Little Tampico in downtown Soquel offers authentic Mexican cuisine in a quaint, serene creekside setting. They are open every day except Monday for lunch and dinner, from 11am-9pm. Originally founded more than 50 years ago in 1970, current owner Said Karssli bought it in 1991, saying it was his wife’s favorite restaurant. The daughter-in-law of the original owner stayed on to keep the food and recipes authentic, and many dishes pay homage to the previous owners. Karssli spoke to GT recently about the uniquely picturesque ambiance, and also the food and drink.
What sets your atmosphere and menu apart?
SAID KARSSLI: We overlook the Soquel Creek with patio seating, as well as the porch out front, the bar, and an upper and lower level. We hardly have any walls, it’s mostly windows and many tables have a spectacular nature view. Our menu is lard-free, and beyond that, it’s a pretty traditional Mexican menu, and we are famous for both our smooth and chunky salsas, which are made fresh daily.
What are your signature dishes?
Our most popular dish is our Nachos Tampico, which has chicken or beef with black beans, cheddar and jack cheese, olives, sour cream, jalapeño, and guacamole all served over crunchy housemade tortilla chips. It’s a very popular dish for an appetizer. We also have our Killer Quesadilla which is a large flour tortilla filled with sautéed mushrooms, green onions, jack cheese, and choice of chicken or beef. It’s served with sour cream, guacamole, and rice and beans or Sombrero Salad. This salad consists of lettuce, jicama, oranges, mushrooms, and red bell peppers and is topped with walnuts and housemade creamy herb dressing or salsa vinaigrette. The dressings are both very popular, people often come just for them.
Do you have a signature cocktail?
Yes, I would say our Mollie’s Margarita is our signature drink. Mollie was the daughter of Little Tampico’s founder, and she would make herself a margarita after work. One time a customer said, “That looks good, make me one,” and the drink was born. It has high-end tequila, fresh lime, secret house mix, a Grand Marnier float and is served on the rocks in a 16-ounce mason jar with a salted rim. It’s literally the best margarita in town.
2605 S. Main St., Soquel, 831-475-4700; littletampico.com.