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THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED El Nino Restaurant & Tequila Bar

113 Virginia St. Send to Phone
This intimate Belltown restaurant is a cut above in terms of cooking and atmosphere, both for snacks and tequila or a full meal.

Dinner Mon.-Sat.

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THIS RESTAURANT IS CLOSED El Nino Restaurant & Tequila Bar Restaurant Review

: The handsome neo-classic Mayan décor is richly detailed with faux-stone, distressed wood and vibrant colors. Loud music and hard surfaces everywhere make the noise level tremendous for such a small space, but the crowd is young enough that they don’t mind reading lips. A tiny bar in the rear dispenses hand-shaken margaritas and a staggering number of tequilas with an equally staggering price range per shot. Owner Arturo Cervantes set out to recreate true Mexican regional cuisine from his family’s homeland. We like to start with a tart, red pepper-zinged ceviche, sometimes made with mahi mahi. Though we found the masa boats greasy, the chili-peppered fried calamari dipped into serrano aïoli were crunchy and light, and they achieved a slow, satisfying burn. Appealing entrées include pork tenderloin or lamb shank, both redolent of garlic, citrus, cumin and cinnamon, and vibrant with chilies. Grilled chicken fared best under a light pipian sauce. Unlike some Mexican eateries, accompaniments don’t merely fill up the Fiestaware, they truly enhance the dish. Bay leaf, tomato, garlic, onions and cumin infuse just-tender black beans sprinkled with cotija cheese. Tomato and a touch of chili powder enliven rice. Braised Swiss chard escorts a zucchini-stuffed chile relleno, while a whole deep-fried snapper merits two fresh and bracing salsas. We prefer to sip a smooth, aged tequila with our meal, as the wine list is perfunctory at best. Don’t even think of leaving without tasting the flan.


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