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Mexican in Seattle

  • c

I need good Mexican food! Spicey flavorful mexican food. I've been here a year now and after living in S.F.'s Mission district, San Diego and L.A. where there are good taqueria's and fancied up Oaxacan / Vera Cruz type sit-downs 0n every fourth block, all the mexican places I've been to here border on criminal.

I'd kill for good Mole or a Milenesa Torta or even a hint of barbacoa. Birria? Anywhere?

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  1. I usually look for a taco truck if I want a torta.


    4 Replies
    1. re: paulj
      thee trouthole

      yeah.. taco trucks. there's this one in white center, right across from whatsit... new angor market? yeah...i think that's it -- and that new halal butcher. anyway, go there and order a ton of stuff. don't matter, it's all good. cross 15th and head into the pacific rim brewery. yep, you can bring in food. sit at the bar, ask for a pint of rat city IPA. think to yrself:
      thanks trouthole...

      thee trouthole
      si, uno mas

      1. re: thee trouthole

        Thanks for the tip. Just got back from La Carta De Oaxaca and the Mole did me right so I got my fix. White Center is a bit of a trek but maybe I'll get there.

        Now if only I could find a good Saturday morning Birria...

        1. re: thee trouthole

          This truck does have good food havent seen them there lately are they still around?Is there one in downtown burien.I like La Costa in the srip mall next to Grocery Outlet,was made by one of the brothers of the owners of Aztecas cept in an article said he wanted to make mexican the way he thought it should be.Much more original id say.

      2. La Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard.

        or take a trip.

        1 Reply
        1. re: shelley

          I second this place... wonderful mole!

        2. Check out Muy Macho in South Park for some great tacos and La Carta de Oaxaca for Mole and more. Burrito Loco does a decent mole, too.

          1. This place is the closest I've found to neighborhood restaurants in Mexico:

            La Botana
            8552 Greenwood Ave N

            3 Replies
            1. re: Colin

              Really? What do you get there that's good? I've been twice and it reminded me of fast food Mexican-all iceberg lettuce and gloppy refried beans.

              1. re: kiliki

                The Cochinita Pibil at La Botana is super delicious!

                BTW Hi Kiliki we know each other from the hiking forums....

                1. re: allisonw

                  It's not just super delicious, it's crazy good!

            2. I like El Gallito in the central district. The portions are good, the food is decent and they dont rush you out.

              Link: http://www.seattleweekly.com/food/res...

              3 Replies
              1. re: Michele

                I used to go to El Gallito with some regularity but last year had a bad experience involving a quesadilla and a cockroach and won't be back....

                I like, in this order:
                Agua Verde

                1. re: Susu

                  Cactus is quite mediocre... they have some authentic sounding foods... but the flavor development is not right, and the proportion of foods they carry just isn't like something in Mexico.

                  And finally my biggest pet peeve.... how the hell do you call yourself Cactus and not have one single dish on the menu that features.... cactus???

              2. If you ever get up to south Everett, there is a place off of Hwy 99 at Casino Road whose specialty is birria. I didn't know what it was, but saw it on their daily specials board every time I would go in for tacos. I finally ordered it a while back and now I have fairly frequent cravings for it. It's absolutely delicious. They make their own tortillas too, in fact I think the place is called "The Tortilla Factory", so you could take a fresh bag of those home with a pound of ground spicy pork too.

                1. At a friend's recommendation, we just tried Su Casa in Issaquah this weekend. Hand made tortillas, long cooked meats (variety) including barbacoa and their specialty "guisada" (stewed beef)?? The specialty was delicious!

                  Service was problematic on this particular night. But they were full and it is obviously a family-run operation.

                  Just a small little stand alone building in an odd part of Issaquah, but worth the try. This isn't no Azteca! Priced reasonably also.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ethereal

                    Alas, Su Casa is no more, and has been replaced by a Hawaiian BBQ joint.

                  2. My two favorites:

                    La Costa on SW 152nd St. in Burien--just good, basic Mexican food, mostly familiar dishes you see at all the local Mesican joints, but not tarted up for the gringos. The place has a nice, homey feel, and there are lots of regulars--always a mix of Latino families and Anglos from the neighborhood. The service is great, and many of the servers have been there for years. The margaritas are potent and the jukebox in the bar is full of Mexican pop tunes. But go on Friday nights before 8 pm and you'll hear a fabulous live Mariachi band!

