“Nobody wants a spinach enchilada,” Trisha Arias says during a recent phone call with her husband Enrique — who adds that while he’s a flexitarian, Trisha is a vegetarian and they both “got really tired of warm lettuce and tomato” offerings when they would go out for Mexican food.
So when the couple were planning the menu for Centro Neighborhood Kitchen — the restaurant they opened in Burien in 2020 — Trisha put together a recipe for what she called the “cruciferous taco.”
“He was not about it, but I pushed him,” Trisha says with a laugh.
The cruciferous features roasted broccoli and cauliflower, almond slivers, pickled onions and a creamy chipotle-cashew sauce drizzled on top. It’s vegan and I was absolutely gobsmacked by it. It’s full of flavor, has contrasting textures, and is probably the best vegan or vegetarian taco I’ve ever eaten.
Enrique says that taco is the perfect example of how they work together to make Centro Kitchen work, saying, “It’s really a portrayal of what we want when we go out to eat.”
Trisha grew up in Burien and a few years ago the couple had the opportunity to buy the house she grew up in, so they moved back to Burien from Tacoma when their oldest daughter was a baby. They now have three daughters — the youngest just 9 months old. When they looked for restaurant space, they briefly considered Tacoma before Enrique fell in love with 152nd Street on the edge of Old Town Burien. They opened in March 2020, starting with takeout only.
“That was one positive of COVID, it gave us time to get our bearings. But Burien is like its own little ecosystem. Everyone helps each other out, the locals come out strong,” Trisha says.
The menu is personal — a blending of Enrique’s Mexican heritage with Trisha’s Pacific Northwest upbringing and vegetarian diet. The tortillas are pressed in-house, the totopos are made fresh as needed, as are the salsas and guacamole.
This summer they will be adding a pickled salmon ceviche — the recipe adapted from Trisha’s grandpa who spent a lot of time in the Hood Canal — as well as a margarita flight to the menu. But you can go there any time for the cruciferous taco ($6). If you’re a meat eater, don’t miss the Negra Modelo-braised barbacoa taco topped with a guajillo chile adobo ($7). Tacos are a little larger than a typical street taco; two would make a good-sized lunch, especially with a side of totopos and salsa. If you’re a nacho lover (who isn’t), consider grabbing a seat on the small patio and ordering a tray of cauliflower nachos ($15).
Yes, I know, more cauliflower. I swear I don’t work for big cauliflower and normally I am averse to the cauliflower-ification of everything from rice to pizza crust. But hear me out! These nachos — with all their thick-cut chip glory — are piled high with black beans, fried jalapeños, pico and just enough nutty, crunchy little cauliflower nuggets that you start wondering why you never put cauliflower on nachos before. You can add your choice of meat (chicken, carnitas, beef) for a couple of extra bucks, but with the generous scoop of guacamole and the jalapeño crema, I didn’t need it.
The restaurant doesn’t currently take reservations, but it does offer the entire menu to-go, including the scratch margaritas.
Centro Neighborhood Kitchen: noon-8 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; 643 152nd St., Suite A, Burien; 206-420-7227; centroburien.com
And for me, it wouldn’t be a visit to Burien without popping into Burien Press to see what’s new. Not only does it make the most magical Fruity Pebbles-inspired cookie ($3), but the coffee shop has a wide-ranging selection of wine and beer. Ask anyone working to help you navigate the shelves — using just about any buzzwords you want to describe what you want to drink. I went in looking for something fun and frothy for a girls’ night and was guided to a sparkly natural wine, the style of which is called a Pét-Nat (short for Pétillant Naturel) from Italy that I’m very excited to try.
And if “pebbles cookie” wasn’t enough to intrigue you, let me expand by saying this saucer-sized cookie somehow manages to taste like a bowl of cereal milk topped with still crunchy Fruity Pebbles without being too sweet. It’s absolutely fabulous. If that’s not your particular brand of nostalgia, I’d also recommend the decadent double chocolate chip ($3).
The shop, also in Old Town, is just a block away from Centro Neighborhood Kitchen and across the street from Town Square Park. Go Thursdays for the weekly Burien Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Burien Press: 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; 423 SW 152nd St., Burien; 206-453-5412; burienpress.com