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A pizza box full of tacos.
The taco box from El Molino is a thing of beauty.
Mike Ledford

10 Essential Taco Stops in the Lowcountry

From birria to chorizo to buttermilk fried chicken, there’s plenty of taco options in the Charleston area

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The taco box from El Molino is a thing of beauty.
| Mike Ledford

Charleston may not be known as a taco town, but there are plenty of vendors serving up classics and fusion versions. Maybe you demand free chips with your order or expect the joint to serve offal speckled with cilantro and onions — there's a taco joint of every sort in Charleston. From handmade tortillas to Americanized offerings to places with giant margaritas, this is the list of the top taquerias in town. Don't see your favorite? Leave us a comment.

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El Alteño

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If you like the food truck experience, but hate chasing down the mobile kitchens, then stop by El Alteño in Summerville. The taco truck parks permanently next to the no-frills dining room for easy access to carnitas, lengua, longaniza, and other traditional meats sprinkled with onion and cilantro on a fresh tortilla.

Tiki Taco

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Yes, there are tiki huts at Tiki Taco. There’s also cheap margaritas, laid-back service, and plenty of tacos. Order a drink, sit on the beach-y patio, and try the lengua or chorizo tacos.

Taqueria Espres

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Consistently rated as some of the best tacos from a truck around, Taqueria Espres gathers an almost cult following in North Charleston. The doubled up tortillas are stacked with perfectly seasoned meats, onion, and cilantro. Each order comes with a few pickled carrots and a jalapeño.

Lucy’s Deliveries Y Mas

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Petite eatery Lucy’s Deliveries Y Mas (previously known as La Cocina De Lucy) doesn’t have many seats, but it does have multiple options for tacos — asada, pollo, chorizo, lengua, and more come with containers of fresh salsa, limes, radishes, and a roasted pepper. Sit outside if it’s a nice day.

Tacos at Lucy’s.
Erin Perkins/Eater

El Molino Supermarket

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Mexican supermarket El Molino offers a variety of traditional fare to go, including tacos. Choices range from cabeza to carnitas to suedero — all at $2.25 (thought the lengua will cost an extra 15 cents). The taco box full of 15 tacos is a popular item for groups. The newer birria version will run you $3.99. Go all out and order a pizza box full of tacos. The group recently opened a second location at 1610 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.

Buy an entire box of tacos at El Molino.
Mike Ledford

Las Lupitas

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The sign outside Las Lupitas states, "The Best Mexican Food in Town," so it's worth a trek to sample the traditional tacos like the barbacoa or tripe. The small space has a roadside diner sort of feeling with booths to slide into after ordering from the massive menu. Remember: It's cash only here.

Torres Superette

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In the back of convenience store Torres Superette sits some of the best tacos in the Lowcountry. The carnitas with corn tortillas is a popular option, but be sure to take a look at the specials board.

Santi's Restaurante Mexicano

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A favorite since 2003, Santi’s is a staple of the Charleston community. The outdoor patio is the place to be when the weather is nice. Order a giant margarita and then decide if you want Mexican or American-style tacos. The chips and fresh salsa are free and actually worth eating.

Santi’s Leslie Ryann McKellar

Taco Boy

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It’s all about the experience at mini-chain Taco Boy. Order a giant frozen screwdriver, sit outside on the patio, and choose from a wide variety of non-traditional tacos, like Korean beef or chicken bacon ranch. For purists, there are carnitas and Baja fish offers, and the restaurant recently started making its own corn tortillas. Taco Boy is also one of the few places to serve breakfast tacos on the weekend.

167 Raw Oyster Bar

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What’s a fancy seafood spot doing on this list? Well, 167 Raw Oyster Bar just happens to have one of the best carnitas tacos in Charleston. The pork, smoked for 10 hours, gets crisped up before serving, so each bite has the perfect crunch matched with pickled red onions and crema. The fried shrimp and fresh catch tacos are worth an order as well.

restaurant interior
Who knew that a seafood spot would have such great tacos?
Leslie Ryann McKellar

El Alteño

If you like the food truck experience, but hate chasing down the mobile kitchens, then stop by El Alteño in Summerville. The taco truck parks permanently next to the no-frills dining room for easy access to carnitas, lengua, longaniza, and other traditional meats sprinkled with onion and cilantro on a fresh tortilla.

Tiki Taco

Yes, there are tiki huts at Tiki Taco. There’s also cheap margaritas, laid-back service, and plenty of tacos. Order a drink, sit on the beach-y patio, and try the lengua or chorizo tacos.

Taqueria Espres

Consistently rated as some of the best tacos from a truck around, Taqueria Espres gathers an almost cult following in North Charleston. The doubled up tortillas are stacked with perfectly seasoned meats, onion, and cilantro. Each order comes with a few pickled carrots and a jalapeño.

Lucy’s Deliveries Y Mas

Petite eatery Lucy’s Deliveries Y Mas (previously known as La Cocina De Lucy) doesn’t have many seats, but it does have multiple options for tacos — asada, pollo, chorizo, lengua, and more come with containers of fresh salsa, limes, radishes, and a roasted pepper. Sit outside if it’s a nice day.

Tacos at Lucy’s.
Erin Perkins/Eater

El Molino Supermarket

Mexican supermarket El Molino offers a variety of traditional fare to go, including tacos. Choices range from cabeza to carnitas to suedero — all at $2.25 (thought the lengua will cost an extra 15 cents). The taco box full of 15 tacos is a popular item for groups. The newer birria version will run you $3.99. Go all out and order a pizza box full of tacos. The group recently opened a second location at 1610 Sam Rittenberg Boulevard.

Buy an entire box of tacos at El Molino.
Mike Ledford

Las Lupitas

The sign outside Las Lupitas states, "The Best Mexican Food in Town," so it's worth a trek to sample the traditional tacos like the barbacoa or tripe. The small space has a roadside diner sort of feeling with booths to slide into after ordering from the massive menu. Remember: It's cash only here.

Torres Superette

In the back of convenience store Torres Superette sits some of the best tacos in the Lowcountry. The carnitas with corn tortillas is a popular option, but be sure to take a look at the specials board.

Santi's Restaurante Mexicano

A favorite since 2003, Santi’s is a staple of the Charleston community. The outdoor patio is the place to be when the weather is nice. Order a giant margarita and then decide if you want Mexican or American-style tacos. The chips and fresh salsa are free and actually worth eating.

Santi’s Leslie Ryann McKellar

Taco Boy

It’s all about the experience at mini-chain Taco Boy. Order a giant frozen screwdriver, sit outside on the patio, and choose from a wide variety of non-traditional tacos, like Korean beef or chicken bacon ranch. For purists, there are carnitas and Baja fish offers, and the restaurant recently started making its own corn tortillas. Taco Boy is also one of the few places to serve breakfast tacos on the weekend.

167 Raw Oyster Bar

What’s a fancy seafood spot doing on this list? Well, 167 Raw Oyster Bar just happens to have one of the best carnitas tacos in Charleston. The pork, smoked for 10 hours, gets crisped up before serving, so each bite has the perfect crunch matched with pickled red onions and crema. The fried shrimp and fresh catch tacos are worth an order as well.

restaurant interior
Who knew that a seafood spot would have such great tacos?
Leslie Ryann McKellar

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