to go back to the Raleigh Times, one of my favorite area bars!
This stuff was really fresh. We received a nice-sized portioned, but I was somewhat taken aback by all of the pico de gallo on top – it was almost a tomato overkill, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as much as I love maters. Yum. A great value at $6.50.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I spent a number of years trying to perfect my fresh guacamole recipe, and finally feel it is at its best. Often when I ask what I can bring to a party, I’m told I’m already down for this stuff. It is so good! Click here for the recipe, and make some today!
A number of other restaurants in the Raleigh area serve some decent guacamole, including Armadillo Grill, Cantina 18, Salsa Fresh, El Rodeo and Chiles (yes, the chain), all of which receive honorable mentions. I would certainly order guacamole at all of these places again.
And finally, I will give a small shout-out to Wholly Guacamole, which you can find in most area grocery stores (check the refrigerated foods section.) My friend Jennifer recommended this guac. Of course I was skeptical about trying it; luckily, I was pleasantly surprised. I had the spicy version, which was quite tasty.
Wholly Guacamole does not contain any preservatives and has a sell-by date listed on its package. So if you’re in a hurry, go ahead and give this stuff a try. Not bad in a pinch.
Eat, drink and be merry!