Three Versions of Enchiladas–New Mexico, El Paso, and Mexico Style

Saveur Magazine, in “The Texas Issue” of July 2009 recognizes two facts that I use as assumptions on this web site: that El Paso has its own regional style of Mexican food and that enchiladas are one of the distinguishing features of this cuisine. On page 47 of the issue Beth Kracklauer relates the story of visiting the Gonzalez family of Las Cruces (who are friends of the Jurado family, long time operators of Casa Jurado in El Paso).

The family demonstrates how to cook enchiladas three styles (New Mexican, El Paso style, and Mexican) starting with a common pan of chile colorado sauce warming on the stove. The sauce “consists of nothing more than dried chiles, olive oil, garlic, and sea salt, and it’s going into all three kinds of enchilada.”

Red enchiladas served at Chope's Restaurant in La Mesa, NM

Red enchiladas with a chile relleno from Chope’s Restaurant in La Mesa, NM (New Mexico style)

To make New Mexico style enchiladas the cook lays the tortillas flat, each tortilla dipped in chile colorado and topped with a sparse scattering of cheddar cheese, and on top of each stack of tortillas goes a fried egg.

Red enchiladas served at Su Casa in El Paso, TX

Red enchiladas served at Su Casa in El Paso, TX (El Paso style)

The El Paso style enchiladas are rolled and set side by side in a baking dish, coming from the oven with shredded white and yellow cheddar on top. It was explained that “You’d never get this in Mexico. There, cheese is just a garnish, used very sparingly.”

Red enchiladas served at Birrieria Diaz in Bethany, OK

Red enchiladas served at Birrieria Diaz in Bethany, OK (The Mexico style enchiladas described in this article)

The northern Mexico style enchiladas are rolled, but only lightly dusted with crumbly cotija cheese and accompanied by fried diced potatoes and a tangy cabbage and radish slaw.

The author concludes that though the basic ingredients are the same, the three versions are decidedly not. “The differences between them come down to subtleties of technique–an extra dip of a tortilla in hot oil, another ten minutes on the stove to reduce the sauce, a pinch of cumin tossed in at the end–the kind handed down intuitively, from mother to daughter to grandson.”

I would add my own comments to this article by saying that I think cooks trained in different traditions of Mexican cooking sometimes make other changes as well, such as the chile used (especially for New Mexico cooking), the oil used (vegetable versus lard), other ingredients added to the sauce (cumin, etc.), and other factors.  Moreover, green chile is probably more popular in Mexico and New Mexico, while red chile seems to be the norm in El Paso.  The story in Saveur Magazine, though, gives a very good description of the differences in the three styles of enchiladas served in the El Paso area–El Paso, New Mexico, and Mexico.

Restaurant Guide–Seattle

Restaurant Guide Main Index


  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources


Cafe Ori–14339 NE 20th St. (Chinese) Open daily 11 am to 8 pm.  Has Cantonese style–excellent and authentic However it has a number of spicy dishes. Casual place with portions and prices that are right to make this a frequent stop. Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)

Din Tai Fung–700 Bellevue Way NE (Chinese) Open Daily. Specializes in Taiwanese and Shanghainese cuisine. If you follow the on-line reviews, this is the place to go in Bellevue for Chinese food. The problem is that they usually have a waiting line (but I experienced this at several restaurants, and I would say it is normal for good restaurants in the Seattle area). Soup dumplings (xiao long bao) are a specialty of the restaurant, and are best when eaten right after they are served (so you will probably have to wait in line for a table to get the best experience with this). Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Facing East–12736 Bel-Red Rd. (Taiwanese) Open daily (closed from 3:00 to 5:00 pm). Authentic Taiwanese food. There is a debate whether this or Henry’s is the best. Map (Takeout only 7-17-22)

Istanbul–405 Bellevue Way NE (Turkish) Open daily except Sun evening.  Flavors are so good people put this on their regular rotation. This is a casual place with good prices. Map (Dining room is open 7-17-22)

Kizuki Ramen–14845 Main St. (Japanese) Open Daily.  Apparently it goes to great lengths to provide authentic Japanese ramen with a rich flavor. Is a local chain with 9 locations in Seattle & Portland, and two in the Midwest. Might be the latest version of the old Takohachi Restaurant but I am not sure if this is the case. Map (Dining room is open 7-17-22)

Top Gun–12450 SE 38th St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  Dim sum at lunch every day. I felt that this was the best dim sum place in Seattle (but parking is usually difficult). Map (Dining room is open 7-17-22)

Uwajimaya–699 120th Ave. NE (Grocery Store) Open daily (open until 8:00 pm).  The old Takohachi from the International District moved to the food court here (had a ramen drawing in front of the store) but I think it is no longer here. They currently have 3 Japanese restaurants in the food court–a Japanese restaurant, a sushi place, and a Japanese dessert place. As far as the grocery store is concerned–I have never seen such a good selection of Asian foods and other items anywhere (although this refers mainly to the downtown Seattle location). Map (I don’t know if the eating places have dine-in 7-17-22)

Xiao Chi Jie–278 106th Ave. NE (Chinese) Open daily 11 am to 8 pm.  This is “Chinese street food” with a small menu of bao, bowls, and jian bing (crepes). It is highly rated, but may be expensive even for something this good (according to reviewers). Map (Dining room is open 9-14-22)

Black Diamond

Europa–29030 216th Ave. SE (German) Closed Sun (closes at 7:30 pm weekdays-I think it is 8:00 in the summer).  Reviewers say this is food like you would find in Germany. Dinner plates look very large from the photos, but lunch specials are also available. Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)


Afghan Choopan–17121 Bothell Way NE (Afghan) Dinner only but lunch also served Sat & Sun (closed Mon).  An Afghan restaurant that used to be open in Issaquah convinced me about how delicious this food can be, and the one here looks good. Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Des Moines

Salty’s–28201 Redondo Beach Dr. S (Seafood) Open daily (restaurant closes at 8 pm, but the cafe/bar serves until 9:30 pm). After hearing about the great seafood in the Northwest, I have to say this was one of the few places which really delivered for me. However, I only recommend the plain fish dishes (not the ones with fancy sauces). Map (Temporarily closed 9-19-22)


Hosoonyi–23830 Hwy. 99 (Korean) Closed Tue.  Said to have excellent food, but reviewers also say it has excellent prices. Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Noodle Hut–8418 Bowdoin Way (Thai) Closed Sun & Mon (and closed from 3 to 4:30 pm). Reviewers say it is absolutely authentic and quite good (and the details make me think they know what they are talking about). (Moved from Everett). Map (Dining room is open 9-19-22)


El Camino–1225 Griffin Ave. (Mexican) Dinner only (closed Sun & Mon).  I did not eat here, but I walked in, looked at the menu, and vowed to return because at last I found authentic Mexican food in Enumclaw. Map (Dining room is open 3-5-22)

Griffin & Wells Cafe–1239 Griffin Ave. (American) Dinner only (open Wed-Sat).  Specializes in sandwiches, but has flavorful and very well prepared dinners also. Reviewers say this place is making a name for itself, and that Enumclaw needed this place. Map (Dining room is open 9-19-22)

Pho Real–1118 Stevenson Ave. (Vietnamese) Closed Sun.  People say the pho and vermicelli bowls are authentic and have a very good flavor. Map (Dining room is open 3-5-22)

Teriyaki House–1040 Stevenson Ave. (Japanese) Open 11 am to 8 pm (closed Sun).  Teriyaki restaurants seem to be a particular phenomenon in southern King County, and I tried several. This one was my favorite. Map (Dining room is open 9-19-22)

The Kettle–1666 2nd St. (American) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Mon).  Omelettes, muffins are very good. Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)

Federal Way

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue–32225 Pacific Hwy. S. (Hawaiian) Open daily 10 am to 9 pm). The highest rated place I have found in south King County for Hawaiian style lunches.  Note: for large dinners and luau style food you might want to try Pac Island Grill at 2012 S. 320th St. Map (Dining room is open 9-19-22)

So Moon Nan Jib–33324 Pacific Hwy. S. (Korean) Open 11 am to 10 pm (closed Wed).  Reported by many to be the best Korean restaurant in Federal Way (which is known for its Korean food). A key phrase for me in the reviews is that it is “home style.” Korean BBQ is the specialty, but they have a wide variety of dishes. Map (Dining room is open 3-5-22)


Jak’s Grill–14 Front St. N (Steaks) Open daily except Mon lunch (closed from 2 to 4 pm).  Although I have never eaten here, I know it is good because of what I have heard about it from other people. This is a fairly expensive steak restaurant–it is not a fancy one where you are paying for the atmosphere, but you are paying for good steak (or other items they serve). Map (Dining room is open 3-5-22)

