Restaurant: Bruno’s Taqueria
Location: 601 Main St., Columbia, South Carolina, 29201
Bang for your buck: A+
Overall rating: A
New restaurant Bruno’s Taqueria is bringing authentic flavors at unbeatable prices to the corner of Main and Assembly streets.
As its name states, Bruno’s specializes in tacos — and it makes darn good ones.
To stay authentic, every taco comes topped with a choice of standard options such as filling, onions and cilantro. What sets Bruno's tacos apart are the tortillas.
At Bruno’s, tortillas are made fresh-to-order — not as a marketing ploy, but because they taste better. Eating a freshly made tortilla can be compared to eating a warm cookie straight from the oven. The tortilla simply makes the whole taco better.
Bruno’s prices are hard to beat, and the tortillas make the tacos worth more than they cost. Without a special, mini tacos cost $1.75, while regular-sized tacos cost $2.75.
Naturally, every Tuesday is Taco Tuesday, which calls for $1 mini tacos. Have I been known to eat six tacos for $6 right after class on Tuesdays? Yes, I have, and I will do it again.
As for the fillings, Bruno’s makes a wide variety, ranging from classic favorites such as carne asada and grilled chicken to the underrated nopal, or cactus.
If you get the chance to try one new thing, make it the lengua: beef tongue. Bruno’s lengua is special; it's incredibly tender and pairs well with the restaurant's green salsa.
In addition to its tacos, Bruno’s menu includes Mexican classics such as tortas, burritos and quesadillas.
Another great option are their specialty plates or "especialidades." The specialty plate is anchored by a protein: your choice of carne asada, carnitas, pollo asado, enchiladas or milanesa. It also includes hand-made tortillas, refried beans, rice, and sautéed peppers and onions. The specialty plate should be thought of as a dinner option. You get a solid portion size – it is always enough to easily feed me – for right around $12.
The only downside about Bruno's is that chips and salsa cost extra. It is perfectly understandable to not have any "unlimited" offerings in a college town from a business perspective – hungry students with limited budgets would make free chips a meal.
Bruno's is a small family-run establishment, which makes the experience that much better. The staff will always greet you with a friendly, masked smile, and from the minute you walk up to the counter to place your order, guests are treated like family.
As for the ambiance, it's exactly what you would expect (and want) from a family-run taqueria. The table-wear is unpretentious; a ubiquitous red, pebbled coke cup will hold your horchata and your tacos come in a familiar red oval basket.
Bruno’s Taqueria is the perfect place for an after class taco (or six). When you go to Bruno’s, you know what you're getting: Great food at a reasonable price served by great people.