The most important necessity for moving to a new city is finding a good place for pho. High on the list is also finding a solid taco spot. In Scottsdale, the place to grub is Los Betos (see The Best Mexican Food in the World). In Condado, a borough of San Juan, I sampled two restaurants. The first was Tacos & Tequila by Patrón at the opulent Condado Vanderbilt Hotel. The second was Kabanas, the new kid on the block.
Let’s go step-by-step and break down which spot is better, starting with the names of the restaurants.
By Patron vs. Kabanas
Kabanas could’ve been called Taco Shack, and it would’ve prevailed in this category. It’s not classy for a restaurant to include sponsorship in its name. It’s also not a great sign when the sponsoring party is a ‘for export’ tequila that pales in comparison to mi amigo, Don Julio, and so many of the other great tequilas I sampled in Guadalajara. (Interestingly my food review posts from there were also called Tacos & Tequila, see Tacos & Tequila: An Afternoon in Tlaquepaque and Guadalajara Nightlife: Tacos & Tequila (Again) Those nights were not sponsored by Patron.)
The Vanderbilt is a snooty resort in Condado, but someone forgot to tell TPOL to be impressed. As points enthusiasts, we have been spoiled by far fancier hotels (see Hotel Reviews) to be impressed with one that pretends to be upscale simply because it bears the Vanderbilt name. This hotel may have been something to admire years ago, but now it is outdated.
Kabanas is located on Ashford Avenue which is known as the Rodeo Drive of Condado. I know it sounds fancy but it’s not. There are tables outside that are always crowded.
Winner: Tacos & Tequila: Dated or not, nothing beats an ocean view.
Any guesses which one is more expensive?
Here is the menu for Vanderbilt.
As for Kabanas, go there on Taco Tuesdays, and each taco is only $2!
I rather enjoyed the Bloody Maria at Tacos & Tequila. I made a mistake by following it up with a Piña Colada type drink at Patron. Coconut and tequila? No bueno. My mistake.
On Tuesdays, Coronas are 2 for $6, and the giant margarita was $7. Though I prefer Madalla Light as my daily beer of choice, I see no reason to complain.
Like pho, who cares about the atmosphere and who cares about the drinks? All that matters is the quality of the food. At Tacos & Tequila, I ordered the shrimp tacos. They were decent, but they aren’t even close to Kabanas. Here’s why:
- Quantity: I left Vanderbilt hungry and was tempted to walk to Kabanas.
- Shell: Visualize a chalupa shell from Taco Bell. Now imagine it to be of high quality. That’s Kabanas.
- The Variety: The chicken taco is great, the beef taco is better, but I never imagined that a falafel taco could be so delicious. Falafel in itself is very difficult to make. Quality falafel + scrumptious taco = breakthrough for mankind.
It should be clear which one is the winner.
Special thanks to a blog reader for inviting me to Tacos & Tequila. I got you the next time around at Kabanas.*
*Invitation only good on Tuesdays.
- Tacos & Tequila: 1055 Ave Dr Ashford, San Juan, 00907
- Kabana’s Address: 1014 Avenida Dr Ashford, San Juan, 00907