I’ve always loved the Tamarindo bar: the black and white Mexican films projected on the side wall, the glow from the pressed tin ceiling and metallic chandeliers, the splashes of chartreuse, pink and blue furniture against the creamy walls and exposed brick, and of course, the tequila and mezcal drinks. Add $2 tacos into the mix and you’ll feel better about spending too much on them.
Tacos: Head out behind the restaurant to a shared patio with neighboring beer bar the Trappist. To the left you’ll find a table covered in a bright oilcloth with a giant molcajete of burnt orange salsa and a cazuela of onions and cilantro. This is your Tuesday taco stand, appropriately simple and charming. Tacos are $2 each (cash only), and last week’s menu featured carnitas, chicharron, and in honor of St.Patricks Day, corned beef tacos. The carnitas didn’t have the layers I typically look forward to (those crispy, caramelized bits) but they were tender and steamy. The chicharrones on the other hand had a full spectrum of crispy and fatty textures in one bite. With three or so gnarls of pork rinds per taco the salt was assaulting but I savored the crispiness and the juices sticking to my teeth. Douse them in the roasted salsa and you’re in for a fiercely rich snack.
Drinks: Hangover be damned, I’m really into cocktails that taste like tropical fruit juice these days. The tamarind margarita makes the most of the fruit’s tangy flavors, and it’s so well balanced with the simple syrup and peppery chile rim that I have trouble not gulping it down as if there were a full pitcher sitting next to me. It hurts that it’s $13. The happy hour here runs from 5-7 pm, and includes a solid $8 margarita and draft beers for $4. There are a few discounted food items too.
Place: To enjoy the happy hour or Taco Tuesday one must sit in the lounge or at the bar (or in the patio). These places all look like the Mexican vacation house of your dreams and are not as crowded as you think they would be.
Taco Tuesday at Tamarindo
5- 8 pm CASH ONLY
5- 7 pm Happy Hour
68 8th Street
Oakland, CA 94110