To eat at Señor Moose Cafe is to experience the despair of never being able to try everything on the menu. Even the selection of salsas was eclectic. The peanut sauce (top) had the most heat, whereas the tamarind in the lower right was mild. The second time I ate there, for dinner, I wanted to try Filete enchocolatado (steak sauteed with bitter chocolate, wine, and onion) and about 10 other things. I settled on Enchiladas de la plaza because I’d never been to a Mexican restaurant that advertised a sauce with cream and egg.Señor Moose originally opened as a breakfast place, but then the owner, Kathleen Andersen, realized nobody in Seattle was serving the comida tipica from Mexico’s central plateau (Michoacan, Nayarit, Jalisco, and Mexico City) that she had been craving. So the staff started adding breakfast specials that Andersen had learned to make while eating at fondas (mom-and-pop restaurants) and making food with friends in Mexico. Then the cafe added a full dinner menu.
That kind of variety doesn’t come cheap. It costs a lot more than the $10 you might drop on a meal and a drink at El Taco de Mexico in Denver.
The name of Todd’s entree alone was worth it: Puerco en nuestro mas reciente mole. Among other things, the sauce was made with 4 chiles, almonds, sesame seeds, chocolate, and sweet spices. The pork cooks in the sauce for a long time, resulting in a darker, hotter flavor than the relatively mild sauce on my enchiladas filled with potatoes, corn, and carrots. Todd’s entree was flashy; mine was squishy but still good. When you walk into the restaurant, there’s a counter on the left and a dining room on the right that ends in a bar with the sign: “No Minors. No Firearms.” The room with the counter seemed blazingly hot both times we were there, so we sat in the other room and got served by the same no-nonsense waitress who reminded me of my friend Catherine. During our stay in Seattle from August 17 to September 17, there was an art exhibit in that room featuring a painting on a ironing board. It’s a funky little place.
The morning of our first visit, I ordered huevos ahogados, expecting tomato soup with a few poblanos and some cheese and 2 poached eggs. It wasn’t my usual breakfast fare, but that was, of course, the attraction.What I got was a smoky tomato broth absolutely loaded with chilies. I ate the eggs and drank as much of the broth with chilies as I could; the broth itself was lovely—salty and spicy—but the chilies defeated me. Todd ordered machacas con papas. I remember the beef being crispy; he doesn’t. In any case, it was a hearty meal.Writing this review from Portland has made me want to drive back to Seattle to have just one more dish. If you’re in Seattle, go up to Ballard and try Señor Moose. It’s open for breakfast and lunch until 3 and then from 5 to 9 or 10 for dinner.