Max’s World Cafe–212 Front St. N (Indian) Dinner only (closed Sun & Mon).  Fresh and flavorful Indian food which is very consistent because this is a small restaurant. Serves Goan style Indian food (probably not something you will find at very many restaurants). Map (Temporarily closed 9-19-22)

Noodle Boat–700 NW Gilman Blvd. (Thai) Open daily except Sun lunch (and closed from 2 to 4 pm).  At the time it was the best Thai had ever experiened in the U.S. (and it is still way up near the top). The food is not Americanized, so I think it tastes best when it is ordered with the spice level that complements the flavor (ask the chef to make it the right level, and it is not always extremely spicy). Map (Dining room is open 9-19-22)

Taqueria La Venadita–730 NW Gilman Blvd. (Mexican) Open daily 10:30 am to 8:30 pm.  Supposedly the most authentic Mexican rest. in the Seattle area. Mostly tacos, burritos, and Mexican “street food.”  Map (Dining room is open 9-19-22)


Bahn Sip Song–1734 Central Ave. S. (Lao) Open Daily.  Several reviewers say it serves authentic Lao food. Papaya salad and larb are recommended items. They also have Thai food which is served on the lunch specials (and are said to be good food at a good price). Map (Temporarily closed 9-19-22)

Fil Cuisine–23843 108th Ave. SE (Filipino) Open daily (closes at 7:30 pm except Sun at 6:30 pm).  Seems to be the best of several very good Filipino restaurants in the area. Reviews say the food here is home style. Map (Dining room is open 3-5-22)

Imperial Garden–18230 E. Valley Hwy. (Dim Sum) Open daily (10 am to 9 pm). Large dim sum menu–beginning in 2022 they have an all day menu including dim sum (previously there was a smaller menu after 4 pm). Beijing duck is their signature dish but it has to be ordered a day ahead of time. Map (Dining room is open 9-19-22)

Pho Saigon Garden–25632 Pacific Hwy. S (Vietnamese) Open daily 10 am to 9 pm.  Does not have the variety of dishes found at Green leaf in Seattle, but has food so good I find very little reason to go into Seattle if I am on the south side. Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Punjab Sweets–23617 104th Ave. SE (Indian) Open 1 pm to 8 pm (closed Mon).  Vegetarian Indian restaurant. Malai kofta is recommended. Has thali. Sweets (desserts) are what sets it apart from many other restaurants (in addition to the fact that many restaurants do no seem to have the food quality that they have here). Map (Dining room is open 3-5-22)

Szechuan First–18124 E. Valley Hwy. (Chinese) Open Daily.  I’m not sure if everything here is authentic but some of it seems to be, and it gets good reviews. Map (Dining room is open 9-19-22)


Beijing O’Chef–206 Main St. (Chinese) Open Daily.  I am unsure whether they have northern Chinese (Beijing style) cuisine. It does seem to have some good items. They do have Peking duck. Map (Dining room is open 9-19-22)

Cafe Happy–102 Kirkland Ave. (Chinese) Open 12 pm to 8 pm (12-6 on Sun).  Vegetarian Chinese food and boba drinks (I think people will really like it even if they are not vegetarian). Now owned by the nephew of the original owners, it now has a second location near the UW campus (which has boba tea only). (Dining room is open 3-5-22)

Isarn Thai Soul Kitchen–170 Lake St. S. (Thai) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  Seems to be very authentic. Many of the reviewers say they do not really like Thai food all that much except for here (I know that Isan style is different from mainstream Thai so this may be one of the reasons). Much of the menu is street food. Down side here is that it is small and frequently has a line waiting for a table. Also in Lynnwood and Seattle. Map (Dining room is open 9-19-22)

Note: Cafe Juanita (Italian) is probably the most well known and highest rated restaurant in Kirkland, but is $$$$

Maple Valley

Pho Binh Minh–23714 222nd Place SE (Vietnamese) Dinner daily; Lunch Fri-Sun.  One of the highest rated Vietnamese restaurants south of Seattle, and the highest rated of any kind in MV. Has dishes other than pho, and reviewers like them, but they don’t say what they are and I can’t find a menu. They do say, though, that they like the banh mi. Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Mercer Island

Pogacha–2707 78th Ave. SE (Croatian) Dinner daily; lunch Wed-Sun.  Advertised as a Northwest restaurant with a Croatian flair (including the Croatian flatbread called pogacha). When I went to the restaurant in Issaquah they had dishes such as fish and chips and northwest salads, but the flatbread appetizer convinced me to order what I had wanted to try anyway–the Croatian food. In my case it was Dobar chicken with the very noticeable taste of Gorgonzola cheese and port wine, but I really liked it. Only a few Croatian dishes are on the menu, but I think they are supplemented with daily specials. Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)


Yea’s Wok–6969 Coal Creek Pkwy. SE (Chinese) Closed Mon (and closed 3:00 to 5:00 pm).  Cantonese, Mandarin, and Sichuan (all of them are excellent, and each one has an expert cook preparing it). Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)


Kanishka–16651 Redmond Way (Indian) Open Daily.  At the time it was the best Indian restaurant I had tried anywhere (I have since found some others that are about the same quality). Has both vegetarian and meat thali sampler plates. Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)

Malay Satay Hut–15230 NE 24th St. (Malaysian) Open Daily.  Look for daily specials. Definitely one of my favorite restaurants in the Seattle area. I liked the ginger tofu (not on the menu but they will make it for you). I always enjoyed the specials as well. Map (Dining room is open 11-3-20)

Sichuan Cuisine–2010 148th Ave. NE (Sichuanese) Open Daily.  This is the most authentic Sichuanese food I have ever found in the U.S. The ma po tofu is swimming in oil, and delicious. Was more casual and lower priced than other authentic restaurants in the area. The spice level is also the real deal. There is also a location on S. Jackson St. in Seattle. Map (Dining room is open 3-5-22)


Five Sisters Thai Cuisine–14252 SE 176th St. (Thai) Open Daily.  Reviewers say the food is at the same level as Bai Tong (which I think is one of the best in Seattle). Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)

Himalayan Cafe–202 SW 43rd St. (Nepalese) Open Daily.  What I know from reviews is that it has an Indian buffet and that it has Nepalese food. It seems that few people have tried the Nepalese food but those who have say it is good. They also like the buffet. Map (Dining room is open 3-5-22)

Renton Bistro–212 S. 3rd St. (Vietnamese) Closed Mon.  Small restaurant with a surprisingly large menu and surprisingly good food (according to reviewers). Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Taqueria Los Potrillos–2800 NE Sunset Blvd. (Mexican) Open daily 10 am to 11 pm.  This section of highway is lined with Mexican restaurants, but I never knew which one to try. Many reviewers say the best one is actually a taco truck called Los Portrillos, serving a good variety of very good tacos at amazingly cheap prices. Photos of the food make it look like something I would get in El Paso. There are 5 other locations in the Seattle area. Map (Takeout only; picnic tables available 9-19-22)


Archipelago–5607 Rainier Ave. S. (Filipino) Open Thu-Sat (dinner only).  This is a “progressive” restaurant that merges Filipino with Northwestern cuisine, with dishes such as potato or squash in adobo sauce. There is not much information about the menu on the Internet except that great care is taken in preparing each item and diners love it. Map (Dining room is open–reservations are advised 12-15-21)

Chiang’s Gourmet–7845 Lake City Way NE (Chinese) Closed Tue.  This is one of the authentic Chinese restaurants that lived up to the hype I read on Chowhound. They have Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine, but most people order Sichuan (as did I because there are not as many restaurants serving it). They have several menus, and waiters do not always volunteer this information to customers. I think the best strategy is to talk to them, tell them what you want, and order what sounds best out of their suggestions. Map (Dining room is open 12-16-21)

Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar–1916 Pike Pl. #16 (Seafood) Lunch only (closed Tue & Wed).  Reviewers say chefs prepare elevated versions of local seafood at relatively inexpensive prices. Map (Dining room is open 9-14-22)

Green Leaf–418 8th Ave. S (Vietnamese) Dinner only (closed Sat-Mon). My favorite straight Vietnamese restaurant in Seattle (Monsoon is my favorite for high end Vietnamese/ French fusion). Green Leaf offers a large number of dishes that I have not found in any other Vietnamese restaurant I have visited (Tamarind Tree is close, but I liked Green Leaf better). Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Henry’s Taiwan–522 S King St. (Taiwanese) Open daily 11 am to 8 pm.  More authentic than Facing East but some think Facing East is culinarily the better choice. It is probably a good idea to look at the reviews and decide what you want to order before you go because most people are not familiar with the food and it is not explained very well on the menu (according to some reviewers). Also at 4106 Brooklyn Ave. NE (near the University). (Dining room is open 10-6-21)

