By Cassandra Van Keuren Special to The Herald
Where does everyone in my neighborhood go for Mexican food?
El Paraiso Mexican Grill on Colby Avenue in downtown Everett.
For one thing, it’s walking distance from our home.
Second, it’s a wonderful place to have a margarita and enjoy the weather.
And, of course, the food is really great.
My family and I went there last week and we were impressed by the decor, the friendly staff and the woman making wonderful fresh tortillas near the front.
When we walked in, we were offered a hot, fresh tortilla with a little butter and green sauce: such a tasty treat and a nice way to tide us over until we were seated and received our chips and dip.
Of course, you can’t help sticking a dollar in the tortilla lady’s little tip jar.
The restaurant itself is cheerfully decorated with bright yellow walls, large carved wooden booths and brightly painted ceramic lanterns.
We were quickly seated even though the restaurant was really busy.
I ordered a small Pacifico beer because that was what was on tap and my husband decided on a bottled Dos Equis.
When our beers came, I was shocked by the size of my mug. The small seemed to be bigger than a pint. The fact that the mug was frozen was a nice touch.
My husband I were both interested in tacos. I ordered tacos al carbon, al Pastor style (with marinated pork) and my husband got the two-taco combo meal with shredded beef.
My son ordered cheese nachos from the kids’ menu.
Our food came out quickly. My plate had three tacos, soft corn tortillas each with a scoop of spicy pork and a sprinkling of onion, cilantro and tomatoes to garnish.
They were your typical street taco style and they were lovely, just what I wanted, a little spicy and not too heavy.
With it, I got an iceburg lettuce salad with a bit of guacamole, refried beans and Spanish rice.
My husband was a little disappointed when he got his meal. The tacos were made with hard shells and he wanted soft tacos.
Nonetheless, the lightly seasoned shredded beef tacos, served with lettuce and cheese, and rice and beans, were tasty and filling.
My son’s nachos were what you would expect: chips with white cheese melted over it. He enjoyed it, but I should have looked more closely at the kids’ menu to make sure he was getting some fruit or veggies with his meal.
For dessert we ordered the fried ice cream. It was a hard ball of ice cream with a lovely crumb coating. But it was not deep fried. The crumb coating gives you the feeling of fried food without the fat. It came with a drizzle of chocolate and strawberry sauces and topped with whipped cream and a cherry.
I love El Paraiso Mexican Grill because there are so many ways you can enjoy yourself there. You can go for happy hour, or sit outside when the weather is good, enjoy a lunch away from the office or just meet all your friends for dinner and margaritas.
El Paraiso had three locations in the area. In addition to the original on Colby Avenue, there is one near Silver Lake (11014 19th Ave. SE, Everett; 425-338-7125) and one in Snohomish (1431 Avenue D, Snohomish; 360-568-5406)
El Paraiso Mexican Grill
2801 Colby Ave., Everett; 425-252-6026; elparaisomexicangrill.com.
Speciality: Mexican, margaritas.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
Vegetarian options: Plenty.