Everything feels like it takes a slower and more relaxed pace in Pawleys Island, even when there are changes happening. Last summer, the locally owned Southern Comforts Bakery opened a new location at the Hammocks Shops Village and closed down the original location. Then earlier this year, the owners opened a new concept, SoCo Baja Grille, forgoing baked goods and instead focusing on fresh Mexican inspired food.
Both inside and out on the porch, the restaurant feels open and uncluttered. While the team is still working to get confidence on their feet, they are all wonderfully friendly and willing to work out hiccups and concerns as they come. This includes one of the owners, who will be out on the floor not only greeting guests but serving them, making conversation, and later checking on how the customers are enjoying their experience.
The interior has remained mostly the same from its days as Southern Comfort, complete with vibrant colors on the walls and funky lizard-themed décor, both of which now feel perfectly at home. It isn’t far off at all to refer to SoCo as a Tex-Mex restaurant, and it is one that takes after other such popular businesses.
However, instead of standing in front of a counter and pointing through glass at the toppings you want, everything here is prepared upon ordering, cooked fresh and made exactly how you like it. Plus, every table receives a complimentary serving of chips and pico de gallo.
Half of the menu is made up of tacos, which come two to a plate and include tasty versions such as pork carnitas, asada, vegetables and beef brisket. Though they are called street tacos, this doesn’t stop SoCo from making sure every preference is covered, so wheat tortillas are offered, and your tacos can be hard or soft.
The other half of the menu provides heartier options and even more customizability. Here, guests can choose how they want their meal – that is, as a burrito, bowl, as tacos, or as a type of quesadilla. While the bases are listed on the menu, even those can be changed.
For instance, if you prefer not to have red rice in your tortilla bowl, and want black beans instead of refried beans, there is no problem at all. Once you decide the basics, then you can choose your meat, from grilled chicken to blackened Mahi or grilled mango shrimp, then load up on as many other toppings as you’d like. After your specifications are noted by the server, the kitchen prepares the food, which is then served piping hot. Customers can also add one of SoCo’s “sloppy sauces” for an extra kick or level of flavor.
Even as the weather warms up, Pawleys Island still takes it easy, but SoCo Baja Grille is already hard at work. Taco Tuesdays offer $2 tacos and margaritas all day, and Happy Hour is from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., plus ingredients are bought locally and served fresh. All this and more means the young eatery has become a pleasant surprise, even a fiesta, to locals and visitors alike.
If you go
What: SoCo Baja Grille
Where: 13089 Ocean Hwy, Pawleys Island
Hours: 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. Tue-Fri, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sat
Information: facebook.com/socobajagrille, 843-314-3482
Price: $4-6 starters, $10-15 entrees