Santa Barbara is a town rich in Spanish history and culture, and we have the food to prove it. Tour the town one taco at a time and wash your meal down with a zesty margarita or cold Mexican beer. Viva!

Did you know October 4th is National Taco Day? A trip down Santa Barbara’s taco trail is a great way to savor the flavors of what is arguably Californians’ favorite food – the taco.  Whether it’s national taco day or Cinco de Mayo or just plain ol’ Taco Tuesday, there’s a taco waiting to be discovered by you.

tacos santa barbara taco trail

Best spots for Mexican food and taco lovers

For truly authentic tacos from some of the oldest and most well-loved taco spots in Santa Barbara, head over to Milpas and Haley streets. There you’ll find Taqueria El Bajio. This traditional taco joint serves home-made Mexican food and is where you’ll find the best pinto beans in town. Classic taco favorites are the carnitas tacos, or for the more adventurous, the lengua (flavorful cow tongue with onions and cilantro).

Next up for most authentic taco shack would be La Super-Rica Taqueria. Prepare to wait in line, as both locals and visitors know these tacos are worth the wait.

best authentic tacos santa barbara taco trail

Head over to Haley Street to visit “one of the oldest Mexican restaurants in Santa Barbara offering traditional food with family recipes dating back 40 years.” Lito’s Mexican Food is the best way to start your day. Come here for the breakfast burritos or famous pork posole that was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives” TV show. You can view a video clip of the show with a peek into their kitchen as posted on their website:

Continue on Haley Street, following the scent of fresh pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) to Los Tarascos Bakery and Deli. If you want to take a break from tacos and try tortas, this is the place. Wash it down with a fresh juice.

Fish tacos by the beach

No trip to a beach town like Santa Barbara would be complete without fish tacos. Stop by East Beach Tacos, a small taco stand near the batting cages and just a few blocks from the beach. Fish tacos here are inventive, with fresh poke or Bahn-mi inspired tacos, in addition to traditional fish and shrimp tacos. Where else can you get specialty tacos for less than $10 bucks that would satisfy even the most finicky Mexican food connoisseur?

If you’re near the Santa Barbara Harbor, it’s worth popping into On the Alley, a casual stand that serves the type of food you want to eat after a day at the beach – fish & chips, clam chowder, and especially, Baja fish or shrimp tacos. Take your food to go and walk a few steps down to the sand for a beach picnic, just watch out for hungry seagulls.

fish tacos santa barbara beach

It’s Cinco de Mayo or Taco Tuesday any day of the week here

Corazón Cocina inside of Santa Barbara Public Market offers a modern and innovative twist on Guadalajaran street food. Tacos here are colorful works of art. It’s a must-visit while you’re in town and a regular go-to for locals. If these don’t make your mouth water, you might want to check your pulse.

Crazy Jim’s Tacos Y Mas is located in the heart of Downtown Santa Barbara. Wash ‘em down with an ice cold Modelo, Corona or Pacifico beer…or perhaps a wine slushie.

The queso taco comes to Santa Barbara thanks to Yona Redz. The red birria tacos have been a hot trend in places like Los Angeles and the Bay area. Order the birria queso taco combo, which includes three tacos, consommé dipping sauce and a soda. Dip the chili red taco into the consommé, a spicy chili broth that drenches the taco when you dip it. One bite and you’ll be hooked.

Ready, set, eat!

This is by no means and exhaustive list of all the taco spots in Santa Barbara. We invite you to go on your own taco excursion throughout Santa Barbara’s streets. There’s a taco for every day of the week and every season.

taco trail sb downtown

Where to stay in Santa Barbara near the taco trail

Santa Barbara culture is rich in food and history.  Enjoy rich tacos and sip on icy margaritas or cold beer under the Santa Barbara sunshine. Design your own taco tour in Santa Barbara and discover new hideouts and revisit old favorites.

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