Seattle >Food & Dining > Cocina Esperanza
3127 NW 85th St, Seattle, WA | Directions 9811747.690396 -122.397849
Tue-Sat 5 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Neighborhoods: Ballard, Sunset Hill
Best Mexican Food in Seattle – I was unsure about trying this restaurant out after reading the latest reviews but I am so glad I did. What a find! My experience could not have been better. There was a short wait but once seated the service was very gracious. Our server offered great suggestions for our first time meal. She said that they are known for their rellenos and I can see why. My "traditional relleno" was heaven. The flavors were subtle and unexpected. My friends shared a combination of other meals including the carne asada (tender and flavorful), the cream chicken (yummy), and the best enchiladas we've even had. We washed it all down with a pitcher of ruby red sangria . . . OK we shared two pitchers . . . We shared some desserts and some laughs with the staff. Can't wait to go back!
Rude Staff – After recently moving into the neighborhood, we were excited to be only a few blocks from this cute little restaurant. Unfortunately, we will never return.
While the food generally does not dissapoint, it simply is not worth suffering through the incredibly rude woman who has been our hostess/server/cashier each time we have visted. On our last visit, she was extremely put off to have to deal with our "large" group of 5. After being kind enough to provide us with (only) 2 menus, we were basically ignored while other tables (seated well after us) recieved menus, were told the specials, brought water and beers, etc. When she finally did get to us, we basically got a "what do you want" before being ignored for another 30-40 minutes while we waited for our meals.
I ordered the carne asada plate and it came with only 1 large tortilla instead of the normal 3 small ones. This was fine, I asked the friendly guy who does drinks and busses tables if I could get another order of tortillas. He said "no problem" and passed this on to the waitress. After she yelled at him (sorry buddy - do you have to put up with this abuse every night?), she gave me some long song and dance about being out of small tortillas. I explained that this was fine, I just wanted some more (in any size). She then brings me 5 small tortillas (I guess the cook made a quick run to safeway). Despite all this, we were having a great time and would certainly have left an adequate tip (some of us worked in the industry for years and know that everyplace has its off nights).
Unfortunately, at this point, sensing that our party had not been given the best service, she added an automatic gratuity (see similar story in the review below) and tried to tell us it was their policy with such "large" parties. This was shown on our receipt (which was a piece of ticker-tape from an old-school register) as a "x 1.18" after the total.
We will take our chances elsewhere from now on.
Good food, bad service. – Food was good, Service was pretty bad. This was a small restaurant and I was in a group of six. Server let us know that they were short-staffed for the night, no big deal, we weren't in a hurry. Food service was slow, others who came in after us were served well before us. Also, not a big deal because it was an exceptional "short handed" night. When we got the bill however, they automatically added an 18% gratuity fee since were were such a "large" (six person) group. (menu does not state this) When we inquired about the fee, they said that this was company policy and they haven't been able to put that clause on the menu since they were so new, "only three years old". We would have tipped, and well, we don't have problems with that. But we felt that she was just taking advantage of the fact that she gave bad service. We will not return.
THE BEST IN TOWN!!! – The food is amazing, the service is warm and genuine, the food is all prepared fresh and the place is hopping! We were told the food was incredible and when we got there, it was packed (on a Thursday night!). We gave it a shot and waited - and it was well worth the wait! We had the specials (crab sincronizada - DELICIOUS! and seafood chile relleno - MOUTH WATERING!) and intend to go back to sample everything on the menu in due time. This place is sure to be our favorite for gourmet Mexican cuisine!!
Shabby treatment – Our party of 3 waited for an hour to be seated, after being told it would be 20 minutes, due to the change in policy for to take reservations for Cinco de Mayo. Not only were we basically lied to, the waitress and owner suggested we come back another night or drive around & they could call us on our cell phone if a table opened up. No apologies, no clue that they had overbooked while keeping people standing outside waiting. Good experience prior to this, but unfortunately we won't be going back after this experience.
Lovely service, fantastic food – After twice dining at Cocina Esperanza, I will say without hesitation that the place is great! Both times, I believe it's been the owner who has waited on my party--and she is a delight. After we showed up without dinner reservations on an INSANELY busy Cinco de Mayo evening, she still thanked us for patiently waiting! Believe me, the dinner was worth the wait. The queso fundido with spinach appetizer was delicious, but the chiles rellenos were beyond divine. I ordered the "traditional" version...large chiles filled with scrumptious ground beef, nuts, and fruits. A fantastic walnut cream sauce tops the dish. The steak special and fish tacos were other hits at our table...on my past visit, the chicken tacos also scored well. While margaritas arent on the menu, there is a reasonable selection of wine and beer plus a respectable sangria.
My only constructive criticism? Expand the place!
Yum Yum Yum! – We finally tried Cocina Esperanza last night after having seen it a few times when it wasn't open (we love the coffee shop next to it). Man, I wish we hadn't waited so long. Excellent excellent food, the friendliest waitstaff around, and a great atmosphere. We plan to go back many, many times!
What a find! – From the moment you walk in you are welcomed by the warmth of this fabulous neighborhood gem. The owners & wait staff are like friends you didn't know you had... and it just gets better from there.
Enjoy a pitcher of sangria & try to stop salivating while you decide which of the regional specialty menu items you'll choose! We've tried them all; from appetizer to dessert - not a regret in the bunch. (Though the pork specialties seem to top our list)
Enjoy! (You will... trust us!)
I did not think I liked Mexican Food – Esperanza is a world away from the over-sauced, over-cheesed fare that I thought was local Mexican food. Here there are traditional dishes with a amazing twist. I could eat here every day and not feel like I had the same dish.
Good Neighborhood Mexican Restaurant – This is a true neighborhood joint serving authentic Mexican fare prepared with lots of heart. It's about as good as it gets in Seattle for Mexican cuisine, featuring nightly specials and a changing periodic menu that changes according to what is fresh at the time. If it is on the menu, the grilled catfish is a must get. Pork and carne dishes are done especially well here as well. Dishes come with black beans, steamed seasonal veggies and rice.
The house sangria is light, refreshing and the perfect accompaniment to Esperanza's home cooked meals. There are typically 3 or 4 dessert choices as well, all made on the premises.
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