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Cinco de Mayo: Durham's Mexican-owned Restaurants

Come hungry for classic Mexican dishes and regional favorites.

The Bull City’s diverse roots run deep, and the history, culture, and stories of our residents give Durham life. The Hispanic and Latino/a community in Durham has roots originating in 33 countries, each with distinct histories and languages. As we celebrate Cinco de Mayo, a day widely observed in the U.S., we want to honor the rich heritage of Mexican culture. If you're visiting Durham or just wanting to get out and celebrate, wonderful! Let's take a moment to explore the history of Cinco de Mayo and check out some local Mexican immigrant-owned businesses that you can support.

Cinco de Mayo is not a holiday to mark Mexican Independence as pop culture might have you believe. It's also not just a day to fill up on Mexican beer. Instead, it represents the powerful victory of an underdog and their unexpected win over European colonizers. It’s meant to commemorate the Battle of Puebla, which was fought between the Mexican and French armies in 1862. With half the numbers of their opponents, the Mexican Army won, proving their strength and sending a powerful message to the rest of the world.

This Cinco de Mayo, we can show our love for our neighbors in the South and in Durham by learning more about Mexico, learning how Mexican culture has shaped the U.S., and by supporting local Mexican-owned businesses. Here's a list of some of the Mexican immigrant-owned restaurants in Durham that we love.

La Monarca Michoacana

2000 Avondale Dr. Durham, NC 27704

The Morales family opened up La Monarca Michoacana, a traditional paletería serving Mexican-style popsicles and ice cream, to bring a taste of their home in Mexico to Durham. Known for its consistency and fresh ingredients, La Monarca, a style of ice cream, is wildly popular throughout Mexico. This ice cream is made in-house according to set recipes using fruit and ingredients sourced from local vendors.

Head on over for a sweet treat or two and enjoy flavors like Coco Bongo and Pina Colada Mimada. If you can't decide between popsicles or ice cream, just get both.

Mi Calvillo Antojitos Mexicanos

748 9th St. Durham, NC 27705

Located on Ninth St., Mi Calvillo is run by the mother-daughter team Esmerelda and Valeria Lopez. The food you'll get at Mi Calvillo is the same as Esmerelda's hometown of Calvillo in Central Mexico.

Enjoy their wide selection of tacos and other entrees like gorditas, tortas, sopes, pozole, menudo, tacos, chicken flautas, enchiladas, quesadillas, and much more.

Super Taqueria & La Superior

2842 N Roxboro St. Durham, NC 27704 | 3325 N Roxboro St. Durham, NC 27704

In 1990, Roselia Flores journeyed from Mexico to California. Eight years later, she moved to Durham with a dream.

In 2001, Roselia Flores opened Super Taqueria, a restaurant that would soon turn into a Mexican specialty supermarket. As Durham’s Hispanic population grew, so did Flores’ business. She hoped her business would help Latinos succeed and integrate into the greater Durham community. Four years later, she opened La Superior, an expansive Latino grocery, bakery, meat shop, and tortilleria. You can visit both locations on Roxboro St.

Tacos Nacos/Don Gallo

3411 University Dr. Durham, NC 27707

Marco Ginez Ramos is from the Puebla region in Mexico. He has more than eighteen years of experience in Mexican and Italian cuisine.

He opened Tacos Nacos, also known as Don Gallo, so Durhamites can enjoy good food and the flavors of Mexico. Head on over for authentic Mexican food which includes delicious homemade tortillas.

Cocoa Cinnamon

2013 Chapel Hill Road Durham, NC 27707

Areli Barrera de Grodski was born in Tijuana, Mexico. She moved to San Antonio as a child and then later wound up in Cherokee, NC. In 2011, Areli and her husband Leon moved to Durham with $75 in their bank account and big dreams for a community-centered coffee shop that would reflect her values of inclusion, diversity, activism, and tradition. They started with a custom-made coffee bike and now have opened three successful coffee shops and a coffee roasting business.

For amazing coffee, hot chocolate, and churros, head to Cocoa Cinnamon's third location in the Lakewood neighborhood. You will find nods to Areli's Mexican background in the bilingual menus and signage as well as the brightly patterned decor and tile work.

Don Becerra

2301 N Roxboro St. Durham, NC 27704

The phrase "hidden gem" gets thrown around a lot, but Don Becerra Taqueria certainly qualifies. Market and taqueria owner Javier Becerra has operated this Durham shop and restaurant for fifteen years after moving from Michoacan, Mexico. In 2003, Don Jose sold the store to Javier Becerra who wanted to open a butcher shop. He served sheep barbacoa tacos on Saturday mornings, and it was so popular that he opened a restaurant attached to the store.

Stop by the butcher shop and a restaurant for tacos and a fresh cut of meat.

Restaurante Guanajuato de Durham

2103 N Roxboro St. Durham, NC 27704

When you see the sign with a smiling chili pepper wearing a sombrero, you know you've made it to the right place for authentic Mexican food. Guanajuato has many different dishes from Mexican classics to regional favorites. Try their bistec encebollado, steak with onions, and menudo, a traditional Mexican soup. The menus are in Spanish, but they do have an English version by request.

Know of another amazing Durham restaurant owned by someone from Mexico? Please send it to blog@discoverdurham.com. Happy Cinco de Mayo!