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Tampico Kitchen Santa Cruz

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My family and I are spending Thanksgiving in Santa Cruz . We remember back 25+ years when we would have dinner at Tampico Kitchen. Even then it wasn't the most chowworthy Mexican restaurant in town but it was tasty with great Margaritas. I liked the two chicken tacos, rice and bean plate with cheese puddled on the beans. It doesn't have to be that authentic for me to enjoy Mexican food but I was hoping for advice to go to Tampico or not. I was looking through threads but have not found information recent on the restaurant. I remember they used to have tasty food albeit probably not the definitive Mexican restaurant of the area. My sister said she remembers reading some recent negative reviews but could not tell me what the negative reports were based on. If it is cleanliness and food safety then that is a deal breaker and I would stay away. If not advised, I will look elsewhere for a nostalgic meal. Thanks so much for your help.

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  1. My family also used to go to Tampicos in the 20-25 years ago timeframe. I don't remember any dramatic event, but somewhere after that we stopped going and shifted our occasional Tampico's fix to the Soquel location. So I can not give you an update on relative quality, but...

    Now when I want '80s style Cal-Mex like I used to enjoy at Tampico's I head to El Chino in Live Oak across (at least until its gone) from the drive in. Its big hot platters of enchiladas rice beans etc. What works for me is that there is a vibrancy of chile flavor in the enchilada sauce and table salsa that seems to be missing from a lot of the Cal-Mex style places these days.

    If you decide to go back for nostalgia, please do post as I would love to know if its worth a re-visit.

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    1. re: Nathan P

      Happy to report my family and I did go to Tampicos tonight and it was much as I remembered. Full menu with warm tortilla chips and a hot sauce brought to table with water glasses and full pitcher of water. Margaritas were great and we ordered the pitcher of lime margaritas for four. We ordered chicken fajitas-sizzling platter of chicken spicy but not too spicy with bell peppers and onions saute,guac,salsa,refried beans,sour cream, blue nachos made with goat cheese,and black beans;chicken taco;chili colorado-flavorful and tender chunks of beef, and enchildas. The place was packed and the servers seemed somewhat overwhelmed. The bartender was our server and he was friendly but rushed. A lot of tasks for one person. I won't wait another 25 years to go back - happy to take a step back tonight to a "old fashioned" Mexican restaurant.