The crispy cheese quesadilla features a blend of Monterey and Asadero cheese in a flour tortilla griddled to a crisp. (Robert Winkle Photography)

The crispy cheese quesadilla features a blend of Monterey and Asadero cheese in a flour tortilla griddled to a crisp. (Robert Winkle Photography)

Bothell’s Poquitos satisfies even the simplest of tastes

The expansion restaurant offers Mexican cuisine in the heart of downtown Bothell.

I’m still kicking myself for not trying the fried grasshoppers at Poquitos Bothell.

They’re pretty famous. Seattle Mariners fans will know what I’m talking about.

The Mexican restaurant made some national buzz when it sold 18,000 hoppers at Safeco Field just three days into the 2017 season. That’s more than Poquitos sells at it its Capitol Hill location in a year. The Mariners even imposed a per-game limit to keep them from selling out.

Owners James Weimann and Deming Maclise opened a second Poquitos on March 26 at the Junction in downtown Bothell.

Yes, the frenzy-inducing chapulines are on the menu for $4. And, yes, they come toasted with chili lime salt seasoning.

At the time, other choices on the menu lured me away.

I tried the crispy cheese quesadilla ($11), carnitas taco ($14.50), grilled corn ($6) and churros y cajeta, or caramel sauce ($8). I would have eaten more, but I have the stomach capacity of a small bird.

I joined The Emerald Palate blogger Adria Saracino (www.emeraldpalate.com) and her boyfriend, Dan Levine, at the U-shaped bar. We drank margaritas (my first ever), and shared our thoughts on the menu.

The corn had a smoky taste with a kick of spiciness. I would have been content if it was my entree for the evening.

All three of us agreed it was great.

“It was grilled and it had the char on it, which was really nice,” Saracino said.

The carnitas taco with lager-braised pork, avocado salsa, diced onion and cilantro was great, but not the best I’ve ever had. I thought it could have used some kind of sauce. Maybe I was still in a daze from the corn.

Warm spiced caramel topped the churros, which were tasty and sweet.

But it was the quesadilla that stole my heart.

The flour tortilla, griddled to a crispy texture, was loaded with grilled chicken and melted Monterey and Asadero cheese. Topped with Pico de gallo and cilantro, it felt like the quesadilla was melting in my mouth.

I tapped out on the food, but Saracino and Levine tried everything from nachos ($13) to the carne asada ($29). The latter came with a 14-ounce grilled boneless ribeye steak, roasted tomato-guajillo-chipotle sauce, guacamole and onion rings.

“The carne asada plate was both impressive to look at and had tender meat,” Saracino said.

The meats and produce come from farms in the Seattle area, including Local Roots and Mad Hatcher. Maclise said the menu leans toward the healthier side of Mexican food.

I was in the mood for Mexican as soon as I walked in the door. The 5,000 square-foot space brims with Spanish colonial aesthetics. The lobby featured tinted glass from Mexico City.

“When we open a restaurant, we go and travel to that country,” Weimann said. “We went and we bought a bunch of things and brought them back.”

Those familiar with the Capitol Hill location will recognize Talavera tiled archways above the dining areas. Woodwork, ironwork and chandeliers are also nice on the eyes. It felt modern and rustic at the same time. The building itself is brand new with 17-foot-high ceilings — 6 feet higher than the Capitol Hill restaurant, built in 1912.

But don’t let your eyes stray for too long. You’ll miss the delicious food right in front of you.

Evan Thompson: 360-544-2999 or ethompson@heraldnet.com.

If you go

Poquitos is at 18505 Bothell Way NE Suite 103, Bothell. Its open for dinner every day from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. The late-night menu runs from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

The restaurant seats 180, including 18 at the bar and 20 in a private dining room. Two outdoor patios with 54 seats are opening in early summer.

More at www.poquitosbothell.com.

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