La Santa Modern Mexican Food

uber-authentic mexican + a dia de los muertos-inspired vibe

written by Avivah with Offline | photos by @raleighfoodpics

The Need-to-Know

What: Modern Mexican-style menu full of mama’s recipes

Where: 222 Glenwood Ave. Suite 107, Raleigh NC 27603

When: Mon-Thurs, 11a-2:30p & 5p-10p; Fri, 11a-2:30p & 5p-12p; Sat, 11a-12p | Sun, 12p-9p

WebWebsite | Menu | Instagram   

Why we love ‘em

  • They’ve got a modern menu of authentic Mexican food with recipes passed down from generation to generation.
  • Their menu is also one-third, street-style tacos. Need we say more?
  • Their cantina list is full of fresh-made margs, Mezcal cocktails, and crazy good concoctions, like a 60-ounce drink equivalent of four (count ’em, four) margaritas. 
  • They’ve got specials running err’day.

La Santa 101

La Santa brings ultra-authentic, fresh, quality Mexican fare to Glenwood South and we could not be happier. Here, you’ll find uniquely Mexican flavors, premium ingredients and a fun, eclectic vibe that’ll tide you over ‘till your next trip south of the border. 

La Santa is a family-owned biz that’s committed to honoring their family’s long-standing generational recipes. Primarily inspired by his mother, the owner has used her authentic homespun recipes to inform his modernized menu. In fact, their menu is so authentic that you may need to pull out Google Translate to understand it but, trust us, the food is well worth the shame of being reminded that you’ve completely forgotten everything you learned in 9th grade Spanish.

That’s all to say that this isn’t the greasy, cheap Mexican food that you ate late night in college. These are refined, grade-A dishes made from family recipes straight from Mexico. Everything—from the juice for their margaritas to their bright salsa—is made-to-order, fresh and in-house on the daily. 

Really, it’s all about the experience here. Have one of their margs (be warned, they’re pretty stiff and there are 10+ to choose from so reminder to pace yourself here!), share some chunky guac, and take in their modern, Mexican style. 

Outfitted with Edison bulb string lights, rustic wood paneling, and colorful murals (painted by a local, naturally), their festive decor is inspired by Frida Kahlo and the growing popularity of Day of the Dead in modern Mexican culture. Inside, vibrant sugar skulls, blooming flowers, and Moravian star lamps abound, and their outdoor patio is adorned with Papel Picado, colorful paper flags, and other playful touches. But ’nuff said here, let’s get on to the grub.

What to order

Let’s Taco ‘Bout It

Okay, first things first we’ve got to talk tacos. A solid third of their menu is dedicated to delicious, street-style tacos. From Pastor Vegano (vegan tacos stuffed with ‘shrooms, pineapple, homemade pastor sauce, and more) to De Lengua (beef tongue), there’s something for everyone. We’re big fans of their fish tacos, made with grilled mahi-mahi, creamy sauce, mango, and avocado, as well as the De Barbacoa tacos, which are served Guadalajara style with a freshly grilled corn tortilla.

A Burrito that—wait for it—is wrapped in BACON.  

Stuffed with steak, beans, avocado, and creamy Oaxaca cheese, the Burrito Momia is completely wrapped in bacon. Do we really need to say anything else?

Corn with a cult-following

If you’ve ever visited the state fair, you probably recognize El Elote, AKA Mexican corn on the cob. It’s a fair fave for a good reason—but La Santa takes it a major step further with fresh queso fresco, spices, and creamy mayo. Plus, it’s served on a stick, so while eating it isn’t graceful, it’s damn good fun.

Brunch for dinner

Made with crisp fried corn tortillas, beans, over-easy eggs and avocado, Santos Chilaquiles are essentially Mexican brunch. Add Chicken or Steak for an extra punch of protein and you’ll be ready to seize the day, night, and everything in between. 

Fajitas that’ll feed a small army

Fajitas tend to have a ripple effect. Once one person gets served up a still-sizzling platter of fragrant veggies and charred meat, it’s hard not to fight the urge to order them too. La Santa’s are no exception. Opt for chicken, steak and/or shrimp, and you’ll receive a heaping skillet along with rice, beans, made-to-order guac, and soft flour tortillas. Unless you’re Takeru Kobayashi, you’ll be bringing home leftovers (luckily, they somehow taste even better the next day).

Fresh and feisty drinks for the ultimate fiesta

With 90+ types of tequila, 14 different margaritas, specialty cocktails, and homemade Mexican soft drinks (Jamaica, hibiscus water, has our heart), there’s no shortage of drink options. 

Brace yourself and bring a friend to help you tackle your order of the big and boozy 60-ounce La Peda margarita (which literally translates to “the drunk.”). Don’t say we didn’t *hiccup* warn you! 

Other marg faves we slurped down include their classic Skinny Marg, the refreshing and perfectly spicy Jalapiña, and the bougie blue-hued curacao and coconut cream El Cielo

But you can’t hit up their cantina without ordering a cocktail (or three). We’re big fans of the lightly minty El Santo Mezcal and their Santos Mojitos, which are loaded with a mix of freshly-muddled then blended fruits.

Pro Tips

  • Dietary restrictions? The menu is easy to customize. Just talk to your server and they’ll help ya out.
  • They’ve got a lunch special menu, available Monday-Friday, 11a-2:30p, where you can snag one of 10+ entrees for just $7.
  • Weekends here get pretty wild (cue another round of cocktails). Make reservations to be sure you can get a table. 
  • They’ve got lots of daily specials:
    • Score half-price tacos on Taco Tuesday
    • On Wednesdays, you can get the ACP (that’s chicken, cheese, and rice for the uninitiated) for $7.
    • On Thursdays, they offer the Santa Quesadilla for just $8  
    • There’s also a different margarita on special every day for just $7. Check their Instagram for the daily deets. 
  • Watch out for special events when they bring out the big guns and make their extra-special pozole.