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Please help a sad girl find some Mexican food in Seattle

First off, let me say how much I love Seattle. Have lived here for a year this time and have moved all over for my whole life. As far as good Mexican food; I grew up in southern California and later lived in San Diego (the ultimate for taco shops), also 6 years in and around Dallas/Austin/Houston. I love Seattle and have had some pretty amazing food here already.

The big issue is Mexican food. I love all kinds and types as long as it is good. Taco shops and trucks and restaurants and making it from scratch at home (really all latin food for that matter). I am having a BIG problem with reviews online, blogs and recommendations from friends on where to try. I have not had anything past a food truck by more work that has pretty tolerable pastor and good hot sauce. Maybe the first bite or 2 seem ok but in the end just no satisfaction.

Once again, I love Seattle but I would really prefer to not get replies from people who are from Seattle. Love you but it's just not gonna work in this category. I have spent a good amount of money over this year trying places all over town whenever I can with barely more than maybe 2 places where I will only get 1 item or 2 because I have tried other things and been dissapointed. I can't believe human beings actually eat and spend their hard earned money at Azteca (beans out of a can and packet ground beef taco seasoning are so much more satisfying). It's funny how when you live in So Cal or Texas or even Denver the crappier mexican places seem so horrible. I was boycotting On the Border in Texas for how terrible and pre-fab the food is; now I would go there constantly.

BTW I have found a couple of latin/cuban-ish places (Mojito and Paseo) that I feel are very tasty and having spent a few different vacations for family around Miami that was a relief. Any others in that category would be appreciated as well.

I don't know if this sounds snobby but I don't care. I will try almost anywhere and drive for it too. Nice expensive restaurant all of the way down to bathroom-size kitchen where the cook is pouring sweat and pulling meat out of 5 gallon bucket to throw on the grill (that may be the best of all actually). I observe and weigh my options with possible stomach illness. Will pretty much always still eat it :) so shady area suggestions are welcome too.

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  1. El Camion is the only place in Seattle that I've found to be close to what you are looking for. The spicy pork is very good as our the Chicken Mole tamales. I grew up in San Francisco area and then lived in Southern CA for 4.5 years so I know what you want but there really isn't much up here that has that. Rolled Tacos, Carne Asada Burritos, Al Pastor etc.

    1. No one on Chowhound is talking about Azteca as an example of local mexican food*. No one is exhalting Mexican places that cover food in orange cheese and sour cream.

      Not sure what places you're going to, or what Seattle "foodies" you're getting advice from, but it seems that you are doing it wrong...

      As insulted as I am about your generailzations about Seattle natives, I'll throw out El Paisano in White Center, the place in the back of La Consupo in Greenwood (not the actual Mexican restaurant down the street), and Taqueria La Vendita in Issaquah as places that you're not going to hear a lot about on "Yelp", but that would be worth the effort.

      *Actually I may have one time over a birria dish that they do as a diamond in the rough showing that most any restaurant has one or two menu items that make is Chow-worthy.

      1 Reply
      1. re: GreenYoshi

        FWIW we went to Conasupo last year on our way through town and it was decent, but I think the trick is to go when they do barbacoa which is on Sundays per local Hound gastrognome: http://www.thegastrognome.com/2011/11...

      2. Al pastor is difficult to find up here.

        My fallback is carnitas. Taqueria El Rinconsito (sp?), which is a small local chain, does a pretty good job.

        3 Replies
        1. re: dave_c

          Many carnicerias sell 'al pastor', but it isn't the true gyro kind. Rather it's a mix of bite size pieces of pork, onions, pineapple, and chiles. Heat level varies. It's meant to be 'stir fried'. Not a bad item, though I prefer the thin sliced 'adobada'. I also like trying their moronga (blood sausage).

          1. re: dave_c

            Tacos Chukis on Capitol Hill does pretty decent tacos al pastor, turning on a spit with pina. It's really the thing to get there, I think.

          2. I would think that you you know about it, but have you tried http://www.lacartadeoaxaca.com/index.... ?

            I'm from Denver and Houston, and although it was different from the Mexican in both places, the black mole was one of the best things I've ever eaten. I don't remember what my sister had, but it was great too. And the lime sodas on a hot day were great!

            1. Try Santa Fe resto in a non-descript strip mall on 124th in Kirkland. It's decent. Not what I got when I lived in Tucson, but pretty darned good!

