The Atmosphere: Don't be fooled by its whimsical cartoon seafood motif, assembly-line configuration, or chain status (additional Blue Water Taco Grills reside in SODO and in several downtown locations)--this is decidedly not a bland, snore-for-the-senses spot. This is simply executed and brightly seasoned coastal Mexican food served in a busy cafeteria splashed with the requisite primary colors (heavy on the blue, of course), and a liberal smattering of charming family photos. Plus, at the Queen Anne location, they have hard liquor and some of the best barbacoa to be found outside of taco truck culture (two barbacoa tacos with rice and beans are just $5 during happy hour).
The Drink: While the unfortunate preponderance of Corona swag undoubtedly drives many to order an ice bucket full of mini "Coronitas" ($5 for four), there's nothing wrong with their $4 happy hour margaritas. While the same fellow who helmed the creation of your carnitas is in charge of your pour, the housemade mix is a reasonable balance of tart and sweet, and the liquor portion is generous (perhaps because the oft-harried cooks double as bartenders). The patio out back is small, but sunny and sweet--and one of the few available along lower Queen Anne's drinking corridor.
The Verdict: Typically when a restaurant proliferates into a chain, it's safe to assume any sense of personal service or attention to culinary detail is rapidly on the wane, but Blue Water is in pleasant defiance of this norm. If you're looking for an elegant agave infusion, this is not your beat, but for a pre-show bite and cocktail next to SIFF's Uptown Cinema, this is an idyllic, budget-friendly option.