T’s Red Tacos is a tasty treasure trove in Pismo Beach

Photo courtesy of T’s Red Tacos
T-REX: T’s Red Tacos in Pismo Beach offers a wide, sizzling selection of Mexican cuisine, including its famous red queso tacos, vampiros, and more.

There’s a popular carnival treat at T’s Red Tacos in Pismo Beach with ties to owner Roger Sharp’s start in the food industry.

At age 17, the Paso Robles local began operating his own churro cart. Today, the iconic fried pastry rolled in cinnamon and sugar is available at T’s Red Tacos with two sweet, gooey center options—chocolate or caramel.

Sharp owns multiple restaurants along the Central Coast, but he’s no longer in possession of the concession haul that helped kick off his career, he said.

“I wish I had it, to be honest,” Sharp said of the churro cart, which he often took to the Mid-State Fair, the Santa Barbara County Fair, and other events during the 1980s. “I have no idea where it ended up.”

Sharp loves eating churros too, and he still has a sweet tooth for them. As for savory treats, including Sharp’s favorite fixtures at T’s Red Tacos, the prolific restaurateur’s motto is “the spicier the better,” at least to a certain extent.

click to enlarge T’s Red Tacos is a tasty treasure trove in Pismo Beach
Photo courtesy of T’s Red Tacos
TACO ’BOUT IT: Patrons of the red queso tacos at T’s Red Tacos can choose between six protein options: carne asada, birria, carnitas, pollo, shrimp, and pulpo.

“I don’t like it [spicy enough] to kill me, but I love it to be spicy,” said Sharp, who opened T’s Red Tacos during the fall of 2023.

Of the casual eatery’s salsa selection, Sharp recommends the habanero salsa to spice fans.

“The habanero can get kind of serious,” Sharp said. “It’s spicy, which is the goal.”

The star attraction of T’s Red Tacos is unsurprisingly its red queso tacos, assembled with handmade red corn tortillas. A special spice blend is responsible for the red color. 

The red tacos are grilled with Mexican cheese and the customer’s meat choice. Sharp’s protein pick when it comes to red tacos is the birria—a spicy beef stew—which he also named as the restaurant’s biggest seller, “by far.”

“It’s got a lot of flavor,” Sharp said, “and the ramen is really good too.”

The red birria ramen, made with noodles cooked in birria consommé, is one of two ramen options at T’s Red Tacos. The other is verde carnitas ramen, with noodles cooked in verde consommé. Both ramens come with onions, cilantro, and salsa.

click to enlarge T’s Red Tacos is a tasty treasure trove in Pismo Beach
Photo courtesy of T’s Red Tacos
SEASIDE SPOT: Located on Dolliver Street, T’s Real Tacos has both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as on-site complimentary parking, relatively rare compared to many businesses in Pismo Beach.

For families and groups looking to share a dish at T’s, Sharp recommends the loco fries—platters of crispy french fries topped with a blend of melted cheese, cotija cheese, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, and the patron’s choice of either birria or carnitas. 

Although one of Sharp’s goals in creating T’s was to offer something in Pismo that would stand out among the coastal town’s staple clam chowder and fish-and-chip joints, there’s more than a few options on the menu to please seafood die-hards.

Shrimp and pulpo, or octopus, are prevalent offerings and can be featured in red tacos, puffy rolled tacos, vampiros, quesadillas, burritos, nachos, and fries (the shrimp and octopus fries plate is nearly identical to the loco fries with shredded lettuce and other toppings).

The two oceanic proteins are highlighted in T’s cocktail selection as well. Sharp’s personal favorite of these libations is the pulpo cocktail, made with fresh octopus, clam juice, avocado, cucumber, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and “a dash of heat.”

“They’re all good, but I like the octopus, that’s my favorite,” Sharp said. “I like the texture it brings to your mouth.”

click to enlarge T’s Red Tacos is a tasty treasure trove in Pismo Beach
Photo courtesy of T’s Red Tacos
DILLA OR NO DILLA: Alongside its taco selection, T’s Red Tacos also serves quesadillas, burritos, nachos, fries, cocktails, and desserts.

Sharp also loves the texture of T’s vampiros, which he described as similar to tostadas.

“They’re crispy, like a tostada, but not fried,” said Sharp, whose vampiros come with cheese, lettuce, pico de gallo, and the customer’s choice of meat, all stacked within two baked corn tortillas.

Through T’s diverse menu and colorful setting, decorated with Day of the Dead sugar skull murals and other art, Sharp aimed for the eatery to feel like a fresh concept while maintaining a down-to-earth approachability.

“The idea is it’s supposed to feel good and lighthearted,” Sharp said. “We know you’re probably going to the beach or just here for the day, and that’s [the feeling] we’re targeting; that lightheartedness.”

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood could use some churros and loco fries right about now. Send comments to [email protected].

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