For years my friend Sam the California expat has been insisting that Seattle’s best Mexican food is in Tacoma, at a lively haunt along a Latino sector of Pacific Avenue named after a particularly reviving seviche. He’s onto something: When we arrived the restaurant parking lot had turned into an ad hoc waiting room overflowing with Latino families. Through the bodies one spied bright, beachy murals on the walls, a wet T-shirt contest on the tube, a Mexican grandmother pressing tortillas in the back. But when the crowds parted long enough for us to grab a table I finally got my own taste of V a la V’s primary appeal: tacos crammed with deeply flavorful carne asada (or marinated pork, or goat), wrapped in one of grandma’s tortillas, and simply embellished with cilantro, onions, and lime; tamales so moist they literally melted on our tongues; a dark, satiny mole-napped tender chicken. If it had been Thursday, the only day they make them, we could have added some killer chiles rellenos. We dispatched a bucket of baby Coronas (Coronitas), but all around us families swilled the rice milk called horchata or Mexican Cokes, their kids darting between the smiling waiters’ knees. “And this isn’t even crowded yet,” Sam smiled. “You should see this place after church on a Sunday.”

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