Restaurant News: We’re off to a yummy start in 2021

Tongue in cheek sign at Acá Las Tortas in Lynnwood.

Here’s to a yummy start in the New Year!

Introducing The Side Bar at Salt and Iron! 

Starting on Friday, Jan. 8, Edmonds’ Salt and Iron will be serving cocktails, beer, wine and small bites on their heated outdoor patio! The Side Bar will be open 4 p.m.-close on Wednesdays-Sundays.

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Ono Poke expands:  Looking for some fun? Soon you’ll be able to hop on the Kingston ferry and after you disembark, and take a short walk, you’ll arrive at Ono Poke Too! Stay tuned for opening date….

Just like the original location in Edmonds, Ono Poke Too will serve authentic Hawaiian-Style poke and poke bowls using only fish from sustainable resources and local, organic and pesticide-free produce. Owner Steven Ono says “Come say Howzit!”

See details and construction shots here.

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New link to discover new eats: The Lynnwood Restaurant Showcase is a collaborative effort between the Lynnwood Chamber of Commerce, My Neighborhood News Network/Lynnwood Today and Kaufer DMC. Lynnwood community members (and yes folks in Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace too) are encouraged to dine locally and support Lynnwood’s diverse restaurant offerings. Yours truly did just that! I discovered a few spots that were new to me, and some old favorites that I need to revisit-

Among the featured restaurants on the Lynnwood site is Acá Las Tortas — located at 3625 148th St. S.W. The first location opened in Bothell quite a few years back, and Restaurant News has not reviewed this relative newcomer to Lynnwood’s restaurant scene.

Here is a bit of history behind this group:

Chef Iram Martinez

Chef Iram Martinez up the culinary offerings in this group, and it shows… both in the offerings on menu, and the execution of the dishes served at all locations. Here is an apt quote:

“In the Northwest, he (Chef Martinez) is one of the few masters and connoisseurs of the Mexican culinary rituals, as well as being host to some of the most typical dishes of urban Mexico D.F.”

The Lynnwood restaurant exterior

I love when a visit to a restaurant serves as a mini vacation to places previously enjoyed. In COVID times, I particularly relish little culinary trips via my taste buds, and they sustain me until I can enjoy these dishes again in person. Readers may remember that I hail from Arizona, and considering my years of dining in various Mexican eateries,  trust me when I say, “This is the real deal folks!”

Seafood dishes set apart the best and most authentic restaurants. I have fond memories of seafood salad noshed on the beaches of San Diego. Whole grilled mackerel at La Playa Hermosa shared with Phoenix girlfriends. I digress.

Acá Las Tortas name implies that they are all about the sandwiches, and they do have a robust list on the menu of about a dozen, among selections of tacos, burritos, and other meat-based dishes. However the website lists a whole separate menu, just for their seafood offerings. Just reading this menu is like a mental jaunt into Central Mexico, or better yet, to La Playa in Mazatlán where one can make a meal out of the jumbo-sized shrimp cocktail. Sigh.

Ceviche Mixto

You say ceviche, I say cebiche, seviche, or sebiche…But let’s not, call the whole thing off. Whichever way we pronounce it, the hallmark cold salad of Mexican cuisine is comprised of cucumbers, red onions, cilantro, lots of lime juice and a variety of seafood. Few places I’ve encountered in the Northwest even offer this dish. The restaurant’s Las Tortas recipe and preparation is authentic. I choose “Mixto,” which contains shrimp and bits of octopus, scallops and a white fish, the assorted seafood, all made tender by the lime juice marinade.

Shrimp tacos

Seafood items ordered included fish tacos. A bit disappointed to see a breaded fish product resting on the large quantity of greens and avocado, flanked by wedges of lime, did not disappoint. Crisp crusted on its outside, moist on interior. Double wrapped in tender fresh corn tortillas, the pair of tacos made a satisfying bite of lunch.

Wonderful aromas from boxes of tortas and alambres called to us for attention.

Real Madrid torta

Torta can be translated two ways. Torta means cake in most of the romance languages. South of the border, torta are sandwiches made of soft fresh buns, packed with an amazing assortment of ingredients.

As I mentioned above, there are 12 listed on the menu! When I asked, they recommended the most popular, the Real Madrid. Reminded me of a dish at a local Thai restaurant described as “What you order when you’re hungry but you’re not sure what you want.”

