There's a reason there are so many Mexican restaurants in Seattle: Mexican food is delicious and everyone in Seattle knows it. Have you ever met someone who doesn't like nachos? No. But just because Mexican food is so wonderful doesn't mean anyjuan should open his own taqueria. If anything, it should be the exact opposite--leave the art of perfecting the chimichanga and seared skirt steak to the experts who aren't passing off canned goods as homemade.
Beans, beans, the magical fruit (or a fatty, intestinal death wish, depending on where you go . . . ).
More and more in Seattle, mediocre Mexican joints are keeping their doors open with strong drinks, salty chips, and crappy everything else. With so many options, it's a wonder they're still kicking, although going back to the drinks comment, maybe their trick is getting you lit up like it's Cinco de Mayo so you forget how lame the food and/or service was . . . 'til your next unfortunate visit. We've rounded up five offenders we wish would clean up their act, or at least eliminate everything but the drinks from their menus to save us the trouble . . .
5. Mission (2325 California Ave. S.W.)
Atmosphere, service, and general likability are all intact for Mission. But kitchen inconsistencies (like being the lucky one to order enchiladas that arrive with no filling) and the abundance of visible lard (on any dish that includes beans of any kind) that somehow still can't keep the plate from arriving parched, cracked, and dry as hell, this joint gets our #5 spot. Let's hope Mission is on a mission to tighten up ship and get off this list!
4. El Sombrero Restaurant (4868 Rainier Ave. S.)
The smiling servers and giant glass goblets full of seriously strong margaritas are in no short supply, which is a good thing, the only good things you'll find at this Columbia City Ameri-Mexi restaurant. The gloppy and sometimes unidentifiable sauces and radioactive-like semi-liquid cheese require a second, if not third margarita, to get down. While some dishes are perfectly fine, too many misses, not enough hits (except to your wallet), has this place checking into the fourth spot.
3. The Buffet at La Cocina & Cantina (432 Broadway E.)
While the drinks are strong--highly touted as some of the strongest on Capitol Hill, in fact--the crusty and plastic-looking buffet slingshots this place into third place. We actually heard someone thought the buffet was for display only--which would probably be the best for everyone. The flavorless, rubbery cheese and fat-congealing beans that keep forming their own blistery skin (ostensibly to protect the rest of the beans from catching whatever dust lands on it from the lack of people touching the buffet) should be enough of a sign to not eat here--no matter how drunk you get.
2. Taco Bell (201 W. Mercer St.)
For the "mostly meat" scandal and for every time you sprint to the restroom in the 24 hours directly following your drunken trip thru the drive-thru, this place settles comfortably into the #2 slot.
1. Azteca Mexican Restaurants (1823 Eastlake Ave. E.)
When you're using a frozen bag of mixed vegetables for your veggie fajitas, including the cauliflower and crinkly-cut carrots, we draw the line. There aren't enough free chips and salsa in all of Tijuana to forget the wet and limp lettuce and taco-salad toppings, awful service, or old and crunchy Mexican rice and beans that hog 70 percent of every single plate. How is this place still in business?!