                    Cafe Moose (aka SeƱor Moose) on Leary Ave. NW in Ballard--I've only been for breakfast but that was great. They have a surprisingly-extensive menu with stuff you don't usually see around this part of the world--Huevos Ahogados, Chilaquiles, Sopes con Huevos, Machaca... Always crowded on weekend mornings, but well worth the wait (and they keep your coffee cup full while you stand around, which helps). I hear their dinners are very good, too--gotta try that soon.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: MsMaryMc

                      I second Senor Moose! Very good, very authentic.

                      1. re: trix2957

                        A hearty third for Senior Moose.
                        Tacos do papa - wow
                        App of Cucumber and Jicama with lime
                        whatever the man is excited about that day - always a treat

                    2. Lived in SD and LA as well. It's tough if not impossible to find good Mexican in Seattle and the trucks are the closest you'll get. The one in White Center is good, another good one off of 148th out near Redmond if you can believe it. Otherwise, good luck. La Carta de Oaxaca is ok and better than any of the other options listed. Really tough...

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Boomer1

                        Don't know why theres not more of those trucks around somebody could do pretty well.Now that I think of it theres a truck behind the doughnut shop next door to the old K-mart in downtown Renton.
                        Mabye I need to buy a truck and start selling tacos mabye I could sell mexican food out of the trunk of my Toyota Tercel or mabye ill just go out to mexican sometime soon.

                        1. re: billjriv

                          There's actually a lot of taco trucks around (well, maybe not compared to LA). I've seen thread comparing various trucks on egullet and mouthfulsfood.com; I think the Stranger had an article on the best ones a while ago, so did the PI (linked below) and here is a blog devoted to the trucks.



                          1. re: christy319

                            That site got me jonesing,always got good food at the one I used to go to never thought there were alot around ill be looking for them more often.

                      2. Yeah - I know it's not Seattle but Barriga Llena in Federal Way is a great little tortaria. It's around 304th and Pacific Highway S. I know they're doing some remodeling, as a car recently drove through the business next door, but the have a truck outside serving up the goods until they finish.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: happa

                          barriga llena (full tummy) is the best authentic mexico-city-style torta in the area. before, it was good enough to justify the drive to federal way. but now they have a spot in seattle! 7815 Aurora Ave N. 206-782-1220; cash only.

                          i recommend the "espanola" (chrizo, egg, and cheese)

                          1. re: superdeluxe

                            While the menu is quite limited, this place is all you could ever want in a cheap counter experience. Authentic style (menu all in espanol), thoughtful, chic decor that salutes the D.F., and most important, great tortas. I wish there more places like this around.

                            1. re: equinoise

                              Ate lunch here yesterday. Vegetarians need not apply. At the recommendation of the staff, I had the house special - the "Barrigona." Fried, breaded steak. Pork leg. Chorizo. "Sausage" (more like a hot dog). Onions. Avacodo. Cheese. All this put on white bread roll and toasted like a panini. Yes - this would make Homer Simpson drool (all that is missing is a fried egg).

                              Even though I am a carnivore of the highest order, this did seems like a little much. I was, however, surprised. Each bite came with a different taste of meat. The meat itself seemed like pretty good quality - even the "sausage." The salsa they give you makes the sandwich, IMHO - it is a smoky salsa made with dried chilis - almost like an enchilada sauce.

                              I wouldn't go too far out of my way to visit this place - it is, after all, a sandwich place. I will go 15+ miles out of my way to try a taco, but I couldn't see myself doing that for a torta. If you are into sandwiches, though, try this. I will go again and try some of the other choices - some with slightly less meat than what I initially chose. A very welcome addition to the neighborhood - unique, tasty, and friendly.

                              On a final note, if this place doesn't do well, the owners could have a second career in "branding" - the logo and menus are extremely well done.

                        2. Senor Moose is a good bet (for lunch or dinner), as is the new taco truck just north of the Ballard Bridge.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: prosthete

                            Is this the Gorditos Too truck, associated with the popular Greenwood purveyor of pillow-sized burritos? 1521 NW 50th St at15th Ave NW? The location sounds the same.

