Last Taco Night--Recipe Included

Last Taco Night–Recipe Included

Tragic. The end of an era. Along with the hiatus of Brothers Restaurant in the fabled Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, comes the end of Taco Night. Gaining steadily in popularity since its instigation on Thursdays many moons ago, Taco Night had arguably become a center of social life in […]

Tragic. The end of an era. Along with the hiatus of Brothers Restaurant in the fabled Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos, comes the end of Taco Night.

Mattei's Tavern in Los Olivos CA.
Mattei's Tavern in Los Olivos, California. The parking lot is JAMMED by 5:30 on Taco Nights. Seriously. Even more on this last night.

Gaining steadily in popularity since its instigation on Thursdays many moons ago, Taco Night had arguably become a center of social life in the Valley, right up there with… Well I can’t think of… Okay right up there with the Tales From the Tavern concert series at the Maverick saloon in Santa Ynez. And that is saying something. Why one couple even came last night all dressed up–she in a long dress and he in a suit–and took pictures of each other. I took one of His Grace, who was obviously not very into it. He was probably thinking he should have dressed up too.

His Grace reads the menu at Mattei's Tavern.
His Grace reads the menu at Mattei's, but only for the photo. He already knows he's gettin' the Caesar salad and the tacos. And he said if an extra one fell on the plate, he wouldn't mind.

Los Olivos and surrounding communities are in Santa Barbara County and had their 15 minutes of fame as locations for the indie hit movie Sideways. The storied Mattei’s began in 1886 as a stagecoach stop, a restaurant and a small inn.

We hear that brothers Matt and Jeff Nichols will re-open their restaurant in the form of the old Red Barn in Santa Ynez, and it can’t be too soon. We don’t have that many choices around here. The historic Mattei’s will be closed for a two-year renovation. Meanwhile here is the recipe for Mattei’s famed Filet Mignon Crispy Tacos. And click here to get a copy of Brothers Cuisine–Recipes from Santa Barbara, California, wine country. It’s a beaut.

Matt and Jeff Nichols's Filet Mignon Crispy Tacos
Matt and Jeff Nichols's Filet Mignon Crispy Tacos. We will miss them, but we
Filet Mignon Tacos
Yields 10
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Chipotle Puree
  1. 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles
  2. ½ cup water
Taco meat
  1. 1 ½ pounds filet mignon, cut into ¼-inch dice
  2. 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  3. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  4. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  5. 1 teaspoon black pepper
  6. 2 tablespoons corn oil
  7. 2 tablespoons chipotle puree
  8. ½ medium yellow onion, diced
  9. 1 jalapeño, diced
Fresh tomato salsa
  1. 8 Roma tomatoes, diced
  2. ½ yellow onion, diced
  3. 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  4. Juice of 1 lemon
  5. Juice of 3 limes
  6. Kosher salt
  7. White pepper
Taco slaw
  1. ½ head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  2. 1 bunch green onions, finely sliced on a bias
  3. Whole leaves from 1 bunch cilantro
  4. 12 crisp taco shells or soft corn tortillas
  5. Grated aged white Cheddar cheese, about 1/2 pound
  6. Bottled hot sauce
Instructions
  1. To make the chipotle puree: In a blender, puree the chiles with the water until smooth.
  2. To make the taco meat: Combine the filet mignon, salt, coriander, cumin and pepper in a bowl and mix well to coat the beef. Heat the corn oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. When hot, spread the seasoned beef in the pan and do not move. This will sear one side of the meat. After 1 minute, toss the meat to brown and cook the other sides. Mix in 2 tablespoons or more of the chipotle puree and toss to coat. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl.
  3. In the same pan over medium heat, sauté the onion and jalapeño until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion mixture to the meat and mix until well combined. Set aside.
  4. To make the tomato salsa, mix the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lemon juice and lime juice in a bowl. Season with salt and white pepper. Refrigerate.
  5. To make the taco slaw, mix the cabbage, green onions and cilantro leaves in a bowl. Set aside.
  6. To serve, reheat the taco meat. Spoon the meat into warm crisp taco shells or warm soft corn tortillas. Sprinkle the grated white cheddar over the beef. Top with the cabbage slaw and tomato salsa. Serve with your favorite hot sauce.
Frances Schultz http://www.francesschultz.com/

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