Home » Bars, Beer, Restaurants, Tacos

El Coyote Bar & Grill

Posted by DID 16 Feb 2012 10 Comments

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, I understand the appeal of the fancy dinner, the candlelight, the white linen table cloths and the army of silverware and china – really I do. But, personally – to celebrate the day of all things heart shaped – I prefer the dark dives, wing-sauce covered fingers, giant burgers, ice-cold longnecks. My husband has indulged me with drives to Ronni’s Wing Shack outside of Winston, Zack’s dogs in Burlington and take-out pizza.

This year’s plan involved papusas at Los Comales and bowling at Village Lanes, but when we heard about the opening of El Coyote Bar & Grill, a tequila bar/Mexican restaurant, last week – our plan was changed.

At the end of a strip, just two miles from 70 on HWY 98, El Coyote is next to a panaderia and a carniceria – a good sign. El Coyote has a funky décor with a large salt-water fish tank and their namesake coyote hung above the host stand. There is a small, warm bar and a bright, cheerful dining room. The only real misstep is the wooden paper towel holders hovering above every table. Everyone working on Valentine’s Day was friendly and welcoming.

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner – El Coyote has a somewhat limited menu, which I also took as a good sign. No Speedy Gonzales #8 specials here. They have menudo (tripe/hominy stew), chile verde, mole and tacos. Their chips and tortillas are housemade. We had two appetizers to start – vegetarian empanadas and a mango shrimp dish. The picture of the empanadas doesn’t do them justice – they were filled with tiny cubes of roasted potatoes, poblanos, mushrooms, fresh corn and more and served with a really nice chipotle pepper sauce. Four of these housemade, fresh empandas were $4. We also tried a mango shrimp dish that was on their special Valentine’s menu. It came with six plump shrimp surrounding a fresh micro green salad that had been tossed with goat cheese and pickled onions. The shrimp were covered in a fresh, sweet mango/tomato sauce.

For our entrees, we chose the tacos de tinga (three soft corn tortillas filled with a savory blend of shredded pork and chorizo) and the chile  adobado (chile con carne with chunks of avocado, blue corn chips and sour cream). Both were excellent. The tacos were stuffed with carnitas and chorizo, each one topped with a quarter of an avocado. They were served with fresh refried beans and a rice/corn mixture. The chile adobado was a classic chili full of ground beef, flavored with chipotle and topped with hunks of avocado. The tacos were $8 and the chile adobado was $7.

In addition to Dos Equis drafts and a selection of bottle beers/wine, El Coyote has an extensive and creative drink menu with 22 different cocktails all priced in the $6 range. I went with the “Se Quemo El Coco,” which was basically a pina colada topped with flaming pineapple hunks. It was on fire. It was fun. The most expensive thing on the drink menu is a flight called the Patriotico – a shot of tequila, chased with a shot of fresh lime juice, followed by a shot of “flash-made” sangria and completed with a small glass of Dos Equis beer, a hug and a song.

El Coyote is also serving breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. The menu includes Mexican specialties like chilaquiles verdes, huevos rancheros, and menudo along side classics like pancakes, French toast and a two egg breakfast. All breakfast dishes are less than $10 and all come with coffee. We look forward to checking it out soon.

El Coyote Bar & Grill is refreshing and brings something unique to Durham. It is authentic, thoughtfully prepared Mexican food that is affordable in a sit-down, fun setting. Note: There is a Las Palmas in the same strip if you’re in the market for a Speedy Gonzales #8.

El Coyote Bar & Grill is open:
Monday-Thursday 11:30am -3:30pm and 4:30-10pm
Friday 11:30am -3:30pm and 4:30-midnight
Saturday 8am – 3:30pm and 4:00-midnight
Sunday 8am – 3:30pm
Their Facebook and Twitter
3801 Wake Forest Rd, Suite 102, Durham, NC 27703


  • Trev said:

    Great review, thanks!

    Also curious, where is Ronni’s wing shack near winston?


    DID replies on February 16th, 2012 at 2:37 pm:

    http://www.ronniswings.com/ :)


    scc replies on February 16th, 2012 at 2:43 pm:

    Ronni’s! proud to say i built up my wing tolerance and appreciation at the kernersville location (r.i.p.)…


  • victoria said:

    I may or may not have skipped class in high school to take a long lunch at Ronni’s in Clemmons, for the wings. Worthy shout-out.


