The gang had just taken an exhilarating walk through the lower eastside to admire all the homes decorated with Christmas lights. This is my third year doing the annual walk with them and it’s always a fun and magical time. We load up our thermoses with hot spiced cider and trundle down the streets where some families have decorated their homes with masses of lights. It’s overwhelming.
The neighborhood is so popular with its holiday lights that the trolley service in Santa Barbara runs a very successful Christmas light circuit at night, and they are *sold out*. Half a dozen or more trolleys cruise through the neighborhoods, chock full of happy people, gawking and sometimes cheering at all the lights.
After the walk through the cold night air, we’re hungry. After a very brief conversation, really there’s nothing to debate, we agree on La Colmena, a favorite amongst this group. They are open until 9-9:30 pm and it’s only 8:30. We race over!
Jon and Matchoo are fans of the Alhambres plates. These are plates with a big mess o’ meat and goodies on them, and a pile of tortillas, and you assemble your tacos to your liking. You get four tortillas, but order some more because there’s enough filling to make about 5 tacos. These cost about $7.50 so if you gauge the normal price around $1.65 each, you’re saving by getting the plate and filling the tortillas yourself.
Jon got his own alhambres plate, while Matchoo, Say and I shared two plates between us, as we weren’t as hungry.
We picked the asada alhambres plate (upper left photo) and the lomito alhambres plate (upper right). They came with more than just meat.
The asada is spicy grilled beef with onions and assorted grilled peppers, some are a little spicy. Then topped with cheese.
The lomito alhambres is grilled pork with mushrooms and onions, topped with cheese. I like this one the best, as I’d never had the mushroom combination before and their juices flavored the pork and onions so nicely.
We got four tortillas per person, so 12 for the lot and we used them all. The fillings were gorgeous and delicious, very juicy and flavorful. Conversation was reduced to grunts of pleasure and requests to pass the tortillas or salsa or napkins. And everyone gobbled up the salsas, which were their usual awesomeness with varied and complex flavors. The hottest one, btw, is the creamy red/orange. It is HOT. I like the pico de gallo mixed with the marinated onions.
Alicia went with tacos, and now that I’ve tried the alhambres, I prefer the tacos as well. The alhambres is great if you love a larger quantity and really like one item. I like variety, so I can’t have as much of just one item. I’ll will stick with the tacos going forward.
Jon and Alicia come here often, they really love it. They’ve confirmed that the happy hour tacos are still just $1 each, but they are a little smaller in filling and have only one tortilla. So it’s not a straight up 65 cent discount for the same amount you’d get during regularly priced times. Still, it’s a bargain and they still come here often. As do I!
Oh hey, do you want to see some of the Christmas light photos? Sure you do.
Taqueria La Colmena
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