                            1. re: equinoise

                              Same location, but not Gorditos Too, which has sadly disappeared. They had the *best* tacos.

                              1. re: jaydeflix

                                Cruising around White Center and Burien today, I came upon Taqueria La Estacion. This place is phenomenal and raises the bar for cheap mexican in the area. It has assumed the digs of what appears to have been a Taco Bell. I was immediately drawn in by the smell of whole chickens grilling over a large setup outside. The clientele was all hispanic, and the place full. Having already downed two tacos from La Fondita No. 2, plus a pupusa, I could only manage the barometer order: dos tacos, one asada, one carnitas. The tacos ($1.25) were stunning, with a judicious dollop of pico de gallo and each of the meats carrying enough flavor on its own to render salsas extraneous. But omitting those would be a mistake: the roja was bright and layered with the subtle smoke of toasted chile, and the verde of the virtually creamy type served by Rancho Bravo but perhaps even smoother, the kind that suggests avocado but somehow doesn't include it.

                                Aside from tacos, the deep menu includes tortas, burritos, mullitas, huaraches, the freshly grilled pollo asado mentioned above, a herculean looking parrillada mixed grill platter for two served with cactus. The advertised specials birria des and tinga looked especially tasty. There are other white sheets printed with several other items hanging beneath the regular menu, e.g. "orden de tacos dorados". Aguas frescas are served along with beer and Jarritos.

                                The only taqueria I have tried that comes close in this price range is Muy Macho, but the variety and quality at La Estacion seems unparalleled. 14820 Ambaum Blvd SW (between 148th St & 149th St) Burien

                                1. re: equinoise

                                  It's taken me this long, but I finally tried Taqueria La Estacion in Burien this afternoon. Everything equinoise says is true--killer tacos, so full of flavor! I've paid many times the price for meals that didn't come close. It's not going to be that long before my next visit.

                          2. El Puerco Lloron - The Crying Pig - in the Pike Place Market. My hair dresser is from Mexico and he agrees this is one of the most authentic Mexican places in Seattle. Also Malena's Taco Shop - they have MUCH more than tacos - on Queen Anne is run by a brother/sister team from Mexico; their food is pretty good too. And they are sweet people. Here is text from one patron I saw online: Malena's, located in a small strip in a residential part of Queen Anne, will please everyone in the family. It's helf-concious, but not sparse; it's authentic, but not puritanical. And, of course, it tastes great.
                            On my visit, I had the veggie burrito ($7). It was a rainy day, but with laughter from the staff and the Mexican radio buzzing, staring out at the drizzle was no big deal. And the food was warm and lovely. Even though I was on my own that day, a generous serving of salsa and chips was provided. Salsa was smooth and creamy, with a pleasantly soupy consistency.

                            The veggie burrito was also excellent. The tortilla was pleasantly crispy and the ingredients were fresh. Rice was made to perfection, and the vegetables complemented each other wonderfully.

                            Complaints? Two, and minor. The onion provided a little too much "kick" on some bites. Also, I had to re-order my Coke because the servers, while very friendly, are not all fully fluent. And, of course, this is unlikely to please those looking for flavors they've never experienced before.

                            Overall, though, Malena's is a great little place and provides a warm splash of flavor on a grey Seattle day - or a sunny one, for that matter.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: vicsailgarden

                              I'm partial to El Sabor up on 153rd and Aurora. Try the mulitas, yuhhhmmmm!!

                              1. re: vicsailgarden

                                There's a Malena's in Ballard, as well, but no table service, unless things have changed in the last month or so. Their food is good, quick, and cheap (although a little more expensive than some taco trucks). I usually have tacos, but everything I've tried has been good. It's not mind-blowing food by any stretch, just consistently good.

                                1. re: kkbriggs

                                  Glad to see vicsailgarden, above, listing the two Seattle places that satisfy my jones for lunches to take me back to El Paso. Nuttin fancy, probly Uncle Ben's, but does the job, and without glops of cheezy...

