Viva la comida Mexicana!
Craving authentic tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, quesadillas and more? There are several Mexican restaurants in the towns of the Great Smoky Mountains offering some of the best Mexican dishes. Locals love these places and with Taco Tuesday and then Cinco de Mayo on Wednesday, what better time to get out for some authentic Mexican food?
Cancun Mexican Grill & Bar
In Sevierville, check out Cancun Mexican Grill & Bar – a colorfully decorated and festive restaurant serving up some of my sisters Heather and Summer’s favorite dishes.
Heather likes the Enchiladas Rancheros – three cheese enchiladas topped with tender pork tips, cooked tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and enchilada sauce.
Summer recommends the chicken burrito and rice or -Arroz con Pollo. This is “a whole different version of marinated chicken breast with sauteed vegetables and melted cheese.” It is served with Mexican rice, lettuce, guacamole and sour cream – yum!
One TripAdvisor reviewer said: “Greatttt we were tourists from Miami the service was so welcomed and fast. We got our drinks and food were yummy .. if I was local, you will see me here on weekends … I truly recommend this place.”
Find Cancun Mexican Grill & Bar at 732 Dolly Parton Parkway in Sevierville, (865) 365-4655.
At Tequila Spice, also in Sevierville, enjoy a feast and celebration any day. The restaurant describes itself thus: Tequila Spice is a family owned and operated a restaurant, where people who truly enjoy real flavorful Mexican cuisine will find over 80 entrees from various parts of Mexico. A large covered patio includes colorful paper art and lights.
Try the Queso Flameado – melted Monterrey jack cheese topped with chorizo, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and served with tortillas.
Lunch specials including huevos rancheros, huevos con chorizo, fajitas and combos including chile relleno, tacos, beans and guacamole salad. My sisters like the enchiladas verdes and the chicken fajita taco sald. Trust them!
Tequila Spice promises an authentic taste of Mexico “with our most wonderful Carne Asada you will ever taste, our traditional Guacamole Mexicano prepared at your table, hot-off-the-grill homemade corn tortillas paired with our homemade salsas using our original recipes, homemade tamales, traditional combination plates.”
Unique desserts in addition to traditional flan and fried ice cream include the Banana Chimichanga – a mixture of bananas, butter, cinnamon and sugar rolled into a flour tortilla and fried. Served with caramel sauce and whipped cream.
Sopapilla is a flour tortilla deep fried to a golden brown and topped with honey butter and cinnamon.
Apple Chimichanga is a deep-fried flour tortilla stuffed with cinnamon, cream cheese, apples and topped with whipped cream and cherries
Find Tequila Spice at 360 Forks of the River Parkway, Sevierville, (865) 366-1009.
The namesake dish Pollo Loco is “a delicious portion of marinated chicken breast topped with tasty white sauce. Served with homemade rice, lettuce, pico de gallo and sour cream.
The Loco Dip is made with ground beef, pico de gallo, all on top of a white cheese sauce.
Traditional Huarache is a a flattened oval of masa (a dough made of ground corn) shaped to resemble the sola of a huarache – a Mexican sandal. It is filled with Mexican cheese, chopped steak, avocado with lettuce, sour cream and tomatoes.
The Carne Asada is sirloin steak marinated and cooked to perfection on the grill. It’s garnished with lettuce, lime, onions and sliced avocado and served with Mexican rice, beans and tortillas.
Tamales de Mama – Mama’s Tamale’s – are two homemade tamales smothered with white cheese sauce and served with lettuce, rice and beans.
Molcajete Ranchero is another traditional favorite. It’s a Mexican feast of carne asada, grilled chicken, shrimp, cactus, jalapeno and chorizo sausage served in a heated molcajete with queso fresco, special salsa and lime for a delicious Mexican feast.
Note: a molcajete is a traditional Mexican version of a mortar and pestle.
