This story is part of Tri-Cities Best, a viewer-voted portion of News Channel 11’s community coverage. Your votes placed El Charolais as the region’s best Mexican restaurant, among other finalists:

  • Amigo Mexican Restaurant
  • La Carreta Mexican Restaurant
  • Santa Fe Mexican Grill

Hundreds of votes were cast, and each one is an honor for those nominated.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – To Chuy of El Charolais, tacos are a way of life. Growing up in Guadalajara, Juan Jesus Jauregu spent time drifting from taqueria to taqueria in search of the perfect taste.

“You find in Mexico, taquerias every five blocks,” Jauregu said. “There’s one street they call Tacolandia, and they have maybe ten taquerias on the same street.”

With that kind of market, Jauregu was spoiled for choice from a young age. When his family opened El Torito, El Charolais’ predecessor, he knew he wanted to offer customers that level of choice from the beginning.

Now, El Charolais offers 17 kinds of tacos for every palate that walks into the restaurant. Add that to the dozens of unique combinations and special dishes and you could come back for something new nearly every day.

A big part of the restaurant’s appeal, Chuy said, will always be its customer connection. From the loving nickname “El Kroger” given to it by nearby residents to its absolutely packed parking lot on any game day, El Charolais receives lots of love from its community.

“I have customers from all over the area because I know a lot of people for 30 years,” Chuy said. “So they follow you. I had customers from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia and still come to eat here, come see Chuy.”

The restaurant’s fare spans Mexican cuisine classics like Arroz Con Pollo and Fajitas, but Chuy said it really shines when you’re trying the El Charolais’ authentic menu of Mexican cuts like tripas, or tripe.

“Not many people eat that one because you tell them what it is,” Chuy said. “It’s intestines. And some people eat it, I eat tacos tripa.”

Another major aspect of El Charolais is its expansive bar. Several varieties of agave spirits are available for traditional drinks, and Chuy mixes around 20 gallons of margarita a day to keep thirsty customers satisfied. No one but him makes the concoction, and he said that helps keep it consistent for every customer.