Each week we venture to a new restaurant to check out what the spot has to offer during our favorite time of day — happy hour. Whether it's affordable appetizers, delicious drinks, jaw-dropping deals, or none of the above, we'll check out the situation and report back.
The Spot: Urban Taco
6522 North 16th Street
The Hours: 4 to 7 p.m. daily
Perfect For: Groups of young friends looking for a cozy but cool place to get cheap eats.
The Interior: Urban Taco is located in a strip on 16th street between Glendale and Maryland. The nondescript exterior is little indication of the hip interior of the restaurant, however. Edison bulbs dangle over the bar top, and trendy chairs circle several tables. It's cozy but feels spacious enough that you won't have to listen to your neighbors' conversation. Between the bar, high and low tops, and a few cozy armchairs, there are plenty of options for you to carve out your own nook in the restaurant.
The Food: Urban Taco offers a variety of street tacos for $1.50 during happy hour, normally priced at $2.50 each. We tried the octopus asada (marinated and grilled octopus, onions, poblano, cilantro, queso fresco) and the braised pork (pulled pork, grilled onions, poblano, cilantro, queso fresco). Although octopus can be difficult to prepare, and is so often rubbery and tough, we were surprised at how soft and enjoyable this dish was. The flavors from the additional ingredients made it an enjoyable taco, and we wished we had ordered more. The braised pork was less interesting than the octopus, and fell apart in our hands as we ate it. The pork was flavorful, however, and street tacos can be notoriously difficult to keep together anyway, so we didn't mind the mess.
We also indulged in one of Urban Taco's best offerings, the salsa flight. Offered at $1 off during happy hour — otherwise priced at $4.75 for three salsas, $5.75 for five — we chose the chipotle, chimichurri, and roasted corn and garlic cream, the last at our server's recommendation. Served alongside bottomless tortilla chips, we thought the chipotle salsa was smokey and delicious, and quite a bit spicy, too. We weren't as fond of the chimichurri, however, which tasted more like an herbed pesto than a salsa. The roasted corn and garlic cream salsa was the standout of the trio, with a surprising depth of flavor we kept going back for.
The Drinks: Along with $1 off all beers and $5 wine, Urban Taco also offers a house margarita for $1 off regular price. We didn't love the margarita, which was incredibly acidic and difficult to drink. We assume it was most likely made with margarita mix, and we would have loved to have a classic marg made with fresh citrus juice, quality tequila, and triple sec instead. Next time we go back to Urban Taco, we'll stick with a beer.
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Conclusion: Urban Taco is a great place to hang out after a long day at work, throw back a few beers, and munch on tacos and salsa. We loved the ambiance and think it would be a great place to bring a group of friends to kick off a fun night on the town. Although some of the food is hit-and-miss — and the margarita could certainly use some sprucing up — we think it's definitely good enough to warrant repeat visits.
Don’t Miss: The roasted corn and garlic cream salsa. You might think cream doesn't belong in salsa, but it really, really does.
Skip This: The margarita. We hate to say it, but margaritas are easy enough to make fresh, and no one should have to suffer through a burning glass of margarita mix. In any case, there are plenty of great beers to choose from, so there are plenty of other options for drinks.