The easygoing cantina with the best patio on the Northwest Side slings discounted tacos on Tuesday nights.
Summertime is prime time for Cabo Cocina. Of course the cantina specializes in heat-beating margaritas and cool brews imported from south of the border. But the real star of the warm-weather show is outside: A huge deck that hangs over an especially lush stretch of the Scioto River.
Inside is cool, too (and not just because I sometimes escape into the AC). The Southwest industrial-chic decor lends a relaxed feel to the restaurant and large bar area.
Steps from that bar is the self-serve salsa stand. Fortunately not too many steps, 'cause you'll be making a lot of trips to sample dips from the rotating lineup.
I'm partial to the thirst-quenching bite of Mexican drafts when I can get them, and Cabo Cocina has me covered: Dos Equis, Modelo Especial and Negra Modelo are all on tap ($4.50).
The selection of tequila treats is impressive as well, and well-priced. Even the house pour ($6 for 12 oz.) is made with fresh-squeezed citrus, and top-shelf margaritas with Cabo Wabo reposado or Patron Silver are just $10.
Then there were tacos.
All night on Tuesdays Cabo Cocina serves plates of two tacos for $5 (normally they're $9 to $11 for plates of three). It's a great price, and the delicious discount gives you a chance to try several varieties.
These tacos are the real deal, too - well-seasoned, grilled meat topped simply but flavorfully with some combination of fresh slaw, salsa, cheese or avocado, served in soft flour or corn tortillas (go for the corn). Each plate comes with a side; I recommend the cilantro-spiked Green Rice.
My favorite taco is the barbacoa. The sweet and smoky pork finishes with a burst of cumin and cinnamon, while the hot guajillo salsa adds just enough heat.
Also excellent are the shrimp tacos. Each tortilla cradles three grilled shellfish lightly seasoned and topped with avocado, mango and a creamy chipotle sauce. At just five bucks, there's no reason to stop after the first plate.