Our desire to come here was driven more by our hunger than our desire for another cocktail. What are we on, a pub crawl? No.
Sabrina had planted the seed when she thought Coast had $2 tacos on Tuesdays. At the time I thought she was confusing it with Sharkeez’s tacos on Tuesdays (no thanks). But then I spied on the Canary Hotel’s twitter that there was a taco deal, all day on Thursdays. So she was close.
It was getting late, and this is a great option for a cheap and cheerful meal, while in an elegant surrounding. Of course this doesn’t beat the whole-in-the-wall taquerias on price and street food authenticity, but for a higher end hotel, I thought it was great.
There are very few hotels I dine in, mainly because I don’t ever need to stay in a hotel in Santa Barbara, but this is one I’ve been to a few times now. The chef participates in many food and wine fundraisers, so I get the skinny on his passion and creativity from there. I still can’t say I feel entirely comfortable there, I think that may be part of the hotel atmosphere where most people are passing through. The bartenders do double-duty as psychologists or buddies, with a patient ear for travellers’ woes. When the bill comes, the staff seem surprised to learn I’m actually just here for the food or a drink, I’m not staying at the hotel.
Still, I like it. It’s nice to detach myself from being a Santa Barbara local and drop into an interzone of sorts. And at $2 a taco, the price is right.
First, a beverage. The happy hour menu on drinks ran until 9 pm. We walked in with about 5 minutes to spare and got a pineapple margarita, $6. This was on the menu, but the bartender could have made one other flavors. Top shelf cocktails were $8, by the way, not including the fancy scotches.
The choices for tacos were chicken tacos, pork tacos (top row), and steak tacos and snapper tacos (bottom photo).
They are amply portioned, served on two large-ish corn tortillas with salsa and guacamole on the side. I thought the fish, beef and pork ones were delicious, while the chicken was okay. Really, that’s the chicken’s fault for being chicken. My top pick was the pork, which resulted in us ordered a second one, but the fish and beef were by no means worse. I really liked that the steak was clearly cooked as a larger piece beforehand to medium – with lots of pink in the middle – and then chopped for the taco filling. They were good mouthfuls and remained juicy and tender.
Each taco had a slight variation in filling, other than the meat obviously. The pork had grilled onions and corn, the snapper was creamy and topped with shredded cabbage. The chicken had grilled peppers and tomato, while the steak was garnished simply with fresh pico de gallo.
The taco deal is all day Thursday, from 11 am – 11 pm. It was a great way to end the evening. If only I lived downtown, I could spontaneously saunter over here for a late night snack more often. Maybe even dress up!