The Eats: El Chupacabra, 6711 Greenwood Ave N., 706-4889. Mission style Mexican.
The Deets: Mexican cuisine is just plain fun. There’s something about it that invites zany restaurant decor (never complete without a Mexican wrestling theme) and the need to christen your eatery with a name like El Chupacabra. Seattle has its share of these kinda joints--Bimbos, Mama’s--but the two-store El Chupacabra franchise (there’s another Chup in Alki), though its fare is good at best, is notable for its highly veg-friendly menu, complete with vegan meats and cheeses.
The Beets: Though Chup’s food is merely serviceable, anything you order will instantly improve with their housemade chipotle pineapple salsa. The restaurant makes three varieties: chipotle pineapple, a verde and a roja, all available for purchase at $6 a bottle. They come in handy depending on your taste (and your order; Toby had a boring rice and bean vegan burrito which compelled him to drown it in salsa roja) but the pineapple chipotle had sweet and spicy profile a bit like sweet chili sauce that added some much needed zip to my entree.
To Chup’s credit, Mission style Mexican isn’t known for its culinary achievements as much as for being cheap, filling street eats, and that’s what’s offered here (albeit in a funky Greenwood craftsman). And, frankly, the vegan mood I was in that inspired me to order the vegan nachos (with vegan cheese and a $2.50 addition of Gardein chicken), later morphed into a serious case of indigestion. Truth be told, soy cheese sucks (I prefer a more natural nut cheese) and the added mock meat produced a state of processed food shock. But for veggies who want options, Chup’s got them in spades (they even marinate the fake meat in the respective sauces of their conventional ones), from simple rice and bean burritos, enchiladas, and quesadillas to tacos, tortas, and fried jalapenos.
And yes, just like those other places, their margaritas are fantastic.
The Tweet: Sometimes what you really need is a cheese, rice, and bean burrito. If your expectations are plain and simple, there’s plenty at the Chup for you.