                                2. re: vicsailgarden

                                  I've never been disappointed by El Puerco Lloron. In good weather there is even outdoor seating. It can get pretty busy on a weekday lunch hour. Great freshly made tortillas and I love the soggy rellenos with rice and frijoles.

                                3. There is a great place in Issaquah that is very LA Mexican. It is behind the Denny's, and is called Taqueria La Venadita. It looks like it is closed, but it isnt. It is similar food to the Taco trucks, and just as cheap. Probably the truest form of LA Mexican your going to find is on the Taco trucks or this place. The food is great. La Cocina Del Puerco in Bellevue is really authentic. The Asada is amazing. Traditional Mexico City Mexican food.

                                  I just wish I could find some true Tex/Mex, Houston style.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: jerryjones

                                    Jerry- Take it from a fellow (ex) Houstonian, it's not going to happen. I had some chicharones breakfast tacos at Villa Arcos the last time I was down that made me want to sell my ticket back to Seattle!

                                    But, I will say I have found something kinda if you squint close to Houston-style taqueria, which is Taqueria Tequila in Greenwood (85th maybe 1/2 mile W of Greenwood Ave). Sadly, based on your recs, may be a haul for you, but I think it's the real deal; if you know Taqueria la Tapatia in Houston, this is maybe like 80% as good.

                                    1. re: jerryjones

                                      I second Tanqueria La Venadita. One of the best things about working in Issaquah.

                                      1. re: janedoe67

                                        I tried this place on Friday. It's OK, nothing special. Basically standard taco truck fare, one-red-and-one-green-salsa, horchata-and-tamardino.

                                      1. The best mole that I've had anywhere in entire country is from La Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard.

                                        Otherwise, the taco bus located off of Ranier called Tacos Asadero is fantastic!!!

                                        1. I don't know if it's what you are looking for but I really enjoy Taqueria El Rinconsito


                                          El Rinconsito Bellevue
                                          2255 140th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98005

                                          1. i hate to hate on anybody thats trying something different than tex mex, but ive been to Senor Moose like 5 times and have come to the conclusion that its kind of bad. not that flavorful, unless charcoal is a flavor. i DO love the salsa sampler with the chips, but overall...im going across the street to Carta Oaxaca. no comaprison for me.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: smellymel

                                              The Moose is a "take a chance" joint. Once and a while, something just shines-out.
                                              La Carta is certainly more consistent, but you won't find tacos de papas there. (OMG)

                                              1. re: smellymel

                                                We just tried La Carta de Oaxaca recently... and don't really need to ever go back. The food was just OK and over priced. Everyone raves about their mole, but we found it to be one dimensional and not particularly flavorful, while the pork under the mole was dry and not very tender.

                                                I'm not saying you'll be able to find a better mole in Seattle, I'm just saying it didn't live up to the hype I keep hearing.

                                              2. I love the El Camion truck on 1st Ave. South past the stadiums. Probably the best carnitas taco I've ever had and the tamales are amazing. Everything's great and cheap. Highly, highly recommended.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: yoyo11

                                                  El Camion is the place up by Home Depot on Aurora isn't it?

                                                  I've seen some taco truck down on 1st by the Krispy Kreme, but it was called Tacos Gol (or something)

                                                  1. re: GreenYoshi

                                                    Oh El Camion at Home Depot is fantastic. A larger selection and higher quality than at your average taco truck.

                                                    1. re: christy319

                                                      I guess I could have done a bit of rudimentary research (ie googling "El Camion")...

                                                      Apparently, they now have a place in Sodo. Cool.

                                                      1. re: GreenYoshi

                                                        Yep, think it opened a couple of months ago. Never been to the one on Aurora but I can definitely vouch for the SoDo location. I think I'm addicted actually.

                                                2. An El Paso veteran, I concur with criminal, hereabouts. It's only slightly confusing that El Paso Mex is, itself, mostly criminal, but, what of that?
                                                  When I get a hanker for that special gustatory miscreance, especially miscreant at this latitude, it's often Puerco Lloron (a little yawning here, forgive me, but I do go for the carne asada and a dozen tortilllas), or even (hold yer breath) Taqueria Guaymas (have the ceviche), Senor (sketchy, but elaborately surprising) Moose, or Malena's. Closest I've come is probably Cocina Esperanza (in far Ballard), and, on a good day, Senor Moose. I heard the voce of God when I ate tacos de papas there (ymmv, of course).

