For fresh experience, try Taqueria’s cuisine

December 4, 2008

By David Hayes

Whenever I travel, I always try to find the out-of-the-way, hole-in-the-wall restaurant not frequented by all the rest of the tourists. Usually, the locals enjoy authentically prepared meals that can’t be beat at the touristy spots.

Well, tucked in the recesses of Heritage Square shopping center, next to Sleep Country, lies an authentic taste of Mexico without having to travel south of the border.Taqueria La Venadita has simple, hand-made cuisine that should be sought out by anyone with a discerning taste.

Literally meaning “taco bar” and “The Little Doe,” Taqueria La Venadita has few frills in its decor. Rather, the owners, Familia Ortega, have chosen to concentrate their efforts on presenting a delicioso menu. Online bloggers tout the restaurant’s soft tacos as top notch.

So, instead, I went for the unknown, arroz con pollo (rice with chicken). The menu photo above the counter looked appetizing. My lunch companion ordered the carne asada (roasted meat), a Mexican dish she loves to order, but one that rarely lives up to expectations at many other restaurants. Unfortunately, the lunch meal did not come with chips and salsa, those were a $1.25 extra. But the first bite of the chips, dipped in the homemade salsa, let us know we were in for an authentic treat.

Come hungry, because the portions are not typical lunch-sized fare. My arroz con pollo came smothered in two cheeses, ample mushrooms and splendidly flavored spiced chicken, all served atop Mexican rice. Even the rice tasted better than the typical national chain restaurant’s.

My lunch companion’s carne asada was quite simply some of the best flank steak she’s ever had. The marinade infused the entire cut, the steak was tender and it was cooked perfectly. Many other restaurants have served the equivalent of shoe leather.

Her final comment summarized the entire meal.

“It’s been quite some time since I’ve cleaned my plate in a Mexican restaurant,” she said. “This steak is the bomb.”

Freshness was the key that made every element of the meal enjoyable, from the flour tortillas to the salsa. Even the refried beans and sour cream tasted freshly made.

The only drawback is, along with the nonlunch-sized portion, came a nonlunch-sized price. Although I advocate you get what you pay for, paying $26 for two lunches and drinks is at the limit of what I’m willing to pay for a good mid-day meal.

There are many bargain-priced items on the menu, including tacos for $1.25, burritos at $6.50 and under and the tortas (a traditional Mexican sandwich I must try my next time in), all under $7. There is also a menu for the niños with all items at $3.49, including rice and beans.

Taqueria La Venadita is one of the few holes in the wall in this town that is definitely worthy of seeking out for some of the best Mexican cuisine north of the border.

If you go

Taqueria La Venadita

730 N.W. Gilman Blvd., Suite C104
Open daily from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Entrees (the same for lunch and dinner) range from $1.25 (tacos) to $10.49 (carne dishes with rice and beans)

    Reach Reporter David Hayes at 392-6434, ext. 237, or

    Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for all their meals.

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