Everyone loves tacos.
Vegetarians, meat-lovers and even people with gluten allergies enjoy the handheld Mexican specialty. In fact, according to the National Taco Day website, Americans ate over 4.5 billion tacos in 2018 alone.
Maybe it is the taco’s simple tactile genius that makes them so appealing — there’s no need for silverware or even a plate when eating a taco. If some of the filling falls out, that’s just part of the experience.
Or maybe it is the promise of endless creative possibilities when making tacos — there seem to be endless combinations of meat or meatless filling, vegetables, dairy and toppings. Some restaurants have taken an even more international approach to tacos, adding Korean kimchi or Indian curry to their menus.
With that in mind, here are a few of our readers’ favorite spots in the Upstate to grab a taco or two — or six.
Locations include: 15 Conestee Avenue & 215 Pelham Road, Greenville / 702 Fairview Road, Simpsonville / 13430 Clemson Boulevard, Clemson
One example of Mexican-Asian fusion is Tipsy Taco’s Bang Bang Shrimp. The second most popular taco on Tipsy’s menu, it features fried shrimp, sweet chili sauce and cabbage. The restaurant’s most popular taco is the Old School, a nod to the classic taco, made with ground beef, cheddar cheese and lettuce, and served with salsa and sour cream.
300 River Street #123, Greenville
Putting salsa and sour cream on the side is the customary approach to eating tacos in Mexico and other Latin American countries. Jorge Barrales, aka “Papi” of Papi’s Tacos, says his customers enjoy this Mexican tradition — it makes the taco experience more personable and individualized. Barrales says that while all 10 of his tacos are popular, the Travelin’ Taco has been a huge hit among those 18 and younger; he says Papi’s Tacos sold 5,000 of them at the 2018 Fall for Greenville. Barrales serves Travelin’ Tacos in Fritos bags; he says this is what many busy working people do in Mexico City if they have no time for a lunch break.
206 Pine Knoll Drive, Greenville
Armando’s Burritos is another traditional taquería in Greenville. Armando’s owners are from Michoacán, Mexico; their menu features typical al pastor, chorizo and ground beef tacos as well as special proteins like lengua (tongue), cachete (cheek) and cabeza de res (cow head). With such an authentic menu, Armando’s is one of several local restaurants that provide original, flavorful options for Mexican-food lovers. Customers can find a typical beef-and-cheese taco as well as more distinctive menu items.
Here are a few more of the most-popular menu items from other local Mexican-inspired restaurants.
103 N. Main Street #101, Greenville
Most popular taco? Peruvian Shrimp (lightly fried shrimp, sweet sesame chili sauce, topped with coleslaw)
Why do Americans love tacos and Mexican food so much? “They’re fun, a lot of variety, super easy,” says the Cantina 76 staff.
Locations: 217 Laurens Road, Greenville / 930 E. Main Street, Spartanburg
Most popular taco? Southern Tide Taco (crispy shrimp, applewood smoked bacon, pimento cheese, shaved lettuce, chipotle ranch, pico)
Most popular menu item? Street Corn Fritters (queso blanco, chipotle ranch, shaved jalapenos, pico, queso fresco)
How do your tacos stand out from other restaurants’? According to Willy Taco, “Ours are probably more a la carte, not like the usual street taco.”
1268 Pendleton Street, Greenville
Most popular taco? Border taco. (Rice or choice of beans, ground beef, chipotle ranch, cheese, pico and lettuce.)
Most popular menu item? Chipotle burrito and jerk burrito. (Chipotle Burrito: rice, choice of beans, steak, cheese, guacamole and chipotle aioli. Jerk Chicken Burrito: rice, choice of beans, jerk chicken, cheese, sour cream, guacamole and pineapple salsa.)