Three birria tacos from Tacos Nayarit in a to-go box (Photos by Dylan Ortuno)

A Columbia restaurant is attracting national recognition with its genuine and varied choices of food.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, and ahead of National Taco Day on Oct. 4, Yelp’s “Top 100 Taco Spots in America” placed Columbia’s Tacos Nayarit at No. 74. In line with the raving online reviews that got them national recognition, customers in person had nothing but bright remarks to make about the shop.

Customer Amit Jain said when he found out five years ago about the Percival Road restaurant, he would visit it so often that he jokingly compared it to an addiction. Nowadays, he still comes by one to two times a week.

Other customers also mentioned returning multiple times.

“Way too many times,” Ardeja Griffin said when asked how many times she have visited. “I’ve been here somewhere between 50 and 100 times. I’ve been here quite a bit, honestly.”

The quality of food has been the key to bringing people back.

“I would say the flavor of the meat is really good,” Jain said. “I like the marinated pork, Al Pastor. It’s very unique. Everything is authentic, they have corn tortillas and stuff, and the drinks are really good, too.”

Leanna Buford shared a similar sentiment about the food.

“I would say it’s definitely authentic,” Buford said. “That is the No. 1 thing, it’s authentic. Actually, getting a burrito from here versus a burrito from somewhere like Chipotle, Taco Bell – the quality is completely different.”

Buford spoke highly of the Tacos Nayarit’s seasonings and ingredients, saying that’s why she visits on a weekly basis.

The restaurant uses the ingredients in a wide variety of ways, serving tacos, burritos, bowls and more. The portions also have been a big positive among customers.

“I used to just get the burrito, but I upgraded to the bowl,” Griffin said. “I get so full off that.”

Just like its diverse food options, the establishment also offers several drinks to choose from.

“My favorite thing here is the horchata,” Mechai Lawrence said. 

The store offers drinks ranging from standard soft drinks like Coca-Cola to Mexican drinks like Jarritos, a Mexican soda brand, and horchata, a sweet milk beverage.

Even with the large variety of choices from food and drinks, one type of taco stuck out over the rest.

“I always get the birria tacos,” Buford said. “They’re just so amazing.”

The shop’s signature taco, birria tacos, caught the eyes of many customers. Birria refers to a traditional Mexican dish that is a stew made from a combination of barbacoa meat and a mix of spices.

Tacos Nayarit’s menu says the taco form of the dish is made with corn or flour tortillas dipped into a thin layer of fat at the top of the birria stew. Then, the cooks fill the tortilla with the stew. Next, it goes on a griddle, served with the broth from the stew on the side and topped with onions and cilantro. 

The restaurant showed its gratitude for their recent success in a Sept. 26 Instagram post.  

“Thank you to each and everyone of you guys who took the time to come try us out,” the post reads. “We will continue to provide the best service and food!”

The restaurant is located at 1531 Percival Road, a few blocks north of Decker Boulevard’s International Corridor. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily.

Tacos Nayarit customers eat in the outdoor dining area, while others wait in line to get inside.

A busy Tacos Nayarit during a recent Monday lunch