Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, Julie Besonen hips us to a couple of Santa Barbara taquerias that sound awesome, including El Bajío for its "sensational seafood soups, fresh moles and well-seasoned, slow-roasted meats," and Los Arroyos, "famous for warm, freshly cut chips and creamy guacamole heaped in a molcajete."<!-- "I dropped my luggage and drove down shady, working-class Milpas Street, bypassing the famed cult favorite La Super-Rica Taquería (gushed over by bloggers, and, years before, by Julia Child), in favor of El Bajío. Local friends raved to me about this under-the-radar taquería. I had a cheery reunion with them and some members of my family at a picnic table on the sun-splashed patio and filed inside to order at the counter.
El Bajíio is a tidy, brightly lighted hole-in-the-wall, but its sensational seafood soups, fresh moles and well-seasoned, slow-roasted meats belie its modest trappings. The quesadilla adobada ($8.55), a flour tortilla filled with shredded pork, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, onions and cilantro, radiated heat and juicy sweetness. I wish I hadn’t felt compelled to eat so much of it (sharing is highly advised) because I could barely muster more than a few spoonfuls of the delicious caldo de camaron ($11.49), a spicy, tomato-hued soup bobbing with shrimp and avocado."
Mucho taco recommendations after the jump: --><!-- "Not ready for the night to end, we moved on to Los Arroyos, a bustling taquería downtown with the same do-it-yourself spirit as El Bajío. We ordered at the counter, took a number and squeezed around a wood table inlaid with colorful Mexican tiles. A design effort was made here, with frescoed walls of palm trees and parrots.
Los Arroyos is justly famous for warm, freshly cut chips and creamy guacamole ($4.25) heaped in a molcajete. At the salsa buffet, I scooped samples of varying hues and hotness. I splotched them on my rajas con queso ($8.50), two soft tacos with grilled pasilla chiles and onions, Monterey Jack and queso fresco on homemade corn tortillas (the smoky chipotle was the winner)."
Taquería El Bajío, 129 North Milpas Street, Santa Barbara, CA Phone: 805-884-1828.
Los Arroyos, 14 West Figueroa Street; Phone: 805-962-5541;
Cindy Price also wrote a terrific California taco piece a couple of years ago. She discovered another Santa Barbara taqueria, Lilly's that features cow-eye tacos. Yum! -->