The brick walls of old Ballard meet the terra-cotta tiles of old Mexico in the single most teeming, table-turning, earsplitting, salsa-sloshing sensation in town. While you're waiting for your table—it's not a matter of if in this reservation-free zone—thank the Dominguez family, who emigrated from Oaxaca and brought their home-cooking matriarch with them. There she is now, behind the salsa bar, making mole in the open kitchen. It's a lush, sweeter-than-standard rendition and an intricate complement to the pork and tortillas in the Number 18. Another stunner is the entomatada plate, in which marinated paper-thin strips of grilled beef arrive with folded corn tortillas in one of the finest tomatillo sauces north of the border. From the wall of arty light-box photographs to the SRO bar in back, the place couldn't be more Ballard—which renders its deeply authentic food and dirt-cheap down-to-earth humor all the more revelatory.
Read more in World’s Fare.