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Jul 7, 2006 12:20 PM

Mexican Food in Upstate South Carolina

I'm a Texan who is moving to Clemson, South Carolina next week. As someone who eats Tex-Mex three times a week, I'm starting to panic! All the Mexican restaurants that I tried out during my house-hunting visits to South Carolina were . . . well . . . not Mexican food. Bland selections, oddly prepared dishes and strange, glowing margaritas.

Can anyone help me out here? I'm looking for Tex-Mex or Interior Mexican in Clemson/Anderson/Greenville or into Georgia. I'm willing to drive!

Or, can anyone recommend any Latino grocery stores so I can cook at home?


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  1. Good luck, my friend. I have never had any luck w/ decent Mexican in upstate SC. You will find that all the standard "el whatever" places are all exactly the same. Same menu, same food out of a can. People will tell you stuff like "oh, El Ceilito is better, it's great" and then you go there and it's EXACTLY the same. My only advice is: Greenville is home to a fairly large population of Mexicans. Many live on the West side (which is the Clemson side). I have heard reports that there are some very small, non-chain places that have more authentic food. I have only checked out one of these (it's gone now) and you better habla espanol. You will have to do some digging. There are lots of tiendas in the White Horse Road area, but I have no experience w/ them.

    Best recourse, drive up to Asheville and eat Carribbean at Salsa's. I know that's a long way from Tex-Mex, but I think that might be as close as you come.

    Oh, I'm told there is a great Mexican place in Clayton Georgia...very authentic, tongue, etc. starts w/ a J. if you're interested I'll try to find my notes from my trip to N. Georgia this spring. I didn't get to eat there, made the mistake of mentioning "tongue" to my husband.

    Welcome to the area ;-)

    1 Reply
    1. You should be able to find lots of small Latino grocery stores in that area, additionally, most of your supermarkets, especially Ingles carry a pretty respectable array of Latin ingredients beyond El Paso. I'm not a big fan of Tex Mex which always seems to me to be heavy on the refried beans and cheese - I know we have lots of Mexican places here in Asheville - El Chapala (has at least 2), Guadalajara that appear to me to be your Tex Mex type and I think you could find similar ones like that in the Clemson/Anderson/Greenville area. Here in Asheville we have Mamacita's and Urban Burrito which are more of the fresh, quick burrito type and then if you want good Salvadorean food Cocina Latina or expensive Pacific Coast organic - real Mexician - Limones

      1. Thanks for the replies! I'm glad that I found this website.

        Danna, it was so funny to read what you said about all the restaurants having the identical canned menu, even though everyone promises that one is better than the other. That's exactly what I noticed the last time I was there. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.

        I'll do some digging on the West side of Greenville. Hablo espanol enough to get by.

        I have heard great things about Asheville so I am sure that I will make the trek up there before I start teaching in late August. Thanks again for the recs!

        1 Reply
        1. re: MinSedai

          Still in Clemson? There is a place on the West side called Las Meras Tortas. I haven't made it out there yet, but a friend reviewed it on his website, click on restaurant reviews.

          Additionally, if you are in Hendersonville, try El Padrino. It's a hole in the wall, with soft tacos only, carnitas on Sunday. I wouldn't make the trip for it...but it's pretty good if you are up there. Personally, I think Pappas and Beer is about 20% better than the typical Mexican place...that is to say, I won't be back.

        2. You may want to check out a small place in Hendersonville, NC called "Papas and Beer" on US 25 on the north side of town. It seems to be somewhat fresher and with different options besides re-fried beans. I think the owners may be from central Mexico, perhaps Mexico City but I'm not sure. Hendersonville is only about 60-65 miles from Clemson and on the way to Ashevlle.

          1. We had the same problem when we moved here from Fort Worth. We've found that if you're sure to tell the people that work there (if it's family run restaurant and not a chain) that you're from Texas and to PLEASE spice it up, they'll love you forever and go out of their way to try to make the dishes the way you'd like. This has worked at every single one we've been to so far! And I second the Pappas and Beer, great little place. They have a wonderful little salsa/sauce bar thats a meal all it's own. If they find out you like hot stuff they will pull out the super hot sauce from where they hide it. Haven't been disappointed there yet!