              5 Replies
              1. re: firecracker

                Speaking as another Tucsonan transplant to Seattle... really good Sonoran Mexican has been hard to find. My biggest complaint is the lack of decent flour tortillas... but even good food barring the tortillas is pretty spare.

                I've had good but not great food at El Puerco Lloron, and at the carniceria-in-a-bus on Rainier a couple blocks north of Alaska.

                I haven't tried (or even heard of) the places GreenYoshi mentions above, so they may also be worth checking out.

                1. re: Booklegger451

                  I've given up on finding good flour tortillas, Bootlegger. I also don't find many tamales to my liking. Did discover some decent chicken, pork and beef tamales at Silvana Meats about an hour north of town. Masa is made by a Mexican lady and you can tell she puts some love into them. No green corn tamales, though and they're usually my fave.

                  1. re: firecracker

                    I wonder why the heck it should be so hard to find decent flour tortillas here... maybe we need to import a Tucsonan abuela to come up and teach a class.

                    1. re: Booklegger451

                      I'm pretty happy with flour tortillas that I get a Trader Joes.

                  2. re: Booklegger451

                    Central Market (Shoreline) has a flour tortilla machine, and good tortillas (at least when fresh).

                2. i like Julianito's for san diego mexican food.
                  http://www.julianitosmexicanfood.com/
                  it's all the way in kent. oh, the rolled tacos!
                  25415 104th Ave SE
                  Kent, WA 98030

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: elicia

                    Thanks! I haven't had a chile relleno burrito since I lived in SD and frequented El Cuervo. I really missed them.

                    1. re: elicia

                      I definitely would like to thank you for this suggestion. We stopped by while in that part of town this weekend. It was fantastic. Carne asada fries and California burrito were our favorite things since living here. I'm down for all types of mexican even tex-mex if it tastes good; so to have some SD style and have it be pretty great was wonderful. Will be going back - Thanks again

                      1. re: elicia

                        I have been to Julianito's and was underwhelmed. I didn't try the rolled tacos, but I did try the Carne Asada fries.

                        I associate Carne Asada with marinated, grilled meat with lots of flavor. The Carne Asada at Julianito's seemed didn't seem either marinated or grilled, it seemed to be just unseasoned strips of beef quickly sauteed in a pan, then tossed with some sour cream and unremarkable yellow cheese. Very bland.

                        The whole idea of popping what is essentially a mound of nacho toppings over a bunch of salty french fries is odd enough, but I can imagine it semi-working if the toppings at least have some flavor. We did our best to spice it up with their little plastic tubs of salsa, but it was rather sad stuff, and I'd be surprised if the original poster's sadness would evaporate at Julianito's.

                        1. re: elicia

                          Do you know if they have the spicy carrots that are ubiquitous in San Diego taquerias? I miss those.

                        2. I lived in Dallas for two years and never did find good Mexican - I found TexMex too greasy and all the Taco Trucks wouldn't stay put moving around to construction sites. Some gas station tacos were okay. My favorite place is a taco truck in Wenatchee where I grew up. I can't say I've found good Mexican in Seattle.

                          But.....this is good made to order El Salvadorian that might fill some of the gap:
                          http://www.yelp.com/biz/guanacos-taco...

                          People love El Camion but I find the meat tastes like gas, but then again we grill at home with charcoal 3-4 times a week in summer so I'm extra picky about gas grilled food. Good luck.

                          1. Try this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/709729

                            If the OP pines for On The Border, I can't imagine where she has been eating. I fully agree that Azteca is excreable, but can't understand how she could have found her way there by subscribing to the same channels that led her to Paseo. Of course the Mexican food here will generally not match what is available in So Cal or Texas (Denver, ehhhhh, not so sure). A good rule of thumb for all SEA restaurant recommendations: consider the experience and taste of your source, not just their origins.

                            1. If you're willing to drive a bit, check out La Tarasca in Centralia. They serve authentic, Michoacan style dishes. It may not be So. Cal or TexMex, but I think it's the best Mexican one can find in our region. Meals start with spicy pickled carrots (no chips & salsa here) and their house made corn tortillas served with most entrees are the best I've ever eaten.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: LemonyRoux

                                La Tarasca is also mentioned in the link I provided above. Just be warned that they don't always answer their phone even if they are open. Missed a chance to dine there in June because I called ahead and got no answer. Had a lame meal in town and drove by on the way out. Lo and behold they were open!

                                1. re: LemonyRoux

                                  La Tarasca's good, but I've been hitting up Taqueria Juquilita down there recently. Love it more than I loved La Tarasca.

