4711 Hope Valley Road
$2–$8 per item
Chubby’s is a local taqueria chain that opened up this location in the Woodcroft shopping center around the beginning of the year. At first, I was worried that it would take away business from Bandido’s just across the way, but I learned that this Chubby’s is actually owned by the same people that own Bandido’s. So no worries for me about divided loyalties, which is great, because now I have two good but totally different options near my home for Mexican food. Bandido’s is a sit-down, Mexican-American style restaurant, and Chubby’s is an order-at-the-counter spot, with lots of a la carte options like tacos, tortas, gorditas, and burritos.
I’ve been to Chubby’s three times so far, and I’m pretty darn impressed for the most part. My quibbles are small, and can mostly be washed away by the glory of their salsa bar.
I think I’ve managed to try all seven of the salsas by now, which are guacatillo, Chubby’s salsa, Bandido’s salsa, habanero, salsa verde, salsa de asada, and chile de arbol. Bandido’s is definitely the best, but I’m already prejudiced in favor of that spicy, chunky, delicious blend. I like Chubby’s salsa a lot, too, which takes their chile de arbol salsa and tempers it with a little tomato. I’ve found the habanero salsa a little too hot for me, which is saying a lot, and the salsa de asada is too mellow for me. The salsa verde and guacatillo are both fine.
Chubby’s usually has horchata and a changing agua fresco on hand. This trip’s was strawberry and it was thirst-quenching: a perfect ratio of sweet to fruit to water. I’ve tried the horchata before and was also pleased.
The basic and gourmet tacos are all served on double tortillas and are available with soft or crispy shells, but I haven’t tried the latter yet. This trip, I had the spicy tinga chicken taco.
In addition to the sweet, spicy, and juicy chicken, it was topped with a good amount of cilantro and onion. The meat got a little dry after a while, but that’s what salsa’s for.
Next, I dug into a beef barbacoa gordita.
The texture of the gordita was great, with a shell that wasn’t so thick as to overwhelm the filling. After the chicken, the barbacoa was a bit bland. There was a huge amount of it, though. My main complaint with the gordita would be that the assembly seemed off-the first few bites were nothing but lettuce and sour cream, then it was all meat after that. It was quite satisfying, though.
I finished my meal by trying out the chile rellano taco, one of their vegetarian options.
This consisted of a whole, battered, fried, and cheese-stuffed chile laid on top of the tortillas. The tortillas worked well as a delivery device, but it was really too many bread-type objects in one dish. There was a huge amount of cheese, and while I enjoy chile rellanos, I don’t think it shines in taco form.
I’ve been very impressed with all their other simple tacos, too, the ground beef and carne asada being stand outs. The queso dip for the chips is great. The only other item I’ve tried was an al pastor torta. The bread was fantastic but so huge that the toppings seemed dwarfed by it. The al pastor filling was dry but pretty good. I’m still hunting for my perfect torta in this area.
Chubby’s is a great option for tacos in Southwest Durham, and a delicious salsa bar is reason enough to go in my opinion. Let me know if you’ve tried any of their other options.