Convincing yourself to take the first shot is always tough. Trying not to think about the burning sensation you’ll feel in your stomach moments after, you do it anyway.
¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa’ dentro!
This is a Spanish phrase traditionally said moments before someone licks the salt off their hand, down a shot of tequila—probably Jose Cuervo Especial—and biting a lemon slice.
On Oct. 22, Tequila and Taco Fest will host Mexican restaurants and tequila distilleries at the Seattle Design Center where they will have the opportunity to show off their classic dishes and tequila. This event will benefit Treehouse, a nonprofit organization that helps create opportunities for kids in foster care.
Poquitos Mexican Food, Agave Cocina & Tequilas, HECHO and Gracia are a few restaurants that will be in attendance. Papa Bueno Tequila, Montelobos Mezcal, Milagro Tequila, and Ancho Chile Liqueur are some of the tequila producers that will be at the fest.
These restaurants and distilleries will each have a sample plate or drink. Depending on which admissions ticket you purchase, you’ll be able to sample up to 15 foods and drinks.
Sounds fun, right? Tequila and tacos! This event does more than make people happy, and General Manager of Poquitos Mexican Good Food Restaurant Liz Elkins agrees.
“It creates a bonding experience through great food and spirits,” Elkins said. “Education and thoughtfulness regarding other cultures comes through knowledge. So to be learning about a mescal or tequila distillation process or having tacos different than any you have tried… [is] great for everyone.”
At the event, Poquitos Mexican Good Food Restaurant will be offering an exclusive dish, Chile and Citrus-Braised Beef Cheek Tacos with diced onion, cilantro and guajillo salsa. If this dish sounds one-of-a-kind, it is.
“Our Chef Manny Arce has Spanish roots, and there is so much influence from Spain in Mexican cruising that you don’t see as much in the state,” Elkins said. “”Manny really draws from his experiences in Mexico and abroad and has created quite a unique style.”
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard of tequila and probably have tried it, but few people know its history.
Tequila is a type of liquor that is extracted from the blue agave plant, a plant native to Mexico and found in Jalisco. Today it is the national liquor of Mexico. Tequila has come to dominate its culture and is used to celebrate most, if not all, celebrations and holidays in Mexico.
Federico Ramos, owner of Agave Cocina and Tequila takes pride in this, as he is also a Jalisco native.
“We’re [Agave Cocina and Tequila and Ramos] originally from Jalisco, where tequila is made and distributed. We not only have the largest tequila selection, but we’re [also] happy to be there because it’s just another way to introduce tequila itself to many people out there that know very little about it,” said Ramos.
Agave Cocina was invited to sample at the Tequila and Taco Festival because they have the largest tequila selection in Seattle, says Ramos. Unfortunately, because only distributors are able to sample tequila, Ramos and his team will only present food. They have chosen to make Carnitas Tostada Sliders, a Mexican traditional dish.
“Our food is homemade, old family recipes made from scratch to the order,” said Ramos enthusiastically.
Another restaurant to be on the lookout for at the event is HECHOS. HECHOS, which offers “Contemporary Mexican Northwest Cuisine.” HECHOS, which translates to “doings,” refers to their famous warm tortillas that are made in house from scratch. In Spanish, these tortillas are commonly known as “tortillas hechas a mano.”
What sets HECHOS apart from other restaurants is that their homemade tortillas are where they get most of their ingredients from to prepare dried chilies for sauces.
“We source all of our local ingredients… We get our dried chilies locally from Alvares farms at the end of every season,” HECHOS Chef Danny Ludwig said. “We try to differ ourselves in the sense that we use exclusively local when we can.”
Although still unsure on what plate to share with the attendees, Ludwig has been in contact with the farms he gets his ingredients at to see what they have available at the moment.
Ludwig enjoys events like Tequila and Taco Festival because it’s the perfect time to socialize with other restaurants and other producers. He especially likes festival such as this one because the fun doesn’t just end once closing time hits the clock.
This event is for the “foodies,” the tequila enthusiasts and those simply interested in Mexican culture. If you do decide to go, remember: ¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa’ dentro!
For more information, visit www.tequilatacofest.com.
Yesenia may be reached at