I’ve been in Seattle for two days and, yes, both nights I went out for Mexican food. Not your run of the mill taqueria stuff (although I love that too). These are two hot Seattle spots, one relatively fresh on the scene and one well aged, and both were fantastic.
The first night I was out with the girls and we had a booth for 8 at our favorite haunt-Cactus in Madison Park. Serving Mexican and Southwestern food, this amazing place has been packed since it opened its doors back in 1990. I’ve been eating here ever since and have yet to find something on the menu I don’t like. Some of the highlights from last night were the rich and creamy butternut squash and goat cheese enchiladas, the overflowing seafood enchiladas, house made chicken tamales, a Navajo torta, and the ever-popular and always delicious green enchilada. We passed forks and bites across the table and tasted everything. Between sips of perfect margaritas and mojitos we were reminded why we keep coming back to this well run, cravable spot.
Night number two was in Ballard. We were three adults and three kids. We needed to eat early and do it at a place where we could all find something on the menu. We found it at La Carta de Oaxaca. I know Seattle locals have been loving this place for a while now but, it’s new to me. It’s been on my list for a long time, being my brother’s favorite neighborhood spot. I LOVED it! First, when chips come out hot from the fryer you know you’re off to a good start. These were crisp, light, salty, and lovely-you almost didn’t need the guacamole or six house made salsas (but, then again, those were perfection too). I ordered the halibut tacos-the best I’ve ever had. Sauteed halibut, cabbage, chipotle crema, and soft corn tortillas-three of them for $11, and I think that might have been the most expensive thing on the menu. The prices were very reasonable (especially compared to SF). My brother says he often over hears people ordering two and three dishes each because things are priced like tapas-I’d advise against it because you will be insanely full. They aren’t huge portions but, with food this well seasoned and fresh you don’t need monster sized plates. My brother had the Lamb Birria-stewed lamb with beans, rice, and warm tortillas-lamb tacos? Hello yum! My sister-in-law had the red chile enchiladas with a fried egg-not too spicy, not overly slathered in cheese, and really fragrant. I don’t think there was a visible crumb on any of our plates. Margaritas, beer, and even kid friendly portions made us all happy. I’ll be back here again and again.
I know-you think Seattle and expect salmon, fish and chips, and clam chowder. These days the Emerald City is making me think south of the border!