There’s hardly a week that goes by that I don’t eat Mexican food. The choices are too good here in Santa Barbara from tiny dive spots to well established restaurants, it’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with one of them. With these warmer days upon us nothing has sounded better to me than a cold Modelo and some tacos.
I’ve rounded up my top five favorite Mexican food spots, with some added notes on the menu, ambiance and things not to miss. For all my local friends, chime in here I want to hear what you’re picks are!
1. Corazon Cocina (pictured). My most frequented spot lately as it’s on the newer side. It’s in the Public Market and they serve up some of the best tacos in town. It’s a casual spot that’s perfect for a spontaneous lunch or dinner. I love how they get creative with ingredients like pickled onions and their tortillas and chips are always so fresh. Menu favorites: Mole con Pollo, Tacos Al Pastor, Sal De Mar Ceviche and their Ginger Aguas Frescas. 2. Lily’s Tacos. If you’re looking for something über authentic head to this spot—a local’s secret. It’s nothing fancy but boy do they serve up some seriously good tacos. And if you’re feeling adventurous you can try beef cheek or beef eye, a delicacy. Menu favorites: Asada, Adobada (marinated pork) and Maciza (steamed beef). 3. Los Agaves. There are two locations, lucky for us one is right near our house. We hit up this spot on the regular, they probably know what we’re going to order before we even open our mouths. The ambience is great for a dinner out and it’s totally kid friendly. Menu favorites: I’m completely addicted to their Enchiladas Guadalajara and the Tostada Salad. 4. Carlito’s. An institution here in Santa Barbara, not much has changed since I was kid and it’s still so classic and good. The location and ambience is lively (right on State Street) and it’s next door to the best clothing store in town, Diani. Margaritas and shopping, need I say more? I love a good girl’s night here but it’s also totally family friendly. Menu favorites: You’ll be greeted with the best chips and salsa, try not to fill up. Grilled Anaheim Chilis, Homemade Sopes, Sizzling Fajitas Platter and the margaritas, oh those giant margaritas are sooo good. 5. Taqueria El Bajio. Another diamond in the rough, this spot is far from fancy but the burritos are my absolutely favorite. They’re perfect for beach days, bonfire nights and a lunch on the go. Menu favorites: El Bajio Burrito, Asada Tacos and the Horchata. Now, who’s hungry besides me?
Photography by Jacqueline Pilar