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Cancun / Little Mexico, 6164 St. Andrews Road: 2008   33 comments

Posted at 2:55 pm in restaurants

Well, I wasn't going to do two Mexican restaurants almost back-to-back, but this one came up in the comments to El Chico, and has come up in other comment threads as well. Besides, someone may want to take advantage of the 31 October deadline.

I only ate here once, years ago, when it was Little Mexico. I think it had just been written up in The State's weekend section as the best Mexican restaurant in Columbia. I liked it well enough, but it seemed like fairly standard "authentic" Mexican fare to me: good, but not worth driving almost all the way to Irmo vs San Jose, Casa Linda and the like.

I noticed a while ago that it had changed the name to Cancun, but I never got around to checking it out again. Various people in the comments have speculated about what happened, and have said that it wasn't as good as Cancun as it was as Little Mexico.

You can see here that apparently the "Little Mexico" name was actually embedded in the tilework by the front entrance. It appears that it was taped over during the Cancun period. Also, I find it a bit interesting that the "Little Mexico" sign was hauled around to the back of the place and stored. Why not throw it out? It seems like an odd kind of thing to save.

Written by ted on October 7th, 2008

33 Responses to 'Cancun / Little Mexico, 6164 St. Andrews Road: 2008'

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  1. THAT was (or used to be) to be the Pizza Inn I mentioned in your Pizza Inn post, a while back. Then it became Godfathers.

    Even when I lived there back in the early 80's, that building was a new restaurant every 6 months, or so. That yellow section of the building must've been added on fairly recently, because I don't remember that part. But I recognize the rest of the building.

    That was my Thursday night and Saturday afternoon hangout, after soccer games, and my sisters dance lessons (across the street @ Dance World) when the building was still a Godfathers Pizza.

    Is that package/liquor store across the street, with the red circles lining the roof, still open?

    Mike M.

    8 Oct 08 at 3:04 pm

  2. man, i love the food at LM, the service was crappy, however.

    as a former pizza inn employee, i'll need to look back at that post. i forgot this place was one once.

    marc cardwell

    8 Oct 08 at 4:35 pm

  3. I used to eat at Little Mexico pretty frequently when I was younger. I really enjoyed the food there. Thanks for the info that it used to be a Pizza Inn; I had a feeling that it started off as something else, but nobody I asked knew what it was.

    JB

    10 Oct 08 at 4:13 pm

  4. Ahhh Little Mexico.....

    This truly was some awesome food when it first opened. The last few years thew food quality slipped, but for the first 6 or 8 years the food was awesome. I never had a bad meal there. Their Fajitas Trio was my favorite. Great taste, veggies that actually looked and tasted fresh, and portions too much for even me to finish in one sitting.

    The yellow section was there for as long as i can remember. I dont really remember it being a Pizza Inn, and only vaguely remember it being a Godfathers. Im not sure if the yellow section was there when it was a pizza place or not.

    The service was, as posted already, slow. But i can usually wait for my food as long as its good.

    In its later years, LM started running a lunch buffet, and i think thats when the food quality started to slip. I think that maybe the owner realized he could make more money off of lesser quality food with a buffet. *shrug*

    As ive posted in a couple of other threads here, the older lady who was the hostess/waitress there alot, who i always assumed was the wife of the guy who owned it, has opened her own restaurant across the street in the Seven Oaks shopping center, down past Zorba's. I think its called Maria's. We have eaten there a couple of times and the food was pretty good. Or at least is was a couple of months ago....i dont get over to that side of Irmo that often anymore.

    The pic of the Tax Notice is a bit ironic as the owner of LM always displayed photocopies of bad checks written there behind the register.

    IrmoJeff

    10 Oct 08 at 5:28 pm

  5. Coming from California, where real Mexican food is available on every street corner (by way of taco trucks), Little Mexico was a treasure to find in Columbia. Since South Carolina's infamous "queso sauce" isn't true to authentic Mexican cuisine, it was nice to find a restaurant that didn't drench every entree with the American-cheese tasting stuff.

    I moved away from Irmo, back West, a couple of years ago. I read your blog with interest -- it always makes me homesick for my few years spent in SC. I'm sad to learn Little Mexico is no more. But I doubt it was much appreciated given the fact that the sub-par San Jose wins "Best of Columbia" in the Mexican food category every year.

