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Where to get the Moby Dick of tacos in town

The Moby Dick taco has grilled mahi mahi or shrimp, Mexican slaw, tortilla strips and avocado.
The Moby Dick taco has grilled mahi mahi or shrimp, Mexican slaw, tortilla strips and avocado. Special to Go Columbia

Taco bars seem to be the rage in Columbia of late, but Sure Fire Tacos offers much more.

Soft tacos still are a focus on the menu and sport interesting names: the Hen House with flame-grilled chicken; the Sure Fire with flame-grilled steak or chicken; the Ball Park with diced jalapeno sausage served on vegetarian refried beans; and the Mr. Piggy, featuring slow-roasted tender pork served with cilantro lime rice.

Flavorful seafood tacos include a substantial portion of grilled mahi mahi or shrimp. The Moby Dick has the addition of spicy Mexican slaw, crunchy tortilla strips and thick slices of avocado.

Tortillas are made from scratch, as are signature salsas. Customers can build their own bowl, which includes choices of a protein and up to five toppings – everything from a cilantro onion mix to pepper jack cheese to mango habanero.

There is also a build-your-own nacho option, a large salad, four burritos choices, and quesadillas – with an exceptional chargrilled aroma and taste – that work as a shareable appetizer or main entree.

Sides include the black bean and corn salad or the Mexican street corn, which is authentic Mexican grilled corn with chilies, queso fresco, and fresh citrus.

One of the popular desserts is Sure Fire Chimneys, a sweet fried burrito with raspberry cheesecake or dulce de leche filling, served with vanilla ice cream. Enticing near the order counter is a raised, open cooler packed with ice and a selection of beers.

How did Sure Fire Tacos get its start?

Joshua R. Hicok, vice president and one of the owners, was motivated to open the restaurant because he wanted to offer Columbia consumers authentic, made-from-scratch, cooked-when-ordered tortillas.

What does the place look like?

Because of the historic nature of the Vista building, the space is open and deep.

The environment seems to go on forever, ending up at a door that opens to a spacious patio. In fact, Sure Fire Tacos seats 200. The ambiance is an architectural blend of old warehouse and artistic sleek, with rough-hewn tabletops and chair bottoms married with rustic steel. Charcoal subway tiles surround the order area; a roughly 20-foot bar is lit with contemporary drop lighting.

The menu is handwritten on chalkboards over the counter, and the word “taco” is spelled out in large metal letters near the bar.

Who eats here?

“We have been received really well,” Hicok said. “Our clientele is a mixture of young professionals, college students, and local residents.”

Sure Fire Tacos & Tortilla Grill

WHERE: 916 Gervais St., Columbia

WHEN: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday

COST: Tacos are all $3.99; nothing on the menu exceeds $9. Taco Tuesday special is two tacos and chips and queso for $8.

INFO: (803) 764-1016; www.surefiretacos.com; Facebook