Seattle and the surrounding area has no dearth of authentic (I think…) Mexican restaurants. I wish I wasn’t writing this article right now because I’d rather be eating tacos carnitas or a drinking a lime margarita. But since you can’t throw a stone without hitting a Mexican joint in this town, let’s look at some of the good ones so you don’t waste your time:
Señor Moose. This is my favorite Mexican place in the city. It looks like a pretty small place, but is actually fairly spacious, right off the main drag in Ballard. The walls in the restaurant are painted bright colors and the paintings inside are always rotating, but the strange, colorful knickknacks that line the walls always stay the same. It’s fun sometimes to sit at the bar in the front and watch the cooks prepare your meal right in front of you. = The best thing I’ve found to eat at Senor Moose isn’t particularly dangerous, but I think is the best in town—the beef tacos. They slow-roast the meat in spices and juices overnight and the result is tender beef double-wrapped in soft taco shells and topped with wilted green onion, radish, lime, avocado, sour cream and cheese. Their salsas are to die for as is their delicious house margarita. When I think Mexican in Seattle, I think this place.
La Carta de Oaxaca. I might like this place best if it weren’t for the huge line that always furls out the door of this Ballard hotspot. Needless to say, it's hard to eat here. The food is great, though, and atypical for Mexican food in America—the cuisine comes from Oaxaca, as you could probably guess from the restaurant’s name. The restaurant's a little slicker, too, and you can tell with its well-dressed clientele. The restaurant is mostly black and white, with white-washed bricks and huge, black-and-white photographs. Pops of color come from altars or other brightly-painted Mexican elements. The food is also fantastic—I would recommend the molotes, which are potatoes and sausage wrapped in a deep-fried flour tortilla. The drinks are also killer.
Agua Verde. The food here is pretty good—but not great—a shortfall that it makes up for by location and drinks. This crowded place has a lot of tables and a great wrap-around porch and patio overlooking Lake Union. It’s populated by people of all ages, from college kids to older adults, because of its location right between the University District and Fremont. The patio is the real draw, but so are the mango margaritas. It’s a little pricey for only fairly good tacos, but they’re definitely pulling in the crowd for the view. You can also rent kayaks from them, but you probably want to do that before you eat too many chips and guac.
Rancho Bravo. Cheap and delicious, Rancho Bravo has a truck with a huge tarp parked in front of it in Wallingford and a converted fast food permanent spot in Capitol Hill. It’s not too much fun to sit and eat in either of Rancho Bravo’s locations, but they serve the food up quickly so you can take it home or out for a picnic. The tongue burritos and tacos are fantastic for fast food as are the homemade green and red salsas.