Things that fix an ugly, rainy March day: the Shark’s Tooth; Between the Sheets; I Shot the Sheriff. Que estan? They’re all scrumptious, rum heavy cocktails at the new Belltown cafe Casuelita’s, a bright, airy space of papaya-colored walls and faux-crocodile floors. If three-mojito lunches don’t go over so hot at the office, stick to the vividly flavored food and you’ll still leave happy. A tropical citrus salad ($6) piles fresh hunks of strawberry, mango, and tangerine on spinach leaves with a side of sweet coconut-chili pepper dressing so delicious you’ll want to drink it straight. The ceviche La Paz ($7.50) serves up fresh shrimp marinated in citrus and saffron oil with diced tomato and onion in a mammoth cocktail glass; circled by a plate of crisp coin-shaped tortilla chips, it’s almost a meal.
More than a meal is the Bayou gumbo ($9.50), generous with everything but the rice; crab legs, prawns, snapper, chicken, and “ouille” sausage simmered in a fragrant, smoky broth spiced in the comfortable, two-star range. Tacos ($8)darker and more full-flavored than their Mexican cousinscome wrapped in a chapati-like flatbread with guacamole, Roma tomatoes, sweet onions, cilantro, and shredded cabbage. The regional standbysJamaican patties, jerk chicken, the house’s namesake “little pans”are all easy choices; it’s narrowing it down that gets tough. Options are even wider with the dinner menukeep it Anglo with a New York steak served with scalloped potatoes ($19.50) or go native with curry-stewed goat ($14); either way, save room for dessert. The sweet potato pie ($5) is deliciously sticky, heavy with sweet nutmeg, and nuzzled by sliced strawberries and a fine lattice of chocolate sauce, but nothing beats fruit on fireif you’ve already had a few Barbados Breezes (gold rum, blue Curacao, lime juice, club soda, and cherries, $6), why not go all out and get the plaintains flamb頨$7.50)? If it’s still raining, you deserve it.