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updated: Aug 21, 2010, 9:45 AM
By Ms. Lemonjelly
The taco bandwagon is popular. Coast Restaurant within the Canary Hotel recently jumped on with a Thursday special: tacos for $2 each from 11 am - 11 pm.
This is a good option for a cheap and cheerful meal, while in an elegant surrounding. Of course this doesn't beat the hole-in-the-wall taquerias on price and street food style, but for a higher end hotel, I thought it was good.
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. The chef participates in many food and wine fundraisers, so I get hints on his passion and creativity from there. I still can't say I feel entirely comfortable at Coast, especially on a quiet night, I think that may be part of the hotel atmosphere, where most people are just passing through. The bartenders do double-duty as psychologists, with a patient ear for travelers' woes. When the bill comes, the staff seems surprised to learn I'm actually here for the food or a drink, and not an overnight customer. If more locals come in here, maybe they won't look so surprised.
Still, I like it. It's nice to detach myself from being a Santa Barbara local and drop into an inter-zone of sorts. And at $2 a taco, the price is right.
First, a beverage. The happy hour menu on drinks normally runs from 4 pm - 7 pm, but on Thursdays it's extended until 9 pm. We walked in with about 15 minutes to spare, and got a pineapple margarita, $6. This was on the menu, but the bartender could have made other flavors. Top shelf cocktails were $8, by the way, not including the fancy scotches.
The choices for tacos were chicken, pork (first two photos), and snapper and steak (bottom photo).
They are served on a large-ish corn tortilla with tomato salsa and guacamole on the side. The first time I went I got two tortillas per taco, and the second time was one tortilla. I thought the fish, beef, and pork ones were delicious, while the chicken was okay. My top pick was the pork, which resulted in us ordering a second one, but the fish and beef were by no means worse. I liked that the steak was cooked as a larger piece beforehand then chopped for the taco filling. The first time the steak was more rare. They were good mouthfuls and juicy.
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 Thursday deal is just one of the specials they have throughout the week.
* Monday - Design your own flatbread, $10 each. And half off select bottles of wine.
* Tuesday - $5 - $7 wine & appetizer specials.
* Wednesday - Trio of oysters & champagne, $18.
* Thursday - $2 tacos 11 am - 11 pm.
* Friday - Three course local seafood dinner $30 per person (I've done this one and liked it).
* Saturday - Slow food farmer's market dinner $30 per person.
* Sunday - Brunch: three courses including a starter, entrée and dessert buffet - 11am-3pm - $24 per person.
31 West Carrillo St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
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