Late afternoon in Georgetown, and it’s squintingly sunny on the back patio of Fonda La Catrina. A group of fellas are hoisting endless rounds of $5 margaritas, while others are eyeing the World Cup in Español on Univision.
We’re opting for the cool comfort of the bar inside, under a banner of skulls and other Dia de los Muertos motifs. Mexican pop is crooning from the speakers.
Fonda La Catrina is one of those legit Mexican joints you would find in Yakima or on the outskirts of Tacoma rather than in Seattle. But here it is and here it’s been since 2012, holding court along this industrial district with diners and dive bars, drawing the musicians and the artists for its unctuous mole and meaty tacos.
By late afternoon, even on a weekday, the place fills up with locals and lots of underemployed folks. Come after 3 p.m., and Fonda will have $3-$4 bar bites for the cheapskates: tamales, tostadas — and pork-rind tacos stuffed with black beans and serrano peppers. The porky saltiness of the fried rinds are quite flavorful, but they have the texture of tripe. Patrons will either love the chewiness or hate it.
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On the appetizer menu: a tapestry of Anaheim and other hot peppers, grilled to a sweet caramelization to balance the inherent heat, sprinkled with sea salt and served with a slice of queso fresco cheese to cool down your palate. A beer to wash it all down will do the trick just as well. It’s one of the better starters on the menu.
Georgetown Brewing Company — home of Manny’s Pale Ale, the de facto beer of Seattle — sits just a half-mile away. Is it kosher to indulge in agave spirits on Manny’s home turf?
It’s all good here. The tequila flows fast and often. The cocktails are all $9 or less. Those sweet $5 happy-hour margaritas will go down easy. But even better, the $5.50 Paloma — tequila, lime and sweet Jarritos soda rimmed with salt, a real Mexican libation.
Fonda La Catrina, 5905 Airport Way S., offers happy hour Tuesday-Saturday at 3-6 p.m. and again at 10 p.m.-midnight, with $3-$4 bar snacks, $5 margaritas and $1 off on specialty drinks, well drinks, draft beers and most appetizers (206-767-2787 or www.fondalacatrina.com).
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle