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Jan 8, 2001 05:39 PM

Tried and true Mexican in Seattle?

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Ok everybody, here's what I want to know. Where can I find truly authentic Mexican around Seattle? I mean, there are so many burrito outlets I can't keep track, but I'm talking about the real deal. (Come on Californians, I know you're out there and I know you know good Mexican) I'm sick of gloppy piles of refried beans.
So far, the closest I've come in Taqueria Guaymas on Broadway. Got ideas?

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  1. there is a little eatery in the Pike Place Market along the stairwell that leads up from the pier. I can't quite recall the name, but the atmosphere is as authentic as the food. If your into no frills service and carne asada to die for, then you should go on a wild adventure, for the love of food. let me know what you think. I am now living in Portland, and am looking for some good Mexican here. Luckily I work with some amigos who know how to cook their native food. I feel blessed everyday.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Lisa

      In the last decade the northwest's Latino population has grown dramatically (always the biggest "minority" in Oregon, but even more so now). While it was always possible to find authentic food in the smaller Willamette Valley farm towns where most of the Mexican-American residents worked in agriculture, now the same stuff is all over Portland.

      Mi Ranchita has always been my favorite taqueria...on NE Alberta and about 29th...carne asada, carnitos, lengua, pastor, etc. There was another place on SE 82nd near Foster that made fresh tortillas for every order, but I haven't been out there for awhile.

      La Calaca Comelona (1408 SE 12th Avenue, Portland, Oregon, 503-239-9675) serves food is from Michoacan and coastal's a clip from a review I wrote last year:

      The most unusual offerings are the combinations, not to be confused with enchilada-chimichanga-chile relleno combos. More like a stir-fry, these blend sauteed peppers, onions, and mushrooms with thinly sliced beef, diced chicken, and crumbled chorizo, a housemade version of the spicy Mexican pork sausage. Tossed together on the grill with the mild cheese called queso fresca, they’re served with a trio of pillowy handmade tortillas.

      Finally, for a more upscale but completely authentic meal, check out Cafe Azul on NW 9th near Davis. Chef Claire Archibald worked at Chez Panisse in the early days, then went to Mexico and studied with Diana Kennedy. She renders here own lard and has found a source for free-range goat so she can serve cabrito. Really good....



      1. re: Jim Dixon

        Dear Jim,
        Thanks for your suggestions. I am a frequent customer at La Calaca Comelona, and couln't agree with your review more. I did have something there that boggles me though, so maybe you can help me to understand. When reading the menu description I was under the impression that I would be served shrimp in a zesty tomato sauce, and assumed it would be piping hot. Much to my surprise it was more like a Spanish shrimp cocktail. Needless to say I was very disappointed. Any enlightment? Also, there is this newer restaurant on Hawethorn called Castagna. I haven't read any review, or heard anything about it. From the outside it seems trendy and a bit elite. What do you know?

      2. re: Lisa

        the place on the pike hillclimb is called El Puerco Lloron and it really is no-frills great, cafeteria style, folding tables, plastic glasses but really fresh, great flavors and prices you won't believe. been a fan for years now, always get carnitas with a side of guac; really great Mexican in town is tough...though El Camino in Fremont has been enlisting a consulting chef from Mexico City to inject some interesting authentic dishes to the mix

        1. re: Cynthia

          There are many spots down in White Center and Burien which serve terrific authentic food (at least as authentic as this gringo can tell). I drive around until I see something that looks promising, and duck on in. One day a friend and I were searching for the Salvadorean Bakery (I've since learned it is at 1719 SW Roxbury) but ended up at a place in White Center which was combined with a Mexican grocery store. We had a great lunch.

          Here are some places I've frequented on a regular basis:

          Gordito's - 213 N 85th St in Greenwood - Mentioned already on this board. Very good aguas frescas (go often to try all the flavors, they can vary by the hour), and "spicy" burritos (fish burrito is delicious, and the vegetarian spinach burrito is surprisingly good), but I prefer Burrito Loco for ceviche.

          Burrito Loco - 9211 Holman Road NW - This is the restaurant that re-kindled my interest in Mexican food. Best fish tacos I've ever had (served hot, with a consistency kind of like a stew, rather than the breaded and deep fried variety); wonderful ceviche; yummy and vegetarian-friendly potato taquitos; not-too-sweet horchata; and great lemonade; but I prefer Gordito's for burritos.

          El Rinconcito in Burien - near SW 152nd on Ambaum Blvd - Can't speak for the majority of their menu because I always order the ham torta with avocado. I LOVE a good torta, and they are surprisingly hard to find, even in tiny authentic-feeling places. This is the best Mexican sandwich I've discovered since I had them in Mexico. They cut the ham thick and grill it and the sandwich is packed with jalepenos and other good things. Haven't been in at least 6 months, though, and the above address is their new location, so I can only hope that nothing has changed.

          And regarding the Portland area, the best carne asada I've ever had was at a place called Juan Colorados in Hillsboro. They make their own tortillas out where everyone can see, and they have great drinks too. Most of their dishes seem americanized to me, as does the ambiance, but the asada induced eye-rolls of pleasure. 1001 SE Tualatin Valley Hwy

        2. re: Lisa

          Down at the Market I think the name is Puerco Lloron.

        3. La Viagra Marina -- Georgetown I guess is the neighborhood. West of Boeing Field. It's on 14th Ave S. I think.
          Not just authentic, but they do seafood.

          1. by far the best mexican i ever had when i used to live there--some four years ago now--was this little place on Madison and 22nd (i think it's 22nd, or very near there), on the left side of the road as you're heading for Lake Washington. The name is escaping me, but they have great red vinyl booths, thin, authentic salsa and mean enchiladas. it's the real deal.

            4 Replies
            1. re: robin

              Cactus is the Mexican restaurant in Madison Park.

              1. re: Chris

                it is el gallito, i believe. it sort of stands on its own at the top of the hill, across the street from a stripmall of sorts... and there's a great (and cheap) vegetable stand not far from it as well...

              2. re: robin

                I believe El Gallito is the Mexican restaurant you are referring to and not Cactus. Both offer some of the best Mexican food in Seattle.

                1. re: robin

                  El Gallito IS the place. And the food is wonderful.
                  Real Chili Rellano's (sp?) A green chili stuffed with jack cheese, breaded and deep fried. Not some egg/omelette thing served by other NW restaurants. Ensaladas, buritos and chimmichangas are all first rate
                  Great beans and flavorful rice. I've been eating there for 10+ years and never had a bad or even mediocre meal. All have been GREAT.
                  There is also La Cabanna on Beacon Ave. Another Mexican Restaurant serving fresh food.
                  Both of these places are rather small (about 8-tables each) but I've never had to wait for a table. I don't think Seattlites know what REAL Mexican Food is. So consequently these places are hardly ever crowded.