Cinco Mexican Grill serves authentic cuisine in abundance

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This month marks the one-year anniversary of Cinco Mexican Grill at Buckwalter Place in Bluffton and a perfect opportunity, before or after a movie, to discover a dining adventure from a vast menu of traditional Mexican fare and unique entrees with a twist.

Cinco's manager, Claudia Ayala, and her friendly, efficient staff will help you navigate the 11-page menu.

With tacos, nachos, burritos, enchiladas and quesadillas galore, you might want to start with a guacamole appetizer, starting at $3.50 and prepared tableside from scratch with all fresh ingredients, like everything on the menu.

For a lighter dish, the Cabo Salad features greens topped with marinated grilled chicken, tomatoes, corn, chopped mango and grilled pineapple, cheese and a tart, tangy mango vinaigrette, $8.99.

Mildly spicy and faintly sweet, mole sauce is a rich, dark and complex blend of hot chili pods, chocolate and spices. In Enchiladas de Mole, $8.99, three soft corn tortillas filled with tender shredded chicken are topped with mole sauce and grated cheese and served with rice and beans.

The Cinco Bowl is an asymmetrical bowl filled with rice, black beans and your choice of steak, chicken, shrimp or all three, and topped with pico de gallo and sour cream, starting at $10.50.

A showstopper dish that tastes every bit as good as it looks, the Pineapple Fajita, $15.50, comes out of the kitchen sizzling in half a grilled pineapple filled with a blend of steak, chicken and shrimp cooked with pineapple, bell peppers and onions, topped with cheese and accompanied by a side dish of rice, beans, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream.

A full page of the menu will please steak lovers with offerings such as Carne Asada, a tender, thin-sliced steak that's chargrilled, served with beans and guacamole salad, $11.99, or El Jefe Steak, topped with grilled shrimp and cheese sauce, served with roasted potatoes and a colorful medley of garden-fresh grilled vegetables, $12.99.

With a spacious main dining room and a smaller, quieter, booth-lined area off the attractive bar, Cinco is a colorful space with a contemporary vibe, a full bar and lots of specialty margaritas, a dozen Mexican beers available by the bottle and four on tap.

Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, Cinco will be launching a new tapas menu in the bar this month. For reservations for large groups or more information, call 843-815-2233.

Freelance writer Pam Gallagher was a copy editor at USA Today and a staff writer and fashion editor for the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press.

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