Dayton, OH 45429 937.293.3777 website
Right along Wilmington Pike in Kettering, Pepito’s Mexican Restaurant is a simple Tex Mex establishment at the intersection of several major suburbs in Dayton’s southeastern edge. There are a lot of restaurants around here, but as far as Hispanic-centered cuisine goes, there isn’t a lot of competition. Pepito’s has a festive and simple atmosphere, with nice people. Pepito’s seems to have a particularly excited fan base, and the restaurant seems particularly successful at energizing and attracting customers online and on social media.
Pepito’s has a very typical tex-mex menu; there does not seem to be a strong emphasis on any one area of the menu except for one, the “Burrito California.” Pepito’s burrito is a lunchtime specialty packed with meat and vegetables. By all accounts it’s huge and filling; considering Pepito’s location along Wilmington, it’s probably best for the signature dish to be convenient like this because most people would have to travel a little to get here. Regardless, Pepito’s does its dishes very well, and you can get in and get out quickly for lunch. In the summers, though, the place opens up its patio to make it similarly pleasant for late night lounging.
- Quesadilla: The quesadilla comes very simply; cheese and meat cooked in a tortilla; it’s served with plenty of vegetables, beans, and a very fresh guacamole. It’s surprising how flavorful the food is; the rice is a little sweeter than the typical Spanish rice, and it’s filling.
- Chimichanga: The Chimichanga is crisp and cooked with similar impressive precision. It’s got a perfect shell, but on the inside the chicken and other ingredients stay moist and fresh; it’s an all-too-common problem I’ve found that Chimichangas aren’t wrapped correctly or tear during cooking, resulting in a soggy meal. Not so here.
- Margarita: Strong! Get it on the rocks, as the frozen version is heavy on ice. One way or another, be ready to really love that tequila.
The restaurant itself has a very pleasant, down-to-earth atmosphere. It’s packed with memorabilia and lots of little trinkets here and there, along with the obligatory televisions and some windows. I’m strangely comforted by it. Other times I’ve seen restaurants try this concept and it ended up feeling like you were eating in your parents’ garage. Here it just comes off as friendly; a small-town restaurant with a very visible mood, and an owner who is proud of his travels and accomplishments. Either way, he has a lot to be proud of, as Pepito’s Mexican Restaurant has a great experience to offer. I look forward to my next visit.
- If you want a fast meal, I’d suggest visiting during the lunch hour, as things run very efficiently. If you’re more in the mood to relax and have a drink or two, then I would say come for dinner, when things are a little more low-key and the bar and outdoor patio may be open.
- The signature item is a burrito. Give it a shot.
- Prices here are very reasonable at $5 to $15 per dish.