Way back in October 2009, we made our first trip to Charleston. Leaving the airport, we were greeted with a blast of heat (a welcome change from chilly New York!) and one of our best friends, who immediately took us to Folly Beach and one of her favorite restaurants, Taco Boy. Sitting on the back patio, soaking up the sun and a few margaritas in the middle of a weekday, we instantly fell in love with the restaurant. That love extended to Charleston as a whole over the course of the weekend, and a little less than two years later, we were back in the city as residents instead of tourists. We’ve been to almost 200 restaurants in the city since then, but Taco Boy will always hold a special place in our heart as the first – and so it seemed only fitting that it should be the subject of our first real blog post!
Taco Boy is a funky taqueria/cantina that fits perfectly with Folly Beach’s laid-back atmosphere. It has both indoor seating – which offers a nice respite from the scorching beach heat in the summer – and outdoor seating on its front and back patios (with the latter being dog-friendly). Even the restrooms are quirky; each unisex stall is wallpapered in magazine covers featuring the head of “the Taco Boy” superimposed on the original cover model’s body.
As you might guess from the name, Taco Boy’s specialty is tacos. Over the years, we’ve tried almost all of tacos on the menu – from a standard American taco to more creative options like kimchi beef and chorizo & potato to great vegetarian options like tempura avocado and roasted cauliflower – and have been impressed with their breadth and creativity. Our absolute favorite, though, is the grilled fish taco: grilled mahi, greens, cilantro dijon sauce and salsa crudo wrapped in lettuce or a flour or corn tortilla. More often than not, our order is simply eight of them (four for Tyler, three for Nina and one for the boy), and on our most recent visit, our waitress referred to us as the “Fish Taco Family” – we’ll choose to take that as a compliment! The truly brave (or foolish) can add “Danger Sauce” to any taco for an extra fifty cents; we’re not sure what’s in it, but it is no-fooling HOT. All of the tacos are a la carte, so you can mix and match as much as you want.
Taco Boy’s appetizers are also solid. The salsa trio (jalapeno tomato, tomatillo and salsa crudo) is our favorite, and the queso and nachos are good, if heavier, options as well. Our one gripe with Taco Boy is that their guacamole is offered at “market price,” which we once discovered to be almost $10 – we’re not sure how much that varies, as that was not-so-coincidentally the last time we ordered the guac.
Mexican beer and margaritas dominate the drink menu. An ice-cold Sol, pineapple margarita or Taco Boy’s special “frozen screwdriver” is a perfect complement to a fish taco after a day at the beach!
Taco Boy is about as kid-friendly as you can get for lunch or an early dinner. The kids’ menu offers basic cheese and black bean tacos and quesadillas, but if you have a semi-adventurous eater, we’d recommend ordering from the regular menu. All of the “adult” tacos cost around $4, which is on par with the quesadillas on the kids’ menu, and are much more interesting! Jack will happily deconstruct a grilled fish taco and devour all of the mahi and tortilla (still working on the greens!). The restaurant also has plenty of high chairs, and the noise level is always high enough to drown out the occasional toddler freak-out. Taco Boy is visually stimulating as well, with colorful lamps hanging from the ceiling and Oaxacan masks adorning the walls. Jack always asks us to “name” the masks – now if only we could remember what we’ve called them between visits!
A few years ago, Taco Boy opened a second location on Huger Street downtown, with a similar vibe and an expansive outdoor area. It’s definitely worth a visit, though for sentimental reasons we’ll always prefer the original Folly spot!
So there you have it: our first post about our first Charleston restaurant. Cheers to many more!
15 Center Street, Folly Beach, SC
217 Huger Street, Charleston, SC
V-Dub Grub’s kid-friendly rating: A