    California Heidi

    15 Oct 08 at 4:24 pm

  6. Well, I'm upfront about not being big on "authentic" Mexican. That said, I find I like Casa Linda a lot better than San Jose amongst the Mexican run Mexican places.

    ted

    15 Oct 08 at 4:37 pm

  7. WIth Moe's around, I don't see how those San Jose's/Monterreys/Casa Linda stay in business. Moe's is almost as cheap price wise and the quality is MUCH better. Maybe there is a market for the grey ground beef those other places serve.

    ChiefDanGeorge

    16 Oct 08 at 5:33 am

  8. Moe's is great. Better chips & salsa than anyplace else in town and better burritos. They rule their niche.

    ted

    16 Oct 08 at 9:49 am

  9. I think the reason that these place stay in business is because whereever you go, there are plenty of them, and like McDonald's and the like, a Speedy Gonzales is the same, other than Some Monterrey's/San Jose/Casa Lindas cube their chicken (I always get the pollo suave) and some pull it. Like Red Lobster winning the best seafood category, people don't like change and like to know what the food tastes like before it arrives on the plate. Give me El Rincon, and the Taquiera on 12th Street anyday. There's a joint on the corner of St. Andrew's and Broad River I went to try, but it was closed (for July 4th). I think I'll try it tomorrow!!

    Jonathan

    16 Oct 08 at 10:40 am

  10. I remember this place being the only mexican buffet around. They had strange hours so I rarely went. I think they were open for lunch and then closed until dinner.

    MR Bill

    17 Oct 08 at 12:10 pm

  11. I don't know why places do that. Since I tend to want lunch about 3pm, that keeps me out of places like The Mediterranean Tea Room, or any of the Indian places.

    ted

    17 Oct 08 at 12:20 pm

  12. I like my lunch around that time too. I used to work across the street at the Irmo library but I never could eat there cause lunch was at 3.

    MR Bill

    17 Oct 08 at 12:29 pm

  13. I've been told that the old head chef from Little Mexico is the new co-owner and head chef at Cecilia's Mexican Restaurant across the street in the Seven Oaks Shopping Center. My family has dined there several times (most of the time we have a large group of 12+ people). Everyone has always enjoyed their meal, although you do have to be patient and munch on chips and salsa (spicier than most) during the extended wait... even if you are only a party of two. Their portions are more than adequate and the fresh and flavorful food definitely satisfies our cravings. They even have mole and goat on the menu! I would recommend this restaurant to any mexican cuisine lover.

    Monica

    23 Oct 08 at 9:16 pm

  14. Cacilia's. Maria's. I knew it was something like that.

    IrmoJeff

    25 Oct 08 at 9:48 am

  15. Driving past this place a few days ago, I saw that it is going to reopen as another Mexican establishment. I can't remember the name, but I wish them well. From my vantage point, there can't be enough Mexican establishments!

    Jonathan

    29 Jan 09 at 11:04 am

  16. I was just over there today and this site is indeed reopening "soon" as Mi Tierra. They already have a big expensive looking sign up, where the Cancun sign in the pics was, so maybe this is legit.

    IrmoJeff

    18 Mar 09 at 10:03 pm

  17. Just thought i'd update this: We just drove over and ate dinner at Mi Tierra. Not that Little Mexico was ever dirty, but the building looked very clean. The waitstaff was super attentive and friendly. My number one rule for waiting on me when i eat out is keep my drink glass full, without me having to ask. Mi Tierra's passed this test with flying colors. The wife and i had the Texas Fajitas, which are a steak, chicken and shrimp combination. For seventeen dollars, the huge mound of meat and veggies they brought to the table would have easily fed me, my wife and my 12 year old man-child (and none of us is a light eater... I'm well over 300 lbs and my son is about 170. The wife is the same 105 lbs she was the day i met her ;) ). As it was my son ordered a taco salad that was big enough to fill him on its own. My picky picky nine year old ate a plate of beef and cheese nachos that he couldnt finish. The food quality was superb...our fajitas tasted fresh and well seasoned without being mushy or oily. The pre-meal salsa tasted as though it might have been fresh made also. It had what had to be fresh cilantro in it that was still green and firm. Add in four soft drinks and our bill was a very resonable $36, before tip.

    I know new restaurants try to overwhelm customers with overattentive service and huge portions, only to fall back toward mediocity once they build up a clientele. Maybe Mi Tierra will in the future, but in the meantime i plan on retuning soon to sample more off their menu. :)

    I would give this meal an A++, and recommend this restaurant to anyone who was looking for a good Mexican meal in the Irmo/St Andrews area.

