Mexico City-born Chef Jose Luis Pantiga-Flores and his wife, Ana, lost the original incarnation of the popular Rainier Valley restaurant Huarachitos to a fire two years ago.
Now they’re back, at a sharp new location just steps away from a Link light-rail stop at South Othello Street, in Seattle’s Rainier Valley.
The restaurant’s name, which is Spanish for “little sandals,” refers to the traditional huaraches dish, made with thick, oval-shaped corn tortillas with a layer of beans hidden inside and covered with salsa, meat and other trimmings. But Pantiga-Flores serves up much more.
The menu: Huarachitos balances out a host of seafood-based dishes, like shrimp sautéed in a creamy chipotle sauce ($17) with heartier fare such as Yucatan-inspired cochinita pibil, slow-cooked pork wrapped in a banana leaf ($14), enchiladas ($13) and specialties like alambre, a mix of chopped beef, bacon, greens, red pepper, onion, cilantro, pineapple and cheese ($12) and standards like burritos ($8-$10) and a variety of tacos ($3-$4 each). I opted for the enmoladas in mole verde, a plate of chicken-filled tortillas smothered in a green mole sauce ($15), with a filling appetizer of beef empanaditas ($6) to start.
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What to write home about: The green-mole enmoladas offer a silky fusion of fresh yet nutty flavor that keeps you guessing what went into it.
What to skip: The hefty empanadita appetizer ($6), a serving of deep-fried corn-flour pockets filled with shredded beef and topped with diced tomatoes, lettuce and cream, was undermined by a lack of adequate seasoning.
The setting: The expansive, loftlike space, just off the busy main drag along this strip of MLK, has been warmed up with decorative wooden window panes, soft lighting, cheery pops of tropical color and a cozy bar and patio area.
Summing up: Beef empanadas ($6), enmoladas in green mole ($15) and a Cuba libre cocktail ($7.50) came to $28.50 plus tax and tip.
Tyrone Beason: firstname.lastname@example.org