On Sunday, April 25, Columbia City’s reliable Mexican restaurant El Sombrero shut its doors permanently after serving the neighborhood for 17 years. As Vanishing Seattle first reported (confirmed by Eater Seattle), the owners are retiring, and there will be a new Tex-Mex place opening up at the location in a few months, although details on the replacement are still unclear.
El Sombrero was not necessarily the flashiest restaurant in South Seattle, but it had a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere in pre-pandemic times, quick with the crayons and sippy cups for kids. On the menu was a wide array of unfussy, excellent comfort food dishes, including arroz con pollo, enchiladas smothered in cheese, and plump burritos. It was one of those places where the portions were always generous, the complimentary chips and salsa flowed freely, and the bartenders mixed giant, potent glasses of margaritas.
Throughout the past year, El Sombrero made adjustments for COVID measures, offering cocktails to go and moving back and forth between dine-in service and takeout, depending on what the allowances were at the time. Though business continued to be steady, the restaurant no doubt missed hosting leisurely afternoon and evening hangouts, which was a major part of its appeal.
The Rodriguez family, who owned the spot, have Washington restaurant roots that go back to 1980 (patriarch Andres Rodriguez used to also co-own Capitol Hill’s Torero’s Family Mexican Restaurant), and their service will be missed.