New Mexican restaurant open in Smithfield

pseligson@newsobserver.comJanuary 27, 2014 

  • San Marcos

    Where: 275 N. Equity Drive, Smithfield.

    Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

    Prices: lunch, $6 to 7 per meal; dinner, $9 to $20 per meal.

— A Mexican eatery hopes to succeed where a seafood restaurant failed.

San Marcos opened recently in the former Boathouse space on North Equity Drive.

Jose Hernandez, the restaurant’s director of operations, said the eatery offers Americanized dishes but also more-traditional Mexican fare, with recipes from La Piedad in the state of Michoacán.

“We bring in a new concept,” Hernandez said. “We have more traditional Mexican dishes. From the decor to where the food is being presented on the plate, it’s completely different from what you see around the area at some other places.”

Hernandez attributed the restaurant’s early success to a number of factors: service, atmosphere and, of course, traditional fare made with fresh, quality ingredients.

“It’s been great,” Hernandez said. “We’ve been open for almost a month now, and even though we didn’t have a grand opening until the 17th ... it seems like people like our food, service, atmosphere and establishment. It’s been getting kind of busy, which is good.”

The restaurant is one of four that Hernandez oversees with his two brothers. The group has another North Carolina eatery, in Mayodan, and two in Virginia.

Coming to Smithfield was a case of right time, right place, Hernandez said. They were looking at Cary when the Boathouse went out of business and needed someone to take over its lease, he said. The Smithfield location looked especially good because of all the traffic from the Carolina Premium Outlets and Interstate 95, he said.

The restaurant has about 40 full- and part-time employees and is still hiring, Hernandez said.

Angelia Mills, 43, of Clayton enjoyed her dinner last week at San Marcos. She decided to try the restaurant since she was seeing a movie that night nearby.

Mills said she loves seafood and was sad that the Boathouse closed. “I do enjoy seafood, and I enjoy Mexican food too,” she said.

As for the food at San Marcos, “it’s fabulous,” Mills said. “I was pleasantly surprised.”

She also likes the new decor. “I actually like what they did with the interior,” she said. “It’s a nice atmosphere and friendly.”

Theresa Whitton, 48, of Pine Level also ate at the restaurant for the first time last week. “I wanted to try it,” she said. “I love Mexican food.”

Whitton said everything tasted good. “It’s as good as the ones around here,” she said. “I think the decor is really cool,” she added.

The restaurant has two sections. One has a bar with TVs. The other section is more family-focused, with quieter music and no TVs.

“We believe in what we have,” Hernandez said. “The most important thing is good service, because you could have good food, but if you do not have good service, friendly staff, someone at the door who will greet you with the smile ... that can ruin the whole thing.”

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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