Myrtle Beach: 1160 Farrow Parkway (The Market Common); (843) 839-9770, North Myrtle Beach: 950 N. Beach Blvd.; (843) 663-9393
The locally owned and operated Divine Dining Group (River City Cafe, Ultimate California Pizza) hit gold again with Nacho Hippo, a fun, funky, ultra-casual Tex-Mex-ish cantina featuring live music, a great happy hour, indoor/outdoor seating (both locations), excellent margaritas and inventive, flavorful dishes. Start with Three Way chips, featuring fresh chips and salsa three ways: Fire Roasted, Tomatillo and Mango Habanero ($3.95), or the Grilled Corn on the Cob rolled in house-made crema spiked with crushed chilies, lime and queso fresco ($3.95). Make a meal of hearty soups and salads (with added chicken, steak or seafood), or quesadillas, tacos or loaded nachos. House specialties include Carnitas with slow-roasted pork, Sloppy Burritos (chicken, pork, taco beef, vegetarian), Sriracha-Lime Chicken, Chimichangas, the Burger Maximo and the Clucker (chicken breast) sandwich, plus daily chef specials. Opens at 11 a.m. daily.
740 Coastal Grand Circle, Myrtle Beach; (843) 448-5533
Spanish for “grandfather,” Abuelo’s has remained a popular Mexican restaurant for some 14 years. A stand-alone eatery at the Coastal Grand Mall, Abuelo’s is one of a highly successful chain of 40 restaurants now spanning 13 states. With plenty of art, open and airy dining rooms, an outdoor patio and a large bar/lounge area, Abuelo’s handles crowds for lunch and dinner. Mexican food lovers have a hard time choosing from an extensive menu loaded with tapas and small bites, appetizers and dips, salads and soups, Tex-Mex favorites, fajitas, lunch and dinner specials, desserts and fabulous seasonal cocktails. The Seared Tuna appetizer begins with sashimi-grade Yellowfin tuna, briefly seared, served on fresh greens and topped with mango relish, spicy mustard and honey-lime dressing. It’s this attention to fresh, bright flavors that has helped make Abuelo’s the kind of place your grandfather (and the entire family) will love. Open daily at 11 a.m.
9906 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach; (843) 497-5960
Regularly winning ”best of” contests, Margarita’s has been dishing up authentic Mexican food since 2004. Serving locals and visitors on the north end of Myrtle Beach, Margarita’s guests rave about the food. “Best Chimichanga I have ever had!” said one visitor from Chicago. “Keep up the great work!” Affordable and filling, the large menu (including a kids’ menu) has something for everyone. The Chimichanga features two large flour tortillas filled with shredded beef or chicken, deep fried, topped with cheese and ranchero sauce and served with rice, beans and a guacamole and sour cream salad. Seafood, chicken, pork, steak, vegetarian and a la carte dishes round out the menu. Stop by for a margarita in sizes small, medium, large, jumbo and by-the-pitcher. Fried banana with ice cream or the Sopapilla (fried flour tortilla topped with honey, butter, cinnamon and whipped cream) finish the meal. Opens at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday and at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
410 70th Ave. N., Myrtle Beach; (843) 497-2781
Family owned and operated, Fiesta Mexicana offers the authentic dishes and flavors of Mexico inspired by head chef Gabriel Hernandez. Leave plenty of time to peruse the giant menu loaded with appetizers, soups and salads, a la carte sides, fajitas, vegetarian plates, combination platters and dozens of beef, chicken, pork and seafood dishes, as well as a full bar. Most lunch items are less than $9, most dinner options less than $12, and most seafood specials are $17, so your wallet will thank you as much as your stomach. Try the Enchiladas Supreme ($10.95), which includes four enchiladas (one chicken, one beef, one cheese and one bean) topped with ranchero cheese sauce, lettuce, pico and sour cream. The Mil Amores ($17) features grilled shrimp with broccoli, mixed vegetables, bell peppers, mushrooms and onions, served on a bed of Mexican rice and topped with melted cheese. Perfecto! Open daily 11 a.m.
El Cerro Grande
Six locations across the Grand Strand, including 108 S. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach; (843) 946-9562
Some 80 percent of TripAdvisors’ notably snarky and hard-to-please reviewers give El Cerro Grande either a “very good” or “excellent” rating, so it’s no surprise that Grand Strand Magazine readers would call it one the area’s five “best,” too. With multiple Grand Strand locations, El Cerro’s menu goes beyond the usual Mexican restaurant fare to include seafood plates (all under $15) such as Cancun Shrimp Salad (grilled shrimp with mixed field greens, roasted sweet corn, avocado, red onions, cucumber and tomato). The Salmon Los Cabos starts with yellow squash, sautéed zucchini, mushrooms, roasted sweet corn, spinach, Chef Armando’s Six Pepper Cream Sauce and mashed potatoes, topped with a pan-seared 8-ounce salmon filet. And don’t worry, all the traditional favorites are here, too: tacos, quesadillas, chicken dishes, combo plates, BBQ, fajitas and tons of additional lunch and dinner specials. A kids’ menu is also available. Open daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.