tacos & mas

What makes a restaurant truly special? I think we would all agree that consistency, customer service, and quality of ingredients are three key factors. tacos & mas goes above and beyond those qualifications in more ways than one. Upon walking into tacos and mas, one will be graciously greeted by owners Hector and Ana Batista who, after years of management experience in the culinary realm, ventured out to open their own restaurant with cuisine inspired by authentic Latin flavors.

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tacos and mas isn’t your typical taco joint. Think casual taco restaurant meets grandmother’s kitchen in Dominican Republic. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to sit down and stay awhile, and Hector and Ana are pleased to oblige. There are personal touches throughout tacos & mas such as the tables built by Hector himself and the large painting done by an artist from Dominican Republic. The food at tacos & mas even incorporates flavors straight from Ana’s mom’s cooking.

Their menu is broken up into aperitivos (side dishes), meat, seafood and vegetarian tacos with homemade flour or corn tortillas, & mas (& more, larger entrée size dishes). tacos & mas had me at “free chips and salsa”. It’s a small gesture, but it goes a long way. Two staples: Homemade Guacamole and Beef Empanadas are just about as flawless as you can ask for. My unexpected favorite aperitivos was the Yuca Frita. Similar to a french fry, except much larger with a smoother texture, this dish consists of fried cassaba with a delicious, creamy alcaparra dip with tangy flavors from the fresh lime, cilantro and capers.

I’ve now eaten twice at tacos & mas and can honestly say that every single taco is outstanding and priced at $4.50 or less. I won’t bore you with the description of allllll the tacos, but I will tell you which ones stood out among the rest. I’m a sucker for Cuban sandwiches, so naturally the Cubanito with flank steak, sweet plantain, avocado and black beans is my #1 pick. As with all the meat tacos at tacos & mas, you can tell that true love has gone into ensuring it is as flavorful and tender as possible. The sweet plantains are simply the “cherry on top” of this scrumptious taco.

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Following closely behind is the el ranchero (the farmer) with slow mojo cooked pork, chicharron, roasted corn, and green tomato. The drizzle of chilled green tomato sauce elevates this taco with a zesty punch of flavor. The last two tacos are tied for spot #3: Balcalao con Cerverza with Dos Equis battered cod fish and cabbage-radish slaw and the Camaron with sautéed shrimp, charred tomatillo and cilantro. Both of these tacos were fresh and bright, as all fish tacos should be.

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Upon my next visit to tacos & mas I will promptly order the Sandwich Cubano and the Ropa Vieja Cubana with braised flank steak, rice, beans and sweet plantains (notice a pattern here… J) Hector said that he wants his customers to “feel like family” at tacos & mas. I would say he’s succeeded.

tacos & mas is located at 802 S. Road in Greer, SC off The Parkway. They are open Monday – Friday from 11:00am-9:00pm and Saturday from 2:00pm-9:00pm.

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The Southern Growl

60 beers on tap…sounds pretty appealing right? The Southern Growl’s expansive selection of craft brews and casual, funky ambiance are only amplified by their addition of an ever-changing menu offering creative, flavor-forward grub for all.

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I must admit, the quality of food at The Southern Growl blew my expectations out of the water. Not only is the food delicious, but pairs perfectly with a cold beer. The menu is clearly designed to go hand in hand with their simple philosophy of good food, good beer, and good company. Since their menu changes every 6 weeks, you can’t expect to go back and order the same thing time and time again, but you can count on a menu consisting of big bites, wings, snacks and sides.

After ordering a crisp Westbrook Gose, we ordered just about one of everything off their relatively small, but well thought-out, menu. Our tasting began with the refreshing Shrimp Ceviche Tostada and Seared Tuna Poke. Now I don’t know about you, but raw fish was the last thing I expected to find at a craft beer joint, but the quality of both these dishes were impressive. The Tuna Poke was my personal favorite, tossed in ponzu sauce and served alongside radish, cucumber, micro basil with a drizzle of aioli and a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top, this poke was a crispy tortilla chip’s match made in heaven.

Now for some more traditional bites: fried snacks. The Southern Growl uses fresh Rhode Island calamari for their fried calamari and serves it with a side of house made San Marzano marinara, which is also served for your dunking pleasure with their Grits Frites that are simply crispy fried smoked cheddar and pecorino cheese grits. Fried food pairs well with beer. Period. Lucky for us, The Southern Growl elevates the typical greasy, fried snacks into something a little more refined.

Another bar food staple, we ordered the tacos served in 2 warm corn tortillas, stuffed with sautéed mushrooms, spicy chorizo and topped with romesco sauce, roasted garlic, cilantro and lime. I admired the creativity of this dish and didn’t miss the typical taco toppings one bit.

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Their soup of the week sounded way too tasty not to try, and I’m sure glad we didn’t overlook it. Perfect for this time of year, their curried sweet potato soup was creamy, flavorful and had a nice bite from the crunchy peanuts served on top. Honestly I think this may have been the sole dish that was all but licked clean.

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The Southern Growl will always offer a variation of mild, medium and hot wings. They may even have an “insane” level of heat for all you crazy spice lovers out there. I’ve had their wings more than once, and they are always packed with flavor and finger lickin’ good. Tonight, their Spooky Korean wings tossed in spicy ghost chili Korean barbeque sauce were calling my name, but if you’re not a spicy fan, the Canadian Breakfast wings tossed in brown sugar, mustard, maple syrup and bacon fat are pretty appealing alternative.

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So go ahead, raise those expectations, because The Southern Growl is up for the challenge. It’s one of those places I recommend to others and come back to time and time again because you may be surprised by their menu items, but you can rely on 3 things: delicious food, great service, and at least 60 beers on tap…what more could you ask for?