                                  1. re: GreenYoshi

                                    We've been to Juquilita a couple times and thought it was decent to good. Partly why I was so keen to compare with Tarasca which alas was not to be. Maybe in October!

                                2. Lots of good suggestions already.

                                  Also for something closer to Seattle:
                                  El puerco lloron in Pike Place
                                  La cocina del puerco in Bellevue (owned by the same people above?)
                                  La carta de Oaxaca in Ballard
                                  The Aca Las Tortas chain in Bothell/Lynnwood.

                                  In terms of trucks, I really like Taqueria el asadero on Rainier and Taqueria los chilangos in Bellevue. Also, if heading down to Centralia for La Tarasca as someone had suggested, there's an excellent truck by the freeway exit at the Old Nisqually exit. But I seem to miss their open hours every time.

                                  Yeah, stay away from the Aztecas, Las Margaritas, and Matadors.

                                  1. Fogon is also good. They make their own corn tortillas and have great service and a nice décor. Really good food as well.
                                    http://fogonseattle.com/index.html

                                    1. I moved here from San Diego 7 years ago and have yet to find any edible SoCal style Mexican. If you find anything even slightly resembling a fish taco let me know.

                                      1. When I moved here from southern California, I had the same question, and everybody kept telling me that Mama's Mexican Kitchen in Belltown was the best Mexican food around. I actually went there three times, thinking that I must have just ordered the wrong thing, or they were having a bad night...because I didn't see how anybody could call that drek they were serving even edible, much less the best in town. I finally concluded two things: 1) No, Mama's food really does suck; and 2), A lot of Seattle locals don't know sh*t about good Mexican food. So, I totally understand you wanting to limit your replies to the transplants here.

                                        My favorite place in Seattle proper for "authentic" (as opposed to the often good but somewhat gringo-fied food you get in a lot of California Mexican restaurants) is Senior Moose in Ballard. La Carta de Oaxaca is also pretty good.

                                        If you want to make a short trip down to the south end--mainly White Center and Burien--where a large percentage of the local Latino folks actually live, you'll find a lot of good choices. I'm particularly fond of Taqueria la Estacion in Burien--both for the great tacos and the delicious irony of a real-deal taco stand being located in an old Taco Bell building. Across the street you'll find Salva Mex, which is more Salvadoran than Mexican, but the pupusas and the curtido are excellent, and dirt cheap. And for that great Mexican food that's tarted up just a bit for the gringo tastes, like you had at a thousand Mexican restaurants in SoCal, my hands-down favorite is La Costa in Burien. It's a really friendly place, great service, potent margaritas, and the food is very, very good. Friday nights they have a kick-ass mariachi band. We go there almost every week. In southern California, La Costa would be a solid but middle-of-the-pack choice; hereabouts, it's one of the best. You learn to appreciate that where you can find it.

                                        9 Replies
                                        1. re: MsMaryMc

                                          I agree with MsMaryMc about Senor Moose and La Carta. Most people here don't understand Tex Mex isn't Mexican. But many do. Hence the popularity of Senor Moose and La Carta. I also highly recommend the tamales at Los Hernandez in Union Gap. Worth the trip in the late spring for Yakima Valley asparagus tamales. They also ship.

                                          1. re: MsMaryMc

                                            Who the heck are these people who recommend Mama's as good Mexican food?!?!

                                            And what reason did you all have for listening to them?

                                            1. re: GreenYoshi

                                              I've heard it, too. Some people love Mama's, which I don't understand. At. All.

                                              1. re: akq

                                                And Mama's at least used to get named "Best Mexican Restaurant" every year in Seattle Weekly's Best Of... issue. That's where I became convinced that it wasn't just a problem with a few of the people I'd met when I first moved here--there were a whole lot of people in Seattle with lousy taste in Mexican food.

                                            2. re: MsMaryMc

                                              OMG, yes, Mama's sucks ass. When I moved from LA I always heard how great it was. NOT. Definintely a fan of La Costa and Taqueria La Estacion. There's a hugely popular taco bus in White Center called Taqueria La Fondita. Even though it's in my area I'e yet to go. No one's ever in the mood to eat from a bus :|

                                              Finally, I've had great food AND drink from a fairly new place in Georgetown called Fonda la Catrina. Maybe give them a try?

                                              1. re: biankat

                                                My theory on Mama's is that it's a nostalgia thing. We all remember it from drunken nights at the Croc when we were in our 20s. I have friends that have moved away that still want to eat at Mama's when they come back (I have refused to go even for nostalgia reasons after they served me a sope that was still frozen in the middle about 10 years ago).