Ivar’s Acres of Clams–1001 Alaskan Way (Seafood) Open daily noon to 8 pm. Tourist restaurant, but some items are quite good (also it is worth eating on the waterfront if you have never done so). The Copper River salmon here (available in late May/early June) is the best I have had anywhere. Map (Dine-in and patio dining are available 12-15-21)

Kisaku Sushi–2101 N. 55th St. (Japanese) Closed Sun. lunch (and closed from 2 to 5 pm). This is not the kind of sushi restaurant that is normally found across the country. This is high end, very professionally prepared sushi (but not at exorbitant prices). It also has a large menu of cooked Japanese items. Both the sushi and regular menu are the best I have had in Seattle. Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

La Carta de Oaxaca–5431 Ballard Ave. NW (Mexican) Closed Sun (and closed from 3 to 5 pm).  Supposedly has authentic Oaxaca style food, but in any case it has mole and the reviews are good (it has had excellent reviews for a number of years). Map (Dining room is open 3-5-22)

Little Ting’s Dumplings–14411 Greenwood Ave. N (Chinese) Open 11 am to 8:30 pm (closed Tue).  Authentic northern Chinese style dumplings, onion pancakes, hand shaved noodles. Multiple sources indicate this is one of the best, if not the best in Seattle. Small restaurant with large demand for its food sometimes means slow service, problems when trying to call in an order, etc. Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Maneki–304 6th Ave. S (Japanese) Open 4:30 pm to 8 pm (closed Mon). My second favorite Japanese place (behind Kisaku). However, this is located in the International District, is a very old and well known restaurant, and is probably more fun because of the large crowds who come as much for the atmosphere as the food. I definitely recommend this restaurant also. Map (Dining room is open 3-5-22)

Matt’s In the Market–94 Pike St. (Northwest) Closed Sun evening, Mon & Tue (closed from 2:30 to 5:30 pm).  Small upscale restaurant that many times has more people who want to eat here than they have space to accommodate (but if you are able to get a table you will be richly rewarded with some of the very best food in Seattle). The view of Pike Place Market out the window is great, but this is a bonus (the food is the reason to come here). Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Monsoon–615 19th Ave. E (Vietnamese) Open daily 11:30 am to 9 pm (9:30 on Fri & Sat). This is an upscale French/Vietnamese fusion restaurant that makes the Vietnamese food even better (rather than dumbing it down to a “fusion” style). One of the few places with outdoor seating that I found to be very comfortable. Map (Dining room is open 9-14-22)

Oriental Mart–1506 Pike Pl. (Filipino) Open daily 10 am to 4 pm.  Specialty is sinigang (tamarind soup with salmon–a local twist to the traditional dish). Other than this, though, it serves Filipino food as it would be done in the homeland. Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Pike Place Chowder–1530 Post Alley (Seafood) Open daily 11 am to 5 pm.  Based on the Yelp rankings this is the best place to eat in Pike Place. Serves several flavors of chowder, and you can either get a sampler plate or pick the one that suits you. Has another location at 600 Pine St. Map (Dining room is open 9-14-22)

Pizzeria Pulcinella– 10003 Rainier Ave. S (Pizza) Dinner only (lunch also served Sat & Sun).  Seattle has a large selection of VPN certified Neapolitan pizzas, and besides Tutta Bella, this restaurant and Pizzeria 22 look like good choices (prices are a little lower than some of the other places). At Pizzeria Pulcinella pizza is just about all they do (a few other dishes are available, and they are not expensive). Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Portage Bay Cafe–4130 Roosevelt Bay NE (New American) Breakfast & lunch only (closed Tue & Wed).  Fresh and sustainable food that has been getting good reviews for a number of years (most people go for breakfast or brunch). Now has 3 locations. Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)

Rocking Wok–4301 Interlake Ave. N (Taiwanese) Closed Tue.  Seemed to be authentic Taiwanese food, and I really enjoyed it. Located in an old house–all the dining rooms are very small. Some say it is better than Din Tai Fung because it is cheaper and the food is just as good. Serves congee (at least some of the time). Map (Takeout and delivery only 12-15-21)

Shanghai Garden–524 6th Ave. S (Chinese) Closed Tue.  This was my favorite restaurant in Issaquah (because of the variety of choices, the price, and the comfortable setting). Bean curd sheet rolls, hand shaven noodles, hot and sour soup are very good. (There is a link to my review of the Issaquah location, which is now closed). Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)

Sushi Kashiba–86 Pine St. (Sushi) Dinner only (closed Mon & Tue).  This is a reader’s suggestion, and Google Maps says it is $$$$ (I think their most expensive category). However, I think it is the type of special experience that people will find worthwhile. It is a project of Shiro Kashiba who owned the former Shiro’s which was considered the ultimate sushi experience (and reviews indicate that Sushi Kashiba is the same). I do know that there are other very good sushi restaurants in Seattle but I would certainly like to try this one. Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)

Tamarind Tree–1036 S. Jackson St. (Vietnamese) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  This, along with Green Leaf, convinced me that Vietnamese food could be much more than is typically found in US restaurants, although I realize that the customer base in Seattle’s International District gives these restaurants a much greater chance of having success with a larger menu. When I went I did not like it quite as much as Green Leaf, but the prices were lower so I had a little bit of leeway to try some extra items that I added to the meal (and all of them were good). Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Tutta Bella–4411 Stone Way N. (Pizza) Open daily 11 am to 10 pm.  There are several locations of this restaurant throughout the metropolitan area, and all are VPN certified serving authentic Neapolitan pizza. Photos show it having a fluffy crust around the edges, as it should, Has a few other items, and most are ones I see in other VPN restaurants meaning that they are taking seriously the task of serving authentic Italian food. I think what I like the most is that as of Dec. 2021 you can get a 10″ margherita pizza for $13 (one of the best prices I have seen for this pizza). Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)


Old Village Korean–15200 Aurora Ave. N (Korean) Closed Tue (and closed from 2:30 to 4 pm).  Reviewers say to get the grilled meat because the table grills use charcoal briquettes that give it an excellent flavor. Map (Dining room is open 10-6-21)

Pho 99–19828 Aurora Ave. N (Vietnamese) Open daily 10 am to 8 pm.  Reviewers say it is an authentic hole in the wall with very good food. Has a full menu (not just pho). Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)


Aahaar-7726 Center Blvd. SE (Indian) Closed Mon (and closed from 2 to 5 pm).  Owner is from the Kerala state in South India, which has food that I have found to be some of the most delicious I have tried in Indian restaurants (in fact I think it is the best of any of them). This cuisine has a number of fish dishes, which is a good fit for the Seattle area. Located in the Snoqualmie Ridge planned community, I found the community center where the restaurant is located to be very interesting (and with a number of restaurant choices). Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

Gianfranco–8150 Railroad Ave. SE (Italian) Dinner only (open daily).  I think this is quite a special Italian restaurant, serving an outstanding “penne Gianfranco” dish with gorganzola and seasonal specials such as Copper River salmon. Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)


Aaran–13820 Tukwila Intl. Blvd. (Somali) Open Daily.  There used to be two Somali restaurants in town, but this is the one still operating (and apparently is very popular). Map (Dining room is open 3-5-22)

Bai Tong–16876 Southcenter Pkwy. (Thai) Open Daily.  Quality is in the same league as Noodle Boat in Issaquah, and Bai Tong has a larger menu with items that will appeal to just about everyone (including those who do not like it spicy). This restaurant was started to serve the Thai pilots and airline personnel who flew into the Seattle airport. Note: now has locations in Redmond, Capitol Hill (Seattle), and Issaquah. Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)

Din Tai Fung–181 Southcenter Mall (Taiwanese) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  This is a chain that is very popular in the Los Angeles area. There are two locations in Seattle and one in Bellevue (I expect that all of them have the same food). Has xiao long bao. Map (Dining room is open 9-14-22)


The PicNic Table–18672 142nd Ave. NE (Sandwiches) Lunch Wed-Sun; Dinner Fri & Sat.  This is a dine-in restaurant, but menu is set up so you can take food with you as you tour the nearby wineries. Menu changes weekly, and always offers Italian and Mediterranean choices. I picked it because of its very high ratings but the menu seems very expensive even for food as good as this seems to be. The actual sandwiches and small plates, though, are somewhat reasonably priced. Map (Dining room is open 12-15-21)

  • For additional explanation of this list see Index
  • Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

James Beard Foundation America’s Classics

The following are locally owned restaurants that are distinguished by their timeless appeal, and which serve quality food that represents the character of their communities:

  • Seattle: Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar–1916 Pike Place #16
  • Seattle: Maneki–304 6th Ave. S.
  • Seattle: Oriental Mart–1506 Pike Place #509
  • Seattle: Ray’s Boathouse and Cafe–6049 Seaview Ave. NW

Note About “50 States, 50 Dishes” (Condé Nast)

Condé Nast published an article on Jul. 3, 2018 using various sources to compile a “list of the dishes that capture the hearts, souls, and (oh, yes) stomachs of these 50 states (plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico), and where you should order them.” For Washington it was cedar plank salmon–salmon cooked on a cedar plank over an open flame. The editors say a good place for it is at Six Seven Restaurant at the Edgewater Hotel (on Pier 67 in Seattle).

Note About “50 States, 50 Cuisines” (Condé Nast)

Condé Nast published an article on Sep. 14, 2020 explaining how they set out to go beyond a previous article that had identified the signature dish for each state, and to find food that goes beyond the classics and “to highlight a cuisine worth traveling to each state for, much of which you truly can’t get anywhere else.” For Washington it was Filipino cuisine, which has the unique characteristic of using local seafood in the recipes because of many early immigrants working in the area’s canneries.

A couple of examples of Filipino food are Oriental Mart in Pike Place Market that uses salmon scraps in the Filipino dish sinigang, while Archipelago uses locally grown green apples to provide the dish’s signature sourness.


James Beard Foundation (America’s Classics Award Winners)

Chowhound (former web site)

City-Data “What are Your Favorite Restaurants in Seattle?”

Condé Nast Traveler “50 States, 50 Cuisines: The Food Worth Traveling For in Every State”

Condé Nast Traveler, “50 States, 50 Dishes: America’s Favorite Foods and Where to Get Them”

Google Maps (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

VPN Americas (Washington)

Yelp (Washington)

Zomato (Seattle)

Restaurant Guide–Washington

Restaurant Guide Main Index

Portland Metro

Seattle Metro

  • Date indicates the most recent update of the restaurants listed
  • Bold indicates my recommendations; others come from what I consider to be good sources


Breakwater–306 S. F St. (Seafood) Open daily until 7pm (6 on Sun).  According to reviews, the fish and chips and the clam chowder seem to be as good as anywhere in the region. The chowder gets particularly good comments. Map (Dining room is open 2-2-22)

La Salvadoreña–122 N. H St. (Salvadoran) Open Daily.  Food looks good and authentic (has good reviews). Map (Dining room is open 9-8-22)


Bamboo Bistro–3401 Commercial Ave. (Vietnamese) Open daily (closed from 3 to 4:30 pm).  People say the pho is excellent, but has a good selection of other items that are also good. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Frida’s Gourmet Mexican–416 Commercial Ave. (Mexican) Open daily 12 pm to 8 pm.  Authentic mole poblano and other upscale Mexican food that has rave reviews from people who are familiar with the “real deal” in Mexico. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)


Copper Creek Inn–35707 SR 706 E. (American) Closed Tue & Wed.  Has burgers, trout, and other popular local dishes. Pot roast is recommended. Probably the main draw here is the blackberry pie. Map (Dining room is open 8-20-21)

Ukrainian Cuisine–31811 SR 706 (Ukrainian) Open daily 8 am to 8 pm.  Breakfast is crepes, eggs, or Belgian waffle. Several types of pierogies and other Ukrainian dishes make up the dinner menu along with steak, shish kebab, salmon, and burgers. Map (Dining room is open 8-6-22)


Anthony’s Hearthfire Grill–7 Bellwether Way (American) Dinner daily; lunch Wed-Sun.  I have been to a couple of the Anthony’s restaurants and found them to be a good place for seafood–salmon, etc. (but reviewers say go to Chuckanut Dr. in Bow for more high-end seafood). Note: Anthony’s at Squalicum Harbor is at 25 Bellwether Way and might be worth checking out (they have a 3 course dinner that costs $25 in 2021 and is served until 5 pm). Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)

Dragon River–1319 Cornwall Ave. (Chinese) Closed Sun.  Chinese food from Heilongjiang Province in northeast China. Food is excellent. Some recommend dishes with yu xiang sauce. Dumplings in hot chile oil are recommended. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Muto Izakaya–105 E. Chestnut St. (Japanese) Dinner only (closed Tue).  Specializes in ramen–also has sushi and chicken katsu. Reviews are very good. Also in Lynnwood. Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)


Rhododendron Cafe–5521 Chuckanut Dr. (Seafood, American) Dinner only (closed Mon & Tue).  Somewhat upscale, specializes in seafood. Salmon is one of the best choices. Map (Temporarily closed 11-3-21)

The Oyster Bar–2578 Chuckanut Dr. (Seafood) Open Daily.  An upscale restaurant with an ocean view. Even though oysters are its specialty, it has a wide range of seafood including Copper River salmon. Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)


4 Sisters–1600 NE Roseway Ln. (Vietnamese) Closed Sun.  Pho is popular, but also has other dishes. The people leaving the most positive reviews seem to be ones from Vietnam and those who are very familiar with Vietnamese food, so this is a good sign. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Hit Da Spot–308 N. Callow Ave. (Hawaiian) Lunch only (closed Sun & Mon).  Reviewers like the Hawaiian plate lunches and poke. Has a larger selection of items than most Hawaiian restaurants. Map (Dining room is open 9-8-22)

Suzy’s Kitchen–2665 6th St. (Korean) Closed Sun & Mon).  One of the top rated restaurants in Bremerton–consistently excellent reviews. Map (Dining room is open 2-2-22)


La Tarasca–1001 W. Main St. (Mexican) Open to 7 pm (6 on Sun); (closed Tue).  This restaurant is worthy of a stop according to reviews that have been coming in for a number of years. The most recommended dishes are the ones with any kind of sauce–mole, chile verde, etc. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)


Fonda Oaxaquena–127 E. Johnson Ave. (Mexican) Open Daily. Oaxaca style Mexican food with mole, mocaljete, etc. Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)

Cle Elum

Best of Thai–321 E. 1st (Thai) Dinner Tue-Sun; Lunch Tue-Fri.  Good and authentic Thai food.  Most people say, though, to order the food on the low end of the spicy scale (or else it may come out too hot). Map (Dining room is open 12-26-21)


Ray’s Drive In–221 W. Main St. (Burgers) Open 6 am to 6 pm (open daily).  Reviewers say it is a good place for burgers, breakfast, milkshakes, and smoothies. Map (Dining room is open 11-3-21)


Cafe C5–213 W. 4th Ave. (New American) Open 11 am to 4 pm Wed-Fri only.  Food is high quality (fresh). A couple of items are especially popular–Cajun shrimp (wrap or salad) and the Southwest veggie wrap. Has Thai salad and Asian vegetable bowl. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Palace Cafe–323 N. Main St. (American) Open daily (serves breakfast).  Recommended items include fresh fruit bowl (with granola for the breakfast version), hamburger, Hawaiian chicken burger, and prime rib. Map (Dining room is open 12-26-21)


Anthony’s HomePort–1726 W. Marine View Dr. (Seafood) Dinner daily; Lunch Wed-Sun.  Part of a mini-chain of upscale seafood restaurants with great ocean views.  For seafood this is hard to pass up. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Brooklyn Bros Pizza–1919 Hewitt Ave. (Pizza) Closed Mon.  Reviewers say it is good New York style pizza, and that the thin crust pizza is very tasty. This is a local chain with locations in Snohomish Co. Map (Dining room is open 8-27-21)

Curries–7318 Evergreen Way (Indian) Closed Tue (and closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Reviewers say it is one of the best Indian restaurants in the Seattle area. Spice level is appropriate (not dumbed down). Serves north Indian cuisine. Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)

Katya’s Bakery–12811 8th Ave. W. (Ukrainian) Open 10 am to 7 pm Mon-Fri; 10-6 Sat.  This is a bakery and cafe. It is the top rated bakery on Yelp, and is described as being made with fresh ingredients such as real cream and not any shortcuts such as mixes (the specialty is Eastern European pastries). The cafe serves authentic Described as the best Russian food you will find in the U.S. (but it is actually Ukrainian). This is a casual cafe and you will get typical dishes rather than elaborate dinners such as might be served in other Eastern European restaurants. I don’t know if it’s cheap because it’s so good most people say you will not be able to limit yourself to just a few items (from the bakery as well as the cafe). Map (Dining room is open 8-6-22)

King Noodle House–7815 Evergreen Way (Chinese) Open 11 am to 9:30 pm (closed Tue).  Said to be authentic and very good Chinese food. Specializes in hand pulled noodles. Map (Dining room is open 8-6-22)

The New Mexicans–1416 Hewitt Ave. (New Mexican) Dinner Wed-Sat; Lunch Fri-Sun.  New Mexico style food (some say it is not totally authentic but most say the red and green enchiladas are quite good). Map (Dining room is open 8-6-22)

Yummy Deli–8630 Evergreen Way (Vietnamese) Open 10 am to 7 pm (closed Sun) . The menu is simple–banh mi, pho, vermicelli bowls, and bubble tea. Banh mi is the most reviewed item and what gives this restaurant very high ratings (but the other items seem to be good as well). Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)

Zab Thai–11108 Evergreen Way (Thai) Open Daily.  Has classic Thai dishes, but the specialty of the chef is Northeastern (Issan) style food. Reviewers also say this is “easily the best Thai in Everett.” Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Friday Harbor

Cask and Schooner–1 Front St. (Seafood) Closed Tue & Wed; closed Thu lunch. The most recommended seafood restaurant on the island. Clam chowder, crab cakes, and steamed clams are recommended. However, the highest rated dishes seem to be the chicken sandwich and the poutine. Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)

Golden Triangle Thai–140 1st St. S. (Thai) Open 11-2:30 and 5-7 (closed Sun). Apparently the owners are from Chiang Mai (and food may be this style). People like the food. Some say it is overpriced, but it seems that everything on the island is overpriced. Lunch looks like it gives you a choice of less expensive dinners or else you can get a combo plate with either two or three items. Map (Dining room is open 8-6-22)

The Bait Shop–175 Spring St. (Seafood) Open 11 am to 7 pm (closed Wed &Thu).  This restaurant serves fish and chips and chowder. Many say it is the best on the island. Map (Dining room is open 8-6-22)

Gig Harbor

Taste of Peru–5500 Olympic Dr. NW (Peruvian) Dinner Tue-Sat; lunch Fri & Sat (dinner is until 7 pm).  Reviewers say it has very good Peruvian food. Because of the seafood in this area, the ceviche is one of the items that should definitely be considered. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Tides Tavern–2925 Harborview Dr. (American) Closed Mon. I was looking for seafood in the $$ or lower category, and this place came up. For this price you get fish and chips, fish tacos, and chowder (all are said to be excellent). Chicken pot pie is also said to be excellent. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Wok on Fire–5500 Olympic Dr. NW (Asian) Open 11:30 am to 8 pm (7 pm on Sun).  This is probably the best Asian restaurant in town. People say they do the Mongolian Grill very well. Map (Dining room is open 9-8-22)

Gold Bar

Zeke’s Drive In–43918 State Rt. 2 (American) Closed Tue & Wed.  Good roadfood type hamburger place, but has other items such as reubens. Probably the most popular feature is the make-your-own flavor milkshakes. Map (Dining room is open 8-27-21)


Dagupan Grill–3911 W. 27th Ave. (Filipino) Closed Sun evening & Mon (and closed from 2:30 to 5 pm).  Some say this is the only legit Filipino food in the eastern part of Washington. Reviewers say the food is fresh and “worth the wait” (for it to be individually cooked). Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)

Masala Indian–3321 W. Kennewick Ave. (Indian) Open daily except Tue lunch (and closed from 2:30 to 5:00 pm).  One of the few Asian restaurants in the Tri Cities that get good reviews from people who are from Portland or Seattle. Has thali sampler plate. Map (Dining room is open 9-8-22)


Cebu–9408 Martin Way E. (Filipino) Closed Sun. Small family run place. Food has very good reviews. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Hot Ginger Pho–1401 Marvin Rd. NE (Vietnamese) Closed Sun. New restaurant that opened in Dec. 2015.Good reviews for the food, but sometimes not for the service. Has a large menu, but most reviews are for the pho and the more well known dishes. Some people say the pho is better at the “other” Vietnamese restaurant in town. Map (Dining room is open 2-2-22)

Pattaya Thai–8640 Martin Way E (Thai) Open Daily. Large number of good reviews. I think it’s because they make the food spicy (when you want) and they have a great number of choices on the menu. Some also say Olympia restaurants are very bland but this one is like the Thai food you find in larger cities. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)


Andreas Keller–829 Front St. (German) Open Daily. Good for schnitzel cordon bleu, polish sausage (and other sausages), red cabbage, Russian crumble cake, and apple strudel. However, the prices are high to the point that it gets lower ratings than the other German restaurants, and it may not be suitable for this list because of exceeding the $$ category. Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)

Colchuck’s–801 Front St. (German) Closed Tue & Wed. Good for jager schnitzel and huhner schnitzel (chicken) if you want something other than pork. Side dishes are said to be good. Has non-German dishes such as salmon carpaccio and a large selection of burgers. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Munchen Haus–709 Front St. (German) Lunch daily; dinner Fri-Sun. Known for bratwurst & choice of mustards. Reviewers say the sausages are better than across the street. Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)

Long Beach

Malai Thai–509 Pacific Ave. S. (Thai) Open 11 am to 8 pm (open daily).  Reviewers say this is not big city Thai, but it is good, and particularly for a tourist town. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Note: See Seaview for more local listings


Chandara House–655 Front St. (Thai) Open 11 am to 8 pm (closed Sun). Said to be authentic and very good Thai food. Pad thai, noodle dishes, and curry are recommended. One of the real attractions here, though, is the fact that they have unusual Thai dishes that are not found at many restaurants. Reviewers also make the point that it is affordable. Map (Dining room is open 2-26-22)

Lynden Dutch Bakery–421 Front St. (Bakery) Breakfast & lunch only (open daily). Large variety of pastries, especially Dutch desserts. Muffins, pies, cookies, coffee cake, crepes. Sells drinks to go with them if you want to eat in the store. Map (Takeout only 4-22-22)

Mount Vernon

Kyoto Kitchen–2001 E. College Way (Japanese) Open Mon-Sat 11:30 am to 8 pm (closed from 2 to 5 pm). Full Japanese menu restaurant that is authentic in a way that makes it delicious and very popular with customers (even those driving through who are used to very good Japanese restaurants). Ramen, Japanese curry, katsu, tempura, and teriyaki are recommended. Sukiyaki is said to be very authentic (and recommended). There are good reviews for the sushi also (but this is not primarily a sushi restaurant). Map (Dining room is open 12-26-21)

Rachawadee Thai Cafe–410 W. Gates St. (Thai) Closed Sat lunch, Sun & Mon.  Apparently it is an authentic Thai restaurant with about 10 tables (there is frequently a long wait for a table). Has Thai spice levels with the food. Note: in 2021 they have had a staff shortage and is usually closed on Sat. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Skagit Valley Food Co-Op–201 S. 1st St. (Organic) Open daily 7 am to 9 pm. In addition to being very popular with reviewers, I noticed this place because of its salads. Probably the most memorable salad I’ve ever had (because of its freshness and flavor) was in a now closed Mt. Vernon restaurant, and I would definitely seek out other restaurants in the area for the same thing. The food here is organic, and is not totally vegetarian, but the most popular items are vegetarian (such as the garden burger, salad, etc.). The emphasis here is on health rather than flavor, but reviewers say in many items the flavor comes through as well. As the name implies, this is also a grocery store. Map (Takeout only 4-22-22)


Red Cork Bistro–11700 Mukilteo Speedway (American) Closed Sun. Local, all fresh menu. This is not necessarily a seafood restaurant, but many say this is the thing to get (such as the halibut daily special). Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Oak Harbor

Seabolt’s–31640 SH 20 (Seafood) Open Daily.  A lot of good dishes, but the best seems to be the clam chowder. Map (Dining room is open 9-8-22)

Tamayo’s–800 SE Pioneer Parkway (Lao) Open daily 11 am to 8:30 pm. Lao restaurant that also serves Vietnamese food (this is the best seller, and many say they have the best pho in Washington). Lao sausage, Lao curry, and crepes are recommended. Map (Dining room is open 12-26-21)


Anthony’s–1675 Marine Dr. NE (Seafood) Open Daily. Reviews are mixed, but I attribute this to high expectations. I had good food, and I think the fish is good. I like plain fish without much on it, and they do this type of fish well. (Dining room is open 9-22-22)

(Note: Anthony’s Homeport at 704 Columbia St. NW has an abbreviated menu, is less expensive (specializes in things like chowder) and is a good choice if you want something that is not as upscale).

