252Grub: Chico's Mexican Restaurant

Chico's Mexican Restaurant

521 Cotanche St.


Chico's celebrates its 35th anniversary

Posted March 5, 2018

In 1983, Ronald Reagan was president, "Return of the Jedi" was showing at the movie theaters, Pac-Man was all the rage, and "Little Red Corvette" was on the radio.

And Chico's Mexican Restaurant opened at 521 Cotanche St. on March 10, 1983.

Chico's founders Juan Martinez and Bill Alston searched from Virginia to Florida to find the perfect location for an authentic Mexican eatery. They opted for a space on the end of a brick strip mall across the street from the East Carolina University campus -- and the rest is Greenville dining history.

The local restaurant scene at the time included Darryl's, The Beef Barn, Sweet Caroline's, Mr. Gatti's Pizza, Villa Roma, The King and Queen, Margeaux's and Carolina Grill. Only Chico's remains in operation in Greenville.

The restaurant currently is owned by Mike Horton and Adrian Vargas, who have retained the restaurant's fiesta atmosphere, freshly made salsa and hand-crafted margaritas as they have expanded the dining area through the years.

To celebrate its 35th anniversary, Chico's is offering a special menu of some of its popular dishes that are no longer available. The special menu will be offered during the month of March 2018, in addition to the restaurant's regular menu.

* Calamares Fritos: Squid dipped in spicy batter and fried crispy; served with a lime & chipotle sauce for dipping ($9.83);

* Cancun Crab Dip: Lump crab meat, cream sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, red peppers, jalapeno bits and spices; served with toasted bread ($9.83);

* Chili Dog: Foot-long all-beef hot dog wrapped in a crispy flour tortilla and covered with chili, cheese, tomatoes and jalapenos ($8.83);

* Chili Con Carne: Chili and beans topped with cheese, sour cream and diced red onion ($3.89 for a cup and $5.99 for a bowl);

* Puerco Milanesa: Thinly sliced tender pork dipped in spicy batter and grilled; served with a cheese enchilada, rice and beans ($11.83);

* Costillas: A rack of baby back is marinated in our house-made spicy sauce and grilled; served with french fries and a gringo salad ($13.83);

* Camaron Veracruz: Sauteed shrimp smothered in Veracruz sauce made of tomatoes, onions, pimentos, capers, herbs and spices; served on a bed or rice with vegetables ($12.83);

* Pork Fajitas: Strips of marinated pork tenderloin sizzling with red peppers, cabbage and celery; topped with Mexican chipotle sauce ($11.83);

* Pollo Borracho: Strips of chicken sauteed with peppers, onions, green olives and a blend of herbs finished with a splash of wine; served on a bed of rice with vegetables ($10.83);

* Pollo Limon: A chicken breast dipped in spicy flour, grilled and covered with fresh squeezed lemon juice and broth ($11.83).

Jane Welborn Hudson, a native of Greenville, wrote The Daily Reflector's Hot Dish restaurant column for 12 years and the Greensboro News & Record's Short Orders restaurant column for 8 years. Email her at