The Watering Hole: El Borracho Taqueria y Cantina, 1521 First Ave., 538-0440, PIKE PLACE MARKET
The Atmosphere: While the culinary content of Pike Place Market broadly appeals to anyone worshipping at the altar of seasonal slow food, culturally speaking, eating and drinking in the Market generally falls into one of two categories: Tourist Destination or Locals Only. While out-of-town visitors undoubtedly stumble into Kittie Davidovich‘s tequila-fueled taqueria, it’s generally happy, hardscrabble Market workers you’ll see stumbling out. After a day of tossing fish in the trenches or purveying produce while dodging strollers, Davidovich’s regulars belly up to her bar for traditional carnitas (pork shoulder braised in Mexican Coca-Cola), one of her many signature vegan dishes (quesadillas with soyrizo and Yukon Gold potatoes), and potent margaritas.
The Barkeep: Another reason rowdy fishmongers and tattooed merchants flock to El Borracho is Davidovich’s long-standing place in the close-knit Market community. She tended bar at Lowell’s for 10 years, and always wanted to open her own place. She and partner Adam Pomerleau took over the former Pan African space in August 2012 with the intent of creating a low-key, affordable space for the people Davidovich had already been serving for a decade.
The Drink: “I’ve learned that people still don’t really have that much money, and I don’t want people sipping on a $10 drink for an hour,” Davidovich says, gesturing to the “El Cheapo” margarita she’s just plunked down in front of me, along with a mystery shot of some sort. “I’d rather they have a couple, and walk out feeling like they got their money’s worth.” It’s not light on booze; it’s made with housemade sour mix; and just where can you get a decent drink for $4? Plus, calling it “El Cheapo” is just funny. The shot glass contains a generous, icy pour of “The Confusion”: tequila infused with the same fresh pineapple they use in their tacos al pastor and Madagascar vanilla pods they buy from neighboring Market Spice. “It can be kind of dangerous since you can’t really taste the tequila,” Davidovich warns.
The Verdict: Bargain-priced margaritas can go horribly wrong, usually via the shortcut of syrupy bottled mixes or a stingy pour. But true to her claims, Davidovich’s ‘ritas are just right: bright with lime and brimming with enough booze to take the edge off any tourist trauma an imbiber may have encountered during his or her day. “The Confusion” is a pleasant anomaly: a tropical-flavored fusion that tastes natural, not like an overly sweet Smirnoff concoction. Just don’t forget to lay a proper foundation, so you don’t take on the traits of the establishment’s name (“The Drunk”). At $1 apiece, you can’t afford not to order a carnitas taco (or four). E