What happens when a renowned, classically-trained chef embraces his San Diego upbringing? You get one chef with two very different restaurants.
Walter Manke’s Petty Cash Taqueria may be a Mexican food place for foodies, but it certainly won’t disappoint those simply looking to fill up on chips, dips, tacos, and margaritas. Of course, the former chef of L’Auberge Carmel and Bastide couldn’t be content with the usual slate of tacos and quesadillas. Plenty of options exist for the more adventurous, including the bomb.com, a guacamole upgraded with Santa Barbara sea urchin and chicharrones, and the not-so-secret chapulin taco – no, we couldn’t bring ourselves to try crickets.
But Petty Cash never neglects the basics in favor of the daring. The house guacamole delivers the fresh (if pricey at $12) avocado taste that works alone on a chip or as a topper for the tacos and quesadillas to come. And each table has both red and green salsas in squirt bottles (solves the problem of double-dipping!) that provide the foundation for any good Mexican restaurant. We even found the recipes for both salsas in Los Angeles Magazine so we could make at home!
Most tacos are ordered a la carte, priced from $5-$6.50 each. With chips, salsa, and guacamole, 2-3 tacos per person easily filled us up. We particularly enjoyed the sweet and spicy Mary’s organic chicken taco with pickled vegetables, habanero and guacamole and the grilled ribeye carne asada taco with refried beans and guacamole.
For the hungrier, there are larger quesadillas. The machaca provides lots of flavor with beef brisket, jack cheese, poblano pepper, tomato, scallions, and chipotle.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t say that the cocktails are amazing! “Rye, Felicia!” combines rye whiskey, mezcal, cacao, chipotle, orange flower water, and charred chili de arbol for a smoky and spicy combination. But it’s almost impossible to beat the perfect Petty Cash Margarita. Make sure to order it with “the good sh!t.” Don’t ask, just do it. You can thank us later.