Dockside Bistro–501 Columbia St. NW (New American) Closed Sun & Mon (closed from 3 to 5 pm in summer and 2 to 5 in winter). Mostly a seafood restaurant. I tend not to like seafood too “fancy” (as they do here, with a lot of sauces and extras to jazz it up), but it sounds as if they do it right in this place. According to reviews the food is hit or miss, but when it is a hit it is really a hit (so it’s worth taking a shot). Price is $$$ on Yelp (so it may be higher priced than I would like). Parties of 4 or more are requested to make a reservation. Map (Dining room is open 12-26-21)

Hotstone Korean–119 5th Ave. SW (Korean) Open 11 am to 9 pm (closed Sun).  Good reviews, especially for the quality of the meats and the flavors they have. Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)

Mediterranean Breeze–2302 Harrison Ave. NW (Turkish) Dinner only (closed Mon).  Very good reviews. This is much more than a kabob restaurants–has a large variety of items. Map (Dining room is open 12-26-21)

Narai Asian Cuisine–320 4th Ave. E. (Thai) Closed Mon & Tue. I do not know if it is authentic or just not as sweet as most of the Thai restaurants in WA, but it seems to be a good restaurant. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Tugboat Annie’s–2100 West Bay Dr. NW (American) Open daily 11 am to 8 pm.  Another good seafood place that is less expensive than Anthony’s and also has burgers and other items (but reviewers mainly recommend the seafood). Mostly good reviews for fish and chips, salmon, shrimp cocktail, etc. but mixed reviews on the chowder and hamburgers). Map (Dining room is open 12-26-21)


El Antojito–1915 W. Court St. (Mexican) Open 8 am to 8 pm (8-6 on Sun).  Authentic style food. One reviewer found the mole here to be the best they have found outside of Mexico. Map (Dining room is open 12-26-21)

Rice and Noodles–3315 W. Court St. (Korean) Closed Mon.  Most people really like the food, and say it is uniformly good (there are not one or two dishes that most people order). The negative reviews are mostly for the quantity and/or quality of the beef (the sauces, etc. all seem to be good). Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)

Note: Pasco is full of Mexican restaurants, and most have a reputation of being very good (I found Mi Hacienda to be very good). When faced with such an overwhelming number of choices my strategy was to go to a Mexican market and ask the people there for recommendations (that is, if you want real Mexican food).

Port Angeles

Jasmine Bistro–222 N. Lincoln St. (Thai) Closed Sun & Tue (closed from 2:30 to 4 pm).  I originally found Sabai Thai and it had good reviews, but I think this one might be better if you want “regular” Thai dishes at lower prices (not Dungeness crab, etc.). Basil stir fry is a recommended dish. Some also like it because you can get a smaller order of items for a lower price. Some say the spice level is quite high and they caution against anything above level 3. As of Dec. 2021 has $7 lunch specials (also takes credit cards only–no cash because of Covid). Map (Dining room is open 12-26-21)

Kokopelli Grill-203 E. Front St. (Seafood) Open 4 pm to 8 pm (closed Mon).  Said to be high quality seafood but with better prices than some other places. Salmon and halibut are two of the most popular items (salmon chowder is also recommended). Map (Dining room is open 12-26-21)

Pho New Saigon–106 W. Front St. (Vietnamese) Closed Mon.  Pho and a number of other dishes, said to taste the way they should. Some say the prices are expensive, though. Map (Dining room is open 12-26-21)

Sabai Thai–903 W. 8th St. (Thai) Dinner only (closed Sun & Mon).  Upscale, and has quite a few seafood dishes (some say try the halibut and the local Dungeness crab dishes). Prices seem quite high from the menu posted on line, but I think are probably justified for seafood items (and maybe some other items such as ones that have kaffir lime leaves). One review said they have pad prik king (which I like) but I didn’t see it on the menu. They do have several other items which I normally like to order. Map (Dining room is open 12-26-21)

Port Townsend

Blue Moose–311 Haines Pl. (American) Open 7 am to 2 pm (closed Tue & Wed).  Very popular for breakfast. Seems to serve the typical Northwestern huge breakfast portions. Cash or checks only. Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)

Doc’s Marina Grill–141 Hudson St. (Seafood) Open 11 am to 8:30 pm (closed Tue & Wed).  A place to go for basic non-pretentious seafood. Best reviews are for the fish and chips, but chowder is also popular. Also in Bainbridge Island. Map (Dining room is open 12-18-21)

Finistere-1025 Lawrence St. (New American) Dinner only (closed Sun-Tue).  Upscale restaurant if you like fancy and original recipes. Seems to be especially known for its oysters. Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)

Hanazono Asian Noodle–225 Taylor St. (Japanese) Closed Mon-Wed.  Has a varied Japanese menu. I think ramen noodle and yakisoba are supposed to be their specialty dishes, but other items get good reviews as well. Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)


Pho T&N–19641 7th Ave. NE (Vietnamese) Closed Sun.  Seems to be the most highly rated Asian restaurant in town–food is the “real deal.” Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)

Tizley’s Europub–18928 Front St. NE (German) Closed Wed.  Reviews are very good for schnitzel and sausage, and they are said to be authentic by reviewers. Swedish meatballs are popular, and has a few items from other European countries like English Pub Shepherd’s Pie, and also a local style clam chowder. Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)


Minh–102 NW Stadium Way (Chinese) Open daily 11 am to 10 pm.  Reviewers say the off the menu items here are the best authentic Asian food in Pullman. Standard menu items offer food from several countries (Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and apparently western China halal style food). Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)

Note: Minh’s also owns Iron Wok in Moscow, ID

Old European Breakfast House–455 S. Grand Ave. (Danish) Breakfast & lunch daily.  Complimentary aebelskivers given to first time visitors. Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)

Tan’s Chinese–1195 SE Bishop Blvd. (Chinese) Open 11 am to 9:30 pm (closed Tue).  Has xiao long bao and is attempting to be more authentic than American style, but some say it is not like the Chinese food you will get in Seattle. Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)

Roche Harbor

Madrona Bar & Grill–248 Reuben Memorial Dr. (American) Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.  Varied menu which includes seafood and hamburgers. Food is not too expensive by San Juan Island standards. Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)


42nd Street Cafe & Bistro–4201 Pacific Way (New American) Breakfast Wed-Sun; Dinner Wed-Sat.  Currently serves breakfast & dinner only (closed from noon to 4:30 pm). Majors in seafood, and reviewers say this is the upscale version. Breakfast seems to be the most popular time, though. Has standard breakfast items (some with seafood), but a very popular item is the beignet. Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)


Dynasty–380 E. Washington St. (Chinese) Closed Sun & Mon.  Hand shaved noodles are the main authentic dish here. The American style dishes, though, all have good reviews. (Dining room is open 9-15-21)

Oak Table–292 W. Bell St. (American) Open 7 am to 3 pm (open daily).  Popular at breakfast–on the upscale side with big portions. Omelet, quiche, crepes, pancakes, etc. Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)

Pacific Pantry Deli–229 S. Sequim Ave. (Sandwiches) Lunch only (closed Sun & Mon).  Normally I am ho hum about soup and sandwich places, but this one uses all locally sourced ingredients, and has some interesting items such as carrot soup. (Dining room is open 9-15-21)

Sawadee–271 S. 7th Ave. (Thai) Closed Wed (and closed 3 to 4:30 pm).  This seems to be the best choice in town for authentic Asian food. Curries and basil chicken are popular. People point out that they have high prices, but also good quality. Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)


Somsiri Thai–506 W. Railroad Ave. (Thai) Closed Sat lunch, Sun, & Mon lunch.  Excellent reviews, especially for the pad thai. Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)


Family Thai–9601 Mickelberry Rd. NW (Thai) Dinner Tue-Sun; lunch Sat & Sun.  Dishes seem to be northern Thai style. Has a lunch menu including ginger, peanut sauce, basil, and other interesting looking dishes. Map (Dining room is open 2-26-22)

Nattamit–9001 Pacific Ave. NW (Thai) Closed Sun & Mon (and closes early–6 or earlier).  Said to be good Thai in an area where it is mostly American style. Panang curry and pad thai are recommended. Some say it has MSG, though (but tastes good). (Takeout only 8-1-21)

South Bend

Linda’s Fish and Chips–313 Robert Bush Blvd. (Seafood) Open 11am to 4pm (closed Tue & Wed).  Reviewers emphasize the freshness of the cod and oysters, and that the shrimp is very good as well. Everyone seems to like the fish but some think the breading on the fish & chips is a little greasy. (Temporarily closed 9-22-22)


Elliotts an Urban Kitchen–2209 N. Monroe St. (New American) Closed Sun evening.  In addition to the food being very good (according to reviewers), it also looks very interesting. Has items such as scotch egg, green chicken curry, pork belly appetizer, green chile pork, house made chocolate torte, etc. Most reviews seem to be for the Sunday brunch, and this seems to be what diners like the best about the restaurant. (Dining room is open 9-15-21)

