Greenville has rapidly become a foodie town. Tourism is increasing exponentially. Whenever I'm a tourist I will typically gravitate to a restaurant where I do not usually frequent. I'm willing to bet that this is true with the majority of tourists. They want to go to a place that will resonate in their minds as an essential part of their experience in Greenville. Sure, there are big name restaurants headed to town. The true demand, however, is for the locally owned restaurant with a niche and a charm.
I had the privilege to sit down with two of the frontrunners in the Greenville foodie revolution. Roberto and Gina started serving their food in a beat up white pick up truck at food festivals all over the region. Shortly after, they began operating Greenville's first food truck called ASADA. Their first followers were largely from the art community that Roberto was involved with. Business grew rapidly. It grew so quickly, in fact, that they were able to open a brick and mortar restaurant on Wade Hampton, only minutes from downtown Greenville.
They did all of this without a marketing budget, Roberto told me, it was "purely through word of mouth, good customer service, and quality food."
Roberto is originally from Nicaragua and is a very talented artist. His wife, Gina, is originally from San Diego, California, she is also part Japanese and part Italian. On top of all of that, they love to cook! With all of these qualities, interests, and backgrounds combined, Gina and Roberto had a recipe for success. Delicious success.
When you read the words such as "taco" and "quesadilla" on their menu, do not assume this is going to be like any taco or quesadilla you've had before. A fusion of Latino and Asian flavors are throughout their menu. Mission style tacos, originating from the Mission District in San Fransisco, are their staple menu item. Your order will come with homemade chips topped with colorful and locally grown vegetables. All of this makes for delicious, filling, and even an ascetically pleasing meal.
ASADA is dedicated to fresh ingredients, consistency, and uniqueness. Although their location is not in the hub of Greenville, they are content. When I asked them about opening a location on Main Street, Roberto said "maybe one day, but we are so busy now we can't even operate the truck." He followed that up with "we do not want to lose the quality of our food to try and make an extra buck".
Gina mentioned to me that they are considering planting a garden in their backyard to make for the freshest possible ingredients. They also have hopes to bottle their own salsa.
It may not look like much on the outside, but when you come inside it is a whole new world. It is decorated with Roberto's own paintings and designs, creating a unique dining atmosphere. I asked them how they thought they could overcome having a store front that doesn't exactly look like much, and Roberto replied, "It's like a mystery. We want people to come and try new things. It's an adventure."
Roberto and Gina took a leap of faith into the business world, combined their upbringings, and created a restaurant that truly stands out amongst the rest. If you're looking to try somewhere different, do not pass up ASADA. You'll be greeted with smiling face, eat a fantastic meal, and will leave with a entirely satisfied stomach.
I'm willing to bet you'll want to go back the next day.
Find Asada here: