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Mexican in Columbia, SC

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I am looking for Mexican or even Tex-Mex finds in Columbia. Yes, I know if I want a burrito I can get an adequate one at Yo Burrito on Devine Street. But how about something a bit more authentic, or, barring authentic, more interesting or more delicious? I once made the mistake of dining at a "restaurant" called Monterey, downtown on Senate Street. This was an absolutely disgusting experience. Go back in time 25 years and imagine the worst Mexican food served then, and they are serving it today at Monterey. I occasionally make it across the river and on the way to the airport or to Lexington and other points west I drive by various taquiera shops and Mexican grocery stores that seem to serve food. I have not had the opportunity to try any of them. Is there an intrepid Columbian chowhound who has investigated these joints? If so, please report! Anything good on Decker Blvd.? I've seen at least two Mexican places nestled among the Korean shops there. Or what about that big "Eric's San Jose" place on Garner's Ferry? Part of me thinks that with a name that bad, the food has to be good, but another part of me says to stay far away. Any help out there? Thanks.

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  1. You might like La Estrella on Airport Blvd. There's a good chance you will be the only non latino (assuming you are not latino) in the place. They specialize in seafood. The ceviche is quite good. They are a grocery as well with a butcher shop too.

    1. Cpt Wafer mentioned a place on or near Platt Springs Road. Maybe he'll pop in and share. I have liked El Burrito on Harden St. far better than Yo Burrito. I really like their salad.

      1 Reply
      1. re: SweetPea

        Hi, SweetPea. That place was on Dreher Rd. It's changed hands a couple times and I haven't been there in over a year. It doesn't do much business and may even be closed now. I wouldn't bother trying it.

        I have been to La Estrella and it is just as creamyitalian describes it. The owners are very friendly and will take time with gringos needing assistance. They have an honest to goodness butcher and will cut meat to order. I went in looking for pork shanks to braise and he cut me what I needed.

      2. You may want to try El Rincon on Sunset (Hwy 378) about five blocks on the right after you pass the chicken plant in West Columbia. Also, Jasmine in the Wentworth printing mall in WeCo. If you go there, stop in at the bakery two doors down.
        Good Puerto Rican food can be found at Old San Juan off Two Notch, near Spring Valley subdivision.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sardis

          Definitely second the rec for the paneria in the same center as Wentworth printing (US 1 and 12th St. Ext.). Some of the least expensive quality baked goods in North America I imagine. They do a big business. Haven't been to Jasmine but it's now on my to do list. Thanks for the rec.

          1. re: sardis

            Thank you all for the suggestions. Keep 'em coming. I went to El Rincon for lunch yesterday. This is the kind of place I was looking for. I had three tacos: steak, pork, and beef tongue. They were good. A splash of the tomatillo sauce made them better. The menu has a range of sandwiches (tortas) that I'd like to try as well. I think with a bit more familiarity with the menu, I'll be able to eat really well here.

          2. There are some good taquerias in Columbia. Taqueria Mi Pueblito has great tacos and salsas. They have two locations:one in west cola on US1 behind the Sonic Drive In and one in Lexington behind the Rush's on 378. The REAL MEXICAN FOOD on Bush River Road is good and very cheap. Good tortas there. Family that runs the place is very nice. Taqueria Jalisco on St Andrews Road has good tortas too. It shares the little shopping center with Thai Lotus. There was a few years ago a good mexican place on Decker - El Vallez but it closed. I have stopped in the little taqueria called Guadalajara, but I didnt think it was very good. It is always good to drive down Decker every few months cause new ethnic places open all the time on that drag. I never step foot in Monterrey or San Jose. The food there is truly awful and tasteless.