La Carta de Oaxaca

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You know you’re in love with a restaurant when you have a specific craving for it. Usually when I visit a different city, I like to eat all my meals at different places to make the most of my trip. But yesterday after horseback riding (more on that later!) I turned to Kristin, Craig’s sister, and said: “I want to go back to La Carta de Oaxaca.” We were there last week and Kristin said the food she ate was some of the best food she’d had in a long time. “I want to go back there too,” she said and so we did go back. And now it’s in my top five favorite places to eat in Seattle.

During the day, the place is fantastic. It’s not too crowded and the service is quick if not downright brusque. (Later last night, we walked past it and the place was a mob scene: so, again, daytime is the time to go.)

On the drink menu I saw they had agua fresca–which I interpret as refreshing water–and I asked the waiter what flavor it was. “Cantaloupe,” he said and so Kristin and I each ordered one. Here’s Kristin modeling hers:

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The drink was nicely sweet and refreshing. So refreshing, in fact, that Kristin attracted the attention of an illuminated Oaxacan:

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When we placed our order, we were tricked into ordering chips and guac which bumped the bill up $5. But the chips were excellent: light and perfectly crisp. The guac was super creamy.

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Now the superstar dish of our lunch was Kristin’s. She had the mole negro with pork. I took a bite and it was outrageously good. So good that this is what I craved when we went back the second time:

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Depth of flavor is a concept that’s difficult to put into words until you experience it. This mole is a marvel of depth: it has echoes of chocolate, of peppers, of something sweet, something salty, something smoky. When I think of snobby aristocratic eaters who think French food is all that there is to dining (do they exist anymore?), I feel bad that they’ll never experience an authentic mole. It’s as good as anything else you can eat in this world–if not better.

That first visit I had the halibut tacos:

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They were perfectly executed–the sauce had a great kick–but the mole is what you must eat when you go. In fact, even though it’s only 9:11 AM here I am craving it right now. Would that be weird to have pork mole two days in a row? And for breakfast? And when the place isn’t open yet? Not when you’re in love. I’ll scream it to the world: I’m in love with the pork mole at Seattle’s La Carta de Oaxaca.

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