Not all Good Meals Need To Break the Bank
Not all great meals in Seattle will require you to take out a line of credit. Not all great meals in Seattle are cooked by culinary professionals in bleach white chef coats and hipster style aprons. Some merely require the same passion and heart that lives in the culture to flow through the food.
It is a rare event to have a meal that taste like somebody’s mother made it. When I worked as a cook, I tried to stay away from anything I knew was a classic “Mother’s cooking dish“. Something that brings a person back to their youth. I knew I could never compete with that secret ingredient, “love”. So when you find a place where you can get meals like that, you never forget it and you go back.
La Carte de Oaxaca is a small little restaurant in Ballard. It doesn’t have white table cloths, or obscure meats that can only be sourced by knowing a guy that knows a guy in some foreign country. Nope, it is a simple Oaxacan restaurant that serves the classics done right.
I would like to point out that Oaxaca is a region in Mexico. However, rather than classify this as a Mexican meal, I would prefer to refer to it as Oaxacan. You might otherwise assume every plate comes with refried beans and rice. This isn’t that kind of place.
Oaxaca is a decent sized region in the south part of Mexico. Like any other country, each region has it’s own specific dishes and variations of dishes.
For instance, let’s take the classic tamale. Typically you see them wrapped in corn husks and steamed. Well Oaxaca still steams their tamales. They just wrap them in banana leaves instead. It gives it a light sweetness and a slightly more difficult eating process. La Carte de Oaxaca does a Tamales Mole Negro that is worth taking time to order. If you are a Mole person, then you should order this dish.
If you are curious about Mole, and what it is, here is a quick link to a recipe. Mole is a complex sauce that takes many ingredients. Think of it like a everything but the kitchen sink cookie.
Now, for a more classic Mexican style dish, Taco Carnitas. I am a huge pork fan. Then you go and cook it for hours, crisp it up, serve it on some soft tacos with a little bit of lime and raw white onions. Where do I sign? I also really loved that fact that they didn’t put cheese on it! Honestly, the pork and raw onion combo is great. Maybe don’t go meet anyone important after, unless they are also eating the same dish!
Before the main-ish course. I need to take an interlude to talk about their salsas. We sat right in front of 4 ceramic bowls containing various salsas. Starting with their pico de gallo and ending with some nuclear red sauce. All of which were on point. Now the nuclear red sauce, is not for the faint of heart. I took a tip of a spoon and dipped it in. And I started sweating bullets. It was great.
For the last item. There was Camarones al Mojo de Ajo (Shrimp and garlic sauce). This was my favorite bite of the night. The shrimp were grilled and had a great smoky sensation when chewing, you could feel the smoke of the grill on your nose hairs. This alone, is good, but nothing special. The sauce though, a perfectly balanced garlic, tomato-y and lime sauce. Just enough heat to have me craving more, a good splash of lime and garlic to bring out all the other complex notes. It was wonderful.
The ending bill for 3 plates was 32 USD. Not cheap, but not Seattle expensive. I would say this is unavoidable if you don’t want to leave hungry. The meal is worth the price. Which I don’t often think can be said in Seattle. Most places try so hard, and produce such low quality product in the end. La Carte de Oaxaca was a treat.
If you ever need a recommendation, or have a recommendation you want to make. Leave a comment and I will happily get back to you. Until next time, happy eating.