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updated: Jan 22, 2011, 9:15 AM
By Ms. Lemonjelly
I always thought that liking taquitos was a little gringo of me, but I admit it, I really like them. They're easy finger food, crunchy, and have a yummy filling. Before I became more of a taco junkie, I would dependably order taquitos if they were offered on a menu. At the Mercados during Fiesta? Yeah, I'd be in the taquito queue.
So, learning that Tepeyac Taquitos was coming to town, I planned out my day according to their grand opening last Saturday. I walked in around 6 pm for a light dinner, and every table in their small establishment was taken - mostly by families and young couples. They were also completely sold out of half their taquito options and all their Mexican coke, but no wonder - on this day, all their taquitos were half price.
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We ordered beef, potato, and bean filled taquitos, and these came topped with lettuce, tomato and cheese for no additional cost. There was an option for adding avocado as a side dish, but this was also sold out. Darn!
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Sure enough, the taquitos were crunchy and yummy. My favorite turned out to be the potato filling, and apparently a lot of other customers commented the same. I saw two hot sauces available, both were a green jalapeno sauce, but be sure to read the labeling correctly on the narrow bottles, because one is "hot" while the other is "extra hot." I found the labeling to be quite accurate. Overall, the taquitos were simple and good, which is what the owners aspire to.
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I never saw specific grand opening hours posted, but had seen their general hours and thought they'd be open late on this Saturday, but moments after I got my taquitos they closed for the night. This turned out to be an event in my favor because they starting giving away the remaining taquitos for free! And during this time they were closing down the kitchen, the family came out to the tables and I was able to chat with them briefly.
It turns out that these taquitos are based on the owners' family's taqueria business in Durango, Mexico, and it was the owners' dream to be able to open a similar family business here in Santa Barbara, where their own family was born and raised (Cottage Hospital - represent!).
Ernie and Laura are the owners; they were super friendly, and happy to receive feedback on their food. They want to make their traditional family recipes and support the local community. I'd noticed on other food forums that people were requesting guacamole before the shop even opened, and I asked Laura why it wasn't on the menu. As I suspected, guacamole with taquitos was not traditional to Durango, but since they've heard so many requests, *and* the sliced avocado sold out today, they said they'd put it on the menu.
Price wise, the taquitos are dead reasonable. Meat filled taquitos cost $1.30 each; vegetable filled cost $1.10. There's a "Surtido" option to get one of each of their six taquitos for $6.00, and there are other combinations of taquitos available as well.
Tepeyac's situated right next to Mel's on Carrillo, which makes parking a little difficult. Its location next to a bar could also be a good move to cater to the crowd looking for hot fried nibbles, and I noticed that they closed much later on Friday and Saturday nights compared to other nights of the week. The confirmed reason for the later hours on the weekend was much more innocent than I first presumed: those aren't school nights. The Rodriguez family includes a handful of kids.
It's a new business for the family, and a new venture for them to start a little restaurant, so have a little patience if the freshly fried taquitos take longer to prepare than a soft taco at other taquerias. Mine came out in a jiff, but this was the grand opening, and near the end of the day.
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201 W Carrillo St.
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