The piping-hot corn tortillas are made fresh in the tiny space, leading to long wait times. But these tacos are worth it.
The best tacos I’ve had this year came from a corner nook in Georgetown — Tu Cantinas.
But fresh corn tortillas made to order require patience. Lots of patience.
On a busy Saturday, we waited 20 minutes before we got our tacos, and when we tried to order a second round, the polite woman behind the counter said, “I am sorry to inform you, we are just now sold out of the chicken and the pork. It has been crazy since 6 o’clock.”
6105 13th Ave. S., (Georgetown) Seattle; 21 and older only; open 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Tuesday-Friday and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday-Sunday (note: hours may change soon; for updates, check facebook.com/Tu-Cantinas-1308570882546038).
Actually, it’s been crazy busy almost every day since Tu Cantinas opened in March, next to Brass Tacks in Georgetown, both under the same ownership.
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These piping-hot corn tortillas, dripping with taco meat fat, melt in your mouth. I wondered why all taco stands here don’t make fresh tortillas to order. Then after watching this kitchen work in this tiny space, it’s clear what a logistical nightmare it is with a full house.
With each taco order, the cook grabs a masa ball, flattens each with a presser and then throws the pancake-size tortilla onto the griddle to sizzle, sometimes pressing it down with Miyagi’s wax-on, wax-off motion — before folding it with meat. The tortillas are so hot, you may have to wait a couple more minutes before taking a bite. But what a heavenly bite it is.
The menu: Only three taco options (braised pork, chicken and a vegetarian option of black beans): each $3; cotija cheese 50 cents extra. Due to space constraints, the kitchen can’t add more food but will soon rotate other tacos (steak, beef tongue, etc.) on alternating days. Drinks are limited to Rainier and a handful of Mexican beers and cocktails such as a margarita, tequila sunrise and tequila with Coke since there’s not much shelf space.
Don’t miss: The braised pork and the garlicky braised chicken tacos are what’s always sold out, but the secret is the fresh tortillas. They are thick but pliable, neither flaky nor brittle, a big corn bite. The tacos are salty with braised meat, spicy with hot sauce and sour with pickled carrots and jalapeños.
The downside: These tacos don’t transport well as food to-go. They even taste pedestrian if you let them sit for 15 minutes. When cold, the tortillas feel more like industrial-strength towels. The kitchen still needs to work out consistency issues; some tortillas are thicker than others.
Happy hour: Just started this week, $5 for a taco and a Mexican beer, 4-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday. The owner is bringing in a bigger griddle to keep up with the high volume of taco orders, though he said the tacos may still take some time since Tu Cantinas is committed to making each tortilla per order.
Prices: Five tacos ($15), pico de gallo (50 cents) and a cocktail ($8) totaled $25, including tax.