Thanks to our son’s busy schedule (seriously, he’s only three but already way cooler than us), we usually find ourselves in Mount Pleasant for dinner one night a week. We typically rotate among a handful of restaurants (Kairos, Papa Zuzu’s and Five Loaves are our standbys), but this week we felt like trying someplace new. Scrolling through Yelp, we came across a well-rated place neither of us had ever heard of: Cinco Tex-Mex. Since we’re always down for tacos and Cinco was less than half a mile away, the decision was a no-brainer.
As we learned from our server, Cinco opened early this summer with purposely-little fanfare. Run by a couple from San Antonio, the restaurant focuses on Tex-Mex classics – chip-and-dip appetizers, a handful of soups, salads and sides, and fajita, carnita, enchilada, quesadilla and taco entrées – all made to order. Cinco’s flour tortillas, which form the backbone of most of its dishes, are made from scratch and pressed in a small, glassed-in prep area in the dining room (a bit of a show with dinner!), allowing the restaurant to demonstrate its attention to detail and dedication to authenticity.
The drink menu tends toward Mexican beer and tequila-based cocktails, many of which are discounted during Cinco’s 5-7pm weeknight happy hour. We happened to be there on “Margarita Monday” and enjoyed a delicious, not-too-sweet peach marg for a mere $6 – reason enough to return!
The food also helped secure Cinco a spot in our Mount Pleasant restaurant rotation. To start, we ordered the totopos con salsa – a heaping basket of house-made chips with red, green, and pineapple habanero salsas ($5). The red and green were good, but the pineapple habanero was great; the chile’s kick was accompanied by a burst of sweetness from the pineapple, which proved to be the perfect counterpoint to the chips. And the chips – ohhh, the chips. Warm, salty and fried to golden perfection, they were simply outstanding. Our server offered to refill our basket multiple times; we reluctantly declined lest we not have any room for our main courses, but it’s doubtful we’ll be so restrained next time!
For our entrées, we ordered several tacos and the steak fajitas. The seven taco options are offered à la carte ($3-4.50 each), and we went with the asadero con rajas (cheese and pepper), beef fajita, and camarones (shrimp) – plus a chicken fajita taco for our son, who was none too pleased that he couldn’t have a chips-only dinner. The asadero and fajita tacos were a little underwhelming; the strong flavor of the asadero cheese overwhelmed the flavor of the sparse poblanos, and the fajita-based offerings were perfectly fine but nothing special. The camarones taco, however, was excellent, with nicely-fried shrimp, crispy corn salsa and a pleasantly spicy chipotle crema. We’d be curious to try the other taco offerings (beef barbacoa, chicken tinga and chorizo), but we’ll probably favor the more substantial entrées in subsequent meals at Cinco.
Speaking of the larger entrées, the fajitas ($16-18) ranked right up there with the best Tex-Mex Tyler has eaten in Texas. The beef fajitas came to the table in the classic style: a sizzling skillet of beef, peppers and onions, a separate plate of black beans and elotes (Mexican street corn), and a foil pouch of the awesome house-made tortillas. The fajita fillings were all grilled simply but perfectly, and when layered into a tortilla and slathered with crema and pico de gallo, they helped showcase Cinco’s strength and potential. The black beans and street corn were also excellent, though both played second fiddle to the deliciously simple fajitas.
Cinco does not offer desserts yet (though we hear some are in the works), but we were too full for more food anyway! We’re glad to have stumbled across this under-the-radar spot – it’s clearly still working out some kinks and refining its recipes, but we’re excited to see how it evolves and improves on an already-winning formula. Keep those chips coming, Cinco, and we’ll keep coming back!
Cinco Tex-Mex website
1035 Johnnie Dodds Boulevard #B7, Mount Pleasant, SC
Hours: 5-10pm Monday-Saturday; closed Sundays