Cinco de Mayo at Tapatio Mexican Grill (Bellevue, WA)


After a throat-parching, warm day of hiking in the Cougar Mountain Regional Park, we headed straight to a Mexican restaurant for a late lunch. There were no Cinco de Mayo specials, except for a few drinks and snacks for happy hour, somewhat of a disappointment since many area Mexican restaurants were offering specials (off-menu) just for the celebration. There were certainly a lot of customers today. Whether typical for a Sunday or because it was May 5, I have no idea.

Our first order of business was margaritas. The house margarita (☆☆), likely made with a pre-mix, was $4 for happy hour, but the Cadillac version (☆☆½) was prepared from scratch with a premium tequila. Aside from being too sweet, the Cadillac was very nice and potent, served on the rocks, while the house was just sweet enough but watered down.

House and premium margaritas

House and Cadillac margaritas

The chips were crispy. The salsa, made from canned tomatoes, was spicy, tart and not too bad.

Chips and salsa

Chips and salsa

Sunday’s special was carne asada (☆☆½). The beef was thin, nicely grilled, tasty, chewy. On the side came pico de gallo, well made Mexican rice and refried beans cooked with vegetable oil rather than lard. A tasty scoop of guacamole was also included.

Carne asada plate

Carne asada plate

I requested jalapeños—by which I meant the pickled kind—but I got these instead, beautifully grilled and delicious (☆☆☆). An open flame must tame the chile’s heat. Even my wife, whose stomach can’t tolerate spicy foods, ate one and loved it.

Grilled jalapeños

Grilled jalapeños

Chile verde (☆☆½) was cooked in tomatillo sauce, with a consistency and creaminess very much like suiza, with spinach, a uniquely prepared sauce that was quite flavorful. The dish was marred by pork pieces that were not very tender.

Childe verde plate

Childe verde plate

Besides being much too noisy, a complaint that I have with many restaurants, Tapatio prices are high. The entrées were $14.50 and $16.99. The portions were huge though, so we had to take almost half home.

Tapatio Mexican Grill
Loehmann’s Plaza
13720-C Factoria Blvd. SE
Bellevue, WA
425.373.0855
Menu
 

Hiking in the Cougar Mountain Regional Park (WA)


The greater Seattle area—as a matter of fact, the entire western Pacific Northwest—has been basking in sunshine since late last week, and is expected to continue to do so through the next. I can’t ever recall sunny skies with temperatures in the 70s-80s this early in May and for such an extended period. The inevitable rains will come as a big disappointment. What better way to celebrate the sunshine than to go outside. My wife and I decided to go for a hike.

There are many urban hiking trails on the Eastside (a general area east of Lake Washington which separates it from Seattle), but none more unspoiled and wild than the 3,100-acre Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, which is bordered by the cities of Bellevue, Issaquah and Newcastle and by Squak Mountain. The nice thing is that the park is about 15 minutes away from our house. There are 47 miles of hiking trails which feature wetlands, streams and forests. It would be easy to get lost in this vast maze were it not for the efforts of King County with the help of the Issaquah Alps Trail Club to signpost the 50 designated trails. We hiked almost 4 hours through mature second-growth forest, crossing several streams in the process and admiring the awakening of spring. The wildflower show included the western trillium, Pacific bleeding heart, western spring beauty, salmonberry, wild strawberry and Oregon grape. I didn’t realize until today that the Pacific bleeding heart was so abundant in the wild; they were everywhere. It was fascinating also to look at the fiddleheads of the sworn ferns as they were in the process of unwinding, forming curious hairpin shapes.

Besides deer and raccoons, Cougar Mountain is also a haven for black bears, bobcats and, of course, cougars. We didn’t come across any, not really sure what we’d have done if we did.

There will be more hikes for us here in the future. We’ve barely tapped the extensive, interconnecting trail system.

Like this on Facebook