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Just off the One in Soquel is a comfy little Tequila bar with an enormous affection for Tequila. Little Tampico has over 80 100% Agave tequilas available and a Black Belt Tequila Master to tell you all about them. This adorable restaurant and tequila bar sits elegantly nestled amongst the redwoods and serves up some extravagant Mexican food and some astonishing beverages.

The Black Belt Tequila Master is Scott Cook and Scott knows his tequila. Scott has been a tequila enthusiasts for a long time and enjoys giving you all the details on the distilled beverage. From Blanco to Extra Añejo, Scott can tell you where its from, how it's distilled, how many times it's been distilled and how long it's been aged. He knows all the history and loves to tells the stories of where this exquisite beverage comes from. This information comes in handy when trying to earn your Tequila Black Belt.

The Little Tampico Tequila bar offers a fun and educational way to enjoy your tequila, with their Tequila Dojo card/membership. Three punches/tequilas on the card per visit. (You can try as many as you like, but max is three punches per visit.) Tequila can be consumed neat or in a margarita. Every ten punches moves you up a belt. After 50 you are a Brown Belt and you receive all the discounts. Then you get a new card and start again. Three punches per visit maximum. This time you have to try half of Scott's selection and you have to enjoy them neat. After that lovely experience there is a 70 question written test, must score 80% or above to pass, then you are officially a Little Tampico Black Belt Tequila Master.

The Little Tampico Tequila Bar was open on June 1st 2012, the current owner of Little Tampico restaurant has been serving classic authentic Mexican food for over 23 years. Scott once worked for Little Tampico back in the day when he was just 14, bussing tables, he's been a bartender at the tequila bar for 9 months. (Scott's been in hospitality for 29 years and has tended bar for 12 of those years.)

By the liter or half liter, the margaritas are sensational! With just some splashes of sweet and sour mix, fresh squeezed lime, some of the secret sauce mix and your preferred tequila, over the rocks (blended is too watered down,) you have their signature masterpiece margarita.

First we had the 123 Organic Tequila Margarita, fresh and mild, extremely thirst quenching and delish. It's processed by the 123 masters with the careful art of distillation into the purest 100% Blue Agave tequila. The perfect start to go with our Aperitivo (appetizer,) the scrumptious Nacho Wings Combo, 1/2 nachos con todo, 1/2 cha cha chicken wings.

We then tried the Casa Nobel Tequila Margarita, just as delightful as the 123, the Casa Nobel didn't disappoint. Casa Noble ultra premium tequila begins with carefully selected mature Blue Agave plants, which have met strict requirements for water and sugar content. They employ only traditional methods and slow cook the rich agave piñas for 38 hours in stove ovens. Then, using only the core and heart of the agaves, they extract the sweet nectar. Fermentation process is 100% natural, followed by triple distillation. This is choice tequila and made for a perfect margarita.

Kathy, the waitress, then delivered one of their Favoritos De La Casa, Prawn Picado. Jumbo prawns sauteed with onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers & fresh jalapenos. Served with pine nut rice, guacamole & black beans. This flavorful dish was a hit, you can't go wrong with fresh vegetables and savory prawns.

We topped it all off with some classic Margaronas. They look really cool too. A Margarona is a margarita, with their house tequila, El Jimador, and a tiny Corona, or a Coronita, stuck upside down in the glass. The beer slowly enters the glass after you enjoy your margarita. Refreshing and filling this beverage is fun and festive.

Scott's a huge Oakland fan, "A's, Raiders, Warriors baby!" He listens to all kinds of music, he paused to take in some 311 when we were there, but surprisingly he has no ipod. Some of his other favorite food spots in Santa Cruz are Hula's and Sushi Garden. One of his favorite watering holes is Castaways and he likes catching up with his bud, Mat, at Severinos. Scott is an active guy, playing competitive volleyball both at the beach and on the court. He runs 5 days a week and likes to eat a lot of chocolate to balance it all out. Scott's behind the bar Tuesday - Saturday, after 4pm till about 9pm.

Enjoy and experience Little Tampico Tequila Bar and Restaurant when you're in Santa Cruz, it's a rare hidden treasure. Say "hello" to Scott and ask him about tequila so you can become the next Little Tampico Tequila Master Black Belt.

Happy hour is Monday-Friday from 3pm till 6pm. ($5 margaritas, $4 pints and $2 off all appetizers.)

Little Tampico
2605 Main St. Soquel, California

Monday - Thursday & Sunday 11am to 9pm
Friday & Saturday 11am to 10pm
ph 831-475-4700

January 2013

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