  • Tooth said:

    I dined at El Coyote on the Saturday before Valentine’s day and ordered the same taco de tinga entree that you did. The carnitas-chorizo filling was strangely short on flavor and the tortillas disintegrated into a grainy mess each time I tried to pick up the tacos to take a bite. Instead of the refried beans, my lunch entree came with a small salad on the side. To their credit, they’re using mixed micro greens in their salads instead of shredded iceberg lettuce, but there were more than a few semi-rotten leaves in my salad which was very unappetizing. My wife ordered the chicken enchiladas verde and the chicken filling was dry and bland.

    Pair the food with overbearing service that practically hovered over our table the entire time and it made for an entirely unpleasant experience. It’s a pleasant atmosphere, and I wish them well, but I hope they can iron out the kinks quickly. Maybe I’ll give them another try in a few more weeks.


  • Ryan said:

    Ate there yesterday, pretty excited about this place.

    Had mixiotes (chicken thigh in parchment over greens) and plantains for appetizers. I had the chilli verde and a side of grilled asparagus for my entree and my wife had oyster mushroom fajitas.

    I thought it was all excellent. The plantains were simple but perfect. The mixiotes was flavorful and the greens they were on were really fresh. The tortillas with the entrees are house made and great. The chilli verde was awesome, flavorfull bits of chikcen in a tomatilla sauce with some hominy. The oyster fajitias were good. The asparagus was good but simple and might could’ve used a little olive oil and salt. I’m super excited to bring friends there and would recommend it without question.

    As far as the comments from tooth about the service, I didn’t find the service overbearing. You could tell that they’re really excited about their new restaurant and they’re working very hard. The owners both came by and the waiter was by maybe 1 more time than needed but I did not find this in any way overbearing. It just seems that they’re real excited and want to know what people think.

    I will go back the very next chance I get.


    fred replies on March 12th, 2012 at 11:52 am:

    $123.89 bill to pay fajitas $15.00 mixiotes $12.00 chicken $11.00 x 2 sparragus $14.00 x 2 drinks $45.00


  • vince/suzy said:

    We read all of the positive reviews on google reviews and on Carpe Durham and went to El Coyote expecting a fabulous meal. We were not disappointed – the Enchiladas Mole Poblanas were excellent came with either chicken or cheese. Since 3 enchiladas came with an order, we had 2 chicken and 1 cheese, both of which were very tasty – the sauce makes the dish. It came with a microgreen salad.
    We also tried the Chicken Mole Poblano – fantastic, with an amazing, complex taste combination of thin slices of grilled chicken breast drenched in mole sauce. It came with Spanish rice and grilled vegetables, plus corn tortillas.
    We splurged and had dessert – 1 each chocolate cake and a coconut flan (which we think may be called fruit cake). Creamy, melt in your mouth treats.
    We were especially impressed with the artful and attractive presentation of all dishes – more of a nouvelle cuisine style, though the prices are very reasonable.
    There is a bar in the restaurant with a decent selection of draft beers – we had Dos Equis Amber.


  • alex said:

    I went this night 04-25-12 to the El Coyote , and let me tell you the experience was nice , I had for appetizer cheso Oaxaca fundido con chorizo , delicious my only complain about this , they have to leave the cheese stay longer in the oven in order to melt the cheese more , so far so good , then I ordered a Mole Enchiladas perfect no so spicy and no so sweet , perfect balance but the salad in enchiladas???? little different but good the dressing very nice , my wife ordered the Tamales good size of dish three little tamales kind of dry but good flavor and for dessert we had arroz con leche , delicioso ! its remind me my mother , I think there are doing a good job ! need little things to make it perfect but who it is perfect ! keep working and doing a great job , this is a good sample of the great variety of the Mexican cuisine , and do not skip the margaritas they are good and better prices ask for the special of the day , for sure I will be back for the 5 de Mayo , Mariachi and good food , try it you will not regret


  • Madalice said:

    went there for dinner one night since it’s in our neighborhood and were blown away with how good the food is. We started with the tacos de tinga and I’ll eat them any time followed by the mole chicken and it was fantastic. Neither of us drinks so we had a party there a couple of months ago and it was fantastic. They easily made space of us and no-one had to wait even a second for their drink.. It’s a place I’m glad is in my neighborhood so I can go again and again.


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