El Paso is another Sevierville option – located at 560 Winfield Dunn Parkway, #9, (865) 453-6771. This local favorite is known for its fajitas – chicken or beef; chicken and beef; Texas; shrimp; vegetarian; Fire – steak or chicken cooked with zucchini, bell peppers and onions; seafood – black tiger shrimp and fresh scallops sauteed with mushrooms, onions, poblano peppers, tomatoes and squash; and Border – grilled chicken strips, grilled fresh pineapple, mushrooms, onion, ham and cheese.
There’s a lot more too – with a huge menu of traditional and Mexican styled American appetizer options such as chicken wings and jalapeno poppers. But there’s also Tilapia ceviche, avocado tostada beef, pork carnitas or chicken. El Paso also serves nachos and traditional soups.
Full meals include enchiladas, burritos, daily and house specials.
All About Taco Tuesday & Cinco de Mayo
Did you know Taco Tuesday has been a registered trademark of Taco John’s, one of the largest Mexican restaurant chains in the United States, since 1989? I had no idea!
The phrase Taco Tuesday was in existence long before the chain filed for its trademark, according to Thrillest, which says the earliest-documented advertisement for a Tuesday taco special it could find is in the classified section of the October 16, 1933, edition of the El Paso Herald-Post.
Now how about Cinco de Mayo?
No, it’s not the celebration of Mexico’s independence. Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. It’s celebrated most in Puebla, Mexico, and the United States.
The day also is also known as Battle of Puebla Day, according to History.com. In the U.S., Cinco de Mayo has evolved over the years from just a margarita party to a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican American populations.
The Battle of Puebla on May 5, represented “a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement. In 1867—thanks in part to military support and political pressure from the United States, which was finally in a position to aid its besieged neighbor after the end of the Civil War—France finally withdrew.”
Now, let’s get back the food of these celebrations.
No Way Jose’s
No Way Jose’s in Gatlinburg is a great stop after a trip next door at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. With a view of the creek, the Gatlinburg location (there’s a Pigeon Forge location too – at 104 Walden’s Main Street Pigeon Forge, (865) 429-7779), No Way Jose’s offers indoor and outdoor dining.
Promising “real Mexican food,” No Way Jose’s offers specialty drinks, postres (desserts), Mexican combos, specialty entrees, lots of sides, burritos and chimichangas, enchiladas, fajitas and appetizers. There’s even a gluten-free menu to help guide those who eat this way.
Find the Gatlinburg location at 555 Parkway, stoplight #5, (865) 430-JOSE (5673).
Check out our blog post Top reasons to visit Ripley’s.
Wears Valley & Pigeon Forge
Taqueria La Gasolinera
And last, but definitely not least, we highly recommend taking a little day trip to the lovely Wears Valley and stopping at Taqueria La Gasolinera at 632 Wears Valley Rd, Pigeon Forge, (865) 242-1931.
This taqueria is located inside the Shell station here and doesn’t look like much – but I promise you, the food is great. It is a Mexican and Honduran restaurant and is truly authentic.
My sister Heather says it’s a favorite after high school events. Heather recommends the chicken quesadilla.
One reviewer wrote: We had fried green plantains (tajadas but others call them tostones) which were not on the menu. If you’ve never had them, they are like a cross between fries and chips. They came with a sauce that was called fry sauce when I lived in Idaho, which is a cross of mayo and ketchup and spices.
“We also got two tortas (Mexican sandwiches) – one chorizo (Mexican sausage) and one grilled chicken. The tortas are huge and enough for two people or two meals. They are a sandwich with meat, lettuce, mayo, beans, avocado, onions and tomatoes and they came with a huge grilled jalapeño on the side.”
Worth the drive – along with Wears Valley itself. Wears Valley, also known as Wears Cove, is filled with history and culture. The valley runs parallel to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and therefore families who settled the land decades ago. The valley was named after Samuel Wear, a veteran from the Revolutionary War who built a fort near the area that would eventually become Pigeon Forge, according to the Wears Valley Area Chamber of Commerce.
Book Your Next Trip to the Smokies
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