La Carta de Oaxaca
5431 Ballard Avenue NW, Seattle
Yesterday James and I went mattress shopping (woo!)
We began the day by taking the bus to Ballard and going to La Carta de Oaxaca, which we’ve been told is the best Mexican restaurant in Seattle. Apparently Washington suffers greatly in comparison to California when it comes to Mexican food – though I bet they’re all better than Melbourne.
A google search told me that Oaxaca is actually pronounced “wa-ha-ca”, which is consistent with James telling me that when his colleagues pronounced it “it sounded like it had a lot more consonants”.
It was a pretty early lunch (11:30am) but nevertheless James began with a beer and I had a margarita. Limes are a lot cheaper here, so I foresee many lime-based food and drinks in my future.
We started with chips and guacamole (I think like $5?). The guacamole and chips were brought out to us and James got the other two from the salad bar. The pico de gallo (right) seemed to be what everyone else was going for, so he made sure he got some of that. It was really fresh tasting and my favourite of the three toppings.
I ordered the “house special” – Mole Negro Oaxaqueno ($10 I think). You can see the tortillas it came with in the background. First off, those tortillas with like no tortillas I’ve ever had before – they were so, so soft and didn’t fall apart even though I crammed my second tortilla really full (I misjudged how much to allocate to my first tortilla).
I was initially worried about the pork – I prodded it with my fork and it didn’t collapse and I mistakenly thought that meant it wouldn’t be tender enough. The taste was really strange! I’ve never had mole before and didn’t know what to expect – I guess I was expecting it to taste like burritos or nachos, which is pretty much the extent of my Mexican food knowledge. I don’t know how to describe the taste – very dark, almost chocolatey! It had a very rich mouthfeel, and after a couple of bites of my makeshift burrito I really felt like I needed something to cut the richness (the chips with guac and pico de gallo came in very handy then, as did my margarita).
James ordered one of the lunch specials (some kind of enchiladas). I think it was $10. His verdict: “Enjoyed. Would eat again.” Thanks James.
The bill came to $46 including tip which seemed like pretty good value (though we have yet to encounter the mythical enormous portions here in the US). I’m not really experienced enough with Mexican food to judge how good it was, but we definitely enjoyed it and would return for more. =)
They didn’t seem to have anything in the way of desserts so we headed to the Ballard Seafood Festival right outside where I scored some fairy floss ($3). As you may be able to tell from the next photo I was a little tipsy at this point.
There were a bunch of seafood stalls and although James had initially planned on getting some crab cakes, he changed his mind because he said “the Mexican food is expanding in my stomach”. Then we saw this.
How can you go to the US and not eat a deep fried candy bar? You could get a deep fried pickle! Also Reese’s peanut butter cups, twinkies, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But James went for a Snickers. Here it is in its deep fried glory.
James took a photo of himself devouring it. He wouldn’t let me touch his camera because I had sticky fairy floss hands. =( It’s true, the sugar had melted all over my fingers and even onto my arm. But whatever, he has nobody but himself to blame for this unflattering shot where he looks like Lindsay Lohan’s dad.
We both agreed that the deep fried Snickers was really gross. The batter was really thick, it was difficult to eat, and it ruined a perfectly good Snickers bar.
We spent awhile waiting for a bus to take us to Wallingford where the internet and one of James’ colleagues had recommend a store called Bedrooms and More. They did not steer us wrong – we found a great mattress there, the sales guy was helpful and largely left us alone to lie on the various beds. We decided on the Englander “Natural Dreamer” which was just so crazy comfortable. It’s a latex mattress with a firm core but a softer layer on top so it feels really luxurious without feeling too soft and unsupportive.
After that we went to Bottleworks where James picked up a bunch of beers. They had a variety of beers on tap at the back and one of the guys who worked there gave him a couple of samples since he didn’t know which one he would like. Then afterwards he put together a sampler of local beers for him, explaining why he’d selected each one, and then it was time to wait ages for another bus to take us home.
I’m not sure if the buses were thrown off schedule by the detours (cos of the Seafood Festival) or if they’re normally that slow, but all that waiting made James even gladder that he lives within walking distance of work. I do very much like Ballard though, and it has a bunch of restaurants that I’d like to try, so we’re definitely going to visit again.