    IJ

    IrmoJeff

    6 May 09 at 8:17 pm

  18. Sounds good -- I'll have to check it out!

    ted

    7 May 09 at 1:18 am

  19. Nice review, IrmoJeff. I attempted to eat there a few weeks ago, maybe on a Tuesday, and the fella met me when I came in and said that they were going to open on the following Friday or Saturday. He said he'd make fish tacos for me, especial!! We ended up at Cecelia's and had a wonderful meal. My dad ate there the following week, and said that it was good...they have a #4, just like the rest of the chains, but maybe it's fresher. I will definitely go check it out. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, an abundance of Mexican establishments cannot be a bad thing, especially when the smaller ones (el Rincon, the place @ the corner of Broad & St. Andrews) have shuttered.

    Jonathan

    7 May 09 at 8:13 am

  20. I have eaten at Little Mexico for over 20 years. After Cecelia left, I ate there one last time and got a bad case of food poisoning and a parasite. I was sick for about 5 months. I have since eaten at Cecelia's and loved it although, the service is slow, she was the only wait staff. It was quite worth the wait and my old favorite "vegetable burrito" was perfect and those potatoes with cheese were great. They continue to be my fav, with Real Mexico in second place (no bar); they are located across the street from outlet point where the old Steak Out was once upon a time.

    Pam

    22 May 09 at 7:40 pm

  21. Cecilia's is good. Right across the street. If you have not eaten there, Mi Tierra has opened up there recently. They are my new favorite Mexican food. The fajitas are the best in town. I just hope they can overcome the stigma of "Cancun" and the final days of "Little Mexico". The staff is nice, and I don't miss the drunk manager/owner? who used to be at the front of Little Mexico. I sure hope they do not make this list one day, because they are truly unique.

    John

    11 Jul 09 at 9:48 pm

  22. We rode by there last night, around 7:15 or so and they were not open. The "Open" sign was not lit up. Their marquee out front advertised Happy Hour from 4-7, Monday through Thursday, so I know they're usually open. Hopefully just an isolated Monday closing. I still have not had the opportunity to try them yet.

    Jonathan

    14 Jul 09 at 12:51 pm

  23. Whatever was last in this building -- yet another Mexican restaurant -- is DOA. Was closed, dark, locked tighter than a drum last Saturday night.

    Steve

    12 May 10 at 12:23 pm

  24. Yep, lasted just over a year.

    ted

    12 May 10 at 3:36 pm

  25. Well, it looks as though Wata-Wing actually wants to open. The lights were on tonight, and this week's Free Times has listed hours, but I didn't actually stop to see whether they were open for business yet.

    badger

    11 Nov 10 at 9:53 pm

  26. It looked like Wata wing signage was up but no sign of an opening date when I went by earlier this week. their website leaves a lot to be desired though...

    Andrew

    12 Nov 10 at 1:03 pm

  27. I dropped by recently. I wish them well, but their menu is pretty sparse. Basically, wings and "dippers" (tenders) [and your choice of 30 different flavors], couple of different french fry options, a few desserts, and a few sides ("pepper poppers," mozzarella sticks, fried pickles, cole slaw, celery) and that's pretty much it.

    badger

    1 Dec 10 at 8:07 pm

  28. The signage during setup advertising for "Wata girls" made me think the place might be somewhat Hooter-rific. Is that the case?

    ted

    1 Dec 10 at 8:29 pm

  29. Not currently, at least. Maybe that's the plan, but the two young ladies working the floor appeared to be wearing their own clothes. I didn't see anything in the way of uniforms. Or maybe it would have been a different case if the weather had been warmer.

    badger

    1 Dec 10 at 9:49 pm

  30. Here's the Wata Wing Story, according to their website:
    http://www.watawing.com/content/page.php?pageid=2319

    badger

    23 Dec 10 at 1:49 pm

  31. Was this building ever a cajun place, ran by some BIG time LSU fans? It was right along there somewhere.

    JBL

    23 Dec 10 at 4:49 pm

  32. Someone commented on 'Have Your Say' about Wata Wing, and I agree that it's closed. Lights were out tonight, phone disconnected, and I suspect that the WataWingmobile parked outside will soon be repoed.

    badger

    4 Mar 11 at 8:23 pm

  33. @badger: It appears that you are confirming what I suspected earlier in the week. I noticed all the signs you did except I check into their phone. When you pass by a restaurant on a Friday night and nobody is home, I'm afraid that's a pretty good indication that said establishment has folded up.

    Andrew

    4 Mar 11 at 8:37 pm

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