I can count the number of 'established' (meaning, been in business for more than two years) Mexican restaurants that I've never eaten at in this town on exactly one finger. Yet, after living less than one mile from La Playa Azul Cafe for most of the last 12 years, I finally went there today.
Was I avoiding it? Most certainly not. I'd always wanted to go, but for some reason never found the right opportunity. One has to realize that to get to Playa Azul, I have to first pass by El Buen Gusto, not an easy thing to do for me.
One reason I never went is that I never really knew anyone who'd been there. Sort of weird for a guy who hears about a lot of Mexican food. My girlfriend had been there a few times and liked it well enough, but certainly not well enough to force the issue.
But it was a hot and sunny 3rd of July Sunday, and with laziness being paramount, Deb suggested, "Let's go sit outside on the patio at Playa Azul."
"Bitchin' idea, baby."
And off we went, venturing into my last unknown Santa Barbara Mexican restaurant establishment.
First thoughts: Nice location and pleasant outside patio (reminds me of The Paradise Cafe). The inside sitting area was less appealing, sort of drab, like sitting inside someone's living room. But no matter, we were dedicated to a sunny day outside. A quick look at the clientele and decor gave me an insight to why no one had never pushed me to go here. I'm under 65 years old. Apparently, Playa Azul is where old white people go when they want to get crazy and branch out from soaking their dentures at The Marmalade Cafe.
The menu was fairly standard although a bit pricey. We opted to share a crab tostada (at 17 bucks) because it sounded good on a hot day and seemed like enough food for two.
Verdict: it was ok. There wasn't nearly enough crab meat, it was slathered in heaps of ranch dressing (way too much), garnished with a far too small dollop of guacamole and a completely unnecessary lump of sour cream (as if the ranch wasn't enough). There were practically no beans underneath it, and the 'tostada' part seemed about the size of a taco tortilla on a plate the size of a large pizza. Can't say I'd get it again, but maybe I'd go back to try something else, but probably not too soon. Maybe the next time I need to entertain geriatric relatives.