A full meal at the new Isle of Palms restaurant could start with some crawfish and andouille tamales, move into a main course of Korean fried chicken tacos with collard green kimchi, and wrap up with “churro beignets” with espresso sugar and Mexican hot chocolate fondue.
The brief menu on the new restaurant’s website focuses on tacos with a distinct international flare, from Italy to Korea to the South and classic Tex-Mex.
Rusty Hamlin opened Papi’s Taqueria on the South Carolina island near Charleston to little fanfare in August, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
Hamlin is the executive chef for the Zac Brown Band when they’re on the road.
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The Post and Courier called the new Isle of Palms spot Hamlin’s “passion project.”
“We started almost a year ago on the structure. It was so small I couldn’t even walk through because things would fall off the racks,” Hamlin told the Post and Courier.
Hamlin was a finalist on a recent season of “Food Network Star.”
In an interview with the Food Network, Hamlin said, “I am a Southern-inspired chef with Louisiana Cajun Creole roots who goes around the country and does what I call cooking off the cuff — whatever’s local and whatever’s coming out of the ground, the sea, the refrigerator, the cabinets is what we’re going to make an amazing meal with.”
That outlook comes through in the menu for Papi’s. It may be a taco joint on the beach, but it’s far from the standard Mexican or Tex-Mex fare.
The food menu is brief, with just a couple starters, sides and desserts, alongside nine kinds of tacos to choose from.
The tacos go from the “How ya durin” with fried prawns, cabbage and remoulade to the “Veggin’ out” with cauliflower, portabella fries and cabbage. The menu features some more traditional options too, with blackened fish tacos — “Fishin’ in the dark” — or the “Puffy pollo” with grilled chicken, enchilada sauce and queso fresco.
Check out the full Papi’s menu on the restaurant’s website.
CORRECTION: This story originally said the restaurant was owned by Zac Brown. Brown is not involved in Papi’s Taqueria, it is Rusty Hamlin’s restaurant.
Charles Duncan: 843-626-0301, @duncanreporting