Cinco de Mayo is coming up next Tuesday and we will not be caught at home eating a frozen burrito in our pajamas again – no siree. So what’s the plan? Here’s an easy do-it-yourself, walkable taco crawl in Downtown Santa Monica. Just eat, drink and repeat.
Stop #1 – Start your taco eating engine at Border Grill for The Yucatan Pork Taco featuring pork that is slow-roasted in a banana leaf before it’s served on a handmade corn tortilla with pineapple jicama salsa. The meat just melts in your mouth with the perfect amount of tenderness. We paired it up with the Route 43 cocktail with spicy jalapeño-infused tequila, passion fruit, lime and agave syrup.
Out of all the different tortillas I tried during this crawl, Border Grill was simply my favourite. This restaurant is where I will forever bring out-of-town friends for a sampling of LA tacos + great margaritas. The food never disappoints, I love the casual atmosphere and they will also be running a slew of specials for Cinco de Mayo with gourmet $5 tacos + tequila flights.
Stop #2 – We headed directly across the street to Mercado to sample their Gringa Taco with spit-roasted pastor, oaxaca, onions, cilantro, chile de arbol salsa, avocado salsa served up on a flour tortilla. I loved all the toppings and the duo of salsas going on here in this hearty serving of a taco. I had to start pacing myself here – we had many more tacos to eat!
We paired this up with a Spicy Cucumber Margarita made with silver tequila and house jalapeño purée. This cocktail is no joke. It is SPICY. However, the cucumber is nice and cooling – just get ready for the heat!
Stop #3 – We walked around the corner to Third Street Promenade to Loteria Grill for a taco tasting of their best of the best. I started with a Classic Margarita because it had already been five minutes since my last margarita and we were clearly on a roll here. The drink was light, refreshing with the perfect balance of lime, salt and tequila without knocking me to the floor – which I appreciate.
I was most excited to try The Papa Con Rajas – a potato taco with roasted poblano peppers topped with salsa verde, onion, cilantro and queso fresco. If you love mashed potatoes and you love tacos – this is your dream right here. My second favourite was the Huachinango Estilo Ensenada – a beer battered fish taco made with red snapper and then topped with shredded cabbage, chipotle-avocado aioli and fresh pico. Make sure to also try their Carne Deshebrada – made with braised beef that is then shredded and their Carnitas en Salsa Morita with a spicy chile morita sauce for a kick.
Stop #4 – Brought us down the block and over to Ocean Ave to Blue Plate Taco. If you’re a fan of Blue Plate Oysterette just up the street, then you’re going to love their boho chic taco outpost with a view of the ocean. If you get chilly, they have warm Mexican blankets that you can wrap around you while you sip on another margarita.
One of my favourite cocktails of the night was the Medicina Latina (right) made with tequila, fresh ginger, lime, agave and mezcal. It reminded me of a cross between a Moscow Mule and a margarita. Jalapeno + tequila was trending that night and the El Matador (left) was no exception featuring in-season blood oranges, tequila, jalapeño, lime, rosemary and campari.
My favourite of the two tacos at Blue Plate Taco, had to be the tender Short Rib Taco served up with onion and salsa verde. It’s a hearty and filling taco packed full of flavour, that you don’t need a lot of toppings to take away from everything going on here. Blue Plate also does an excellent Grilled Fish Taco with chipotle aioli and guacamole.
Stop #5 – In case we were unsure of whether or not there was enough tequila in our system, we made sure to go out with a bang with a final round of drinks at Copa D’Oro. If you love quality crafted cocktails without any sort of pretension, this is the perfect place to cozy up in a booth with your girlfriends or a date and toast to a successful taco crawl + Cinco de Mayo.
Do you have any plans for Cinco de Mayo? Where will you be celebrating? Do you have a favourite taco spot in Santa Monica?
Disclosure – Our taco crawl was hosted by Downtown Santa Monica, however the opinions expressed in this post will always remain my own.