There are a lot of things you might expect when you see a taco on the menu in Santa Barbara. But lobster and chorizo tacos are probably not one. Yet it is a popular special at Kanaloa Seafood, consisting of two open-faced tacos presented on a wood plank. Now, given that sustainable Maine lobster is the star of the show, I’ll tell you right away that the lobster is exactly what it should be: luxurious, dense bites of mouth happiness sautéed with butter and garlic. And dotted among the generous pieces of lobster, small little gems of local, spicy chorizo give a slick of beautiful orange oil to the tortilla.
And I know this may sound funny, but the tortilla itself is significant. Because it starts with chiles that the chef roasts and powders, then adds to the two kinds of masa that go into the tortilla. He makes the tortilla thick and on the spot, as you order the dish. He then grills cheese onto it, so that there are crispy bits of cheese in the mix. So, the base of this princely dish is impeccable fresh tortilla with a little kick of heat to it. As you enjoy the soft, juicy Anaheim chiles and crispy cabbage, it may occur to you that Chef Antonio is playing with the standards of a Mexican Street taco, just making each ingredient the apex of what it can be. Trust me, you will not find plain aioli on these tacos. You will find a palate-cleansing mango aioli that is rich and sweet. The sweet roasted corn is a really beautiful finish to this smoky play on a street taco…a street taco filled with the stuff dreams are made of! You will leave with a pleasant heat lingering in your throat, just the right kind of fire that comes from an artful balance of strong flavors.
Angela Borda is a Santa Barbara food writer who is delighted to be blogging about one of her favorite restaurants, Kanaloa Seafood.