Beef birria tacos at El Mariachi in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, July 5, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Beef birria tacos at El Mariachi in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, July 5, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

2 spots for exceptional tacos in Everett

A food writer at The Seattle Times took a trip north to two Everett taquerias with unique offerings.

By Tan Vinh, The Seattle Times

EVERETT — Our latest Neighborhood Eats dispatch comes from Everett, where I taco-hopped to different taquerias north of Seattle on a recent weekend because I don’t need to use a gimmicky Taco Tuesday as an excuse to hunt down great goat barbacoa or birria. Details below.

El Nopal Mexican Food

12720 Fourth Ave. W., Suite D, Everett; 425-374-8007, on Facebook: El Nopal Mexican Food

Even if you drive below the speed limit along this drag in Everett, you might miss this unassuming taqueria tucked in a strip mall. Regulars come for the al pastor and birria, but I brake for the goat tacos and other menu items you don’t often see around the Puget Sound area.

The goat barbacoa tacos are served every Friday and Saturday starting at 11 a.m. ($25 a pound with housemade tortillas). Shards of steamed goat meat sit on a warm, pillowy tortilla — what’s tacked on after that is up to you. I prefer a sprinkling of salt, a bed of raw onions and cilantro and a squiggle of green salsa. Add more tangy sauce if you want to drown out the gaminess.

If you miss this weekend taco special, try the house specialty: the nopal plate con cecina, a platter of grilled cactus and cured top round steak with sides of beans and rice ($20). Just bundle the strips of protein and plant into the corn tortilla for a vegetal-squishy taste from the cactus to offset the sharp, salty beef.

Or try the taco arabe ($5), a Middle Eastern shawarma-inspired meat married with Mexican flavors that’s a popular fusion in Puebla, the hometown of El Nopal owner Raul Osorio. His homage consists of grilled pork bits and onions that are coated in a smoky chili pepper sauce and sealed in a pliant flour tortilla for a spicy and salty bite.

El Mariachi Birria Y Tacos

6100 Evergreen Way, Everett; 425-512-9024,

While eating (literally) hundreds of tacos around Western Washington last year, I reveled in chef Hugo Carranza’s fried chicken tacos ($4 each or three for $13 with consommé) at El Mariachi, with tangled strands of braised thigh and breast meat brimming with smoky chipotle and sautéed onions.

The poultry fillings, coated in cheddar and queso asadero, are served in a corn tortilla that’s been fried in an oil infused with guajillo peppers, anise star and fall spices. It’s a crackly bite with a cheesy-stretchy interior. You’ll need every bit of the sides of pickled red onions, fresh cilantro and avocado sauce to cut into this beer sponge.

And you should mark your calendar to check back in May. That’s when Carranza promises to “kick it L.A. style” by turning the parking lot into a taco cookout on weekends. He’ll roll out a vertical spit to slow-roast a beehive of al pastor pork and a grill to sizzle up some mesquite aromatic beef tacos in the Northern Mexican tradition of Sonora and Nuevo León.

Psst. The chef also plans to open another taqueria in the near future to do charcoal-grilled meats.

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