Best Restaurants 2009

100 Years of Seattle Dining

El Puerco Lloron
What it brought to the table: Authentic Mexican fare in a cheery, casual spot on the Pike Place Market Hill Climb. Why we still love it: Generous plates of the pull-apart tender carnitas and handmade corn tortillas show a reverence for authenticity.

With fresh tortillas and low prices, feel free to pig out at El Puerco Lloron

March 5, 2009

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Leslie Kelly

     I'm just crazy about The Pig.

     And by pig, I mean El Puerco Lloron, the Mexican mainstay near the Pike Place Market.  This slightly scruffy taqueria has been cranking out vibrantly seasoned braised and grilled meats long before the current craze celebrating taco trucks shifted into high gear.

     What I especially appreciate about this place is a feat that cannot be accomplished in those meals-on-wheels kitchens: the made-to-order corn tortillas. Walk in and witness the hard-working staff grab a fist full of masa, slap it in a tortilla press, then onto the grill. It's such a fluid process that has been perfected over more than 20 years in this venerable spot, where it's still possible to have a huge meal for under$10. That's a good deal during the busy lunch hour, when nearly every table is taken.

     Because the same menu is served all day, those prices are a steal for dinner. (And there's a peek-a-boo water view, too.)  This hot spot is hardly a secret; the wall is plastered with weathered reviews. But the proof of its ongoing excellence is in the crowds its affordable, well-prepared food continues to draw.

My ideal meal is a trio of taquitos for $6.36, not the deep-fried version served in Americanized Mexican restaurants, but the mini tacos heaped with a choice of fillings. Make mine one of each: a carne asada, carnitas and chicken, the latter two braised tender in a saucy stew.

     I've tried and failed to re-create the creamy pinto beans served on the side. Get a dollop of guac for $1.50 extra. (The cilantro sensitive should beware, as the guacamole and the fresh salsa are packed with that love it-or-hate-it herb.)  Go ahead and really make a pig of yourself by ordering the outstanding flan, a dense, creamy custard that's just $3.  Beer (imports and domestics) and wine are served, along with housemade limeade and the sweet rice drink horchata.




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100 Favorite Restaurants! 
The rickety old metal tables and chairs, the loud shades of blue and maize adorning the walls, the strings of gaily colored lights, and the wealth of imported knickknacks that cover the full spectrum of tacky to traditional all holler "south of the border," but it's the initial glimpse behind the counter revealing the woman shaping and grilling handmade corn tortillas that lets you know for sure that El Puerco Lloron is indeed Mexican fare at its most authentic. The menu here is no-frills: Ten entrées--order by number, por favor--are all priced between $5.25 and $6.25, including the side of rice and beans (fresh guacamole will run you an extra $1.35, but it's worth it). No bulging burritos or taco salads here, just classic meat dishes like carne asada, taquitos, and good old-fashioned tacos. Pork may reign supreme, though--the meat in the carnitas is so moist and tender that you'll understand why the pig is crying. The meat-shy aren't exactly excluded--

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