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Taqueria Santa Cruz takes San Luis Obispo by storm 

New taqueria prides itself on making everything from scratch

click to enlarge FROM TACOS TO TORTAS:  Taqueria Santa Cruz Express is the third store of a family owned restaurant. It offers a variety of shellfish, meats, and salsas in its dishes. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • FROM TACOS TO TORTAS: Taqueria Santa Cruz Express is the third store of a family owned restaurant. It offers a variety of shellfish, meats, and salsas in its dishes.

While most 11-year-olds were outside playing, Edgar Valenica was helping out at his family’s restaurant, Taqueria Santa Cruz. Eighteen years later, Valencia is co-owner of San Luis Obispo’s newest Mexican restaurant and his family’s third eatery.

The 22-year-old family business started out in Santa Cruz and now has two locations under the same name. Valencia said his co-owner Gonzalo Hernandez, Valencia’s uncle, visited San Luis Obispo a couple months ago, and they both thought it was a nice area for an expansion of the store. Valencia said he noticed a lack of authenticity in some of the Mexican restaurants that his family’s restaurant could provide.

“In the bay area, there are some really good places but not so much down here,” Valencia said.

Because Valencia’s store is in SLO, “Express” was added to the end of the restaurant name. Valencia, also one of the cooks, said everything on the menu is good, but one of their popular items is their beef stew.  After ordering, customers can walk to the drinks section and grab complimentary tortilla chips and salsa. The salsa bar offers a variety of flavors, including a watermelon habanero salsa.

As with other Mexican restaurants, the taqueria offers combination plates as well as burritos, tacos, and tortas. Aguas frescas, such as melon or horchata, are available as well. The taqueria has a variety of shellfish and meats, including birrria (barbecue goat), lengua (beef tongue) and tripas (beef tripe).

Everything on the menu is homemade, Valencia said. Produce is bought from local farmers or from producers in Santa Maria while most of their meat comes from Paso Robles.

“When you make everything from scratch, it makes the flavor better than if it came from a can or a bag,” Valencia said.

For more information call Taqueria Santa Cruz Express at 752-1016 or visit it at 1308 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo.

Fast Fact

The Central Coast Aquarium is holding a gourmet sustainable seafood dinner, called Catch of the Sea, on Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Avila Beach Golf Resort. Diners will experience a four course meal with food such as “Heirloom Tomatoes With Santa Barbara Sea Urchin And Avocado,” according to the website. Tickets are limited and cost $250. The last day to buy tickets is Monday, Sept. 9. Proceeds from this event will go toward marine science education programs. For more information, visit the Central Coast Aquarium website at or call at 595-7280.


Intern Alicia Canales compiled this week’s Strokes. Send your business and nonprofit news to [email protected].

Readers Poll

Do you think the SLO County Board of Supervisors should have gone against their policy that states funding for independent special districts should not result in a net fiscal loss to the county?

  • A. Yes, the housing and job opportunity the Dana Reserve is bringing is important
  • B. No, it's giving special privileges to the Nipomo Community Services District
  • C. I trust them, they know what's best for the county
  • D. What's going on?

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