JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - The modern taco trend is continuing to spread throughout the Lowcountry, as White Duck Taco Shop brings its wildly popular eats to James Island.
White Duck Taco opened its doors for business at 792 Folly Road on July 2, and owner Andrew Pannell says business has been booming.
"I couldn't ask for a better first week of business so far," said Pannell Thursday, when I dropped by the new place. "Things are going great. I see a lot of smiles, a lot of happy people, and people saying they can't wait to return and come back and try the rest of the menu."
White Duck's nest can be a little hard to spot (even with knowing what to look for, I drove right past it). The taco joint is tucked behind Charleston Tattoo Co, where it shares one half of a giant, sky blue warehouse, featuring a massive duck mural on the tin siding.
The inside of White Duck is as welcoming as it is wide open. White doors and shutters make up the table tops, while custom artwork, including a wall painted to replicate the downtown skyline, warms the space.
"I was trying to think of things that remind me of Charleston," said the College of Charleston graduate. "You see in that mural, you've got the Ravenel Bridge, the steeples, a palmetto tree. It's kind of like what I see driving over the James Island Connector every day. I wanted that image burned into my building."
Despite the Charleston-themed décor, White Duck Taco got its start as an Asheville chow spot about three years ago. After quickly becoming known for its fresh, creative, and affordable tacos, White Duck Taco founder Ben Mixson expanded to a second location in Asheville before offering Pannell – an old friend from college – a chance to break ground in Charleston.
Pannell says he was eating pizza in downtown Charleston about two years ago when a got word that plans involving a business venture he was working on fell through. Immediately after getting the bad news, Mixson walked up to Pannell and offered him the opportunity to open a White Duck Taco in South Carolina.
"One door closes and another opens," said Pannell, who jumped on the serendipitous event.
White Duck Taco slings a number of low-cost, beautifully plated taco dishes, with recipes coming from Ben Mixson's wife Laura, who serves as the culinary mastermind behind the three taco shops.
"The taco is really our delivery system for our larger, broader food concepts," explains Pannell.
International influences make up much of the White Duck menu, with fair like the Thai-Peanut Chicken taco, the Korean Beef Bulgogi taco, and the Bangkok Shrimp taco, which Pannell calls a signature dish, and I call absolutely delicious.
White Duck also has a drink menu – although limited – with three beers on tap, a canned selection, margaritas and sangria.
Tacos seem to be all the rage in the Charleston right now, but being the new guy on an already established block doesn't seem to faze Pannell.
"We sort of just do what we do. We have our way of doing things that we like, and we hope everyone else will too," said Pannell "We are just happy to be in a town with such a great food scene."
For more information on White Duck Taco, click here.