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August 17, 2009 at 10:07 AM

Laredos — new Texican joint un-Veiled on Lower Queen Anne

Laredos had barely been open a week when the hits just kept on coming from curious Eaters. Like this one, from Brandon Olin, who wrote: “I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to eat at Laredos yet, the new restaurant that has taken the place of Veil in Lower Queen Anne? I saw your earlier report of the transition, and it looks like they’ve opened up. Curious to know your opinion!” OK, Brandon, since I was already out and about on Friday I stopped by for your benefit, and this is what I saw:

A shot in the dark — and make it a double!

And curious though you may be, I’m not going to sit in judgment of the menu, seeing as I’d just come from a special event at Mashiko. There, chef Hajime Sato and his partner in seafood sustainability, Casson Trenor, put on the dog for friends and media-types, debuting the sustainable sushi menu at Seattle’s first sustainable sushi joint. Besides, as you said, Brandon, the place just opened! But do feel free to turn to the Yelpers, who’ve been Yelping about Laredos since it opened its doors barely two weeks ago.

Of course, being full-up didn’t stop me from bellying up to the bar, taking in the scene (handsome bartenders, lots of late 20-and 30-somethings evenly balanced between the senores and the senoritas) and ordering a single taco al pastor ($2.25). Served in a warm housemade flour tortilla, the marinated pork was sliced (from the rotisserie very visible in the open kitchen) and diced. Had I been any hungrier I’d have likely ordered another.

The fellow sitting next to me in the crook of the L-shaped bar was nice enough to share his tortilla chips (crisp, thin and warm) and a trio of salsas, including a tomatillo version that could have used some salt (just sayin’). And no, I didn’t double-dip, having just met the guy and all. He appeared to be enjoying his Tecate beer-battered halibut tacos ($9) — listed among the “platos grandes” — and had I known him better I might have asked for a bite.

I like the rustic, casual, Texican feel of Laredos, which is a far cry from its former incarnation — just the effect owners Jose Betancourt and his biz-partner (builder/designer) Dave Brownell were looking for when hunting for fixtures and artwork in Laredo, Texas. I’d put the overall visual effect squarely between, say, Barrio on Capitol Hill and El Chupacabra on Phinney Ridge.

The highlight of my brief stay, though, was my avocado margarita. Unlike the taco, it wasn’t cheap ($8). “Avocado margarita?!” you ask? Yes. It’s a house specialty, a recipe proudly ripped-off from Curra’s Grill in Austin, and trust me: it will lessen the need for a bowl of guacamole, or for that matter, a second taco. While it might not be everybody’s idea of a cocktail, if you’re a fan of the avocado shake at Malay Satay Hut (count me in) this one’s certainly for you.

And speaking of avocado appearing in unexpected places, check out this array of ice creams and sorbets created by kids like mine, who attended a fabulous “Made from Scratch” cooking class at the Palace Kitchen earlier this month. The class included lunch, cooking lessons and a world of fun, and it cost me a very reasonable $30 — about the same as I’d pay for a shot of Don Julio 1942 extra anejo at Laredos!

Avocado ice cream. Try it, you’ll like it. I loved it. The kids? Not so much.

Laredos is open daily from 4 p.m. till 2 a.m. (kitchen closes at 1 a.m.) and would be a perfect place to grab a drink — and a nosh — if the wait’s too long for a table at tiny nearby Panos Kleftiko.

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