There are many Mexican restaurants in South Carolina that can satisfy a yen for a good enchilada or burrito. But if you're craving a dining experience along with your chips and salsa, you can find fulfillment at Salud Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Lounge in the historic town of Camden, SC.This hip downtown eatery, nestled among the quaint antique shops and art galleries of Broad Street, distinguishes itself with a dining room that fuses the casual feel of an open-air café with the intimacy of a bistro. The dark brick and ironwork, accented with funky Mexican folk art and clusters of colorful hanging lanterns, make for a warm, yet energetic atmosphere. The bar is the focal point of the room with its "wall of tequila," a collection of nearly 300 top-shelf varieties that will command the eye and tempt the adventurous tippler. Spend the day touring the Historic Camden Revolutionary War Park and Museum, then head a few blocks to downtown, and unwind with a cool drink and something good to eat.
If you're dining with the family, choose a table in the bustling main dining area. For date night, the dimly lit booth seating situated on the far side of the staircase is the way to go. Got a few friends with you? Head up the stairs to an atrium lounge, where comfy sofas and chairs are arranged with good conversation and tapas-style dining in mind.
The menu walks an adventurous line between authenticity and innovation. Burritos, street tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, dinner-size salads - the fresh ingredients are evident at first bite. Start your meal with the cool Ceviche de Camaron, tender pink citrus-marinated shrimp tossed with cilantro, cucumber, onion, tomato, jalapeno and avocado. For a heartier appetizer, order the savory Carne Rellena, thin slices of tender skirt steak wrapped around strips of roasted poblano peppers, onion and cheese, and served with a garlicky chimichurri sauce.
Entrees include the Burrito Poblano, a flour tortilla filled with chicken, poblano peppers, cheese, black beans and rice, topped with a tangy agave nectar chipotle salsa that will thrill your taste buds. The Enchiladas Verdes, corn tortillas filled with tender roasted chicken and lightly bathed in a creamy green sauce, is a beautifully simple dish that will please more delicate palates.
Because everything is cooked to order, allow yourself to linger over a hand-crafted cocktail while you wait. "Salud," which means "to your health," is a popular toast in Mexico and a fitting name for the tequila-centric restaurant. Order a tequila flight or opt for any of the margaritas, all made with freshly muddled herbs and fruits, such as jalapenos, cucumbers, basil or honey - no mixes allowed. The variety is enticing and refreshing, so you're likely to discover a new favorite. If you're a tequila lover, you're already primed for its smoky, grown-up cousin, mescal. Several premium varieties are offered, so sit back, sip slowly and savor. ¡Salud!
Salud, located at 1011 Broad St. in Camden, is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Dinner reservations are recommended; call (803) 425-4850.