Mexican food in Seattle is often a hotly debated topic—namely, do folks up here in the Northwest even know what a great Mexican restaurant is? We think we do. Judging by the growing number of Mexican restaurants both casual and upscale, Seattleites love their beans and rice, their street tacos, their carne asada. But whether the best food is found at taco trucks or casual spots or in a trendy restaurant is still up in the air.
One of Capitol Hill’s several Mexican joints, Barrio is known for their bold, flavorful and often spicy cuisine. Barrio is popular for its superb tacos, which come with a plate of three that you can mix and match—pork belly, grilled flank steak, prawn, true cod, roasted beet and more. Barrio strikes an upscale Mexican chord so don’t expect rock bottom prices. If you’re seeking to experience one of Seattle’s best Mexican restaurants on a budget, hit up the happy hour. Barrio also prides itself on a great selection of cocktails, wine, and beer. The restaurant serves brunch on weekends.
Poquitos is another Mexican option in Capitol Hill that has a bustling happy hour and a tasty regular menu. You’ll spot favorites, including mix-and-match taco plates, enchiladas, and chile rellenos, as well as some more surprising menu items—roasted yam tacos and toasted grasshoppers among them. When Poquitos says traditional Mexican, they mean it in a different sort of way than other restaurants. A way that involves toasted grasshoppers. Brunch is also available on weekends.
Senor Moose Café is laid back and casual with colorful tablecloths and a collection of small statues and paintings as décor. Senor Moose also serves up some mean Mexican food and aims to be authentic. The restaurant is small and intimate, and during busier times wait times can be a little long. For fans of the moose, the wait is worth it.
Oaxaca is a state in southern Mexico where cuisine is marked by mole sauce. La Carta De Oaxaca seeks to capture the cuisine of Oaxaca, and serves up several mole dishes that have all the right hints of spicy chiles and rich chocolate, including the house specialty of mole negro. The menu also features both familiar items like empanadas and enchiladas, as well as a few more unique choices like albondigas (beef meatballs) or fried quesadillas.
Tacos Chukis does not seek to impress you with fancy décor or even much décor at all. It’s a simple little restaurant with a fairly simple menu. You order at the counter so nothing fancy there either, but the food is delicious! The restaurant is known for its street-style tacos, but the menu also features tostadas, mulitas, burritos, tortas, quesadillas and nopal asado, all with your choice of meat. Prices are extremely affordable, too!
El Camion operates a couple taco trucks in town but set up a permanent restaurant at El Camion Adentro. Still, El Camion hasn’t forgotten its roots—the dining room is casual with a bit of outdoor seating as well. The food is tasty taco truck fare at great prices and has a loyal following among fans of the trucks!
Taqueria el Sabor
Housed in a former fast food restaurant building, Taqueria el Sabor won’t win any awards for snappy décor, but for flavors that pop, this casual Mexican restaurant gets a lot of attention. Expect cheap prices, unlimited horchata refills, a great salsa bar and reasonably priced and delicious Mexican food as far as the eye can see…or at least as far as the menu goes.
Mezcaleria Oaxaca is owned by the same family that owns La Carta de Oaxaca. Consequently, expect great Oaxacan cuisine—so good that Mezcaleria Oaxaca has even received a nod from Travel + Leisure as one of the best Mexican restaurants in the U.S. Things not to miss? Try tortilla chips fried to order or an amazing black mole sauce over banana-leaf-wrapped tamales, pork ribs or chicken.
Yet another Mexican restaurant on Capitol Hill, Fogon Cocina Mexicana offers a nicer atmosphere than Seattle’s casual Mexican spots like Tacos Chukis, but not as upscale as Barrio or Poquitos. Menu items are fresh and delicious, and include the essentials, namely handmade tortillas, fresh salsa and housemade chips. You’ll see many familiar dishes on the menu, but the flavors are inspired by the cuisine of Michoacán—a state in southwestern Mexico known for its seafood. To honor this heritage, look for Pescado Frito, a dish featuring a whole tilapia right on your plate. Happy hour offers up a mean Ultimate Margarita as well as $5 food specials, including $5 ceviche.
Pecado Bueno starts off its dishes with organically fed meat and hormone-free proteins—a rarity among Mexican restaurants. The restaurant also has a $3 margarita available anytime it’s open. Who needs happy hour?