Family Dining: Tijuana Flats

If you’re looking for good Tex-Mex food in a fast-paced atmosphere and the chance to try the world’s hottest hot sauce, check out Tijuana Flats on Gilead Road in Huntersville. I ventured in with my family recently and was pleasantly surprised by the healthy menu options. Due to some digestive issues, my son has been on a special diet, which has made it difficult for our family to eat out. That’s s why I was relieved to read the following items on the menu: zero trans-fat acids in cooking oil; white-meat chicken; hormone-free meats and cheese; fresh, lard-free beans (no cans); whole-wheat and low-fat options; and gluten-free options. We were all set.

Patrons place their order at the counter, where the employees patiently go over any questions about the menu and lead you step-by-step through the ordering process. Another employee quickly asked us if we needed high chairs or booster seats and offered to help get the kids seated, and they do this with each family who walks in with small children. While we waited for our order, a waiter brought the kids paper and crayons, so they could work on creations just as colorful as what they saw on the walls.

The atmosphere in Tijuana Flats is colorful and festive — one of the things listed on their “manifesto” is “chains are meant to hold you down/lighten up or leave” — with drawings of vehicles and catchy sayings painted graffiti-style on the walls. In fact, there was so much to look at, my kids had a hard time staying in their seats. Luckily, the evening we went was fairly quiet so the kids had room to move around once they finished their meals, because inevitably, one of them has to run around like a hooligan when we try to dine out. There were plenty of other families there with small children so we didn’t feel like we were disrupting too many people. There is also outdoor patio seating for the warmer weather months.

For the kids, we ordered “Little Lizards” cheese quesadilla children’s meals priced at $3.99, (whole-wheat for my son). The meals were served with tortilla chips, a soft drink and choice of candy or applesauce. I opted for a chicken chimichanga meal with a choice of toppings, which came with rice, refried beans and a soft drink. The chimichanga was beautifully presented with drizzles of sour cream, tomatoes and lettuce, and it was pleasantly flavorful and fresh. My husband ordered a burrito and enchilada combo, which also came with rice and beans. He enjoyed his meal, but said next time he’d like to order two enchiladas instead, because they were his favorite. Unfortunately, the kids were so energetic on this evening that we didn’t get a chance to scope out the 12 sauces featured at the “hot bar” located across the restaurant, but I hear it’s well worth trying.

The Chow Down
Dollar Deal: Items run from $3.99 to $8.39
Décor/Atmosphere: Baja-style, with brightly painted walls
Kiddie Fare: Burritos, tacos, chicken fingers, cheese quesadillas and nachos
Anything Healthy on the Kids’ Menu: Choice of whole-wheat tortillas and applesauce with kids’ meals
Amenities: Plenty of booster seats and high chairs but no changing tables in restrooms
Got Milk/Juice: No, only soft drinks and iced tea
Smoking/Non-Smoking: The dining room is non-smoking, but smoking is allowed on outdoor patio
Address: 9826 Gilead Road, Huntersville, additional University City location at 3130 Driwood Court
Phone: 704-948-6242
Web site:

Clean Plate Score (out of 5) 4

Renee Roberson is an associate editor of Charlotte Parentmagazine.