The first thing that captured my attention when we walked onto the sunny outdoor patio of Gringo a Go Go was the music. I was instantly transported back to my parents living room, sitting around listening to the crooners sing “on the street you live” and Doris Day telling me “What will be will be.”
On this warm, happy winters day, I couldn’t have asked for a better playlist to accompany brunch with my family. Although Kalyra was not happy when I started singing Que Se Ra Se Ra to her and telling her my mum used to do the same. Embarrassment level at an all new high.
A Vintage History
I asked the owner of Gringo A Go Go, Fredy Alvarez what the playlist was (greatest hits of the 50s) and he then told me he purposefully selects this music to honor the vintage vibe of this former gas station that is now a Mexican restaurant.
While the gas station is from the 1930s, the music complemented the fun upbeat vibe that this neighborhood cantina on the edge of Historic Oakwood in downtown Raleigh has.
It’s not something I ever would have predicted for a Mexican restaurant. I like the surprise and feel it pairs so well with the unhurried feel to a Sunday brunch in Raleigh.
Fredy shows me the black and white photo on the wall of how the gas station once looked (of which there are several places around the restaurant) showing that roots should never be forgotten. Roots that will show up in his restaurant’s menu (see below).
Fredy took over the restaurant from the previous owners three years ago, only days before the world shut down in March 2020.
He admits they were scary times as the first week saw no business at all. But soon enough, the community came out to support Gringos with take out orders that helped keep them afloat.
We are so glad as Gringo a Go Go is a fun addition to Raleigh’s downtown restaurant scene, and its new brunch offering is sure to please anyone looking for a unique and relaxing way to slowly open up Sunday with a Mexican twist.
It’s perfect for a couple, a group of friends, or even with kids like we did (there were families with younger kids in a highchair, all members looked content and happy!)
We visited as guests of Gringo a Go Go to create a video for Instagram. We decided to write this separate review to share a place we love with more in-depth information!
Here is a breakdown of what to love about this Raleigh Sunday brunch experience!
Gringo A Go Go’s Outdoor Patio
70 degrees and clear skies on a Sunday morning on the 5th day of March? Show me to the patio table! My favorite restaurant experiences are those who steer me away from blasting AC into the natural warmth of the rays.
Large umbrellas cover the table to protect you from the glaring sun. And the patio is decorated with fairy lights and green metal cacti sprouting out of corners and flower beds.
In warmer months, the patio is surrounded by real plants and greenery, which only makes it even more of a beautiful setting for brunch or any mealtime.
I also loved the wide-open view from the patio of North Person St (our favorite street in Raleigh) as there are only government buildings in this part of town, you can feel confident that the view won’t be obstructed anytime soon by high rises.
While you are just overlooking the road and parking lot, it’s still nice because you don’t feel boxed in.
Seasonal Margaritas, Gringosas + BCO
Gringo A Go Go offers seasonal hand-crafted Margaritas that change every day, ranging from watermelon to mango habanero. You can also stick with a traditional Margarita and the salt rim if that’s what you like.
Bloody Mary is also on the breakfast cocktail menu as is a Michelada, their take on a bloody Mary but with beer. Blueberry Margarita ($12) was the seasonal of choice on our visit which was dangerously More-ish.
We watched the bartender making the Gringosas ($8) from scratch with freshly squeezed orange juice. I tell you it makes a difference!
Not only do they freshly squeeze fruit for cocktails, but for the non-alcoholic juices on the menu. Fredy told us of the must-have BCO – the beetroot, carrot, and orange juice ($6), a favorite of his growing up and visiting the local markets in his hometown.
There would be a juice bar set up in the corner that would sell chocolate milk, juices sometimes with a splash of something stronger, and the BCO to start your day right. I love how this happy memory is now a feature of the Gringo brunch menu.
Unique Brunch Menu with Central Mexico flavors
Like the playlist paying homage to the white and red tiled building’s ESSO gas station origins, the menu is a tribute to Fredy’s family Central Mexican heritage.
Fredy assures us that most of the dishes on the menu cannot be found anywhere else in Raleigh. It’s because it comes straight from the heart of his family. With recipes passed down from Central Mexico and the Guadalajara highlands.
It’s a family that knows too well how to serve up an incredible Mexican dining experience in Raleigh.
While Fredy has gone out on his own with Gringo a go Go, his family are the force behind several iconic Triangle restaurants like Cortez on Glenwood Ave (absolutely amazing) and Totopos in Cary (another firm favorite for its Mexican street food vibes).
