PICTURED: Social Tap’s Taco Bar, clockwise from top left: Short rib barbacoa, guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, rice, beans and flour tortillas. (Photo by N. Lackey Shaffer)

by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

Social Tap
1105 S. Seaward Ave., Ventura

One drawback to being safe at home is being tired of your own cooking. I am therefore grateful that takeout continues to be available, and I am especially appreciative of institutions such as Social Tap, which has created some great meal deals aimed at those wanting to indulge on a budget. 

Social Tap’s limited to-go menu still has a lot to offer. Most of its popular tacos — beef, chicken, fish, pork and veggie — are available, plus burgers, fish and chips, pulled pork sandwiches, BLTs and a few other things. There are even draft beers (Social Tap’s own label), house wine, margaritas and Calidad (a Michelada made with Social Tap’s own Bloody Mary mix added to a Mexican-style lager). 

What’s really been a life saver for me, though, is the Family Meal Deal — a generously sized entree along with enough sides and fixings to feed four people. Tacos, enchiladas, pasta and barbecue are available as supplies warrant. Prices run $35-$45, depending on the meat and preparation. Mexican meals include beans, rice, guacamole and salsa. Barbecue features macaroni, corn, rolls and Brussels sprouts. For pastas, it’s usually salad and bread on the side. When Social Tap says “meal,” it means it.

This past Friday, with the temperatures rising and a long week finally behind me, I decided to start the weekend with a Taco Bar. For $35, I could get one pound of my choice of meat (carnitas or chicken), 12 corn or flour tortillas, shredded cheese, guacamole, salsa, beans and rice. Short rib barbacoa was also available for an extra $5.

We’d been eating a little lower on the food chain for a while, and that beef was sounding pretty good, so I upgraded to the barbacoa. Social Tap uses ChowNow for online orders, which worked fairly seamlessly. I was able to order, pay and add a tip through my home computer, and select a time for curbside pickup. 

When it was time for dinner, I drove out and gave the restaurant a call from my car. A server came out shortly thereafter, with a plastic bag containing my order in her gloved hands. I popped the trunk, she put it in, and I was on my way. 

Once home, I brought my bag of food into the house, washed my hands (20+ seconds with soap and water) and carefully poured all the food into my own clean bowls, discarding the packaging into the recycling bin. I then washed my hands again before serving and eating. *

We were all happy to dig into this very appealing feast. The barbacoa was quite moist, with shredded beef swimming in its flavorful juices. It was on the rich, salty and spicy side; delicious but perhaps a bit too assertive for the more sensitive palate. The savory rice and whole pinto beans were also good, and more delicately seasoned — a wise choice in light of the tongue-tingling barbacoa.

Putting all three together in a tortilla with salsa, cheese and fresh, chunky guacamole made for a satisfying taco indeed — and a quite filling one at that. There was more than enough to feed four hungry people that night, and we had leftovers for a couple of great breakfast bowls (adding fried eggs) the next morning. I definitely felt that my $40 had gone pretty far.

I’d gladly look to Social Tap for an easy, tasty dinner the next time I’m too spent to cook. Those meal deals really are a good value, with tasty food and plenty of it for a price that won’t break the bank. With Mother’s Day on Sunday, perhaps you’ll want to tap into what Social Tap has to offer this weekend. 

* A few words on the safety of food takeout and delivery. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that the coronavirus is spread mainly from person-to-person contact. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there has so far been no evidence of coronavirus transmission via human or animal food or food packaging. The general guidelines: Transfer food from takeout containers to a plate, wash your hands, and disinfect the surface upon which your takeout/delivery bags and containers were placed. Following these protocols, I feel confident that I do not unduly expose myself or my family to the coronavirus when I order food to go — but every individual should of course follow the guidelines of their health practitioner and their own best judgment.