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7 Hot Spots for Mexican Food

Great Mexican food in Seattle? Yes (long sigh) it does seem that the farther north you go, the worse for the wear the Mexican fare becomes. But listen up, muchachos, because we’ve got some terrific family friendly Mexican hotspots for you to check out. Here we go. Andele andele!

Rosita’s Mexican Grill
Never underestimate the power of a homemade tortilla fresh off the grill. You’ll smell ‘em before you even finish parking your car. Kiddos can walk right up to the tortilla station and watch them being made after placing a complimentary order (fresh tortilla with butter, or fresh tortilla with butter and salsa –mmmm). On a recent visit we enjoyed the Pollo al Carbon, marinated chicken lathered in a to-die-for creamy chipotle sauce for $13.99 and the kids snarfed down taquitos and a hot dog (for $4.59 and $5.29). Oh – and Mommy had a realllly good skinny margarita from the full bar, a.k.a. Rosita’s Cantina.

7210 Woodlawn Avenue Northeast
Seattle, Wa (Greenlake)
206-523-3031
Online: rositasrestaurant.com

Agua Verde
If the view doesn’t get you, the food certainly will. Located on Lake Union behind the University of Washington Medical School, Agua Verde is one of those places you’d like to eat at every day if you could. While it looks rather shack-like on the outside, the restaurant opens to an airy, festively decorated (but not garish) space with a quintessential Portage Bay backdrop. Do not be deterred by the lines outside – this is an order first, stock up at the salsa bar, then find a table kind of place. The food can best be described as “healthy Mexican,” heavy on fresh vegetables like jicama, pineapple and avocado. Their Arroz Verde Con Acelga (rice with kale) served with a small bowl of pureed black beans is a welcome alternative to the refried dishes you typically find elsewhere. Adults will be delighted to find a long list of organic and healthy salads, tacos, seafood dishes and specialty margaritas, and many items can be made vegan and/or gluten-free by request. Los Ninos will enjoy quesadillas, burritos or tostadas for $3 – $5. On a nice day, reserve kayaks at the Agua Verde Paddle Club and enjoy a before or after dinner paddle around the lake.

1303 Northeast Boat Street (University District)
Seattle, Wa 
206-545-8570 
Online: aguaverde.com


Malena’s Taco Shop
It’s a hole-in-the-wall to be sure, but the very best kind. There are only about ten inside tables and the décor is definitely no-frills, but that only adds to the authentic appeal. The carne asada tacos and fish tacos ($2.60 – $2.75 each) are among the best we’ve ever had, there isn’t anything on the menu that’s above $7 or $8, and the portions are pretty huge, so no one will go away hungry. Bring cash, though. Malena’s doesn’t take credit cards.

620 West McGraw Street  (Queen Anne)
Seattle, Wa
206-284-0304

Senior Moose
The funny thing is (perhaps even stranger than the name) is that this restaurant didn’t start out as a Mexican restaurant. The owners, lovers of traditional “comida tipica” Mexican food, realized that this food group didn’t exist in Seattle and started offering occasional dishes and specials. Now it’s the main er, enchilada. Senior Moose is for foodies. You’ll find authentic items like their “Esquites” appetizer (corn on the cob with epazote and cream for $6.95), a range of mole dishes from all over Mexico (Oaxa, Veracruz, Tlaxcala), plus seafood dishes, tacos and yes, enchiladas. Senior Moose is super casual and very kid friendly. Be sure to let those well-behaved kiddos know that they can try out a traditional Mexican Hot Chocolate ($2.95) for dessert.

5242 Northwest Leary Avenue (Ballard)
Seattle, Wa
206-784-5568
Online: senormoose.com


Gordito’s Healthy Mexican
It’s all about the burrito, baby!  We love this Seattle PI photo from a few years back that showcases Gordito’s Burrito Grande, the burrito that is as big as a baby. There are plenty of baby burrito photos that line the walls of Gordito’s, so here’s your chance to do your own photo shoot and add to the décor. Gordito’s bills itself as “healthy Mexican” — because they don’t cook with lard or oil and they grill their meat– which is awesome, but then again, it all depends on how much you eat. Their burritos (all about $7 – $9) can easily feed a small family.

213 N 85th Street (Greenwood)
Seattle, Wa
206-706-9352

El Sombrero Family Mexican
You know when an establishment puts “family” right there in the title you it’s going to be a good place for kids. And El Sombrero definitely does not disappoint. This one in Columbia City gets high points for being uber kid-friendly and families rave about the guacamole and tamales. Yes, the décor is a bit garish, the portions are huge (think cheese on everything) and the margaritas are always strong. But now you know exactly where to go the next time you’ve got a hankerin’ for some good Mexican comfort food.

4868 Rainier Ave S (Columbia City)
Seattle, Wa
206-725-1418

Cactus
The folks at Cactus have figured it all out. Healthy, fresh ingredients, an eclectic, modern south-of-the-border style, and plenty of desirable waterfront (or near waterfront) Seattle and Eastside locations. This is a great go-to place for a nice meal out with the fam. Southwestern and Mexican favorites include The Sonoran Spa Chicken for $14.50, The Cactus Fajitas ($15 – $18) and the Seafood Enchiladas for $15.50. They also have a kids menu with plenty of standby favorites. Keep in mind that Cactus also doubles as a date night hotspot, so get there early. After all, you wouldn’t want your rice and bean throwing amigos to spoil anyone else’s fun.

Locations:

2820 Alki Avenue Southwest (Alki Beach)
Seattle, Wa
206-933-6000

121 Park Lane (Kirkland)
Kirkland, Wa
425-893-9799

4220 East Madison Street (Madison Park)
Seattle, Wa
206-324-4140

350 Terry Avenue North (South Lake Union)
Seattle, Wa
206-913-2250
Online: www.cactusrestaurants.com

What are your favorite kid-friendly Mexican restaurants in and around Seattle?

–Allison Ellis

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