Gordy’s Sichuan–501 E. 30th Ave. (Sichuanese) Closed Sun & Mon. For authentic food, you can get off-menu recommendations from the staff. Closes at 9 pm, but web site says it closes “later” if there is a demand for it. Map (Dining room is open 2-26-22)

Mizuna–214 N. Howard St. (New American) Open daily 4 pm to 9 pm. Many say this is the best food in Spokane. Idaho trout, pork, carrot cake. Specializes in vegetarian dishes. Has quite a few unusual (international) dishes but many seem to be Italian. (Dining room is open 9-15-21)

Old European Breakfast House–7640 N. Division St. (Danish) Open daily 7 am to 2 pm. Aebelskivers (these also come on a sampler plate). Most people come for breakfast–lunch menu is sandwiches, etc. (not Danish food). Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)

Phonthip Style Thai–1006 E. Francis Ave. (Thai) Closed Sun & Tue. Said to be authentic & flavorful. Food is not American style sweet like other Thai places in town. Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)


Fujiya–1125 Court C (Japanese) Closed Sat lunch & Sun (and closed from 2 to 5 pm). A full menu Japanese restaurant (as opposed to the many sushi or teriyaki restaurants in the area). Best dish here may be the ramen. (Dining room is open 8-1-21)

Indochine–1924 Pacific Ave. S. (Thai) Dinner only (closed Mon). I ate at the location in Federal Way and found it to be a good Thai restaurant. Best items seem to be basil, lemongrass, ginger flavored, etc. (instead of pad thai or curry). Map (Dining room is open 2-26-22)

Loak Toung Thai–3807 Center St. (Thai) Open Wed-Sat (closed from 2:30 to 4:30 pm).  Authentic Isan cuisine including the way they prepare the fish sauce. Has a number of specials in addition to the menu items. Map (Dining room is open 2-26-22)

MSM Deli–2220 6th Ave. (Sandwiches) Open daily 10 am to 7 pm. From looking at the reviews, these must be the best sandwiches in the State of Washington. However, the wait can be long sometimes. (Takeout only 9-15-21)

Pho King–1020 Martin Luther King Jr Way (Vietnamese) Closed Sun (closes at 8 pm other days). Normally I think there are better things on the menu than pho and bahn mi sandwiches, but reviewers say they are so good here that they are must tries. Many varieties of pho are available (including vegetarian). For sandwiches pork is the most recommended. Map (Dining room is open 9-22-22)

Stanley & Seafort’s–115 E. 34th St. (Seafood) Open Daily (dinner only).  Upscale food that’s a little expensive, but you get a great view of the harbor (and I do think it’s worth getting seafood as much as possible in the Pacific NW). Map (Dining room is open 9-8-22)

Vuelve A La Vida–5312 Pacific Ave. (Mexican) Open daily (serves breakfast).  A lot of places in the PNW claim to be authentic, but reviewers of this place are pretty convincing that it really is (the food is prepared as it would be in Mexico). Recommended items include the tacos (including the fish tacos), tamales made in house, posole, carnitas, and pollo a la crema. Some say the mole is not very flavorful, but the fact that they offer something like this would make me want to try it.Chile relleno (Thurs. only) is popular with patrons. Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)


Bamboo Thai–13 E. Toppenish Ave. (Thai) Closed Sun.  Reviewers like almost everything, but some say the pad thai is not as impressive as other dishes. Tom kha soup, pad kee mao and curries are recommended. This restaurant moved from Yakima. Map (Dining room is open 9-8-22)

Union Gap

Los Hernandez–3706 Main St. (Mexican) Open daily (closes at 6:00 pm except 7 on Sat).  Tamales (most people like the asparagus and cheese tamales). Map (Dining room is open 9-8-22)

Walla Walla

Chiang Mai–25 S. Spokane St. (Thai).  May be the most authentic Thai in WW, but people also like Bangkok 103 at 44 N. College Ave. Map (Takeout only 2-26-22)

Ming Court–1533 E. Isaacs Ave. (Chinese) Closed Sun & Mon.  The place to go if you don’t want Chinese food with MSG. My impression, though, is that you’d be better off with Thai food. Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)

Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen–330 W. Main (Middle Eastern) Open 4:30 pm to 9 pm (closed Sun & Mon).  Food here is very upscale (WW is known for its upscale restaurants). Many dishes are Egyptian, and they are not kabobs but more like a feast people would have on special occasions. Looks like it may be worth a splurge. Map (Dining room is open 9-8-22)


Inna’s Cuisine–26 N. Wenatchee Ave. (Ukranian) Closed Sun & Mon (and closed from 2 to 4:30 pm).  Everything here gets good reviews–the food, the service, the setting, and the price. Map (Dining room is open 2-26-22)

Om Cooking–749 Riverside Dr. (Lao) Closed Sun.  Lao food is not as well known as the Thai food that was served here under a previous owner, but patrons are being won over based on reviews. Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)

VN Pho–1010 Springwater Ave. (Vietnamese) Open daily 10:30 am to 7:30 pm.  Serves pho, bun, and rice plates, all with good reviews. Map (Dining room is open 9-8-22)


Antojitos Mexicanos–3512 Summitview Ave. (Mexican) Closed Sun night & Mon.  Authentic–chile verde and pozole are good. One of the best features is the variety of salsas. Some say the tacos are not the thing to get here (go to Tacos Los Primos instead). Map (Dining room is open 4-22-22)

EZ Tiger–222 E. Chestnut Ave. (Dim Sum) Closed Sun & Mon.  Serves dim sum, noodles, pho, and some Thai food. Reviews are good, and the food served is said to be real Asian (not Americanized). Map (Dining room is open 9-8-22)

  • For additional explanation of this list see Index
  • Please feel free to leave your own comments or suggestions.

James Beard Foundation America’s Classics

The following are locally owned restaurants that are distinguished by their timeless appeal, and which serve quality food that represents the character of their communities:

  • Union Gap: Los Hernandez–3706 Main St.


James Beard Foundation (America’s Classics Award Winners)

Chowhound (former web site)

City-Data (Spokane)

Dine Rank

Google Maps

Seattle PI “Washington’s Best Road Trip Restaurants”

Tao of Chow (Bremerton)

Trip Advisor (Washington) (former web site which I used for preliminary research)

Yelp (Washington)

Zomato (Spokane)

Top Ten Cities in the United States for Mexican Food

One of the projects I thought would be good to include in this blog is a list of recommended restaurants in various cities, which I call Steve’s List. Some restaurants listed are based on my personal experience, but most come from reviews I have found from various sources on the Internet.  This effort is to find the best restaurants of various cuisines and in various geographic locations, but also to keep the list narrowed down to a manageable size.  I hope the list will be of value for those who are looking for interesting experiences that do not focus on tourist traps and the lowest common denominator food.

So far I have published lists for all of the Southwestern states, and based on my research and past experience, I believe that these states are particularly notable for their Mexican food. This seemed to be a good time to create a list of the “Top Ten Cities in the United States for Mexican Food.”  It is just my personal list, and I am unsure about the order that some cities should be placed, but it seemed very evident to me about which cities should be the top ten.

The list of top ten Mexican food cities is based on both the quality and quantity of Mexican food available (and is limited to larger cities).  The factors I use to determine the top cities include the number of “top restaurants” (which ideally should include both high end alta cocina restaurants and specialized restaurants which provide a variety of foods from certain areas of Mexico).  I am also looking for a general Mexican food culture which supports things such as markets, bakeries, and small restaurants.  In the end, though, it is not the number of businesses but the quality of them, and for this I turn to my own experience and the reviews I see on the Internet.

It seems to me that no cities outside of the Southwest would qualify as having a general Mexican food culture, although many have a large number of restaurants with a variety of food.  My experience is that once you get a certain distance away from the Mexican border the “default” style and flavor of the food is Americanized in a way that gets very far away from the original style of Mexican food.  These cities tend to have a few good restaurants and many that have a bland sameness.  I do not want to knock people’s tastes for Americanized food, but I think a great number of people like the authentic food once they have a chance to try it (but too many cities do not provide that chance).  We can always go back to the old style Mexican “comfort food,” but I think good Mexican food cities should also provide other choices.

The question of the American styles of Mexican food (Tex-Mex, New Mexican, Sonoran, and Californian) is an interesting one.  I do not consider any of these to be authentic Mexican food, but they are based on food from Mexico (in contrast, the “Americanized” Mexican food I talk about is some way that Mexican dishes are modified to the point that they have more American elements than Mexican ones).

