Wednesday, March 29, 2006


It is nearly impossible to find an affordable meal in Santa Barbara. Unless you have the hookup. Fortunately, I have the hookup. I know some of the locals. They just so happen to be my parents.

Unlike my mother and father, I cannot go for more than a few hours without eating. My mom can go from breakfast at 9am to dinner at 6pm without eating. If I ate breakfast at 9am I would most definitely be hungry by 11am. So this weekend, during my Santa Barbara visit to see the parents, there were a few moments of pleading to find food, any food, fast!

Fortunately, there is a fantastic Mexican hole-in-the-wall joint called Rudy's in both Santa Barbara and in the "city" of Buellton where my parents live (about 40 minutes north of the city in wine country).

Our first visit to Rudy's was on Sunday when I proclaimed that I could not possibly wait another minute without eating or I was going to die from starvation. Since we were taking a stroll by the water (they have a great art fair on Sunday down by the beach) our closest option food would be on State Street.

I wouldn't have ever gone to Rudy's myself because I can be a bit of a wimp when it comes to trying places that don't look pristine and, well, at least a little gourmetish. However, it came recommended by my parents and I was starved so I gave it a go. While there is no menu on the wall, I took one of the tiny two laminated menus by the register and was pleased to find plenty of viable options. Since I'm not a big fan of rice and beans I was more than happy to order an à la carte taco and a side of chips. My parents ordered a sweet pineapple tamale and a chicken tamale with mole sauce. Normally I'm not a big fan of tamales because they taste too "corny" to me but these were very good. The mole sauce wasn't my favorite but the chicken was so tender and the masa was mild and moist. None of use had tried a sweet tamale before and were pleasantly surprised. It was also moist and tasted like a sweet corn cake (with pineapple).

Pineapple Tamale from Rudy's
My taco was fantastic and cheap. Only about $2. It was extremely crispy without being greasy, had shredded beef that was quite flavorful, and plenty of shredded lettuce and cheese. They also have a great salsa bar which is great for someone like me who LOVES spicy food.

Tortilla Chips from Rudy's
Since I was so impressed with our first visit to Rudy's I begged my mom to take me to the one in Buellton on Tuesday. It was a lot bigger and much cleaner than the one in the city and even had a few more options on the menu that looked great. I had already had my mind on their taquitos which I had seen on the counter at the city location. We ordered one chicken and one beef taquito plate for about $3 each. This is a great deal because not only does each plate come with 2 filling taquitos but it also has a handful of chips, lots of guacamole, and a small salad.

Chicken and Beef Taquitos from Rudy's
The taquitos were delicious. I can't get over how not-greasy their chips and tacos are. I'm so bummed that we don't have a Rudy's in San Diego. To be honest with you, I haven't seen any Mexican restaurants in my area that look good (within 10 minutes of my house). I would love to hear about your favorite Mexican restaurants in San Diego, even if they are far from Vista.

It may be time to make some homemade tortillas again. After my second batch I promised myself I'd wait a while because I eat them WAY too fast. Each batch makes about 20-25 and they're gone within 2-3 days. Can you blame me?

Rudy's Mexican Restaurant
811 State St # E
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 564-8677

Rudy's Mexican Restaurant
234 E Highway 246
Buellton, CA
(805) 686-5268

1 comment:

Rorie said...

Sounds like a tasty find - will add to my list for next time I'm in Santa Barbara!