Stylish new Pioneer Square Mexican kitchen and bar brings hip, modern vibe to a stretch of Seattle’s oldest neighborhood.
The latest in a procession of hip new establishments that have opened in the historic Pioneer Square neighborhood, Casco Antiguo cocina and cantina doesn’t exactly announce itself.
Approaching the restaurant along a gritty strip of Occidental Avenue South, the only hint of its presence is a sandwich board scrawled with faint lettering and a low-wattage light in the ochre-toned storefront. However, the delicious fare, nicely chilled vibe and Mexico-inspired cocktails speak for themselves.
The menu: Starters include pozole, a pork and hominy stew ($11); nopal and queso fresco salad, grilled cactus slices on a bed of lime-accented slaw ($8); sopes, fried filled corn tortillas with meat, cheese, vegetables and salsa ($8); and tilapia ceviche ($9). When combined with a selection of meat, poultry, fish and vegetarian tacos ($8-$9), they make for a shareable meal on their own.
115 Occidental Ave. S., Seattle
Hours: Dining room open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Sunday; bar open 11 a.m.-midnight Monday-Sunday
Etc: credit cards accepted; beer, wine and liquor served; wheelchair accessible; parking on the street or in nearby lots
More substantial are the pork, chicken mole and vegetarian enchiladas ($11-$14) and the dinner platters ($13-$16) with grilled steak and peppers, slow-cooked brisket, carne asada, chicken in mole or vegetables, all of which come with rice and beans.
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What to write home about: The tinga platter, slow-cooked beef brisket smothered in chipotle sauce, red potatoes and onions, with beans and sweet plantains on the side, pushed the right buttons. The meat was falling-apart tender, the overall flavor was smoky, earthy and delicately spicy and the plantains added richness. The dried-pepper-spiced lamb tacos ($9) I had on a different visit, though on the small side, were mouthwatering.
The setting: Exposed brick walls, stylishly spare décor and dim lighting in the street-facing dining room and alley-facing bar down the hallway in back give Casco Antiguo the feel of a hidden hangout.
Summing up: Tinga brisket platter ($14), pulled pork tacos ($8), grilled cactus salad ($8) and chips with guacamole ($8) came to $41.61 plus tip.