La Vaquita

A well kept secret of Durham lives right across the street from one of the city’s most prestigious restaurants. What looks like a highway rest stop is actually the best homemade Mexican restaurant in the Triangle. La Vaquita, the funny looking building with the cow on the roof, may not be fancy but they serve up authentic and delicious Mexican cuisine every day of the week.

My personal favourite is the taco pollo (number 2). Sweet and tender barbecue chicken on a soft taco with your choice of cilantro, radish, onions and green or red sauce. Delish! Jake recommends their molé, in pretty much any incarnation. I can’t say I disagree with him, but I like my tacos.

While I hesitate to call a Mexican restaurant a “greasy spoon,” I think a small restaurant like La Vaquita could fall into the category. But what gives me pause there is that this food is homemade and fresh. There’s no grease. The flavours are powerful and carefully assembled by family and time. There are staples on the menu right beside oddities, like carne cabeza.

While quick-stop taco shops and burrito bars like Moe’s and Chipotle are sweeping the country, it’s small holes-in-the-wall like La Vaquita that we should all be supporting—a local business making good food right here at home.

As Durham becomes more and more “foodie” with high-end and top-of-the-list restaurants, food trucks, and premiere bakeries, it’s important to remember places like this. It may not be the trendiest or the most inventive, but it’s good food and adds to the variety of Durham. This is the kind of place that Keep It Dirty is all about, along with paces like 9th Street and Geer Street.

Did I mention there’s a statue of a cow on the roof?