Best Local Mexican Restaurant

Readers' Pick

First place:

Pepe's Mexican Restaurant

9550 Midlothian Turnpike, Suite 204
272-0920
pepesva.com

Second place: Mexico Restaurant

Third place: Casa del Barco

Paulo and Nelson Benavides grew up working in their dad's restaurant in Mexico, already waiting tables by age 6 or 7.

"If you go to Mexico and go into a mom and pop restaurant, usually if they have small kids they'll be waiting tables," Paulo Benavides says with a chuckle. "For us it really helped. It teaches you the hospitality aspect of it."

The family moved to Richmond when the brothers were still in elementary school, and you could say the writing was on the wall: Paulo Benavides says it was destiny for him and his brother to own a restaurant.

By the time he was in his early 20s, Benavides was working for his dad, managing what was then known as Don Pepe Mexican Restaurant. So when his dad decided to move on, he says it was only natural for him and his brother to buy it.

"It just made sense," he says. After shortening the name and updating the menu, they reopened the space in August 2011 as Pepe's. Among the most popular items are the Chesterfield burrito, with pork carnitas, rice and beans topped with cheese sauce and crumbled chorizo and the BLT shrimp tacos featuring marinated shrimp, bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado and chipotle dressing on soft corn tortillas.

He's quick to point out that while he and his brother are steering the ship, they couldn't do it without the rest of the team. "We have a really great staff here that makes our lives easier," he says. "They probably deserve more of the credit."

The Benavides also own the Harrison Street Japanese restaurant Hibachi Box, and they're working with the Veil Brewing Co. with plans to serve tacos and burritos at the brewery's soon-to-open Forest Hill location.

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Previously in Best of Richmond

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