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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tacos Santana Bar and Grill - 2491 Mission Street

Mission on Mission got off to a slow start on Friday night. Making my way down Mission Street, I couldn’t figure out my next location. Though the sign read “Tacos Santana Bar and Grill” on first pass I couldn’t tell if this spot was a bar or if it was restaurant with “bar” conveniently added to its name. After a few trips up and down Mission Street in the car I finally pulled over and took a quick peek inside which revealed a bar with alcohol shelved—decision made—Tacos Santana fit the bill.

Along my journey there haven’t been many questions about whether I was visiting a bar or sitting in a restaurant. So far I have only encountered one place that occupied that ambiguous territory between bar and grill— Playa Azul, which I concluded after a delicious shrimp tostada, was more restaurant than bar.

With checkered black and white tile along its foundation wall reminiscent of old school diners and a gleaming, expensive looking die cut aluminum marquee with lights, Tacos Santana has an impressive exterior that serves as a beacon to late-night patrons in need of sustenance or perhaps a final beer or margarita after a night of partying.

Entering the bar side of the establishment I was immediately surprised by the brightness coming from the three TVs—each playing “Caballo a Caballo” some kind of Mexican comedy from the 50s or early 60s. The walls were mostly bare with the exception of a Mexican sombrero enveloped in Miller Light logos which hung high above a mirrored wall and just under the various white orbs that dangled from the high ceiling. Across the aisle from four cocktail tables was a short bar with five or six stools.

Service was swift with four waitresses in tight jeans and high heels circling tables on both sides of the room—serving up drinks, food and company to those in need. Along with a Pacifico, I ordered two shrimp tostadas to help stave off my hunger and quench my thirst. What quickly followed were a bowl of tortilla chips and some bland, ketchup-like salsa. The passing waitresses were attentive and quick to deliver drinks and food. The shrimp tostadas that followed the sub-par chips and salsa were pleasantly delicious. Crisp but not crumbly, the tostadas supported a plentiful amount of shrimp and fixin’s.

Though the service and food were good I was bewildered by the check—two Pacificos and two shrimp tostadas came to a hefty $18.50. Next time I’ll gamble on the burrito to save a little dough.

Tacos Santana is a great post-night-out spot for some good eats if you can stomach the prices. The place doesn’t have much personality and its interior décor is lacking but after a night of drinking does it matter? As far as bar vs. restaurant? I am undecided. Tacos Santana continues to linger in between.

Mission on Mission’s next stop cannot be confused as anything other than a bar. Bruno’s, will be a late night visit and I’m sure to see some interesting action though it will have to wait until the first Friday of December. With the Thanksgiving holiday this weekend, I will have ample time to prepare for what I expect to be an interesting evening.

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