It was a challenge to decide what to eat on a diverse menu full of fun Mexican flavors. Fredy told us about the most popular items on the menu; Huevos Con Chorizo, Chilaquiles Rojos, and Heuvos Rancheros.
His coin toss leaned towards Chilaquiles Rojas, it had crispy fried tortillas smothered in the house-made salsa ranchera and topped with queso fresco, sour cream and strips of ribeye with the refried pinto beans, sliced avocados and two eggs.
And I ordered a Huevos Rancheros, after a tight toss-up between that and the Huevos Con Chorizo: Scrambled eggs mixed with Mexican chorizo served with corn tortillas, refried beans, sliced avocados and Pico de Gallo.
The Huevos Rancheros was full of flavor – but not too heavy as other versions I have had before. And Fredy was right – I have not had a Huevos Rancheros like this before. It was slightly similar to Craig’s with two fried eggs, topped with Ranchera salsa. Served with ribeye steak, refried beans, sliced avocado, and corn tortillas.
My waitress raved about how good the ribeye steak was and she was not wrong. I was grateful it was not of the thick and too big size of what we sometimes stock in our fridge, but manageable to eat with the rest of the ingredients on the plate.
While there’s no specific kids’ menu, there is a French toast that your kids will demolish. Our girls, of course, did not go past a serving of French toast each served with fresh blueberries, strawberries, and sliced bananas.
I was worried they would not eat it all, especially Kalyra who said she wasn’t that hungry. But both of them demolished quite a large serving each. A nod to the deliciousness of the meal. It’s teen and tween approved!
On the brunch menu are also omelets’, Mollete’s, and breakfast burritos. Vegetarian and gluten-free diners are also catered for. Add another notch to your belts because your tastebuds will insist you do not leave a single scrap.
And don’t just take our word for it as we aren’t qualified foodies or critics, check out the raving reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor.
We’ve also had several people rave to us about Gringo a Go Go’s guacamole, for which I will always add in two extra notches on my belt.
Prices range from $12 – $19 which I find in line with most other downtown Raleigh restaurants.
Fun Décor Inside
As much as the patio is an enticing place to sit, do step inside and glance over the welcoming interior of the restaurant. With vintage photographs, Day of the Dead masks, Mexican décor and artifacts, and fedoras lining the walls, there is plenty to look at.
It’s a festive, happy ambiance that helps tell the story of this family-owned restaurant with a long tradition of serving the Raleigh community in all its various forms until Gringo a Go Go arrived in 2014 with the previous owners.
Friendly, Attentive Service
I think it’s always a good sign when a server raves about how happy they are in their job. After years of working in corporate chain restaurants, our server was thrilled to be working in a smaller, family-owned restaurant, with people who actually care for you.
She wanted to work here after spending so much time as a student popping in to study over a burrito. Raving fans always make the best employees and servers.
You can tell she cared: she’s spent a long time making sure she pronounced all the dishes in the correct Mexican way.
Service was friendly, welcoming, attentive, but not rushed. They were very gracious and accommodating to us, wandering around taking photos and videos.
Parking at Gringo a Go Go for Brunch
Brunch is the best time for parking in Raleigh – it’s free and usually plenty available. There is a small parking lot in the front of the restaurant, and a larger one at the back. And there’ll be plenty of street parking in Oakwood.
- Location: 100 N Person St, Raleigh (on the corner of Edenton St)
- Tuesday – Thursday: 11AM – 9PM
- Friday & Saturday: 11AM – 10PM
- Sunday: 9am – 3pm
- Monday: CLOSED
Final thoughts on Brunch at Gringo a Go Go
Delicious food that tells a unique story, refreshing Sunday brunch drinks, fun festive atmosphere, friendly service, and a welcoming, sunny outdoor patio.
I couldn’t think of a better way to start a Sunday. It’s a very welcome addition to the Raleigh brunch scene, one that we’re happy to return to again and again, and take visiting friends and family.
Our next visit will be for some of that guacamole on the dinner menu and a picture I just saw on Yelp of their Mexican style vanilla custard for dessert. Ah, yes please. I know that I’m going to go go to Gringos and you should too!
(P.S. This brunch made an impact, as I’m currently listening to the Greatest hits of the 50s as I’m writing this post and feel happy and content. It’s all about the memories! They enrich our lives and help us tell better stories.)