Friday, October 6, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Dining Deals

Truck tacos no less tasty in new wheel-less home

Special to The Seattle Times

Taqueria La Fondita

20629 Highway 99, Lynnwood;



Hours: 10 a.m.-11 p.m. daily.

Drinks: No liquor.

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard.

Accessibility: No obstacles to access.

Rating: Recommended.

The local mecca for Mexican fast food has long been the taco trucks of White Center. Now one of the more highly regarded of that convoy, Taqueria La Fondita, has sprouted a second branch — this one rooted to the ground along Highway 99 in Lynnwood.

The small orange building used to be a Taco Bell, but the fare is a lot more authentic now and attracts a largely Mexican clientele that covers a broad demographic: workers on a meal break, couples out for a quick bite, moms and grandmas with kids to feed, young men fueling for a night on the town.

Inside the space is bright, if somewhat dreary. A pictorial menu board illustrates exactly what you'll get in living color. Place your order at the counter and help yourself to a fountain drink or horchata (flavors include cinnamon rice, tamarind and plum, all very sweet and vibrant).

Service is quick, but for those really on the fly, stop at the convenient drive-through window. Be aware, though, that the takeout packaging — foil-wrapped paper plates — gets soggy fast.

Prices are super cheap ($3.99-$5.99), even for combo plates that include rice and beans. A condiment bar stocks pickled vegetables, jalapeños, lettuce, lime wedges and piquant salsas. It's worth noting that you can order some things "a la carte." Tacos, tostadas, mulitas, tortas and quesadillas, for instance, are all available individually with your choice of meat filling (pork, steak, shredded beef, chicken or tongue).

The tacos are especially good with beef or pork. A single taco, with filling folded into a double layer of corn tortillas, is a delicious snack. But one disappears in four bites, so don't hesitate to spring for the platter of five ($5.99). For the same price, you could have a whole deep-fried tilapia with fries and a small green salad, but on our visit the fish was overcooked and not very fresh tasting.

Instead, put your money on anything that comes inside — or between — a tortilla.

Check please:

Carnitas de puerco: This platter of fried shredded pork and onions is moist with crispy moments and lots of flavor. Fold some into soft corn or flour tortillas (rolled in foil, they keep nice and hot) and jazz it up to your liking from the condiment bar, where salsa choices include chipotle, tomatillo and verde. The meal includes a fresh iceberg-lettuce salad dressed with a cheese-studded sour-cream dressing, cheese-topped refried beans that are a little salty, and rice.

Torta asada: A Mexican cousin to a Big Mac, this sandwich bundles slices of steak and avocado with lettuce, tomato and a tangy "secret sauce" into a soft, warm bun. The result is slippery, sloppy and so satisfying.

Dessert: The slice of tres leches cake is less than fresh and cloyingly sweet. The churros are stiff, burnt and a little fishy tasting. Perhaps we should have tried the flan.

Itemized bill, meal for two

Carnitas de puerco $5.99

Torta asada $4.25

Tres leches cake $2.99

Churros $2.99

Medium horchata $1.10

Jarritos $1.45

Tax $1.67

Total $20.44

Providence Cicero:

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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