When it comes to tacos and Mexican food in the Triangle, we have so many great options! From super authentic mom and pop taquerias, to fancier spots with great decor and specialty cocktails. But one longstanding Raleigh favorite is back and being rebooted: Chubby’s Tacos. When I first got to Raleigh, Chubby’s was one of my favorites but it seemed to slip from my restaurant mind map in the last five years. So an invite to check out the new Sutton Square location for a media visit was super tempting. Here’s how it all went down and what to expect when you visit!
The newest Chubby’s Taco Stand is located in Sutton Square, a sprawling plaza that includes Winston’s Grille, Metro Diner, and PDQ Chicken. Chubby’s has got a smaller, narrow storefront with a bright white sign and teal and pink script lettering in front. Teal is a part of the new brand as you can tell by the umbrellas up front and accent colors inside! I’m greeted by Rudy T, the new owner of Chubby’s Tacos and previous owner of a variety of restaurants including V Pizza (Cary-Raleigh) and the old Pizza La Stella in Raleigh. Rudy was a longtime customer and fan of Chubby’s and was able to acquire the restaurant during the pandemic from the original owner of 13 years. Given his experience and time in both SoCal and Mexico, he has an excellent feel for what a good taqueria is about and wants to bring that to a refreshed Chubbys. So I’m excited to see where they are taking the concept.
The decor inside Chubby’s is light and bright: white brick, painted murals on both walls with a lot of color pops reminiscent of what you might find in Mexico. I immediately look for the old hot sauce and salsas that Chubby’s is famous for and there they are! Tucked away on a cool, powder blue bicycle cart you’ll find a bin full of ice and the tasty Chubby’s sauces, woo-hoo!
Rudy orders up a bunch of items focusing on the tacos to make sure I get a bit of everything off the menu. But of course you can’t help it but start with some chips which again, Chubby’s did very well. Thin, crisp with a light dusting of spices, you won’t be able to get enough when dipped into their queso fundido (topped with chorizo). The queso here is super thick, buttery, and creamy, an excellent bite. And I’m so glad to see the spicy and creamy arbol sauce still here at Chubby’s.
The Chubby’s menu has been slimmed down a bit for easy ordering but covers a really good range of proteins with nearly 20 choices including four vegetarian options. You won’t find the more authentic options like lengua, tripa, or chicarrones but I’m sure you’ll find something you like. There are four, fancier tacos famosos (favorites) along with the basic taco options, all served up on a 4″ tortilla. The price ranges from $3 to $6 for tacos, you’ll probably need 2 to 3 depending on your appetite. Pretty much the entire menu is $11 or less so it’s still an affordable bite, here!
I tried four of the tacos tonight and have to say they are all strong on flavor and quality. The al pastor is excellent! Cooked on an official trompa with adobo spices and bits of charred pineapple, perfection. And the Carlito Chubby taco is just ridiculous. Take a chile relleno (fried pepper) and stuff it with cheese and chicken tinga. It’s a spicy and filling option if you go this route. Not pictured was an excellent Baja fish taco made of tender cod and topped with a mildly spicy Baja sauce, excellent!
For non-taco menu options, I tried a tasty and gooey quesadilla (carne asada) and took a look at a beautiful carnitas burrito but had run out of stomach. The burrito featured layered meat, rice, cheese, and lettuce in a sizable and I’m sure, filling package. In addition to the queso, Chubby’s Taco Stand offers up street corn (roasted, off the cob) which was excellent. The menu is quite broad also offering up bowls, salads, nachos, tortas (sandwiches) along with the ever popular Chubby-changa! And yeah, churros but as you can guess, I didn’t get that far. Drinks at Chubby’s range from Jarritos soda to beer and margaritas.
The plans for Chubby’s is to expand in the Triangle along with the broader Southeast region. There will be two restaurant styles, the smaller taco stand along with more of a full sit-down restaurant. Overall, I was impressed with what this refreshed Chubby’s concept is doing. While it was always delicious, the original Chubby’s felt a bit dated, dark, and messy at times. This reboot of the Chubby’s brand is for the best, keeping the same great food and flavors but offering it all in a much more modern and enjoyable setting. Chatting with Rudy, I feel like he has a very good handle on Mexican food and will be a great steward for this Raleigh restaurant favorite. I usually am not fond of getting chubby but I definitely am excited to get some Chubby’s eats again in the near future.