Tacos - delicious. Brewpubs - those are fun too. A taco-brewpub combo? Let's talk about Cruz Blanca. Rick Bayless, the unofficial king of cool and innovative Mexican restaurants, could start a taco chain that sold dog food wrapped in Baby Wipes and it would be a billion dollar business. But he hasn't. Even though he opened his first restaurant in 1987, it took almost 30 years before he decided to open his first taco-centric spot. And now we have Cruz Blanca, a taco restaurant and bar that's way cooler than your average hole-in-the-wall or fast-casual restaurant.
This is the type of catch-all taco spot you need in life. The ground floor is ideal for a quick meal and the upstairs is a great hangout bar. The Cruz Blanca menu is limited, which is intentional, consisting of a few different types of taco plates plus a couple of basic sides. Walk in, order a taco platter at the counter, and wait for your food. The plates all come with meat like chorizo, chicken, or steak, plus grilled onions and chilis, fresh tortillas, and a side of salsa for you to assemble tacos yourself. It's a solid deal for a quick and easy meal around $15.
But Cruz Blanca is best when you can hang upstairs. The second floor is more like a brewery where there’s plenty of space for a small or large group. And yes, they are brewing their own beer in those large tanks. Go with your friends or co-workers and kick it for a while over tacos, beers, and mezcal-focused drinks.
The one issue we have with Cruz Blanca is that, with no waitstaff, we feel like they're putting us to work. You order at one counter, get drinks at another, and have to find your own table all at the same time. The food isn't brought to you, either. You'll get a buzzer that will inevitably go off as soon as you think you're settled, forcing you to head back to the first counter for your food. It's rarely a smooth situation, particularly at peak times.
While the process is a little annoying, it's not the end of the world. Hopefully, you're with a few people and can divide up tasks. Because if you're looking for somewhere casual and fun to eat, this taco-brewpub is still a good idea.
Hot grilled chips, fresh guac, and great salsas. The salsas are the same as Xoco if you're familiar, which means they're great. Obvious necessity.
There aren't a ton of taco options, but there's just enough variety. All of them come with some grilled onions and chilis, tortillas, salsas, and lime. Out of all the meats, our favorite is the Oaxacan chorizo. It's got a little spice, which we love.
Cured flank steak, and our second favorite choice. If you're looking to share plates with a friend, our suggestion is this and the chorizo.
Red chili rubbed pork that we find is sometimes a little dry. Still solid though.
It's good chicken, but chicken tacos aren't very exciting.
For a veggie taco option, these are some meaty grilled portabello mushrooms in a garlic-agave sauce.
You're going to need a side of this.