We all need an escape from midterm season, and what better way to take a break than by grabbing a delicious meal with your friends or classmates? El Paseo Mexican Restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara has been serving the community with its authentic Mexican cuisine since 1922. It’s a hidden gem all the way back in a plaza that embodies a Spanish village.

Winnie Lam / Daily Nexus

The restaurant is built like a historic adobe complex and is decorated with some greenery and beautiful string lights that illuminate your dining experience, making it the perfect place to relax and ease up as you try to ignore all your exams and papers that are piling up.

One thing unique to El Paseo is their all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesday. Every Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., diners can indulge in a taco bar buffet for only $9. The restaurant can accommodate small groups for a more intimate dining experience, but it is also large enough to seat bigger groups if you’re celebrating a special occasion. The waiters serve you warm tortilla chips with salsa as soon as you’re seated, but don’t snack on those for too long because the real star of the show is the taco bar.

Customers have the option of hard shell tacos and two varieties of soft tortillas: corn or flour. Although I usually prefer corn tortillas for my tacos, the flour tortillas at El Paseo are to die for. They are thin enough so they don’t overpower the tacos with a bready flavor, but they’re also thick enough to hold everything together. El Paseo serves chicken, pork and beef paired with all the taco toppings you usually eat like tomatoes, onions, cilantro and sour cream.

Since it’s a buffet, you can feel free to pile up as many ingredients as you want in your tacos and really take advantage of the all-you-can-eat aspect of this meal. Personally, I put a lot on my tacos and can only eat two or three each time I visit.

El Paseo also has a regular dinner menu for the rest of the week and Happy Hour Mondays-Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. when all house margaritas and appetizers are half off. This is definitely one of the best deals in town, and it doesn’t get too crowded, so be sure to visit the next time you take a trip downtown.

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