                                                1. re: biankat

                                                  I've got to try Fonda la Catrina--I keep hearing how good it is. I've been to the Taqueria La Fondita bus, and it's excellent--and so is the roasted corn place across the parking lot.

                                                  1. re: MsMaryMc

                                                    +1 on La Fondita.... it's only a few miles from my house, so I can get take-out and take it home. Extra pickled carrots with my lengua tacos please.:)

                                                    1. re: gingershelley

                                                      I received another strong recent endorsement for Fonda La Catrina in G-town, including the fact that hand-made tortillas are used there. Is that the case with the La Fondita truck as well?

                                              2. For authentic, non-taco truck food, I would second Señor Moose & La Carta de Oaxaca, but the best mexican I've had lately has been at Fonda La Catrina in Georgetown. Really fantastic food there! Also, El Balcon in Bremerton has pretty great Mexican/Salvadoran if you ever find yourself over there.

                                                As for Tex-Mex, I'm not sure there are any especially good versions of that here. To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of that style anyway, but I usually find Matador to be passable and they have great drinks.

                                                1. I am certainly no expert in Mexican food, but some of my favs are (all were recommended by ppl from Texas, California, etc.):

                                                  El Sabor De Oaxaca in Burien

                                                  Taquería Tequila Authentic Mexican Food in Greenwood (beans are excellent)

                                                  El Camino in Fremont (not el Camion in Ballard & Home Depot)

                                                  Ramirez Mexican Store in Olympia

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: akq

                                                    I absolutely love El Sabor de Oaxaca (also calles El Tio, I think). Great soups and tlayudas. I also like their mole tamales. They don't back off on spices/flavors. Better Oaxacan than La Carta IMO.

                                                    Taqueria la Estacion is solid as well.

                                                    La Conasupo is fantastic on Sundays when they have the barbacoa.

                                                    Haven't had anything else decent at Poquitos, but their torta ahogada is pretty darn good. Their fish tacos are crap and their guacamole is $9.

                                                    Honestly, you just need to go north or south to get better Mexican food. Same is the case for Korean. Seattle proper just doesn't have the best options. Go where the people live.

                                                    FWIW I think El Camion is horribly over-rated. I get the sense that Seattlites attach themselves to something early on and refuse to admit it's not all that (hear me, Top Pot?). Or they've never had a better option? El Camion would be on the lower rung of taco trucks in LA. Even West LA :) Not that we should be comparing Seattle and LA. That's simply not fair, but it's just not that good.

                                                    I dig Agua Verde. It's different and sometimes I'm in the mood for it.

                                                    1. re: tykapfh

                                                      "Honestly, you just need to go north or south to get better Mexican food"

                                                      tykapfh, could you be more specific for us out of towners? TIA.

                                                      1. re: grayelf

                                                        South of Seattle and little Northwest of the airport is Burien. IMO there are a number of good mexican options there including la Estacion and El Sabor de Oaxaca I stated above.

                                                        1. re: tykapfh

                                                          Thanks for clarifying re Burien. V. helpful for us non locals, and duly noted.

                                                          1. re: grayelf

                                                            To echo tykapfh,

                                                            I live just North of Burien at the South end of West Seattle penninsula, and agree, the mexican and central american options in Burien are great.

                                                            To point out also for any visitors who want to make a go of this option, this is an easy straight-shot trip for anyone coming from DT Seattle (well, except for the curves from the construction detours) - 12 minutes when not rush hour, as much as 30+ when it is. Take the viaduct South, rather than I-5,(which gets you our BEST view of the waterfront outside of the Great Wheel if you get on N side of DT so you go the length of the risen section on it), and follow that S across the 1st ave S. bridge, stay forward as it becomes the 509 freeway, and you will be in Burien in about 7 more minutes. Clearly signed exits. It's a cute little town, easily walkable.

                                                            You could go to Full Tilt in White Center (about 1/2 way back to DT, exit just before you get back to 1st Ave S bridge) on the way back for some of our best cities ice cream too.

                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                      Love the location and the view, and the kayaks The food...less so. It's not really bad, just not great.

                                                      1. re: MsMaryMc

                                                        Have you tried their bacalao? I think that's really good, and I enjoy their salsas very much.

