The Downtown Santa Monica Taco Trek is a novel way to experience some of the best gourmet Mexican cuisine SaMo has to offer.
Essentially, the DTSM Taco Trek is a progressive meal that takes advantage of high-end Mexican restaurants located near each other around the Third Street Promenade: Border Grill, Mercado, Loteria Grill, Blue Plate Taco, and Copa D’ Oro.
You can visit these hot spots in any order and no tickets or reservations are required for this experience. Try to time your trips for early evening or late night to take advantage or happy hours.
Once you have your game plan, put on some comfortable walking shoes and follow this guide to some of the best margaritas and tacos in town.
Border Grill; 1445 4th Street; www.bordergrill.com
Border Grill is a great place to begin the Taco Trek given their happy hour which starts at 4 PM and pours until 7 PM. Or maybe it’s a good place to end; on Friday and Saturday happy hour runs from 9 to 11 PM. During both times, Select beers and the house margarita go for $5 each and a selection of tacos are $3.50.
Don’t let price steer your path completely, though. For margaritas you’ll want to try the Route 43 (jalapeño infused blanco tequila, licor 43, passion fruit, fresh lime, and agave syrup) and for tacos the Yucatan Pork with pineapple Jicama salsa.
Mercado; 1416 4th Street; www.mercadorestaurant.com
A stop at Mercado is a must on the trek. The tortillas are made by hand daily and just about everything from meats to produce is sourced from the local farmer’s market for freshness. The end result: no matter what you order you’ll be picking a winner.
Happy Hour commences at 5 PM and wraps up at 7 PM. During that time you’ll have your choice of $4 beers and margaritas ranging in price from $7 to $9. Ask for a Spicy Cucumber Margarita to experience a bit of caliente with silver tequila, jalapeño puree, and a chipotle salted rim.
Also on the HH menu are various tacos featuring fillings from potatoes, to shrimp, to pork. A highlight might be the Gringa Taco made with roasted pastor, Oaxaca, and onions served on a flour tortilla. In texture it’s more toothsome than the average taco and eats more like an open faced quesadilla.
Loteria Grill; 1251 3rd Street Promenade; loteriagrill.com
You might feel like you hit the lottery at Loteria Grill. Their menu reads like a dictionary of Mexican cuisine; they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day; and they also have happy hour every day from 3 to 7 PM. During that hora feliz, cerveza and margaritas range in price from $4 to $7+, and appetizers start at $6. With plenty of variety in the cocktail and taco menus, you’ll want to try everything at least once!
Blue Plate Taco; 1515 Ocean Avenue; blueplatetaco.net
Facing the Pacific Ocean, The Blue Plate Taco makes a great place to sample the mariscos side of Mexican cuisine. Their menu features plenty of ceviche and even features lobster tacos and seafood enchiladas.
Their fish taco selection is an adventure all by itself with different choices for the fish and tortilla. Each is served with chipotle aioli and guacamole.
Plenty of margarita options are available to pair with the main dishes. Notable are the ‘El Matador’ and the ‘Medicina Latina’. The Matador is adds blood orange juice to the mix along with rosemary, lime, jalapeño, and Campari. The Medicina Latina combines fresh ginger with a spritz of Mescal for a taste that’s bright and smoky at the same time.
Copa D’ Oro; 217 Broadway; www.copadoro.com
And while it might not be a taco house, the bar at Capa D’ Oro is the perfect place to wind down the Taco Trek.
Their expert bartenders can mix a cocktail to your liking or serve one of their house recommendations. To stick with the tacos and tequila theme, you could try the Copa de Loca (which add grapefruit juice to a margarita) or the Midnight Mariachi, the perfect margarita for a nightcap that features tequila reposado (instead of silver) and Montenegro.
Make Your Taco Trek a Social One with #DTSMTacoTrek
To get more information on the food, drinks, and restaurants that make up the Downtown Santa Monica Taco Trek, search Twitter and Instagram for the hashtag #DTSMTacoTrek. You’ll find plenty of action from the trekkers than have blazed the trail for you.
While you’re on the trek, be sure to tag your tweets and pictures too!