If there was a kid-friendly version of Seattle Weekly's 10 Best Mexican Restaurants list, Luisa's would sit at the top. Luisa's interior, from the working fountain in the foyer to the faux macaws hanging from the ceiling, is not quite ironic enough to be cool. If you're over age 12, that is. But the freestanding Mexican place in Crown Hill is a hungry child's dream.
Upon entering, Luisa's readily hands out warm house-made corn tortillas with a pat of butter and salsa from a station near the door. It's a healthier option than complimentary tortilla chips, but you'll get a basket with salsa roja and salsa verde upon being seated, too. Either way, kids are appeased.
Small plates are predictably anything but, with a ladle of refried beans, Spanish rice, and slaw arranged next to a single flauta, taco, or tamale. The enchilada verde is stuffed with shredded white meat chicken and topped with a perfectly sour and sharp green tomatillo sauce.
Chocolate and chili comes through in the mole sauce that tops shredded beef enchiladas. Rich and slightly sweet, queso fresco adds another dimension of flavor to the pair of stuffed tortillas.
Vegetarians will get more than enough protein when ordering gorditas, topped with black beans and served with a side of pintos. One fat corn cake is topped with red sauce, the other green. Both benefit from a slathering of sour cream, guac, and cheese.
Kids will do well with beans and rice or a single taco or burrito. Or if they're especially picky, there's always "Platos Americanos" featuring a burger or frozen fish sticks and a mound of fries.
There's a Friday and Saturday night energy to Luisa's that's as much fueled by booths of families fresh from soccer games as it is by the friendly and uncommonly child-tolerant staff. The menu contains few surprises, with the exception of a three dollar virgin margarita. Sure, it's sans the strong stuff, but the cheap-o faux cocktail serves as a true elixir for any pregnant woman dreaming of limey booze.