Before transferring to UCSB last year, one of my biggest dreads was Deltopia. I had heard about the riots, the property damage and the inebriation of an entire square mile of people. My first year, I spent the day participating in what I thought was a dizzy day, but this year I spent the day convincing families that Deltopia isn’t the norm as a tour guide.
Naturally, I went home tired and spent the weekend tired as such. However, I didn’t let working all weekend impact my fun. Instead of going out, I decided to really go out — downtown, that is — to Santa Barbara’s newest eatery that has UCSB students going justifiably loco: Tangonadas. I had heard numerous accounts of the delicious eatery from friends and enemies alike, so I knew I had to try it. Little did I know I was in for quite a treat.
A friend and I made our way downtown to run a few errands and finished our day at the newly established empanada shop. We entered the restaurant and were automatically assaulted by bright colors and loud music. Don’t get me wrong, this was an enjoyable assault — not to make light of physical violence. It felt like the Funk Zone had made its way to State Street with funky colors and a unique shopping experience.
From behind the counter, made of a refurbished car hood, our server, Ricardo, greeted us. This guy was incredibly friendly and made sure to memorize our names. We awkwardly stood there, searching for a menu, when Ricardo mentioned some deals they had going on.
For less than $10, you can get three empanadas (reasonably sized and individually filled with spinach, beef and chicken), a drink and a delicious side of chimichurri.
Within 10 minutes, Ricardo brought us our food. I picked up my first empanada and immediately threw it back onto my plate. This stuff was hot! I split it in half to let the pocket air out and within a few minutes dove into my empanada. The spinach was creamy and the beef was spiced to perfection. The chimichurri sauce was garlicky and incredibly fresh, a perfect complement to the flaky crust of the empanadas.
The only empanada I would not recommend is the chicken, as it is well-seasoned but a little bit dry for my taste. Nonetheless, I finished my empanadas within a few minutes and lived for every second of it. Belly full and cravings satisfied, my friend and I took a gander around the funky store to see what it had to offer. The walls were lined with different types of clothing, waterfalls and funky art pieces that I could have sworn existed only in the Funk Zone. While the food was delicious, the inside of the restaurant was a little bit overwhelming, but it was enjoyable to look at in little bits.
Would I return to Tangonadas for every empanada inquiry that I have? Probably not, since I can make my own, but it really is nice to see that the restaurants of State Street are diversifying beyond the standard taco shop or dive bar. I definitely intend to return if I am ever craving these delicious pockets of goodness every once in a while, especially at about $3 an empanada, something Ricardo mentioned is unheard of in Santa Barbara. I’d highly recommend checking out this new eatery yourself if you get the chance!