Santa Barbara’s Street Taco Scene Is Heating Up

This is shaping up to be the year of the street taco in Santa Barbara, as three of the city’s most prolific restaurateurs are opening establishments dedicated to them. (“A Mexican street taco is basically a smaller, paired down taco,” explains Food & Wine. “It’s served on two small corn tortillas topped with only meat, onions, and cilantro. Maybe a hit of lime juice.”)

First up is Taqueria La Unica (below), which Carlos Luna of Los Agaves and Santo Mezcal is bringing to the former Dunkins space on State Street, next to Whole Foods. He’s shooting to open it this fall.

Taqueria La Unica will be followed in a few months by a yet-to-be-named restaurant in the old Romanti-Ezer building at Chapala and Ortega (above); the proprietors are Ramon Velazquez of the Corazón empire and Chris Chiarappa of Mesa Burger, Corner Tap, et al. “It’ll stay open late and it won’t be crazy expensive,” says Chiarappa, and it won’t It won’t be branded Corazón.

Taco photo:


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Erik Torkells

I mentioned three restaurateurs, two of whom are teaming up on one of the restaurants. Sorry for the confusion.

Coffee snob

I didn’t realize Ramon from Corazon Cosina had acquired an empire. Please enlighten me. ??

Erik Torkells

Besides Corazón Cocina and Little Heart Cafecito in the Public Market, he has Corazón Comedor about to open on E. Victoria Street, to be followed by Alma Fonda Fina in the Montecito Country Mart and a project with the Good Lion folks in Ventura.


I hope that the Chapala/Ortega restaurant has vegan tacos and that they don’t use the most boring vegetables, like squash and cauliflower. Maybe mushrooms (so many different kinds) and peppers and cactus.