Rockin’ State Street’s Taco

Javier Cadena Opens Chino’s Rock & Tacos on State Street

Talking to Javier Cadena it’s hard to believe his punk band, once a regular on the Warped Tour, is called The Pathetics. Based just on his energy and vision, he’s anything but, especially as he’s about to open his second Chino’s Rock & Tacos after establishing the first incredibly successful spot in SLO. This one’s in Santa Barbara in the old Piranha location at 714 State Street (962-5320;

I’m excited, realizing a career goal since my wife and I started 10 years ago,” Cadena says. “My grandfather is a big mentor, so it’s a personal goal to back to where he started in 1966.” Javier’s grandfather, also named Javier, opened his first Maya Mexican Food Restaurants in Five Points in Santa Barbara 43 years ago.

Raul Hernandez and Jessica Haycock
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

Raul Hernandez and Jessica Haycock

Of course Rock & Tacos has a bit more swagger. “Fast casual is the term for it,” Cadena explains. “My parents grew up in the generation of full service. I grew up in a generation of fast food. We meshed the two, taking the best of both. Everything on the menu is under $10.” He also explained that “Chino’s is a play on Chicano. It’s a tribute. We don’t want to lose the authentic touch. We want to provide the tamales and chile rellenos people know from the mom-and-pop places that have been pushed out of the downtown centers.”

Mom-and-pop lovers will have to want to bop to the beat while they eat, however, for the spot boasts “rock couture atmosphere,” or as Cadena says, “Our music varies from the 1970s to now, every genre. I can’t believe some restaurants don’t play music at all. That’s such an emotion they’re not taking advantage of.”

While the Santa Barbara Chino’s had its soft opening on June 6, the grand opening will be this Saturday, June 13, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Chris Pontius, from MTV’s Jackass and WildBoyz will be the host, and there will be games, free food, and giveaways all day.

Chino's Rock & Tacos - Downtown

714 State Street, Santa Barbara, CA
805-962-5320. More Info

View our complete restaurant guide here.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

School Board Takes Public Comment on Ethnic Studies as Graduation Requirement

A meeting this evening will discuss adding ethnic studies as a high school requirement; initial vote scheduled ...

Time Remains to Register to Vote

'Conditional voter registration' allows late registration, including for some Californians with criminal convictions.

Bicycle Challenge Rides Through Santa Barbara

Project Hero helps vets and first responders with PTSD.

Home on San Andres Catches Fire

Sunday night blaze extinguished quickly.

Santa Barbara to Protest Narrower Gender Definition

The rally takes place Tuesday afternoon at State and Anapamu's "speaker's corner."