El Pincho salsas

El Pincho salsas

The Charleston Wine + Food Festival starts on Wednesday, which means plenty of culinary enthusiasts will need a restorative meal come Sunday morning. To help you plot your recovery, we’re this week featuring a set of brunch destinations that might not have cracked your standard rotation, either because they’re new or located away from downtown.

It's always reassuring when a restaurant is filled with the aromas of food cooking. And it's doubly so when customers can hear the food being prepared.

There are no sounds associated with opening bags or boxes of pre-cut vegetables, but the rhythm of a knife on a chopping board is unmistakable. At El Pincho, the most obvious beneficiary of those audibly fresh tomatoes, onions and garlic is the stellar lineup of salsas, which enhance and brighten everything on the upper Meeting Street restaurant's menu.

As reported by The Post and Courier, unlike the vast majority of downtown restaurants serving tacos, El Pincho is neither an homage to or riff on a Mexican restaurant. It just is a Mexican restaurant, from the music videos on the wall-mounted TV to the stringy Oaxacan cheese on the tortas.

El Pincho recently gained its liquor license, so margaritas and palomas are now available alongside its Sunday brunch dishes, headed up by chilaquiles.

Still, the standout cocktail is a tamarind michelada made with Estrella Jalisco. It's not cheap. At $12, it's nearly twice what Minero charges for its house blend of tomatoes, peppers, spices and beer. But El Pincho's forthrightly sour version of the classic is terrifically fresh, and its seasonings are a proven antidote to Saturday night. Plus, it's garnished with a tamarind candy stick.

Located at 616-C Meeting St., El Pincho is open Tuesday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, call 843-406-5958 or visit elpinchotaco.com.

Reach Hanna Raskin at 843-937-5560 and follow her on Twitter @hannaraskin.

Food editor and chief critic

Eating all of the chicken livers just as fast as I can.