When Andrés Cárdenas Guitrón emigrated to the United States from Mexico, he landed his first job as a dishwasher. He worked his way up the ranks to a food preparer, a cook’s assistant, and a chef before finally opening up his own restaurant. At Mazatlan, he dishes out family recipes that include grilled chimichangas, crab enchiladas, and steak picado christened in a Spanish sauce.
Radiant blue light glows through towering tequila bottles lining the bar at Blue Tequila as servers unveil an array of authentic Mexican dishes. Copiloted feast flights take off with appetizers such as beef bits or deluxe nachos piled high with fresh guacamole, sliced tomatoes, melted cheese, and a meaty base of chicken, beef, or picadillo. Tablemates then strap in for substantially portioned entrees, ranging from steaming steak fajitas to the vegetarian-friendly black bean quesadilla. After forks and knives clink victoriously against empty plates, diners qualify for one shareable serving of deep-fried ice cream, banana wraps, or Paradise chimichangas, providing sweetness only previously attainable by wrestling a pixy stick to the ground.
Gallo de Oro's chefs know that not everyone can make a pilgrimage south of the border, but there’s no reason why they can’t eat like a local anyway. That’s why the chefs take such care with their sprawling menu of traditional Mexican cuisine. Marinated and grilled chicken, strips of top sirloin, or prawns with mushrooms mingle with green peppers and onions and are ready to be rolled into fajitas. The chefs’ other specialties include braised pork loin, arroz con pollo, and burritos stuffed with chicken, beef, veggies, and pork. In addition to daily meals, Gallo de Oro also hosts dancing and karaoke nights every Friday and Saturday, as customers gather and belt out their favorite renditions of the keyboard solo from “White Wedding.”
Named for the Spanish word for warrior, Casa Guerrero Mexican Restaurant battles hunger pangs with a menu of traditional south-of-the-border fare. Classic beef dishes such as carne asada and tampiqueña team juicy skirt steak with flavorful accouterments of fresh guacamole and pico de gallo, and chicken stalks appetites in a host of disguises including tacos, fajitas, and powdered wigs. The eatery's culinary crew also charbroils prawns and whole red snapper, accenting the seafood's sweetness with zesty, pepper-infused sauces. To quench thirsts, bartenders serve up fruity red sangria and concoct 16-ounce margaritas from just-squeezed lime juice.
It's not every day that an aroma can pose a question. Upon stepping into Plaza Garcia Family Mexican Restaurant, the smell of baking tortillas instantly compels diners to ask themselves: do I want to fill those steamy flour blankets with char-grilled beef, marinated chicken, or lime-infused shrimp? Wood-carved booths and colorful murals of adobe villages create an ideal backdrop for mulling over this important decision as diners snack on homemade chips and chunky pico de gallo. Once their gaze tapers off the lively décor and settles onto the menu, an overwhelming choice of enchiladas, fajitas, and other traditional entrees springs forth to lend a choice of beef, chicken, or seafood centerpieces. Meanwhile, margaritas splashed with racy tequilas mingle with other libations to give customers the courage to croon tortilla-themed love ballads during karaoke, which occurs every Saturday night at the Woodinville location.
Chef Luis Fernando Castro grew up cooking homestyle Mexican cuisine alongside his grandmother. Though he loved her traditional recipes, he constantly sought out new ways to refine their flavors and presentation, cultivating an attention to detail that's still apparent in the food he makes today. In 2011, the Seattle Times praised his restaurant, COA Mexican Eatery & Tequileria, for its dedication to handcrafted cuisine: “you won't find the stereotypical chain-restaurant fare here … some entrees will be familiar … but they'll be made with care, from scratch.” In line with this acclaim, Chef Castro's staff hand mixes orders of guacamole and blends mole in-house from 30 ingredients. For traditional accompaniments to meals, the servers can recommend pairings with any of the 60 hand-selected tequilas behind the bar, which include clean silvers as well as robust añejos.
By contrast, chefs adopt a more modern approach to presentation, sending out clean, composed plates garnished with softly flickering holograms of cilantro. This sleek sensibility extends to the dining room's decor as well. The neutral-toned walls remain relatively empty with the exception of three large photographs that depict a jimador surveying his crop of blue agave. Cylindrical pendant lamps help illuminate the space, although the large front windows allow ample amounts of natural light to flood the room.