Gonza Tacos y Tequila opens third location in Durham

Looks like Gonza Salamanca has a hit on his hands. Three years after opening the original Gonza Tacos y Tequila in Raleigh — and barely a year after opening a second location in Wake Forest — Salamanca and partner Carlos Rodriquez have opened the doors to a third in downtown Durham.

Located in the West Village complex, the new restaurant sticks with the formula that has already twice proven a winner: affordably priced menu of authentic Mexican, Colombian and Tex-Mex fare plus extensive tequila selection plus playfully funky decor equals good times.

Reducing that equation to simpler terms, we get an offering whose highlights include nachos loaded with chicken tinga, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese and Mexican crema; fresh fish catch of the day with coconut rice and salsa Veracruzana; and an eclectic assortment of well-filled tacos on soft corn or flour tortillas.

The bar lives up to the restaurant’s name with a selection of more than 70 blanco, reposado and añejo tequilas — a number that gets you into higher math when you start calculating the margarita possibilities.

As for the “playfully funky decor” that has already become a Gonza signature, picture a recurring Day of the Dead motif. Add some mannequins decked out in lucha libre outfits, and large, brightly colored paper stars suspended from the ceiling, and walls covered in photos of Latino celebrities and graffiti. Then, come warm weather, throw in a large courtyard patio with what general manager Vincent Cascarino tantalizingly describes as a “hammock lounge.” No wonder the place is so popular.

Gonza Tacos y Tequila (604 Fernway Ave., Durham; 919-907-2656; is open for lunch Tuesday-Friday and dinner Tuesday-Sunday.

Greg Cox, the longtime N&O restaurant critic, also covers restaurant news. Tune in to hear his radio show at 11 a.m. Saturdays on WPTF. Reach him at