Looking for really authentic tacos in Greenville, SC? Authentic tacos are something Kidding Around Contributor, Melanie Coblentz is constantly on the hunt for, or so she tells us. She did some research and has come up with a few restaurant suggestions for really authentic tacos just in time for Cinco de Mayo or any other day.
Check our list of the places readers say are their favorite Mexican Restaurants in Greenville
Having spent the bulk of my adolescence in Florida, with access to authentic taco stands all the time was definitely something I took for granted. Now, I love trying to find places in the Upstate that bring all those memories from my childhood rushing back.
What Makes an Authentic Taco?
There are definitely some criteria to consider when I am looking for this type of taco.
- Corn tortillas are the only option. Soft and preferably freshly made. I know; I probably just lost a bunch of you. Trust me, no one loves a crunchy, crispy hard shell taco more than I do, but if authentic is our goal, it has to be a soft corn kind.
- The meat can never be ground beef, at least for our search. We are looking for grilled meats, preferably beef or pork. They’ll most commonly be the following:
- Chorizo – a spicy Mexican sausage
- Al Pastor – marinated pork cooked with pineapple
- Carne Asada – grilled beef
- Carnitas – Grilled pork
- The topping will never include shredded lettuce, diced tomato, or any cheese that is orange in color. A very simple topping of minced cilantro and white onion is the standard. The pickled red onion is popular also. If cheese is offered, it will be a crumbly bit of cotija, a Mexican white crumbling cheese.
- The tacos are served, accompanied by lime wedges. Freshly made hot salsa options are a plus, and a salsa bar is always appreciated!
- NEW to the mainstream (American) Mexican menu – Birria tacos! These are not new to Mexican cuisine; they’ve just become trendy. Now the tacos that were invented to use up the small bits of meat left on the bones after stewing them are expensive. I find this hilarious, but I’m super excited that more of our Mexican culture is being embraced. Have you tried these insta-popular tacos yet? They come with a cup of consume broth for dipping and with or without the melted cheese.
Find Authentic Tacos in Greenville, SC
Now that we know what to look for – here are my choices for enjoying this type of Mexican cuisine in Greenville.
I love their tacos, but I also love the story behind this taco joint neatly tucked away next to the Reedy River. Jorge “Papi” Barrales worked his way up from dishwasher at Soby’s to having Carl Sobocinski, the owner of the Table 301 family of restaurants, invited him to work on a concept. The result is Papi’s Tacos and some of the yummiest authentic tacos you’ll find downtown. If you stop in for their taco Tuesday happy hour, tacos are just $2 each. Pair your tacos with a cold horchata, Jamaica drink, or a Jarritos Mexican soda, and you have an instaworthy meal, with the beautiful Reedy River as the backdrop. My son and I like to have mother & son dates, catching a show at the Peace Center. This is our favorite pre-show meal.
300 River Street, Suite 123, Greenville SC | 864.373.7274
5284E Calhoun Memorial Highway, Easley SC | 864.307.8528
New to the taco scene in Greenville is Chucho’s Taco Grill. They exploded onto the scene by offering the frequently sought-after quesa-birria tacos. The menu includes a great set of kid’s options too, as well as a drive-thru for contactless pickup. They have Greenville’s BEST Elote too if you like street corn.
3111 North Pleasantburg Drive, Greenville 29609 | 864.568.5133
After this article was originally published, readers encouraged readers to head over to the Barnyard Flea market. I was told that the tacos sold from the stand there were insanely good. Guess what? They were right! Plus, due to the low overhead of being located at the flea market, the tacos are inexpensive. I made the mistake of mentioning the taco stand to my dad, a native of Mexico. Let’s say they were a hit. So much so that he was there every weekend eating tacos, weeks in a row.
200 Highway 101 South, Greer
When you walk in, be prepared to hear the sounds of a telenovela on the TV in the corner. In my opinion, it just makes the experience all the better.
We usually order an assortment of tacos from the menu. They are cooked to order and while that happens you can help yourselves to the freshly made salsa, from the salsa bar. I usually grab a salsa selection and some of the pickled onion/jalapeno mix. Those are for the people who like the heat that makes your sinuses open up, and your eyes water. The tacos were served simply, Just the meat, onions & cilantro. It’s like heaven on a corn tortilla.
Make sure to get an authentic Mexican soda when you stop in. The Senoral Sangria is one of my favorite sodas and it’s non-alcoholic! If you’re planning on eating dinner there, go early. They say they close at eight, and they will politely make yours a to-go order if you get there too close to closing time.
3058 Wade Hampton Boulevard, Taylors | 864.991.8888
Dayna Lee is a Mexican-American transplant from Texas, and she’s bringing the flavors of her childhood to life with pop-ups around the Upstate! You can find her most nights at local breweries, offering up traditional items and fun and creative dishes, like her nachos with a flaming hot Cheeto base, “Flaming Hot Nacheetos”.
Follow Comal 864 on Instagram to see where they will be slingin’ tacos next.
Although the tacos at here come with melted queso in them, I think they still warrant being on the list. The tacos here are served in a boat with meat piled high, on two tortillas. So, some assembly is required, but worth the work. I’ve never had a taco here I didn’t enjoy.
903 Wade Hampton Boulevard, Greenville |864.770.3450
Tacos & Blaa Blaa Bla is a brick-and-mortar restaurant and a food truck that serves up really good, really affordable tacos. The taco truck can usually be found parked in the Five Forks area of Simpsonville, and during the pandemic, they are even visiting neighborhoods.
1004 West Georgia Road, Simpsonville | 864.399.6945
One of the newest taco places in Greenville offers a little bit of everything! You can watch the al-pastor spin on the rotisserie while they prepare your food. If you’re not in the mood for tacos while you’re there (is that even possible?) – their tortas are delicious! They have an app and a drive-thru window so grabbing takeout is quick and easy!
5151 Pelham Road, Greenville | 864.520.1949
Have you tried all of the places on this list and still want more tacos? Check out our Guide To Finding Authentic Tacos In Spartanburg, to continue your taco travels!
There are plenty of awesome taco joints and Mexican restaurants that are not on this list, and for that, I apologize. I hope this list inspires our readers to go on their own search for authentic tacos.
Where do you go for authentic tacos?