El Mejor in Santa Maria
Well, OK, I don't know if it's the very best ... but we sure enjoyed ourselves last night! We were visiting from LA and found Guadalupe just a little bit too "green light" late at night with small kids so we ventured on to Santa Maria. We wound up in a place called "Lo Mejor de Jalisco" and really enjoyed our meal! The place was hopping with families with kids as well as single guys at the counter and a wonderfully matronly lady in charge with terrific waitresses, who seem just to sense that you're needing something from across the room. I can't remember when I've had better service, in a friendlier place. We definitely felt, um, studied, as a gringo family walking in after dark, but not for a moment un-welcomed.
The menu was extensive and as I don't really even know what the specialty of Jalisco is, I just asked the waitress what she would recommend. She got such a grin on her face, saying "that's just what I like to hear" and steered us to a shared platter of grilled seafood and carne asada. I don't ordinarily eat red meat but figured I was in 'Rome', plus I had no stomach to face that huge menu again and assented. Wow, am I glad of the choice! So delicious it was what arrived on a big, big platter: shrimp cooked in so many ways, breaded, grilled straight-up, grilled with bacon wrapped around it, stewed in a delicious red sauce, and onions and chiles and carne asada all in a heaping mound, plus rice and beans and tortillas -- yumm-mee! Wow was that feed good. I highly highly recommend it to any and all.
There was a good kids' menu too, with food that matched the kids' appetites without being too gross.
Lo Mejor De Jalisco
116 S Blosser Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93458
You might (at least I would if I were there) also try the tortillaria that was nearby, a little further out of town toward Guadalupe. I don't know whether the flour tortillas we ate at the restaurant were from there or not but they were absolutely delicious --very thin and very flavorful. I used to live in Chicago were there were many tortillarias all around in the proper parts of town that is. I so miss this in LA -- you'd think this Mexican town would have them on every street corner but not so. I'm told economics won't permit it but I still don't get it. Anyway, my eyes lit up to see the place on a street corner, but it was long-closed. Give it a whirl if you don't know it already, perhaps.
BTW, I don't know if those bacon-wrapped shrimp are standard fare but I will remember those things in my dreams for years to come. Even if you don't order the whole shebang as we did, do try to get that particular subset if possible.