It’s a pretty rugged stretch of Pioneer Square, so be prepared to feel your privilege walking into this rustic brick-and-timber storefront with the peerless booze and the very happy happy hour. Food is seriously flavor forward, including terrific tacos (try the meaty mahi) and a notably subtle mole. And if it looks like you won’t get a table, don’t despair...there’s a room in back.
A lovely Michoacán family runs this teeming regulars’ haunt in Pike/Pine, where margs come in stainless shakers, a tostada comes on the house, and the rest of the food comes cheap—super cheap during the multiple happy hours (3pm to 6pm, then again at 9pm). For all the hoopla the food really is vivid, including fresh salsa, housemade tortillas, and tacos loaded with fillings like smoky char-grilled chicken. Arrive early.
You might assume this color-splashed Georgetown cantina with the faintly industrial vibe and the courtyard patio is too enchanting and fun to be this precise—but orange-kissed cochinita pibil and grass-fed bistek tacos testify otherwise, along with (usually) the rest of the authentic Mexican menu. The salt-rimmed deal of the century, from 3pm to 6pm weekdays, are excellent $6 margaritas.
Pioneer Square’s basement Flatstick Pub features an array of competitive distractions—mini golf!—and also a mighty compelling gastronomic one: tacos from chef Manu Alfau (Manu’s Bodega, Manu’s Bodegita). By day you can grab them to go from a street-level window just east of Second on Main, in varieties like black beans and cotija, chicken tinga, or chorizo potato. Our faves are a stewy brisket, with chunks of tender beef, black beans, and slivers of pickled onion; and the stunning carnitas, loaded with explosive pork flavor and a frisky pico de gallo. Manu overstuffs these $3 babies, so come hungry.
A local chainlet of taquerias, born from a food truck to become a civic fast food mainstay. Rancho Bravo’s tacos, nachos, burritos, and bowls are welcome soakers of booze after a night out, but also worthy of consideration stone cold sober in the light of day—especially the chorizo torta and tacos al pastor. The Capitol Hill location has a working drive-thru.
Tacos Chukís drags eaters by the taste buds on a cheapo’s tour of Mexico City. Yes there are $3.50 baby burritos and $4 quesadillas (the latter, crafted of flour tortillas and carne asada, boast more mere aroma than your typical quesadilla has flavor)—but your first order of business has to be the two-buck tacos, swaddled in their corn cradles with plenty of cilantro, onion, salsa, and guacamole. And meat, like the deeply marinated adobada pork—carved off a vertical rotisserie and served with a slice of caramelized pineapple—which doesn’t wear its tingly, fiery flavor so much as exhale it. If there is a single more compelling taco in this city—bring it. The original location is hidden in the upstairs warrens of the Broadway Alley building, and a second outpost feeds the Amazon lunch hordes.
Everything is fun at the Saint tequila bar—even the restrooms, which are decked out like Day of the Dead dioramas. Try a shot of Sauza chased by spicy housemade sangrita. Full menu of from-scratch Mexican eats.