La Cocina
2013 Folly Road
James Island

Open since mid-October, La Cocina is a taco stand with loads of character located on the way to Folly Beach. Potted pepper plants line the wall and mosquito netting drapes from the ceiling. A stuffed parrot occupies a corner perch. The board game Battleship sits on a table ready to become happy hour entertainment. An old glass retail case features a handful of hemp necklaces and keychains in addition to a selection of homemade cookies. One television squats cockeyed on a wobbly table. Opposite is a silent, old video poker machine. Ubiquitous jam band music fills the air. A dry erase board features the daily “420 Special” while the regular menu offers fresh fish tacos ($2.49) and steak tacos ($1.99) among its limited Mexican cantina selections. Thirteen varieties of hot sauce line the lunch counter. Drinks are delivered via a square cubby cutout between the adjoining Barrier Island Surf Shop and La Cocina’s kitchen, where a sign reads: “Don’t drink the water.” The bar setup is pretty basic; beer is your only option and the most popular selections are Tecate and Modelo. Canned beer runs $2, while a bottled version will set you back $3. The whole operation is pretty much “what you see is what you get” and it works rather well.

The heart of this rough jewel, owned by locals Jason Vaughan, Megan Jacobs and Lucas Bengal, is the expansive back deck that was constructed around a spectacularly massive oak tree. The deck overlooks the marsh and is illuminated by tiki torches making it one of the best spots to enjoy a fall sunset. Live music, cheap tacos, and cold beer draw big, laid-back crowds on the weekend. After one especially wild Friday night of reggae, the owners discovered the whole deck had been driven six inches closer to the ground by hours of dancing.

Watch for the sign with the blue surfer cutout. The sign is illuminated by a small army of random lamp castoffs, which sets the homegrown tone of this new establishment. Oh and by the way, their motto is “We Roll ‘Em Big,” so bring your appetite. Also, bring cash, since this place doesn’t take plastic. –Ida Becker

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