As previously mentioned, tacos have seemingly seeped into every corner of Greenville. While the city limits are the epicenter of their growth, this hasn’t stopped the tendrils from reaching into the surrounding cities and starting to wrap around them like a tortilla around filling. This has even extended to the once sleepy town of Travelers Rest. TR used to be nothing but Sunrift Adventures, TR Oriental, and the Waffle House. Now, thanks to the Swamp Rabbit Trail, it’s a bustling small town with lots of great ways to spend an afternoon or evening with food, drinks, and more. Now, another place is added to that list: Farmhouse Tacos. Do they have what it takes to make their mark on an already crowded taco landscape?
Chris and Katie Williamson opened Farmhouse in mid-January of this year. Located in a newly built shopping center on Main St. next to the Tasting Room, the outside boasts an appropriate farmhouse chic aesthetic which extends inside. There are picnic tables as well for al fresco dining when the weather permits.
The interior features a bar, high and low top tables, and that rustic look. There is a breeziness about the interior and the decor and colors make there seem like there’s more room and space than there actually is. I was seated at the bar on a fairly busy night. The bar serves the full menu and from what I can tell is first come, first serve.
We were served chips and salsa without asking for them. Salsa is listed for $2 on the menu, but we were given them for free. I don’t know if this was only at the bar or if it was to keep us from starving because they were busy, but I’ll take free chips and salsa any day. The salsa had a smokey sweetness. It wasn’t too spicy, nor too mild and was very flavorful. Most of the chips were over salted to the point they could destroy a palate. Others were completely devoid of salt.
We ordered the queso even though we were surprised with the salsa. Included in their queso are fire roasted green chiles and beans. The queso was smooth. The addition of chiles and beans should have brought a flavor punch to the queso, but other than the texture of the beans, there was little to no flavor imparted to the cheese by the additions and the cheese had little flavor on its own. The chips that came with the queso were just as over salted as the ones with the salsa.
The tacos that were ordered were the Verde Braised Pork Shoulder, Calabash Shrimp, Travelers Rest Hot Chicken, and Crab Cake w/ Green Tomatoes. The Verde Braised Pork Shoulder was just as advertised. It was braised pork shoulder. The pork had very little flavor, but there was a lot of heat in this taco. More than I was expecting. The verde sauce must have had a lot of chiles or jalapenos or something in it, because I can’t express how hot this was in relation to my expectation. There wasn’t enough pineapple salsa to overcome the heat in the verde sauce. The spice and heat overwhelmed the rest of the flavors of the taco and made the subtle sweetness of the pork disappear. The Calabash Shrimp taco was fine. The ratio of shrimp to slaw was off as there was way more slaw than shrimp. It also needed more fat or liquid by way of more tartar sauce or some other way to keep the slaw from sucking all of moisture and giving the taco the right lubrication.
Then there’s the TR Hot Chicken Taco. This one was the one I was looking forward to the most. The chicken had none of that front-to-back of the mouth heat that you expect from hot chicken. There wasn’t that hint of sweetness from the pepper and hot sauce. In fact, the Verde Pork was a hotter taco than this one. I didn’t expect this taco to be super super hot, but expected it somewhere in the medium range to accommodate all tastes. However, it was in the mild end of the spectrum. I’d like to see a range of heat to choose from on this taco or to have the spice level upped. The chicken was also dry and overcooked. The best part of the taco was the pickled okra which added a nice brightness. The cornbread croutons are a fun addition, but are superfluous to the overall taco experience and only gave a bit of texture and sucked up more moisture, which was already severely lacking in the chicken. The Crab Cake with Green Tomatoes may have been under the Hot Chicken on the ranking scale . There is one small crab cake that sat in the center of the taco. If you just left the taco as is, you get maybe one to two bites of crab cake while eating the whole taco. If you’re keeping the crab cake that small, halve it and have it run most of the length of the taco to get some in most bites. This is the technique that was used by us once the server dropped the tacos off. The small crab cake was also mostly filler and not crab. It was also heavily over seasoned with Old Bay or a similar spice that covered up the small amount of crab and its natural sweetness, almost to the point where you couldn’t eat it. This is one of the highest priced tacos on the menu and I would expect a bit more.
Farmhouse Tacos has been open just a few short months, but they still have a ways to go. They’re a welcome addition to the TR landscape and will do well with trail travelers, Furman students, passers through, and locals. But within the Greenville city limits, there are better tacos to be had. The downside to having so many taco places is that you’re able to compare them all. Farmhouse Tacos is doing an admirable job in their little niche, but they have some ground to make up in the overall ever growing Greenville taco landscape.
164 South Main St.
Travelers Rest, SC 29690
Tacos: $3.50 – $5.50
Other Entrees: $10 – $14