Make a Pre-Cinerama Pit Stop at Cantina Leña

Tacos and margaritas abound at Tom Douglas' 17th Seattle restaurant

By Seattle Mag June 2, 2015


This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Seattle Magazine.

It’s all about the details at Tom Douglas’ new, casual taco-and-margarita spot, where reclaimed wood, simple café tables and chairs, and pops of terra-cotta orange combine for an upbeat, easygoing feel at the base of The Martin Apartments downtown. There’s a seductive oven-roasted-tomato sauce under the hunk of tender culotte steak ($15, served with tortillas), and a dreamy brown butter and pumpkin seed dip, which stands out from the queso fundito and the guacamole on the chips-and-dips plate (pricey at $12).

Oddly for a cantina, the best thing on the menu is a charred broccoli salad, the finely chopped brassicas wearing a savory smoked Cotija cheese dressing and a crumbling of corn nuts ($9). In fact, the drinks here upstage the food: Jake’s margarita plays up the smokiness of Zapopan reposado tequila by adding a Laphroaig whiskey float ($10); my favorite margarita on the menu mixes serrano-chile-infused blanco tequila with floral-sweet hibiscus for a hot, tart, sweet sipper in a pretty shade of pink.

And while there are a few balance issues to work out—too much lime aioli overpowering the otherwise marvelous yellowtail ceviche ($11), and a poblano chile relleno ($10) with a filling that was too mild—once the flavors punch up to their weight, Leña will become the go-to, pre-Cinerama spot Tom Douglas hopes it will be. Downtown, 2105 Fifth Ave.; 206.519.5723;


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