SW Chowhound here, on vacation in Charleston. We've done the touristy thing with the Hominy Grill, Mahogony Grill, Sticky Fingers, etc. We've enjoyed fancier meals at the Charleston Grill and at the Peninsula Grill and at High Cotton. But the place that I wanted to mention is a newish restaurant on South Market, Casa Grande.
Casa Grande has been open for just over a month, according to the waiter. I knew I was in good shape when he took one look at me and started talking en espanol. (They speak English just fine, too.)
The menu has a lot of N. Mexican and central Mexican chow. Their salsa is fresh and tasty, their chips are light, their beers are ice-cold, and their margaritas have a decent shot of tequila in them. I am not a fan of seafood, so I did not try any of that. I have, however, enjoyed their chile colorado, their carne asada, their guacamole salad, their huevos con chorizo, and their fabulous tostadas.
I'm usually not one to carry on about antojitos, but the beef and cheese tostadas at Casa Grande are pretty remarkable (remarkable enough that I went and pulled my wife out of her conference and made her eat one). You get a wonderfully crispy tostada that's positively LOADED with spiced ground beef and molten mexican white cheese for $2.15 (two for $3.90). It has to be a half-pound of food, and it's superb.
The carne asada is great, and the chile colorado (I live in NM, so I had to see what the Mexican version is like) was delicious in featuring - this is bizarre to the New Mexican in me - fajita meat in a spicy tomato/oregano sauce . . . sort of a Mexican version of bisteca alla pizziaola. The huevos con chorizo was more chorizo than huevos, and the guacamole salad was large and totally legitimate (and I'm very fussy about guacamole . . . ).
Anyway, I was amazed to find such great quality Mexican food in such a touristy area (right next to the schlock-ridden open air market) at such a great price. You should absolutely try the Hominy Grill, High Cotton and the Peninsula Grill, but don't miss this outstanding value tucked away next to the awful-looking Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.
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