The bun stuffed with turkey sausage, pork chorizo,  a fried egg, bacon, ham, head cheese, breaded steak, melted cheese, and veggies too — tomato, onion, avocado and chipotle sauce.

Half of any of the tortas is a reasonable portion, unless one is working day labor, especially as it was accompanied by a pile of steak-cut fries.

Alambres con Pollo

I ordered Alambres con Pollo. For the uninitiated, alambres are close cousins to fajitas. An application of oozy, gooey Oaxaca cheese takes this combination —  generous with chunks of chicken breast, grilled poblano peppers and onions, and topped with fresh cilantro — to climatic culinary heights. One can choose soft flour tortillas or crispy corn tortillas to scoop up bites.

Dessert is always my favorite category, at any establishment, and I chose three that exemplify Mexican “postres.”

Flan

Most culture cuisines include a version of an egg custard, south of the border, called flan. My order of flan was exactly what I’d receive in my favorite Arizona restaurants. Caramel sauce saturated about a quarter inch of the top in my serving of eggy custard. Interior texture was smooth, tender and not overly sweet supported by a very thin crust. Each portion is served in a pool of golden brown liquid, to be enjoyed with each bite.

Rice pudding decorated with cinnamon accents featured toothsome rice, and the creamy content reminded me of horchata and its flavor profile. After the spicy and large portions of the entrees, a few spoonfuls finished off the meal with perfection.

Tres Leches Cake

Tres leches cake should come with a warning label: “Don’t open container if you are alone!” Delicious and tempting, the generous serving satisfied all three of us. The cake presented is well saturated all the way to the top layer with the three kinds of milk, and topped off with a light fluffy icing. Despite all that liquid, the cake isn’t soggy. Light springy slices held their shape and even the next day were tasty and tender.

Drinks. I so wanted to order a milkshake and say aloud the word “Licudado.” Frosty liquid milk can come flavored with strawberries, papaya, mango, bananas, chocolate or mammee — a fruit similar to apricots. Maybe in warmer weather I’ll  try out the “soup of the day” called out on humorous signage.

Mammee

The three boxes of postres meant a milkshake would wait for my next visit, and believe me there will be a next visit.

We did share a single of order horchata. The horchata drink is considered to be healthy — prevents nasty stomach upsets, and most everyone can drink it. It’s free from lactose, casein, and gluten and contains almost no sodium. Sweet but not overly, subtle on spices, it was a great foil to the hot spicy sauces and ingredients of our main meal.

An indication of authenticity observed as I waited in my car for my order. A group of guys hopped out of trucks and marched inside to order. Out came two sturdy white tables and chairs. Taking advantage of the sunny day, the fellow enjoyed their lunch together. I made note of items I’d need to try out, next time.

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Sparta’s bake-at-home offering

More opportunities to have pizza right out of the oven, another pizza place offers “bake at home.”

With over four decades of experience in the industry, Sparta’s Pizza & Pasta House — 17630 Highway 99 — supplies the best pizza in Lynnwood made using fresh and flavorful ingredients. Now, they offer take and bake pizza that is ready to enjoy anytime without spending too much time on baking. Orderat www.spartaspizza.com.

“Pizzas are made with fresh dough, our own special pizza sauce, and covered with 100% Danish mozzarella cheese. Italian specialty menu items are served with garlic bread and your choice of a cup of soup or Sparta’s Salad,” said the spokesperson of Sparta’s Pizza & Pasta House.

Their half-baked take-and-bake pizza can be finished in less than 10 to 15 minutes. It can also be stored in the freezer and used anytime.

More from their spokesperson: “Store pizza in the fridge until you are ready to bake. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place pizza on a foil-lined cookie sheet or pizza pan for easy cleanup. Bake for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown or cheese is fully melted. Enjoy the pizza when it’s hot!”

The catering pizza menu from Sparta’s Pizza & Pasta House is filled with Italian specialties such as spaghettini, lasagna, manicotti, ravioli, fettuccini alfredo, chicken parmesan, and more.

Let’s start off our New Year on a positive note. Make plans soon to order up and support our local community businesses.

— By Kathy Passage

A specialty gourmet food broker for over 30 years, Kathy Passage has in-depth knowledge on food and the special qualities of ingredients used in the exquisite products she helped bring to market. Kathy brings this unique perspective from the “other side of the plate” to writing about the food and restaurant scene in Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace.

 

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