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According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a taco is "a Mexican food that consists of a folded and usually fried piece of thin bread (called a tortilla) that is filled with meat, cheese, lettuce, etc." Los Angeles is the epicenter of taco activity in the United States and therefore was the perfect location for Thrillist to host their first ever Taco Knockout. Celebrating Mexico's greatest street food, nine chefs demonstrated how tacos can come in many styles and flavors. They are so tasty that tacos are the Please The Palate pick of the week. From vegetarian to tuna to octopus to beef, lamb and pork, the assortment of tacos was as diverse as some of Southern California's chefs whipped up their inventive spins on the classic taco. AQUI ES TEXCOCO - Traditional Mexican-style lamb barbecue tacos
 
Last time I was in downtown Santa Barbara (less than a year ago), I went to a pop-up sushi bar at Three Pickles Deli. Yes, inside a deli! But, as the deli itself is closed at night, it was a perfect location to set up a pop-up inside. Sadly, the pop-up sushi bar is no longer there but now there is a pop-up every Sunday called Corazon Cucina run by Chef Ramon Velazquez and his wife Chrissie. Chrissie and Ramon Velazquez Another big change since I was last there is that the neighborhood (aka the Presidio Neighborhood), which is centered around a historical Spanish fortress and Santa Barbara's former Chinatown, is now booming. While last time we walked a few blocks from State Street to find Three Pickles Deli on an isolated street, now it is surrounded by restaurants, wine tasting rooms, coffee houses and shops. There were people everywhere and I almost didn't recognize it.   Due to the popularity of the area, and the Corazon Cucina pop-up, it was difficult to find parking. And, once we did, we found ourselves at the back of a long line.
It's not hard to find tacos in Los Angeles. From taco stands to taco trucks, we love our tacos. Now Santa Monica has a new taco spot where, in addition to tacos and other dishes,there is a full bar featuring mezcal-based cocktails and craft beers. The Westside needed another great drinking spot. Welcome Tacoteca! Tacoteca

Bartender Gilbert Marquez has crafted the cocktail program. With over 90 mezcals, he has created a menu of modern cocktails that emphasizes indigenous Mexican flavors.

I started with a Bebibas Ancestrales and ordered the Aguacatero (Mezcal, avocado, green chartreuse and lime). The drink comes with a worm salt rim that was spicy and a cricket garnish. Yes, crickets.....after all, they say that insects are the new protein. I went outside my comfort zone and tried them and despite the visual image, they were slightly salty and crispy and don't really taste like anything. I survived!