The place //
The order //
The Kahuna Tuna, Drunken Piggy, Veg Head and Old School Tacos
What’s in a name? Well, if you’re Shakespeare, probably some nonsense about love and Capulets and Montagues. But I’m no Shakespeare, and this ain’t “Romeo and Juliet.”
Still, it’s a pretty good question. When it comes to restaurants, I think names can play a big role in setting expectations. Take, for example, when my friend Emily suggested eating at Tipsy Taco, a new neighborhood spot in the Pelham Commons shopping center.
“That sounds like the kind of place where you make the wrong kinds of mistakes,” I thought. But upon reflection, it also sounds like the best place to make those mistakes. Because when a restaurant is named Tipsy Taco, you know from the get-go that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I mean, if we’re ascribing significance to word order, tacos aren’t even the main draw. Being tipsy is.
Granted, even if the name suggests that this restaurant isn’t a serious #foodie joint, it still needs to have decent food. There’s no greater buzzkill than bad food, bad drinks and the hangovers that result from bad food and bad drinks.
In that regard, the Tipsy Taco is a bit of a mixed bag. To start, Emily and I had pretty disappointing incarnations of sangria. Mine was essentially a goblet of white wine and three raspberries; Emily’s was the same, but with red wine. Our subsequent cocktails were much improved: better than haphazardly mixed drinks at Carolina Ale House, but certainly a step down from Greenville’s best craft cocktails.
Luckily, there’s better news on the food front. Emily and I sampled four of the 16 listed tacos: the Kahuna Tuna, the Drunken Piggy, the Veg Head and the Old School. They were all generously proportioned and generally unobjectionable. It’s hard to screw up a taco, after all. Some of them even managed to surprise.
The Veg Head’s roasted cauliflower, lemon yogurt and smashed black beans were a really nice, substantial take on a vegetarian taco. It was perhaps a dash of cumin away from a really interesting Moroccan vibe. The Old School taco — seasoned ground beef, cheese, lettuce and sour cream — reminded me of grocery store DIY taco kits, in the best way possible. Simple and gratifying, with a splash of childhood nostalgia thrown in for good measure.
The Kahuna Tuna, with its splendidly seared tuna, was one-note, with Sriracha mayo being the only discernible flavor. It’s not the worst thing in the world — especially if you’re like me and enjoy both Sriracha and mayonnaise — it’s just not terribly satisfying beyond a few bites. The Drunken Piggy’s blend of beer-braised pork and pineapple habanero sauce — basically Hawaiian pizza in taco form — was similarly good if unremarkable.
Ultimately, because I know this place isn’t pretending to have the best food or best drinks in town, I feel the letdowns are less significant than they might otherwise be. Add in the really solid selection of tacos, a location away from downtown Greenville with plenty of parking and a huge selection of tequilas, and you have a pretty solid neighborhood bar. It might not blow your mind, but it’s plenty good enough.
+ Solid taco options at a variety of price points. You can have a fancy $7.50 lobster taco, all the way down to a basic ground beef taco for $2.75.
+ Delightfully kitschy name and décor seems to give you permission to be a little silly.
+ Over 60 varieties of tequila, if that’s your thing.
– The sangria. Where’d all the fruit go?
215 Pelham Road, Greenville
Andrew Huang is an editor-at-large of TOWN Magazine. Follow his food misadventures on Twitter and Instagram at @rooftoptales and #huangry.