Cantina Cuisine: Authentic Mexican Food on Capitol Hill
Tacos, margaritas, and mole have proliferated on Capitol Hill of late. Here’s a handy guide to who does what well.
Fogón Cocina Mexicana
600 E Pine St, Capitol Hill, 206-320-7777; fogonseattle.com
- Pedigree: A supersweet Michoacan family
- Eat this: Beautifully seasoned and smoky char-grilled chicken tacos on homemade tortillas
- Drink this: A stiff Ultimate margarita, which arrives in a shaker
- Authentic-O-Meter: Not terribly, but so cheap and tasty that nobody cares
- Claim to Fame: A gratis tostada for every guest
- Avoid: Arriving too late in the teeming happy hours (3 to 6pm, 9pm to close), as you will suffer a wait and/or hearing loss
209 Broadway E, Capitol Hill, 206-466-2434
- Pedigree: Owned by the great Rachel Marshall (Montana, Rachel’s Ginger Beer) and Kate Opatz (Montana)
- Drink this: Slushy Moscow mules gush from machines here like Slurpees. Not to be missed on a hot day. Or a cold one.
- Authentic-O-Meter: It’s the most authentic munchies dive in town anyway, complete with black walls and bar smell.
- Claim to Fame: The Totchos—nachos made of tater tots and beloved primarily of the hungover and the stoned
Avoid Hate to say it…but the nachos. They’re
skimpy and average.
La Cocina Oaxaqueña
1216 Pine St, Capitol Hill, 206-623-8226;
Pedigree: A different branch of the family that brought us the stunning La Carta de Oaxaca/Mezcaleria Oaxaca trio—separate businesses with nearly identical menus.
Drink this: Exceptional sangria. By the carafe. On the big, breezy, loud Pine Street patio.
Authentic-O-Meter: Pretty dang high, especially the fish dishes and that freakishly delectable mole
Claim to Fame: Fried-to-order chips with a four-choice salsa bar
Avoid: The bland guacamole
422 E Pine St, Capitol Hill, 206-324-0506;
Pedigree: The second mezcal-happy offshoot from the hallowed Carta de Oaxaca family boasts slick and streamlined decor.
Eat this: Break away from the mole and try the killer halibut tacos.
Drink this: Mezcal, fool—35 kinds, by the flight or single shot
Authentic-O-Meter: Order the barbacoa—roasted goat with handmade tortillas and a trip to the salsa bar—then you tell us.
Claim to Fame: The broad rooftop deck with skyscraper views, undercover heat lamps…and the promise of a taco truck
Avoid: Expectations of happy hour. There isn’t one.
This article appeared in the September 2014 issue of Seattle Met.