                                                    2. Mr. Villa in Lake City was great last year and we'll be revisiting soon.

                                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/866369

                                                      We lived many years in SF so, while not SoCal, we became accustomed to really good Mexican food. This place more than measured up.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                        We've been here twice in a little over a week and everything's been great. Except for the tortillas, everything is made from scratch.

                                                      2. a_brown, your post now has 43 replies over the past 17 days. Have you discovered anything that meets your standards, after all the commentary? Have you become less sad?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Gizmo56

                                                          I just noticed that this was OPs first post on CH. S/he's probably madly going from place to place checking things out. There's not been a place on the planet where - so far - CHs have failed to help me find the best chow.

                                                        2. On Saturday, drive north to , yes, Marysville. On 3rd Street, just west of Oosterwyk's there is a little mercado called Pueblo Viejo. Order 1/2 lb of carnitas, some salsa verde, a lime, and a dozen tortillas. You can get good pan dulce there too.

                                                          As Mexican as it gets in western Washington.

                                                          1. I think the most authentic place I have tried in Seattle is Señor Moose (stupid name notwithstanding). La Carta de Oaxaca is very respectable and focuses on Oaxacan specialities. Taqueria El Caminon opened El Camion al Dentro in Ballard. That is pretty solid. I also really enjoy Carniceria El Paisano in White Center (mostly for tamales and chicharones as it is first and foremost a carniceria). I have not tried the Rostiteria y Cocina El Paisano next door but I read it was opened by the same owners.

                                                            1. Rostiteria y Cocina El Paisano is excellent.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: jchulley

                                                                Do any of these locations have green corn tamales? I haven't found any locally at all and they were my faves when I lived in Tucson.

                                                                1. re: firecracker

                                                                  I feel like green corn tamales are a specifically Arizona (and maybe even Tucson) sort of thing. I've never seen'em out side of Tucson.

                                                                  1. re: GreenYoshi

                                                                    There is a landmark Mexican restaurant on Western Avenue in Los Angeles that serves justifiably renowned green corn tamales and, during a limited season, blue corn tamales.

                                                                    If firecracker's urge becomes overwhelming, El Cholo ships:

                                                                    http://elcholo.securetree.com/Product...

                                                                    1. re: Gizmo56

                                                                      Thanks, Gizmo! I also found a place in Tucson that ships them. They are wonderful if well made!

                                                                      1. re: firecracker

                                                                        I completely agree...they are sublime.

                                                              2. Taqueria Venadita in Issaquah gets an A from me.

                                                                1. Love the atmosphere and the food at La Carta de Oaxaca! Their take on el pastor is unexpected, but delicious.

                                                                  1. I know your problem. I really do. I understand. I am a native Texan moving to Seattle this upcoming June. I think the only way to fix this is to just learn how to make really good food (that you're wanting) at home. I can make some really awesome texmex, and even cheapo (but freaking delicious) Whataburger breakfast taquitos if that is what you're wanting. Message me this summer if you think about it, you can join my family for dinner! Restaurant style mexican rice (with peas and carrots), Borracho beans, empanadas, cheese enchiladas, tostadas, etc etc.

                                                                    The only place I've found that has good tacos is the place in downtown Burien. Get the picadillo tacos. But whatever you do, do NOT order the enchiladas. They are disgusting. Those tacos though, so good.

                                                                    14 Replies
                                                                    1. re: jauxwee

                                                                      I can't address "Tex-Mex" but as you can tell from this thread there's lot of great and "authentic" Mexican food in Seattle. And I'm from areas with large Mexican-American populations. Which ones have you tried that you didn't like?

                                                                      ETA: I just saw that this is your first post. Welcome to CH!

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        Honestly, I've only tried LaCosta, and that was on a high-reccommendation from a native Texan who has lived in the greater Seattle area (yakima, edmonds, burien) for the past 4 years. I do love me some good tacos (corn tortilla, barbacoa, cabbage, maybe some onion and cilantro) but my favorite is great enchiladas. When I am pregnant again, this is going to be a really tough transition for me, to not have cheap, easily accessible tex-mex. It was the only food that got me through my first trimester! I'm sure I'll find something up there that will appease my taste. But for now, I'm probably just going to binge on chowder and bahn mi's.

