La Isla

Getting to La Isla in time for its 3–6 p.m. happy hour might be tough—and not just because of the lies you'll need to tell to skip work so early. It's that you might still be looking for Sofrito Rico, the former incarnation of this Puerto Rican restaurant, which has recently undergone ownership and management shifts. But we're here to make sure you can find it, because the food is worth the hunt. Sauces like the sofrito (tomatoes, roasted peppers, garlic, onions, and herbs) and ajilimojili (creamy garlic with chili peppers and lime juice) act as mild but deeply intriguing embellishments to everything on La Isla's appetizer menu (half-priced for happy hour). Faced with a decision between empanadas (beef, vegetarian, potato, cheese, or shrimp; $3.99), tostones (smashed green plantains and arañitas, $2.99), and bacalaitos (cod and cilantro fritters, $4.99), we ordered them all in the form of the appetizer plate ($9.99), which did not disappoint. Even non-beef-eaters went crazy for the delicate carne molida empanada, and garlic fiends dunked their crispy tostones in mojito sauce when not fighting over the last bacalaito—perhaps the most scrumptious thing that ever came from a frying pan. A half-Mexican, half-Northwest beer selection is $1 off during happy hour, as are the specialty cocktails. A hot day calls for a Caribbean Crush ($7), made with three rums and pineapple and served up; a Caribbean Sunset ($6.50) of dark rum, cranberry, and O.J.; and—of course—a mojito ($6.50). So rico. 2320 N.W. Market St., 206-789-0516. BALLARD

 
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