Don Chava is hidden is plain sight. The Mexican joint has been open for six months at 5316 Buford Highway, near the CVS, but most of my fellow Norcross residents said the same thing I did: “Really? I didn’t see it there."
The new-ish strip center where it is located doesn’t have any other current tenants and was not fully lit until recently, so it seems even the most ravenous of taco-eaters could overlook it.
But a recent trip yielded yummy, authentic eats and friendly service in a kitschy environment. And for next to nothing.
The interior of the shop is sparse, but on the walls hang framed pictures of all sorts of interesting people who may or may not be Mexican Revolutionaries.
The specialty in this family run joint is goat. The “birrieria” is made by the father of the restaurant, who is from Guadalajara, near Puerto Vallarta in western Mexico, where the dish is popular. You can get it stewed up, with beans and rice on the side, or in a taco with generous cilantro.
Our goat taco eater found the dish to be spiced right and meat to be tender, with the gaminess at a minimum. Though, as she said, "It is clearly goat. But not in a bad way."
Our other favorites were the tostadas. The ceviche tostada was piled high with seafood, “cooked” in only lime juice. The zingy freshness of the fish was complimented by the slices of avocado on top. The super-crisp tostada shell, a thick, round fried corn tortilla, held up under the load of goodness.
Another tostada garnered raves: The chipotle-spiced pork tostada was simple, spicy and delicious, topped with onion and chopped fresh cilantro.
My favorite part is the salsa bar, which has three unique sauce options but only one level of heat: blazing. The guacamole salsa is predictable creamy but unpredictably hot-hot-hot. The verde has a generous amount of tartness and the red vinegar-based salsa was definitely fiery. Okay, there’s one garden-variety salsa that will also do for those less inclined to heat all the way on the right.
The cost for a pretty hefty and pretty tasty meal was just 13 bucks for two people, so you can probably feed a family for a 20 spot.
One thing to note: No alcohol is served at Don Chava. For now at least, you’ll have to stare down your goat without a cold cerveza.