AH, THE JOY OF A PERFECT mole negro, that velvety black sauce of a thousand spices once available only through a flight to Oaxaca or a long wait on a cold Ballard sidewalk. La Carta de Oaxaca is where Seattleites learned to spoon hunks of moist chicken flesh off the bone, swaddle them in warm corn tortillas, then lavish them thickly with that sauce of indescribable nuance and fire. Was there even a Ballard Avenue foodie scene before a city lost its collective mind over La Carta’s mole negro? I don’t think so either. Lucky Queen Anne Avenue, where La Carta’s little sister, Mezcaleria Oaxaca, opened in the fall. The Perez family is once again behind the stoves—and mezcal bar, and goat barbecue—which means matriarch Gloria Perez’s authentic Oaxacan enchiladas and tacos and posoles are the order of the evening. A few things are new: Chili-marinated goat is slow-roasted here, they pour some 13 varieties of mezcal (that cowboy cousin of tequila), and the atmo is slightly folksier and more homespun than the artily sophisticated La Carta. Still, Mezcaleria radiates its authenticity through a haze of amber light worthy of any worm, making it the best place for a festive revel on the whole gentrified hill. A festive revel with really, really good food.

FIND IT: Mezcaleria Oaxaca
2123 Queen Anne Ave N, Queen Anne,
206-216-4446; mezcaleriaoaxaca.com

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