Ocean Mex to the Max

August 2016
Written By: 
Ashley Daniels
Photographs by: 
Scott Smallin

Banditos on the Boardwalk dishes out cool Mexican at this hot spot on the beach

A hot breeze off the Atlantic crackles through the palm leaves that punch the Carolina blue sky above. A Jimmy Buffett tune twangs off the acoustic guitar strings of Travis Proctor, the entertainer who’s taking charge of tonight’s outdoor stage. Bartenders at the cantina are shaking up house margaritas with salt. And we’re relaxing under a wide umbrella, sipping on one while dipping tortilla chips into chunky fresh salsa.

Banditos Restaurant and Cantina is oceanfront at 14th Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard on the north end of the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. The stucco building is a beauty, both inside and out on the patio and cantina. Look for the Spanish-style turret jutting into the skyline just beyond the SkyWheel and either take a seat inside the gorgeous Spanish castle ambiance of stone and tile or outside, which is a must if the beach weather is right.

You do have to pay to park, even in the parking lot beside the building, which is $10 a space. When Banditos first opened, I remember that requirement was waived if you were a restaurant patron. Now you need to dig in and pay up.

The stone back patio is paradise, sloping down toward the sands of the Atlantic beyond a border of pretty palmettos. Our server suggested starting with the Banditos Dip Trio and we took her up on it. Not only did we have salsa for our bottomless chips, but also creamy queso, fresh-made guacamole and a sweet tropical salsa blended with diced pineapple. Madz, our server, was smart with upselling tactics and friendly as ever with her endless smile and attentiveness.

The appetizer nearly filled us up, but Mexican entrees are a must here. I went with the Baja Shrimp Skewers, a lighter side of the fare offered, but with intense flavor. All items are slid off the skewers onto a bed of Mexican rice. The plump, chargrilled shrimp, chorizo sausage, mushrooms, onions and peppers are all glazed with a sweet Thai chili sauce. This dish is summertime defined.

My husband ordered the Sizzling Steak Fajitas, listed under Banditos’ Mexican Favorites, and it soon became one of his. Slices of rare steak were sizzling and fanned out over a pile of sautéed onions and bell peppers. Added toppings for the stack of warm tortillas are Mexican rice, black beans, shredded cheese and lettuce, sour cream, pico de gallo and guacamole. Be prepared to take some of the large portions home.

Additional popular picks at Banditos are their burritos, rolled and stuffed with your choice of adobe chicken, taco beef or crab meat and shrimp. Gluten-free items include the Mexican Street Corn, served on the cob from the grill and brushed with a chipotle mayo and Parmesan cheese.

Happy hour drinks are poured daily from 4–8 p.m. at a great price, including the Hornitos Tequila Shot Flight: four shots for $23. Casa margaritas, which I highly recommend, are a refreshing $3. Fiesta!

There’s an overload of classic Mexican options on Banditos’ menu—from nachos to quesadillas to chimichangas—so you shouldn’t have a problem finding your new favorite. Don’t expect, however, the flavors to be ordinary. Banditos will have you and your partner doing your own kind of salsa dancing.

Banditos Restaurant and Cantina
1410 N. Ocean Blvd. 
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
(843) 808-9800
Hours: Open daily, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.