Green Eating While the kitchen strives to use local and organic products and compost all food waste, the staff’s eco-conscious efforts don’t stop there. The restaurant boasts LEED Platinum certification, in part due to the materials used to construct the space. The bar is made from rough, recycled wood and cinder blocks, light fixtures are upcycled gramophone horns, and one entire wall is constructed from 800 tequila bottles foraged from restaurant dumpsters.
Manchamanteles: Spanish for tablecloth stainer, this is made from a mix of chiles, veggies, and meats, and is considered a classic Oaxacan mole.
Achiote: Spanish for annatto, this is extracted from the seeds of a shrub by the same name. It’s used as a spice or for its rich reddish color.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Gaze into the eyes of the Fremont Troll, who lives beneath the Aurora Bridge (3600 Troll Avenue N).
After: Watch boats depart from the hand-launch area at Fairview Park (2900 Fairview Avenue E).
King5 placed Memo's Mexican Food among the top five Best Burrito spots in 2009 and 2010, and for good reason. Each jumbo burrito overflows with some savory combination of top-sirloin steak, Mexican-style pork, roasted vegetables, and perhaps some guac or sour cream. But burritos aren't the only draw to this 24/7 University District diner. Memo's chefs also serve taquitos, tortas, crispy tacos, and chimichangas, as well as all-day breakfast items including huevos rancheros and ham-and-egg scrambles. They handcraft secret hot sauces that have been known to set off the mouth's built-in sprinkler system. And to ensure customers fully enjoy their plates, they build their meals from all-natural ingredients and cook with vegetable oil, never lard.
Chabela's Bar & Grill stocks its kitchen with fresh cactus, whose cool, green meat garnishes Mexican dishes such as chicken slow-cooked in molcajete salsa. Chefs sauté vegetable and chicken fajitas in a special sauce, and grill shrimp for the secret of their chipotle seasoning. For a cross-continental twist, Chabela's fuses Italian, French, and Mexican cuisine in recipes such as ratatouille quesadillas and penne pasta in cilantro pesto.
Tempero do Brasil transports diners' taste buds to the northeastern state of Bahia and beyond with a menu of authentic Brazilian fare. Feijoada, a savory black bean stew and the national dish of the Portuguese-speaking republic ($17), swims with ham hocks, sausages, and beef and arrives with an entourage of rice, sautéed collard greens, and orange slices. In the traditional moqueca de camaräo ($18) expertly trained prawns and vegetables perform a smoldering samba amid coconut milk, lime juice, and palm oil and the festa ($15) loads sautéed mushrooms and parmesan cheese into a baked-squash boat and sends it sailing into tomato-sauce seas. Seal the meal with a dose of caramel-flan dessert ($5) trained in the art of capoeira. Tempero do Brasil showcases live Brazilian music Saturday nights, filling the air with the distinctly South American sounds of the bossa nova and the glockenspiel.
For more than a quarter century, the Arias family has served a menu of classic Mexican cuisine at El Farol Mexican Restaurant. Plates full of enchiladas, fajitas, and burritos add their own colors to a space where bold and bright oranges, greens, and blues are splashed across the walls. A spicy shrimp dish, camarones a la diabla, leads a list of more upscale dinner feasts, including sirloin steak infused with cayenne pepper, and burgers, chimichangas, and tacos head the lunch menu. Patrons can quench their thirst with the usual suspects, such as beer, Jarritos, horchata, or a fire hydrant.