After Alexis, Hillary, and I traveled through Portland and Mount Rainier in our green Subaru Forester rental car (we looked like we were in an ongoing Subaru commercial while cruising along the lush mountains and amazing overlooks), we made it to Seattle for Labor Day weekend. After a late night of exploring a speakeasy, an arcade bar in Belltown, and a random house party south of the city, we were off to a late start Saturday morning. However, like any great adventure of mine, it began with tacos.
We ventured to two places almost right next to each other in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle.
Location: 209 Broadway E
Inside of the quiet-by-day/lively-by-night bar, Nacho Borracho, lies Neon Taco. At the walk-up window they served both modern and classic tacos. Taco options included braised pork (carnitas), chorizo, veggie, and braised shredded beef (suadero) ranging from $3-4 per taco. All three of us ordered the same taco combination: 2 carnitas and 1 shredded beef.
The carnitas came with green salsa, onions, and cilantro while the shredded beef was topped with red salsa, onions, and cilantro, all on handmade corn tortillas. The taco presentation was somewhat sloppy and it felt like the tacos were built with a little hint of anger. I am not sure why but the man behind the counter seemed irritated. I hope being surrounded by tacos brightened up his spirits as the day progressed.
The girls and I all agreed that the carnitas taco was slightly better than the shredded beef taco. Unfortunately, we also all agreed that generally we were not a fan of either taco. The fatty carnitas had too much grease soaking up the basket and the onions and cilantro were too heavy on both tacos. Alexis said that fresh tomatoes could have improved this taco. For the shredded beef taco, the tomato based red salsa did not match the flavor profile of the shredded beef at all. According to Hillary, the shredded beef had a weird flavor.
At this point, Hillary and Alexis hit their taco max of the trip. Alexis was over the authentic style tacos and Hillary was over tacos in general. Hillary just wanted sit down restaurants for the remainder of the trip. With some hesitation, Alexis and Hillary did give me the approval to sample one more taco place that was on my list and literally next door to Nacho Borracho.
Location: 219 Broadway E
After a disappointing visit to our first Seattle taco joint, I could not leave Capitol Hill without giving their tacos another chance.
We made it next door to another counter serve Mexican street food establishment (Sorry Hillary for another counter serve place-last one of the trip!). This taco spot was a lot more lively and crowded than Neon Taco for lunch time hours.
Tacos Chukis served tacos, quesadillas, burritos, tortas, and nopal asado (choice of meat, onions, cilantro, salsa, and guacamole on top of a grilled cactus leaf). One taco that stood alone on the menu was the house taco. The house taco consisted of marinated pork cooked al pastor with melted cheese, guacamole and grilled pineapple for $2.25. For the regular $1.90 tacos, the filling options included carne asada, al pastor, cactus, marinated chicken breast, and pinto beans and were topped with cilantro, onion, salsa, and guacamole.
I definitely had to order the house taco and I also managed to make room for the carne asada taco as well.
My favorite out of the two was the carne asada taco. The meat really stood out- it had a peppery seasoning and flavorful char that stood up to all the additions on this taco. The salsa was milder and the guacamole was thinner than I expected. The guacamole was almost the same consistency as the salsa. Even though there were mounds of salsa and guacamole, I could still taste the peppery steak. I love when the flavors from the meat do not get overpowered by the rest of the taco ingredients but rather work together to make a solid taco.
The house taco was also unique as there was a giant slice of pineapple placed on top. The piece of fruit was juicy and sweet and almost tasted like it was just picked and cut from a fresh pineapple plant minutes ago. The pineapple and guacamole seemed to overtake the meat on this taco and I wished the flavor of the al pastor could be more noticed. Alexis sampled both of my tacos and also preferred the carne asada taco over the house al pastor taco. Overall, she wished we would have stopped here first over Neon Taco.
The winner: We both agree that we would chose Tacos Chukis over Neon Taco if we could only visit one of the two taco joints again.