Jan 062011

Growing up in Missoula, Montana our family didn’t dine at restaurants very often. In fact the number of times that we as a whole family went out to eat I could count on the fingers of one hand…

I didn’t travel much as a child either. The first time I was out of the state of Montana for more than a day was when I visited my grandmother and cousins in Los Angeles during the summer of 1984. This was shortly before my 22nd birthday. I was immediately impressed by the quality of the Mexican food in this exotic new place. I’ve been back to LA a number of times since then, and I’ve never failed to find world class Mexican food almost everywhere I go. I’ve had excellent Mexican food in San Francisco as well.

I moved to Seattle in August of 1987. At the time I had a naïve fantasy that Seattle was a major West Coast metropolis, and so I’d be able to find Mexican food as easily as I did in LA. NOT SO! Way back then, there was no World Wide Web, so you couldn’t just search the Internet for suggestions. Various Seattle hipsters suggested that Mama’s Mexican Kitchen downtown was really good, but I was shocked at how bland it was. To this day I can’t understand how anyone in their right mind thinks that place is any better than Azteca. Have they ever been to Southern California?

For several years I would read the local free tabloids like the Weekly or the Stranger, especially when they published their annual “Best of Seattle” issue. I would dutifully trot off and eat at whatever restaurant they claimed was Seattle’s Best. Inevitably they would serve refried beans, not boiled beans. The refried beans generally tasted like they came from a number 10 can…

Eventually I gave up. It was particularly galling when I would eat at Mexican restaurants far away from Mexico that would have better food than what Seattle had. I’ve had better Mexican food in Toronto than in Seattle!

But hope never dies, and several years ago I found a place in White Center, Taqueria Guaymas, that I thought was quite good. I still hold my head high if I take a guest there. Recently there’s been an explosion of taco carts around Seattle, most of which I haven’t checked out. I have it on good authority that there are a number of them that are quite decent.

I’ve known that there was a Mexican restaurant literally a few blocks away from where I live for some time now, but I’d never bothered to check it out. Last weekend a friend of mine whose judgment I trust gave it high praise. Tonight I checked it out, and I can honestly say that it’s the best Mexican food I’ve had in Seattle.

Congratulations Huarachitos Mexican Taqueria! Tonight I had my default dinner which is chicken with mole sauce, and everything was outstanding. Boiled beans instead of number 10 can refried beans. Spanish rice done right which didn’t taste like Rice-a-Roni. The chicken was cooked perfectly, and smothered in one of the best, if not THE best mole sauces I’ve ever had.

I have only two minor complaints. The default appetizer was an interesting mixture of pickled carrot slices and chilies. I was expecting jalapeño peppers, but whatever green chilies they served were quite bland. The bottled hot sauces on the table weren’t particularly hot. Frankly I can hardly fault Huarachitos, as Seattle really doesn’t do HOT. At most Asian places I’ve eaten at 5 stars hot is usually “meh” for me…

Seriously, check this place out! I’ve been on this quest since 1987. Like Jimmy Page during his Song Remains the Same fantasy sequence, I have climbed the mountain and reached the pinnacle. Like Jimmy, I saw into my own soul. I had a culinary epiphany on Epiphany. You can too. If you drive, you will probably have to find parking on the side streets. The address is 5418 MLK Jr. Way S. and the phone is 206-568-3019.

UPDATE: I’m afraid that this restaurant has experienced a major fire, and is now closed:

 Posted by on 01/06/2011 Growing Up In Montana, Opinion

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