                                                  1. Seattle Mexican = fail!

                                                    1. HANDS DOWN, the best Mexi food in Seattle is on the white schoolbus on rainier avenue, Tacos El Asadero. The experience is a little strange at first, until you realize it's perfectly authentic. I cannot emphasize enough how delicious it is. Just go...your mouth will thank you.

                                                      Tacos El Asadero
                                                      3517 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98127

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: larapapa

                                                        Just went to Tacos El Asadero for the first time yesterday. I'm not sure if it's a good or bad thing it's so far from my home. I think I'd eat there everyday. The carnitas were amazing. I've never been to Mexico, but it's definitely the best taco I've ever had. Also tried the pork tamale, also delicious. It's 6 am and I'm already wishing I had some more of those tacos.

                                                        Tacos El Asadero
                                                        4200 S Othello St, Seattle, WA 98118

                                                      2. OK, this reply is a few years late but I can't believe no one on this site has mentioned the place yet. You want to go to El Estacion in Burien: 148-20 Ambaum Blvd SW. Can't miss it - it's brightly painted and they have parking. Their LAMB BIRRIA is mighty tasty, as are their other offerings, and their flan is good and dense, and they have beer too. It's a small spot and gets crowded on weekends. You order at the counter and someone brings it to your table soon enough. The tortilla chips and tomatillo dip are fresh and the place is very clean. Also, it's certainly a good sign when the place is full of Mexican families.

                                                        1. I stand corrected. My previous rave post is about a place that is indeed included here, though not as "El Estacion." (Should know better than to mess up the spelling, native Spanish speaker that I am.)

                                                          Taqueria La Estacion
                                                          14820 Ambaum Blvd SW, Burien, WA 98166

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: tartlette

                                                            I'm a fan of Taqueria La Estacion, too--and it cracks me up that their building is clearly an old Taco Bell. That's an evolution I heartily approve of!

                                                            Taqueria La Estacion
                                                            14820 Ambaum Blvd SW, Burien, WA 98166

                                                            1. re: tartlette

                                                              Perhaps some of you will find it useful to know that there is now a second Taqueria La Estacion on Pacific Hwy S just south of 260th Street. Look for the very bright yellow building on the east side of the street (I drove past it today, but didn't have the chance to go inside).

                                                            2. The Rancho Bravo taco truck in Wallingford is my go-to Mexican in this town -- if you go, I recommend the al pastor tacos. Tasty red fat. I hear they have an actual sit-down location in Capital Hill now, too.


                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Sweet Onion

                                                                And another truck at 105th and Greenwood, in the 76 lot. I love their veggie burritos. They're completely gringo--they have grilled mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, etc--but they are too tasty for me to care about authenticity.

                                                                1. re: Sweet Onion

                                                                  This is such a long, old threat, these may have already made an appearance...I know Rancho Bravo gets a lot of love here and elsewhere, I have a hard time seeing it. It's OK, and by taco truck standards, they have some pretty A+ locations. In CapHill, they took over the old KFC on Pine, and have a sit-down (but it's still kind of like a truck).

                                                                  If we're reviewing trucks, I like El Asadero (Rainier / Lucile), which of course gets lots of love here and elsewhere and is usually great (though occasionally inconsistent). They would have the best torta in town if it weren't for Barriga Llena. Barriga also has a truck, but it doesn't circulate normally, you see it at events sometimes.

                                                                  2 other good trucks -- I really like El Camion -- I usually go to the SoDo location (1st between Alaska & Lander), who has a deluxe parking lot location; they also have a location in Ballard somewhere, and I think also way up north Aurora. And the truck that sits near the Starbucks on Northgate just across I-5 from Northgate Mall.

                                                                  On the non-truck side- I had a pretty good meal at El Rinconcito the other day; nothing I'd drive across town for, but very conveniently next to the airport on 99 (just north of 405).

                                                                  El Rinconcito
                                                                  202 State Ave, Marysville, WA 98270

                                                                  Barriga Llena
                                                                  , Seattle, WA 98101