                                                                        1. re: jauxwee

                                                                          Perhaps you can try some places actually in Seattle. And you may be on more solid ground to go for straightup Mexican rather than Tex-Mex. Or learn to cook your faves. That's what I did when I left SF for SW Oregon. I became a better cook cause I no longer had everything right in my own backyard. Best of luck to you - on eating and pregnancy :)

                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                            I have learned to cook a lot of things, and I'm adding more to my repertoire now that I know I'm moving to a Tex-mex barren wasteland. I'm not saying there isn't good authentic mexican food, I'm just saying that I prefer Tex-mex. :)

                                                                          2. re: jauxwee

                                                                            I quite like La Costa, but there are other places in that area for great tacos, too. Taqueria la Estacion http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/1/661542/... is in an old Taco Bell building on Ambaum in Burien--I love the irony of that, and the tacos are excellent. There's also a really good taco truck, Taqueria la Fondita http://visitwhitecenter.com/biz/taque... , up in White Center. They even have a roasted corn stand right across the parking lot. I usually go to one of those when I'm craving tacos.

                                                                            1. re: MsMaryMc

                                                                              Roasted corn....that sounds so awesome. Thanks for the recommendations! I've seen the old taco bell place you're speaking of. I'm going to have to try all of these places by myself since my husband doesn't trust Seattleites(sp?) to know what they are talking about lol. But if I tell him it's good, he'll try it then.

                                                                            2. re: jauxwee

                                                                              Somebody already mentioned this, but Senor Moose in Ballard has great enchiladas, among other things.

                                                                              They serve them all day long. While I am not pregnant, I did once have a ranging hangover that demanded an enchilada at 8am, and they came through for me! I prefer their red sauce which has a little kick (but not too much, I'm a wuss).

                                                                              1. re: strawberryblondie

                                                                                Do they also have a basic cheese/white/chili sauce option? I'll look into Senor Moose, I've seen them mentioned a few times around here...

                                                                                1. re: jauxwee

                                                                                  In all the states I've lived in (or even visiting Mexico) I have never gotten a basic white cheese sauce on top of a enchilada at a true mexican place - sounds yummy though. Is that really considered authentic? I believe the sauce choices were green or red. The enchilada I got was chicken/cheese on the inside.

                                                                                  1. re: strawberryblondie

                                                                                    It is a bit more home-style than anything, I've found. The homelier the cooking, the more common it is, or at least, in the eastern side of Mexico. Generally speaking though, if we want to get really authentic, we'd all just be eating tamales, fajitas, tacos, chalupas. I don't think enchiladas are too authentic in general. Commonly, a red sauce is what will be found at most places for their enchiladas, but I do love a good chili sauce (chili, not chile) and I love white cheese sauce too. I think enchiladas are most commonly (around here at least) ground beef, cheese, or chicken. Sometimes you will find spinach enchiladas (which are awesome). Green sauce (suiza? verde..) are a little less common around here in Texas.

                                                                                    Here's another question - salsa related:
                                                                                    Is there anywhere that makes a avacado/verde salsa? It's a bit creamy, a little bit spicy, but nowhere near as spicy as a standard tomatillo or verde salsa.

                                                                                    1. re: strawberryblondie

                                                                                      I don't know if the white sauce is truly authentic Mexican. I've lived in L.A. and San Francisco, so that's my main point of reference. I just know that when it's done right, it's to die for! La Costa does a Pollo a la Crema dish, and sometimes, that's just the only thing that will do it for me. It's not an enchilada, it's sautéed strips of chicken breast and onions in a really rich, flavorful cream sauce, topped with Cotija cheese, and served with flour tortillas.

                                                                                      We've been regulars at La Costa for about 15 years. Back in the beginning, the clientele was at least half Latino, but these days it's been discovered by a lot more gringos. The food hasn't changed. The place was opened by one of the Ramos brothers who own the Azteca chain, and it's still run by his family. We got talking with the son of el patron one night, and he told us that after creating Azteca for American tastes, his dad started this place to make Mexican food the way *he* likes it. I just know that the food is great, the service is efficient and friendly, the margaritas are potent, and the mariachi band they usually have on Friday nights kicks ass.

                                                                                2. re: jauxwee

                                                                                  Have a look at Cucina Esperanza.
                                                                                  It's been a while, but I remember a good Mole and chile relleno and attractive specials.

                                                                                  Try Tacqueria Guymas for avocado salsa.

                                                                                  1. re: mrnelso

                                                                                    Shuddering a bit that we are not thinking enchiladas are authentic :-). Enchiladas rojas, verdes and suizas are some of the first things I ever ate in Mexico, lo those many years ago.

                                                                                    I am loving all the reccos that are coming out of the conversation, though. Some serious bookmarking happening here for this starved-for-any-remotely-resembling-Mexican-of-any-kind-Lotus-Lander, LOL!