Even this far north of the border, Seattle’s Mexican food scene offers a wide range of excellent options, from top-notch carne asada to satisfying enchiladas to rich mole dishes that thrill with sweet, toasty, and spicy flavors. There's also a separate guide that includes a few more fast-casual spots and food trucks that specialize in tacos — an important talent that deserves recognition on its own.Read More
15 Marvelous Mexican Restaurants in the Seattle Area
With crispy carnitas, complex mole, Mexican sushi, and more
1. La Conasupo
Seattle, WA 98103
The party is in the back at this Greenwood store, which doubles as a restaurant. Get the quesadillas with tinga de res, enormous carnitas tacos, or come by on weekends when there's an even fuller array of soups, meats, and crispy tacos, including barbacoa.
2. Frelard Tamales
From a farmers market favorite to a permanent tamale window near Green Lake, this popular Mexican spot from founders Osbaldo Hernandez and Dennis Ramey (with Hernandez’s parents helping to run the operation) serves half-pound tamales packed with rich flavors. The salsa roja pork and the salsa verde chicken versions are not to be missed, but the shop also serves vegan and vegetarian options, including tamales filled with sweet potato and mole and salsa roja and jackfruit. Everything is served pickled onions and carrots and best washed down with the house-made agua de horchata. Diners can also bring home bags of frozen tamales to steam at home.
3. La Carta de Oaxaca
Ballard denizens have been lining up at this family-owned Mexican restaurant since it opened in 2003 to sample the pools of rich, savory-sweet mole over chicken; the hand-crushed guacamole; the breaded steak; and a spirit list with more than 40 types of mezcal. Though there have been newer, trendier offshoots (like El Mezcalito in Queen Anne), it’s difficult to replicate the intimacy of the original.
4. Asadero Ballard
Carne asada is the way to go at this Sinaloan restaurant in Ballard, which fires top-quality prime steak on the grill all day. The vampiro and toreado are standouts, with the latter featuring a homemade flour tortilla topped with a grilled Anaheim pepper, filled with carne asada and cheese. Pickled onions complete the package.
Former Matt’s in the Market chef Chester Gerl is winning friends with his Ballard Mexican spot. Featuring masa sourced from Oaxacan farms for tortillas and tamales, a beautifully designed, perpetually packed dining room, and an open kitchen to let people in on the magic, Gracia is an instant classic.
6. Señor Moose Cafe
Señor Moose Cafe consistently draws a line for brunch and dinner in Ballard. There are half a dozen mole varieties, like enchiladas de machaca or the mole negro. More winners include crispy, limey carnitas plates and tacos; smoky, creamy camarones enchipotlados (plump shrimp in creamy chipotle sauce); and any of the brunch dishes with chorizo or cactus.
7. D’ La Santa
Steak is the focus of this north Capitol Hill Mexican restaurant, where big piles of tender, perfectly cooked beef rule the menu. Standouts include the 25-day dry-aged New York strip, topped with the from-scratch salsa, and the Aguja Norteña, a hunk of wagyu accompanied by a cactus salad. The restaurant also serves a number of dishes besides steak, like tacos with a choice of meat (including beef birria).
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8. Mezcaleria Oaxaca
Queen Anne's slice of a restaurant was the original, and its still worth a visit under its new name El Mezcalito. But this Capitol Hill restaurant (now under separate ownership) is much larger, with a huge bar, beautiful decor, and open rooftop where diners can savor an impressive selection of smoky mezcal-based cocktails while sampling complex Oaxacan moles and dishes like camerones a la diabla and whole fried fish.
9. Villa Escondida
Friendly service and Oaxacan food are on offer at this Belltown restaurant. The tacos al pastor are juicy and flavorful and half off during happy hour. And don't miss out on entrees like the pollo estofado, with its tomato-based sauce that’s as complex as a mole, and the generously portioned carne asada.
10. Casco Antiguo
The Pioneer Square neighborhoo has pretty much everything locals need these days, including this chic Mexican restaurant (which has a newer outpost near the Amazon Spheres now). Entrees include carne asada, a beef birria quesadilla, and pozole. There’s a solid happy hour menu with mini chile rellenos, potato-and-cheese fried tacos dorados, and tinga de pollo tacos, perfect for pairing with one of the several refreshing margaritas.
11. Fonda La Catrina
Georgetown’s Mexican folk art-themed restaurant has been both consistent and beloved around town for years. The restaurant is also particularly good for vegetarians, with dishes like enchiladas de mole poblano with mushrooms. There are also several excellent happy hour options, such as rock fish ceviche, chiles asados, and queso fundido.
12. El Sirenito
Fonda La Catrina’s little sister has an identity of its own, with a seafood-focused menu and sophisticated cocktails. Where Catrina is bright and decorated to the gills, this adjacent marisquería is clean and minimalistic in design, with only occasional pops of color. The crisp rockfish quesadillas, called pescadillas, and toasts (montaditas) are standouts. There’s also a spacious outdoor patio.
13. El Paisano Rosticeria Y Cocina
Seattle, WA 98106
At this casual restaurant, diners can eat a whole roasted chicken with rice, beans, and tortillas while catching the day’s soccer match on television. Tortas, sauced-up chiles rellenos, enchiladas, and pozole teeming with tender pork are all excellent options. The whole chicken, covered in red adobo sauce, is bound to make a mess no matter what, so forgo the napkins and tear off the chunks of tender meat with the chewy flour tortillas, dip it in sauce and enjoy.
14. El Cabrito
Burien, WA 98166
After five years as a food truck, El Cabrito became a brick-and mortar-restaurant in Burien’s Ambaum Boulevard in 2019. Chef-owner Leticia Sánchez started making moles with her grandmother in Oaxaca when she was five years old, and the years of experience show in the expertly balanced mole coloradito that pools around her pork enchiladas, and in dishes like the molotes (fried masa dumplings filled with potato and chorizo), drowned in smoky morita pepper and avocado salsas, all served on brightly hued ceramics. Sanchez also serves weekly specials like rockfish ceviche, and banana-leaf green mole tamales are available during the winter. There’s a few indoor seats at El Cabrito and a few tables on a covered patio behind the restaurant.
15. SUSHINOLA Sushi y Marisco estilo Sinaloa.
Kent, WA 98032
This Kent restaurant serves some of the Seattle area’s only Mexican sushi and seafood dishes from the state of Sinaloa. It’s consistently packed with Sinaloans drinking massive micheladas loaded up with shrimp, sliced avocado, tajín, and salsa negra and sharing deep-fried sushi rolls filled with ingredients like carne asada, broiled shrimp, and jalapeño that are popular in their hometowns. This is not a place for diners looking for subtly-flavored nigiri and sashimi. The sushi menu is all rolls — crunchy with tempura coating and rich with chipotle mayo and other sauces. The restaurant also serves some more traditional Sinaloan seafood dishes like ceviches, aguachiles, and tacos.