There are a handful of Greenville institutions and Taco Casa is proudly on the list. Decades before Greenville had the culinary scene that it has today, picking a place to dine out was simple enough â" you went to Stax's for breakfast, The Clock if you wanted a burger, and Taco Casa if you wanted a taco. The tacos are simple, cheap, and always paid for in cash because they do things today just as they have always done at the same location on Pleasantburg Drive since at the 1980s. Taco Casa's historical value makes it impossible to leave them off this list.
Restaurant chains usually decline in quality the further they are removed from their source but Austin, Texas's Chuy's defies this trend in every way. I tested this theory with my wife, a native Texan, who went in skeptical but said "it tastes like home" after her first bite. Everything on the menu is served fresh and the only thing that ever sees a freezer is the ice cream. The establishment is famous for their Hatch Green Chile Sauce and eclectic décor that is reminiscent of the first ever Chuy's built in an abandoned barbecue joint in Austin in 1982. For an unforgettable Tex-Mex meal at a Texas institution, Chuy's has you covered.
Taqueria Don Chile combines the authenticity of Los Meras Tortas with the mobility of Automatic Taco. Billed as one of the truest representation of Mexican street cuisine by anyone who has ever lived in or visited the country, a visit to Taqueria Don Chile is a true adventure in eating. Their web presence is limited to a sporadically updated Facebook page, hours are ever-changing and hard to find, and, to be honest, you are rolling the dice on whether you might actually get a taco every time out. Once you get your hands on one, however, none of this matters as Taqueria Don Chile's cuisine is a true gem on the Greenville food scene.
Somebody in your group wants sushi and someone else would prefer some Southwest-Mex style tacos… how do you possibly solve that? Tako Sushi, of course. This is one of the most out-of-left-field ideas for a fusion restaurant but it works surprisingly well. The tacos offer multiple pork, chicken, and fish options on soft or hard tortilla shells and are always consistent in quality. They also have the best happy hour in town where you can indulge in $2.50 tacos and $5 quesadillas for a ridiculously cheap meal that is better than a lot of Downtown meals that will cost you significantly more.
Is Roost the first place you would think of when somebody says "tacos"? Of course not. Do they have a couple of seriously good tacos that you need to have in your life? Absolutely. Served as a small plate or appetizer on both the lunch and dinner menus, the Pork Belly Street Tacos are beyond delicious, as is just about anything with pork belly done well (it is really just fancy talk for bacon, after all). The dinner menu takes things to another level with the Smoked Rabbit Street Tacos because who, after all, is doing anything with rabbit at mainstream dining establishments? Also, keep an eye for special menu items and beer dinners because Roost is also the same place I ran into a beef tongue taco and, coincidentally, discovered that I actually like beef tongue.
Ask anyone who has ever been to Las Meras Tortas and the answer is often the same. "It reminds me of what I ate in Mexico", "I haven't had one that good since Mexico", and so on and so forth as the comparison is seemingly reflexive. This is authentic Mexican street food like nothing else Greenville has to offer. Serving up everything from classic tacos to tortas (a Mexican sub) and everything in between, this is as much a cultural experience as it is a culinary one. Their sauce bar is the stuff of legend and the service is top notch to boot.
The Cribbs family has been doing great things for Spartanburg with its uber-successful brand that includes Cribbs Kitchen and The Kennedy. Their taco joint, Willy Taco took the town by storm and, thankfully, was popular enough to warrant a Greenville location. These tacos-with-an-edge are brought to you by servers wearing shirts where the Willy Taco brand is merged with the likes of the Wu-Tang Clan, Guns N' Roses, and other such bands and carry names like Mother Clucker and Tuna Cobra Kai. With 10 tacos on the menu, plus quesadillas, burrito bowls, and even a Torta burger, there is a little something for everyone in this innovative taco experience.
Arguably Greenville's best mobile eatery, the Automatic Taco truck is bringing some seriously good eats to Upstate breweries and office parks alike. These are not your standard food truck tacos with options ranging from Mahi Mahi, hot chicken, and pork belly, often with items like Kimchi or Lemongrass slaw mixed in to liven up the party. If you are looking for anything vaguely resembling an old fashioned meat & cheese taco, you have barked up the wrong tree as Automatic Taco's creations are elevated to atmospheric levels each and every time out. The fact that the price point is super reasonable and the service is always exceptional definitely adds to the experience.
At one time, Hampton Station was a dilapidated building on the wrong side of the literal tracks but, thankfully, there were those with the vision to bring it to life as a virtual oasis just outside of Downtown Greenville. Birds Fly South Ale Project brought crowds with their award-winning beers right out of the gate but we needed food of comparable quality to complement the libations. Asheville's White Duck Taco with their first Greenville location, providing another huge reason to visit Hampton Station. Their tacos use the highest quality ingredients and are insanely creative has the menu has a tendency to change as you dine. Like a beer list on the walls of a taproom, one delicious option may disappear while you wait, only to be replaced by something even more satisfying, making for an incredibly fun and memorable experience.
For creativity, variety, and unparalleled quality look no further than Asada. Their brand of Mission Style Tacos are inspired by owners Gina and Roberto's time in San Francisco but with an endless supply of other ethnic influences sprinkled in. Their classic tacos, quesadillas, and burritos feature the usual suspects in terms of ingredients â" melted queso, pico de gallo, sour cream, and the like â" presented in the highest quality you will find anywhere. Dig a little deeper and you will find things like the Japanese inspired Chicken Karaage taco and the Nicaraguan Style Churrasco keeping your palate on its toes with a whole world of influences at play.