La Cocina Oaxaqueña y El Sirenito

This is the tale of two Mexican restaurant meals.

First up is La Cocina Oaxaqueña. These folks were kind to invite me in for a comped meal. They were eager to show off their food, with the owner explaining that it’s a different type of Mexican restaurant. Everything (possible) is made in-house, he explained, and no burritos are on the menu. It’s a bit of a family-run operation, with the server kind in describing the dishes that his sister prepares in the kitchen.

My strategy at a Mexican restaurant like this is to order a soup or two, as well as what they consider to be a specialty of the house. In this case, it was the mole, which I tried with both chicken and pork. And based on insider information, I also sampled something not listed on the menu: a tlayuda. Overall an enjoyable meal, with soup the highlight.

Chips at La Cocina Oaxaqueña let you take advantage of offerings at the salsa bar. You can also order guacamole. This was creamier than I like, and could have used more salt to bring the avocado flavor forward.

Chips at La Cocina Oaxaqueña let you take advantage of offerings at the salsa bar. You can also order guacamole. This was creamier than I like, and could have used more salt to bring the avocado flavor forward.

I really enjoyed La Cocina’s pozole. Delicious!

I really enjoyed La Cocina’s pozole. Delicious!

Caldo de pescado (catfish) at La Cocina. Also a good soup choice, with a nice amount of chayote.

Caldo de pescado (catfish) at La Cocina. Also a good soup choice, with a nice amount of chayote.

The dark, rich mole at La Cocina is available with chicken or pork in the mole negro Oaxaqueño. Both good.

The dark, rich mole at La Cocina is available with chicken or pork in the mole negro Oaxaqueño. Both good.

Tlayuda with chorizo at La Cocina. The tortilla is quite crisp, making this a bit unwieldy to eat. (Try to fold it!)

Tlayuda with chorizo at La Cocina. The tortilla is quite crisp, making this a bit unwieldy to eat. (Try to fold it!)

Second is El Sirenito. This is the fairly new sister restaurant of the popular La Fonda Catrina. The place is getting rave reviews, and I ate here on my own dime. It’s got a more contemporary feel than La Cocina Oaxaqueña, with a more seafood-heavy menu of bites that go well with alcohol. The food was fabulous, with soup again a high point.

Wanting the back-story on ownership and staffing of the restaurant (for a different article I was planning to write), I asked for information about the owner, and was told he was present. But then the manager came over instead and explained that the owner couldn’t talk, apparently having imbibed too much tequila or some other former of alcohol. He offered to send me contact information. Unfortunately, the owner never responded to my interview questions, and the manager ultimately failed in his promise to answer the questions himself. Perhaps they don’t need the publicity, but the behavior is odd for folks in the hospitality industry.

El Sirenito’s sopa de mariscos: shrimp-based broth with rockfish, octopus, clams, prawns. Nice flavor!

El Sirenito’s sopa de mariscos: shrimp-based broth with rockfish, octopus, clams, prawns. Nice flavor!

Two tacos at El Sirenito: one with rockfish and one with shrimp. Maybe the best fish tacos I’ve had in Seattle.

Two tacos at El Sirenito: one with rockfish and one with shrimp. Maybe the best fish tacos I’ve had in Seattle.

El Sirenito’s montaditos with sardine, avocado, pickled onion, red pimento, goat cheese and olive oil. Love the idea, but least favorite of the dishes I tried, as the fish flavor fell flat.

El Sirenito’s montaditos with sardine, avocado, pickled onion, red pimento, goat cheese and olive oil. Love the idea, but least favorite of the dishes I tried, as the fish flavor fell flat.

Pulpo a la parilla at El Sirenito: grilled Alaskan octopus, potatoes, onion, and guajillo chile sauce. Tasty dish with great octopus texture.

Pulpo a la parilla at El Sirenito: grilled Alaskan octopus, potatoes, onion, and guajillo chile sauce. Tasty dish with great octopus texture.

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