Neighborhood deals: Take a taste tour of Mexico at this Ballinger Way eatery
Special to the Seattle Times
"Are you from around here? I don't think I've seen you before," inquires our waitress. She's an astute, busy woman whose station encompasses a good chunk of the dozen booths and half-dozen tables arranged at perpendicular angles in this tidy little square of a restaurant perched on the cusp of the King-Snohomish county line.
If you travel along Ballinger Way, you've probably spied the mini-hacienda with the fiesta-colored sign and wondered whether Todo Mexico is just another beans-and-burrito joint. Well, amigo, stop wondering and pull over, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Inside, Todo Mexico is as warm and friendly as the stucco facade suggests.
At dinner it's filled with families, and no wonder: In terms of quantity, quality and price, it's a good value and a great fast-food alternative.
At the heart of the menu are house specialties that offer a virtual tour of Mexico, showcasing dishes prepared in the manner of the various Mexican states. Among the meat choices you'll discover baby lamb shanks oven-baked Monterey-style ($11.50). Prawns might be fried and wrapped in bacon (Cancun camarones, $11.95) or sauteed and devilishly hot with garlic and chilies (camarones Veracruz Áa la diabla, $8.95 lunch/$11.95 dinner). The eight variations on chicken include corn tortillas stuffed with chicken in poblana mole sauce (Guanajuato enchiladas, $11.25) and grilled, marinated whole skinless breast (Acapulco pollo azado, $7.95 lunch/$11.25 dinner).
Choose whole or refried beans with your entree, secure in the knowledge that even the cheese-topped refried beans taste fresher and lighter than you'll find at many similar establishments. Ditto the Spanish rice.
If you crave something from the standard roster of tostadas, enchiladas, burritos, taquitos, chalupas or chimichangas, Todo Mexico's got it, along with gringo fare like burgers, grilled-cheese sandwiches and even French fries, aimed no doubt at finicky youngsters for whom a dinner out without French fries might as well be dinner at home. (They are "gooder than Burger King," pronounced my 5-year-old critic-in-training, and I quite agree.)