Every now and then the research behind my blog posts is an adventure. Poquitos on Capitol Hill in Seattle was an adventure! You know who else went on an adventure? Pinocchio. He struggled through the depths of moral weakness and rose to the heights of self-realization with the help of his friend Jiminy Cricket. My adventure also included crickets. They didn’t sing any catchy tunes, but they had a memorable crunch.
I kid you not, that is a bonafide bowl of toasted grasshoppers. They’re called Chapulines and are a bargain at $3. While they’re not exactly fries I thought it would be criminally negligent to leave them out of my review. The grasshoppers were crunchy, spicy, salty, and tonsil-puckering tart with lime.
A few observations, if I may. They are unmistakably grasshoppers. There are legs and antenna and everything. Also, the chile-lime seasoning is intense, but it’s not enough to hide the strange buggy bitterness that sits on the back of your tongue when you down a few of these at once. I achieved moderate success by pairing the chapulín with a tortilla chip or other delivery vessel. Like a french fry.
Chapulines are not what brought me to Poquitos. I received a recommendation to visit the restaurant based on their Mole Fries. The Mole Fries on their own were worth the visit.
Is it beautiful? Of course. Everything in the restaurant was beautiful. I loved the contrast of colors between the matte black cast iron over the white plate, the stark negro Oaxacan mole behind the bright white crema amarga. Throw in the golden spears of thick cut Kennebec potatoes, vibrant green flakes of fresh cilantro, light peppering of cotija cheese and toasted sesame seeds and you have an inviting dish. Check out another angle:
Stunning. At $6 on their lunch/brunch menu this is another outrageous bargain. The Kennebec fries were perfectly cooked and carried the subtle buttery nuttiness that I’ve come to expect. They were thicker than I’ve encountered before, but at 11mm I’d still call it a medium-thick. Anything bigger and it’d probably be a steak fry. Poquito’s preparation achieved a moderate shell of a crust with a tender interior. Fantastic.
The mole sauce was an unknown to me in the fry world. Intellectually I get how substituting gravy with mole makes this a Mexican poutine, but would the chocolate/peanut chili flavors mix well with a french fry dish? Yes. The sauce had an earthy smokiness that paired well with the tart creaminess of the crema. It was thick enough that it held to the fries without running off, and it was bold enough that balanced the starch of the potatoes and funk of the dry Mexican cheese. I gave it an 8.5 out of 10 on my rating scale. It could have been a touch higher, but as the mole cooled the bitter notes overwhelmed the more subtle flavors in the sauce.
Grilled Pineapple Fizz
Poquitos also provided me with a delicious non-alcoholic mixed beverage. Their Grilled Pineapple Fizz combines grilled pineapple juice, vanilla, lime, and cilantro. The presentation is beautiful in a tall and skinny glass with large ice cubes. It tastes fresh. And bright. The pineapple and lime dance on your tongue, while the vanilla and cilantro play mostly in the background. They linger on your palate and help revive you in between back to back bold Mexican salsas. For me, it’s an 8.3 out of 10. That’s great on my rating scale.
Poquitos is incredible. The interior is beautiful. The salsas are are bright and fresh and spicy enough to keep you alert for nearby insects (roasted or otherwise, but I only saw roasted). The mole fries are delicious, the grilled pineapple fizz is delicious, the chilaquiles are delicious, and I have reason to believe that everything they serve is…delicious. This was my first visit to Poquitos, but it will not be my last. The lunch prices are so reasonable and well-executed I’ll have to work it into my lunchtime rotation. Here are some final shots of my meal and the restaurant:
Visited on 1/6/2017. Please note, Poquitos provided my samples at no cost to me. Even so, I believe my rating to be objective and a fair representation of my personal experience