You may have loyalty to Chubby's or Cosmic on Ninth Street, but two new Latinx food options are opening soon.
Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken and Del Rancho Mexican Grill are both coming to Ninth Street. Alpaca Chicken will serve fast casual Peruvian cuisine, and Del Rancho will feature Mexican dishes with sit-down dining.
Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken: 703A Ninth Street
Alpaca Peruvian Charcoal Chicken is known for its rotisserie chicken, cooked in a special marinade and roasted in an imported oven that burns natural wood charcoal. The restaurant uses traditional Peruvian seasonings for both its meats and common South American sides—rice, beans, corn, yuca fries and plantains.
“Despite the small menu, customers can never decide what to order because everything tastes so good,” said Julissa Colaco, manager of Alpaca Chicken’s new Ninth Street location.
Although Alpaca Chicken already has a location in Durham and three others in the Triangle area, the restaurant's owners were hoping to expand and cater to Duke students.
Siblings Ruby, Amrvir and Ranbir Bakhshi took ownership of the chain from their parents in 2015. Alpaca Chicken’s original restaurant opened in Durham in 2007 as Mami Nora's. The restaurant on Ninth Street is scheduled to open in May and will be Alpaca Chicken’s fifth location. Chicken plates include two sides along with dipping sauces and start at $6.99.
“Ninth Street is very popular place…we don’t necessarily want to compete with the other restaurants on Ninth Street, but we want to grow with the street itself,” Colaco said.
Del Rancho Mexican Grill: 730 Ninth Street
Del Rancho Mexican Grill is anticipated to open on Ninth Street during the second week of April and will serve an authentic Mexican lunch and dinner menu with a full-service bar. Ninth Street will be Del Rancho’s second location—the other is located in North Durham. Restaurant owner Ernesto Geronimo said he believes Ninth Street is the ideal spot for a second restaurant since it has a lot of foot traffic.
“We have a loyal customer base in Durham, but we want to cater to those individuals who live closer to Ninth Street, as well as Duke students,” Geronimo said.
Del Rancho has a large menu that features fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, burritos, special plates and other items. Geronimo said his restaurant serves “traditional” Mexican food—priced around $10 per meal—and offers a different environment than the other Latinx restaurants already on Ninth Street.
He also emphasized that none of the Latinx restaurants on Ninth Street have a full-service bar.
“The bar will have lots of cheap mixed drinks and plenty of TVs, like a sports bar," Geronimo said. "This will attract older Duke students in a way that the other Latinx restaurants on Ninth Street do not."
Blue Corn Café owner Danielle Rios said she thinks it is great that new Latinx restaurants are opening nearby—especially since Tijuana Flats closed last year.
“The whole area is growing, and a street that is full of people and merchants is a fruitful one,” Rios said.
She added that Alpaca Chicken and Del Rancho cannot be compared to Blue Corn Café, a fine dining restaurant with locally sourced Latin American food.
On the other hand, Chubby’s Tacos manager Rosiri Arroyo said he was worried about the competition—primarily Del Rancho.
“Chubby's and Del Rancho will both serve Mexican food. Our food is great, but I haven’t seen their menu or their prices,” Arroyo said.
Cosmic Cantina worker Jorge Rodrigues said he thought his restaurant caters to a different crowd than its competition. Although the new restaurants might slow down their business during the day, Rodrigues said he does not expect to see a decline in customers during the restaurant's late-night hours.