Hockessin Goes Mexican: Famous Rivera Grill

“Authentic” Mexican restaurants – in our book, places that refuse to define that cuisine as giant plates of nachos and the ubiquitous, overly-cheesed quesadilla – are popping up across the state and raising their game with exotic native dishes beyond the taco salad.

Taquerias and Mexican groceries have long served a local clientele in the city of Wilmington and other places with strong Latino populations like Elsmere.   Now, it is not uncommon to find Mexican eateries in suburban locales featuring traditional Mayan fare such as cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork with spices from the Yucatán.

Head out of Wilmington on Lancaster Pike and you will pass more than a handful of Mexican restaurants of varying quality and styles en route to Avondale, Pennsylvania, a small town where more than half of the residents are of Latino origin.

photo-61One solid little spot in Hockessin, tucked away in a “Better Call Saul”-esque strip mall, behind Hockessin Cleaners, adjacent to Rita’s Water Ice, is the Famous Rivera Grill. (7313 Lancaster Pike; 302-635-7361)

Famous is the offering of Carlos Rivera, who we are told has another restaurant on 273. He vies for the 19707 south-of-the-border market with Mexican Table just across Lancaster Pike in the Shoppes of Hockessin, but TSD has come to favor “la casa de Rivera” for its consistency in delivering both appealing verdadero negocio staples and an inviting ambience.

Not that “Famous Rivera Grill” doesn’t serve the obligatory fajitas with sour cream and refried beans. Presumably Mexican owners feel their Gringo clientele cling fast to those “AMex” items. But you won’t find FRG’s menudo (beef tripe soup) and consome chivo (goat soup) or their home-made tamales with green sauce on the menu at many a Chili’s.

photo-60Their good ole-fashioned tacos – available with fresh-cooked steak, chicken, pork, chorizo, etc. – are a basic to-go favorite of ours, served on soft corn tortillas with onion and cilantro, with roasted Serrano peppers and cebollitas cambray – grilled green Mexican onions. The moist marinated pork, with a tangy kick and just a little bit of crunch, are particularly recommended. And at $2 each, they are one bueno deal.


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