The Watering Hole: Mission, 2325 California Ave. S.W., 937-8220. WEST SEATTLE
The Atmosphere: Mission is like a little hideout smack dab in a residential neighborhood just a few doors down from the Admiral theater. It's a slender piece of unassuming property sandwiched between two other restaurants making it quite easy to miss. It's where you go when you don't want to run into anyone you know while you knock back a few strong drinks or catch the game on the flat screen. It's not uncommon for the bi-level Latin-inspired restaurant to host private parties in its upstairs loft, making the place a haven for boisterous fun and great people watching.The Barkeep: Paul Szekely. He's been bartending at Mission for a year. Before that, he worked for the Heavy Restaurant Group lending his skills to Lot No. 3 and Purple Cafe and Wine Bar for six years, specifically the original Purple in Woodinville. "When I initially started with Purple it was a husband and wife owner and their office was across the parking lot so it was a very small restaurant feel and I really enjoyed that," says Szekely. "If I had any issues or I wanted to talk to them, they were there. They've since grown which makes it tougher to have your voice heard. [At Mission], there are two owners, one of whom is very hands-on and is in here all the time." But the main reason Szekely moved to Mission is because he lives in West Seattle. "It's a great place to work. It's a pretty small staff and we've got a good smaller community restaurant so we get a lot of regulars, a lot of people who I see in the grocery store. It's definitely got that neighborhood feel."
The Drink: Szekely makes me a Bartender's Margarita (how'd I guess?) made with Sauza Conmemorativo tequila, triple sec, cranberry juice, housemade margarita mix, and a float of Grand Marnier. It's one of Mission's best sellers, but if Szekely could get any drink on the cocktail menu? "I have a lot of people ask me for Mezcal. So, it would be nice to have a Mezcal cocktail on the menu."
My Bartender's Margarita
The Verdict: One of the best margaritas I've had in recent memory. It was perfectly balanced and refreshing, but best of all, it was strong. You could actually taste the tequila as opposed to the mix. And even though it was pink, it wasn't overtly sweet. Bartender, I'll have another!