Over at 15-501 near University Drive is a cluster of old, standby Durham eateries. Thai Cafe, Q Shack and the newer Nanataco. Brought to you by the folks at the very popular Nana’s, Nanataco is a lower-cost, quick casual restaurant serving up fancier Mexican-American eats. I stopped in at Nanataco for a late lunch and it was still pretty busy! And here’s why…
First understand, Nanataco is usually busy (lots of students) which means parking is tough! On this little wedge of land, it took me several turns around the lot to find a parking space which is really limited. Once inside you’ll find a sprawling dining room and and order counter with the menu stenciled above and around. Pretty basic, chips, tacos with about 8 or 9 different meats. You’ve got your standard meats, along with fancier “dirty meats”. I go with Tacos x 3 and choose the rotisserie chicken, chili-rubbed pork butt and garlic slow-braised beef. Tacos come on flour or corn tortillas with pico de gallo, lettuce, cheese, sour cream optional. You also get a side of beans, rice and chips for a very reasonable $7.25 Grab a number, self-serve your drink and find a table in this popular spot.
Nanataco has a small condiments bar with salsa and some side, not quite as fancy as most taquerias, though. It takes 10 or 15 minutes but the food gets brought out to you and it’s a nice looking plate. Three well-stuffed tacos, a nice side of beans and some fluffy rice. Nanataco’s tacos are pretty good but a bit Americanized. A bit over-loaded, the iceberg lettuce and commercial shredded cheese are a dead give-away. That being said it’s still a tasty dish and good food for the price. The place reminds me of a better Tijuana Flats which I still eat at so Nanataco is doing ok.
In the end, Nanataco still works our pretty well. Tasty and well-made food but just don’t expect it to be Mexican, it’s more like Mexican-American. But I get why it works and I’d come back if I were in the area. But I admit to being biased to more authentic Mexican spots where you can get a Jarritos naranja to wash it all down with. Rock on, Nanataco! You’re doing a lot right here and your busy dining room is testament to all that.