All of the cities I list as being in the top ten Mexican food cities are in states which have traditionally been home to the Tex-Mex, New Mexican, Sonoran, or California styles of Mexican food.  A search of restaurant reviews on the Internet demonstrates that all the cities on my list have evolved from the original Mexican food styles to more diverse styles, as if these four styles are really a stepping stone for people to appreciate authentic Mexican food.  People in these cities seem to embrace authentic food from Mexico when these types of restaurants open up, and restaurants find a customer base for what they offer.

My disclaimer here is that I have not eaten in enough restaurants in enough cities to say that I can make a definitive list of the best Mexican food cities.  Still, I have some experience, and through scouring the Internet I am able to make some assumptions about the best cities for good quality Mexican food.

Some of the cities I am excluding do have some very good Mexican food.  For instance, Chicago is the home of the Rick Bayless restaurants, where many believe you can get the best Mexican cuisine in the country.  I have not tried them personally, but I have a pretty good idea that this is not far from the truth.  Nevertheless, Chicago does not seem to have a large saturation of taco shops and the kind of small restaurants that I think would be present in one of the “top ten” cities.  I believe that Chicago and other very large cities have some very good Mexican food, but it does not seem to be widespread throughout the city and the region.

I will also say that I do not have enough knowledge of some cities which I think could be possible candidates.  These would include some cities in California such as San Francisco, Sacramento, and Fresno (I have been to Fresno but I would not place it in the top ten).  Some cities which I am purposely excluding from the top ten include Las Vegas and Denver (I was not very impressed with either one).  Some cities in Florida have very good Latin American restaurants, but they would not be in my top ten for Mexican food.

I would also say that Santa Fe should be in the top ten, but while it is one of the best cities in terms of quality, the city is just too small to compare to some of the nation’s metropolitan areas.  I am limiting the list to metro areas of about 500,000 population or more with the thought that these are probably the only ones that can provide the variety of different Mexican cuisines that can contribute to its being a “top ten” city.

Oklahoma City is a special case because I think it has some very good low end restaurants, but I would be hard pressed to name any higher end places that are anywhere close to being authentic.  I think people can find very good Mexican food here if they want it, but it takes a pretty good search or a good information source to search out the restaurants that serve it.  Still I think it does a better job than cities such as Chicago in making good Mexican food widely accessible.

Following are cities which I think would make the best candidates for the top ten best Mexican food cities in the United States:

  1. Los Angeles. Los Angeles not only has excellent Mexican food (I have had the chance to try some of it), but there are so many restaurants here that one person probably could not try them all.  I believe that you can pick any state in Mexico and find a restaurant in the L.A. area that serves its cuisine.  The variety of restaurants here, as well as the sheer numbers of quasi-restaurants such as supermarkets which serve meals and take-out places, is something that I do not believe is matched by any other city in the country.  In fact, even in Mexico it is not common to have many different types of cuisine available as it is in Los Angeles.  Mexico City may be the only other city in the world where there is as great a variety of distinguishable cuisines from the various Mexican states.
  2. El Paso. El Paso would be my choice for the number two spot.  This is the city where I find the greatest probability that you can walk into any Mexican restaurant at random and have a great meal.  Traditionally the style of Mexican food here has been a take-off from the New Mexican food to the north.  Like New Mexico, the restaurants in El Paso/Ciudad Juarez make extensive use of locally grown chiles.  El Paso started to really blossom about 2005 to 2010 when many high end restaurants from Ciudad Juarez moved to the city to escape the violence which was plaguing Mexico at the time.  Many have since closed, which is one reason I would not think of ranking El Paso ahead of Los Angeles.  I will say, though, that I think these restaurants were popular, and people demonstrated that they were willing to patronize them (I think there were other factors that cause these restaurants to close).  As it stands now, El Paso still lacks in standout upscale restaurants but is replete with very high quality mom and pop establishments (thus it is very good but not number one in the country).
  3. Austin. Having lived in both Austin and El Paso, I do not believe the “everyday” food in Austin is as good as in El Paso.  Austin may have gotten better recently, but over the years when I have returned to visit it never approached the level of El Paso.  Austin seems to be way ahead of almost any other city, though, when it comes to authentic and high end Mexican restaurants.  I think overall Austin has what it takes to be the number three city for Mexican food (but from here to number 7 the cities rank very close to each other and some of the orders could be interchangeable).
  4. San Antonio. I am making San Antonio number four, but I have to say that I have not personally experienced it being this good.  San Antonio has always been the number one city for Tex-Mex food (ahead of Austin, Dallas, and Houston).  Maybe just as impressive was the fact that on one occasion I had a very good Mexican lunch at the San Antonio city hall where they had a restaurant on the first floor for employees and visitors.  The Alamo City definitely has a rich tradition for high quality Mexican food (and I hope to try more of it to hopefully confirm the fact that it should be ranked at least at number four).  Like El Paso, the Internet indicates that San Antonio is more of a “taco restaurant” type of city than one that offers a lot of high end dining.
  5. Albuquerque. Some consider Albuquerque to be the nation’s best Mexican food city, but I cannot place myself among them.  I have eaten in at least two or three dozen of the Duke City’s Mexican restaurants (some of which are now closed but many of which are still open).  I love the cuisine they serve, but I almost always felt that I had better food in Santa Fe or Española.  The number of authentic (from Mexico) restaurants has exploded since I was last there, and I think it may be ahead of Austin and San Antonio in this regard (and definitely is ahead of El Paso).  For me, though, the problem with Albuquerque is that the number of mediocre restaurants in the city seems to lower the expectation of customers about both the traditional New Mexican cuisine and the recently popular authentic food from Mexico.  Still, I have to say that New Mexican cuisine is the best of the four styles of Mexican food found in the Southwestern U.S.  One thing that makes this cuisine even more successful is the fact that they are serving it where it originated, and this is a chance to experience a type of food that really does not exist anywhere else.
  6. Houston. Houston is fairly saturated with small Mexican restaurants, and has a number that are high end.  I believe that many of the most popular restaurants are that way because people like the traditional Tex-Mex dishes.  I do not have a lot of information to determine how good some of the upscale restaurants are, but I do believe its past association with Tex-Mex restaurants still prevails as the norm for Mexican food here.
  7. San Diego. San Diego should definitely be somewhere in the top seven cities, but I just do not know where.  It is known for its fish tacos, but has quite a few other types of Mexican cuisine (and not just California style).  I think it is kind of in the shadow of Los Angeles, though, and probably has not attracted as many high end restaurants because these types of ventures would rather be in the larger L.A. market.  One advantage to San Diego is that it is very close to Tijuana, where there is some very innovative, high end, and very good low end Mexican food (but I am not counting Tijuana in this ranking).
  8. Phoenix. It is somewhat of a guess for me to place Phoenix as the number eight city because I have yet to experience any truly great Mexican meals here.  The Internet convinces me, though, that they do exist.  Also the great number of restaurants here make it easy to move on to something else.  The bottom line, though, is that I am trusting that the online reviews are correct, and the the sheer number of Mexican restaurants here means that there are some good ones.
  9. Dallas/Fort Worth. Dallas definitely has a lot of Mexican food, and a lot of it is good.  Like Houston, though, Tex-Mex reigned supreme for a number of years (and I think more than in Houston this is still true for Dallas).  When I was there I usually found better taco and low end restaurants in Fort Worth, but I believe over time these have worked their way to Dallas as well.  Dallas has some very good high end Mexican restaurants if you can afford them, and the cost may be a negative for some people.  For everyday meals I think Dallas is better than most cities to the north but not as good as Austin or San Antonio.
  10. Tucson. Tucson is last on the list for me but certainly not least.  I have found much better Sonoran food than in Phoenix, and it has some upscale restaurants as well.  It is a relatively small city, though, and I think that although it compares to El Paso in size there is a much more limited choice in the small family run restaurants.  I would say that you can find some really great Mexican food here, but the choices are more limited than in larger cities.


The trend toward improvement has accelerated recently across the country, and I think that almost every city has better Mexican food than it did a few years ago.  The Internet has helped tremendously both in publicizing restaurants and in educating the general public about authentic Mexican food (also several shows on PBS and other networks have been instrumental in this).  I would like to see other cities progress to the point that they can edge out some of these “top ten” cities.  Whether a particular city is in the “top ten” or not is really not very critical as long as they have good Mexican food.  The question of good food is very subjective, but most of the cities on this list seem to be considered very good by a consensus of people.  I have stated a few of the reasons why I think this is so, and it is clear that it is not based solely on the number of restaurants a city has.