Taco Willy -Seeking The Best Food of South Carolina
What’s up Meg?
I’m on a South Carolina food journey to chow down at the best restaurant in each of the 46 counties while seeking the Top 100 Food Dishes To Eat In South Carolina While Alive, Or, Before Dead, Whichever Comes First.
Why This Stop?
Tasty Tuesday This visit to Taco Willy in Spartanburg falls in the category of seeking the best food dishes SC has to offer.
You know those places that you always drive by, the parking lot is full, you love tacos, and yet you don’t stop? That was Taco Willy until I did stop.
Now this place is one of my favorite places.
Last week on Tuesday, I wrote about Limones, an upscale Mexican eatery in Asheville, N.C. with an upscale bill. Because it was listed as the best Mexican restaurant in N.C., I thought it would be fun, and it was, and yet, I am just as happy visiting a unique twist on Mexican food, with a casual atmosphere and a better price point.
Taco Willy is not Limones, and it should not be. IMHO, Taco Willy brought a little bit of fun to Spartanburg. In a southern town with a lot of churches, the website explains why all the skeletons were depicted around the place and where Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated all year long.
Decorated in rich colors, contrasting metal and wood, and artwork, the interior is, certainly, one of Hub City’s best places to eat and drink in. The few times that I have visited, I notice groups gathering at tables both indoors
and outdoors on the covered porch. *I took the picture above when people left because I love those chain lights.
Anyway, as you would expect, by what I have said, the menu is not like the Mexican joint that has the six-page menu with numbered specials for lunch and dinner. The kind that is really just much of the same; a plate full of refried beans with a dollop of white cheese, more carbs, and a sugar-loaded Margarita. Yes, those restaurants have their place, but this isn’t one of them.
No, this restaurant has a fresh concept. A place where the talented staff wakes up early prepping their foods from scratch. The guacamole recipe has been perfected and house-made several times per day with, of course, real guacamoles.
I love the queso, which is made with blended creamy white cheeses, fire roasted chiles, grilled corn with chips. when no one is looking, I drink that stuff. J.K. -$5.5
When I am with more than a few people, I love to order this trio; mild salsa, Blanco Queso, and “gringo guacamole.” -$10. Of course, all of the sauces are house-made. I love that they have additions and choices to their foods. For example, spice up your queso with chorizo for a hearty dip. And, tired of the ho-hum gringo guacamole? Well, order the “Smokehouse,” made with Chipotle puree, fire roasted chiles, applewood smoked bacon, toasted pumpkin seeds, pico. $7.5
A few years back, I was in Miami for Calle Ocho Carnival. It was one of the most memorable street fests that I have ever been to. *Blog under Florida above. While I was there, I had the best street corn ever, ever! The standard by which I judge all others.
Call it Elotes, I call it crack corn. It’s so delicious. Vocabulary word- Elotes is a traditional Mexican street food of corn on the cob, charred on the grill, next slathered in a spicy-creamy chili, made of garlic, and Cotija cheese–spiked sauce.
I love it, and this is the Willy Taco version, is $3.5, (MEgastar 3 ***) with my favorite Crunch Avocado Taco-Tempura battered avocado, sweet chili sauce, shaved cabbage, microgreens, toasted sesame seeds, Willy’s house crema, pico. $3.7 Not just me, this pick is loved by Southern Living Magazine folks.
A great place to have lunch, you are able to order two tacos with sides of rice and beans for $9.5. Me, I just like the tacos. With a choice of 10 creative street tacos, I have not yet tried them all but most of them.
Southern Tide Crispy shrimp, applewood smoked bacon, pimento cheese, shaved lettuce, chipotle ranch, pico $4
Cripsy Cabo– Beer battered cod, Willy’s slaw, Cajun remoulade, pico $3.7
Taco Trio Bottom left and clockwise
Patagonia Steak Taco -marinated-grilled steak, shaved cabbage, chimichurri, charred tomatillos, chipotle ranch, frizzled onions, chopped cilantro $4
Southern Tide-Shrimp see above
Mother Clucker “If a B.L.T. and Chicken Cheese Steak Had a Love Child” Chipotle pulled chicken, grilled peppers $4
The menu is not all tacos, and here is why I love to bring friends and family from out of town (And yes, more on drinks.) They have a menu with fantastic Burrito Bowls with creating your own proteins (or not) such as mojo pulled pork, cilantro-lime shrimp, chipotle-pulled chicken, marinated steak and vegetarian mojo-grilled vegetables.
The Nitty Gritty Burrito Bowl for something extra unique. Adluh Farms jalapeño cheddar grits, guajillo braised collards, grilled street corn, chipotle ranch, frizzled onions, crumbled queso fresco, pico, chopped cilantro
Many interesting side dishes with a price point of about $3 (ie jalapeno cheddar grits.) Chimichanga, Enchiladas, and Tortas.
Their Tortas are “overstuffed Mexican Sandwiches” on fresh, **locally baked Telera bread** served with house-seasoned potato chips. Vocabulary word Torta is a sandwich made with a crusty bread roll and may be hot or cold. The crusty bread is called Telera, much like a french bread, it is delicious. and did I mention that it is made fresh and local? One example that I would like to mention is the Torta Burger named one of South Carolina’s best burgers by Southern Living.
The bar, the bar is one of the reasons that I like to bring my visitors, who cares if they eat or not! The area is crowded with tequila lovers getting tips on the areas largest selection. Expertly crafted, mixed drinks please with taste profiles from sweet, to bitter to spicy. The house Margaritas have cool names like Guns N’ Rosemary and are made with top shelf (award-winning) Lunazul tequila Blanco, blackberry-rosemary syrup, house lemonade, soda, “gunpowder” rim.
Pictured below is the Coconut Lime Margarita – Lunazul tequila Blanco, cream of coconut, lime, toasted coconut. Scrumptious! $8
But, if that is too rich for your blood, they have you covered with a specialty beer called the Mexican Ashtray 12 oz Tecate can with a salted rim, topped with fresh-squeezed lime juice, habanero hot sauce, black pepper floater $4. Draft beers from $3 and wine. Along with other specials.
MEGastars 5 ***** I have never had anything that did not please my senses. Always over the top delicious and fresh. Taco Willy has a fresh food concept, zero waste restaurants, chef inspired, and is a host to the growing influx of newcomers to the growing Spartanburg.
MEGathoughts I remember the first time that I went to a Chef inspired Tex-Mex and Cali-Mex place. I remember thinking that the price point was high. And having to buy chips and salsa separately, yuck. But, I am over that. So let’s contrast Willy Taco with say Taco Bell. A grilled steak taco a-la-carte will run you $2.49 and in contrast, a Patagonia Steak taco made with fresh and seasonal foods will run you $4. Which would you prefer?
- Link to Taco Willy groovy website. Willy Taco
- Because Spartanburg is super cool, the outdoor porch is dog-friendly.
- For me, two tacos will be filling especially if I have chips and salsa.
- They have these hand-crafted popsicles called King of Pops in a small freezer case. I am always stuffed by the time that I leave, but I heard they are so tasty and refreshing.
- Dogs are welcome on the porch because Spartanburg and Willy Taco are cool like that.
- Lower that carb by making your taco a lettuce wrap for.25
- Willy Taco has a Greenville location called Willy Taco Feed
- Although I have never been, Willy Taco has a pretty interesting Mexi-Brunch. Sounds fun.