The plato al tia or “aunt plate” is a taster tray of Tía Lety’s specialties at the Everett restaurant for $18.99. It easily feeds two. (Sara Bruestle/The Herald)

The plato al tia or “aunt plate” is a taster tray of Tía Lety’s specialties at the Everett restaurant for $18.99. It easily feeds two. (Sara Bruestle/The Herald)

Take a trip to authentic Mexico at Tía Lety in Everett

You don’t go to this eatery for the ambiance, but the tacos and tamales are well worth seeking out.

With all the snow we’ve been having, I found myself missing Mexico.

Not just the weather, but the food. I vacationed in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo two years ago, and since then I have a newfound appreciation for authentic Mexican.

So, on a recommendation from Herald reporter and Mexican street food lover Caleb Hutton, my boyfriend, Stephen Sherbert, and I dined at Tía Lety Tamaleria Y Taqueria in Everett.

Tía Lety is another hole-in-the-wall located in a strip mall; this one is off Evergreen Way. It’s at home next to a Ta’ Carbon and Tienda Latina. If you see a Tacos Locos, you’re in the wrong place.

There was a bit of a language barrier. The servers speak very little English, and the menu is entirely in Spanish. Thanks to the Spanish classes I’ve been taking at Everett Community College, plus Google Translate and Facebook, I found out that the menu is made up of the restaurant namesake’s own recipes.

Restaurant owner Leticia “Lety” Vergara and her husband, Manuel Quevedo, opened the place just over a year ago. The woman behind the counter was Maria Castañeda, Tía Lety’s daughter. (Tia means aunt in Spanish.) They moved here from Mexico 17 years ago. The family-owned eatery is all about good food and friendly service.

With Facebook right at my fingertips, I kept researching: My friends from Mexico say they go to Tía Lety when they’re missing home. They rave about the menu, saying the dishes are just like what their parents and grandparents make.

We asked Maria for the top three bestsellers on the menu. Per her recommendations, we ordered a taster tray of Lety’s specialties: The plato al tia or “aunt plate” ($18.99), a platter that included an egg-stuffed poblano pepper covered in cheese, a couple of short ribs, refried beans, Spanish rice, a pica de gallo salad garnished with cucumbers, and chipotle shrimp with roasted vegetables.

While we were enjoying our plates, Maria stopped by to ask us: “¿Está bien? Everything good?”

I really enjoyed the chipotle shrimp and stuffed poblano. Stephen was a bit weirded out by the latter after failing to identify the egg inside the pepper. As for the short ribs? We thought they were just OK. A bit too fatty and chewy for our liking.

We also ordered a steak huarache for $8.99, which is made with a corn dough base, fried in an oblong shape and topped with smashed pinto beans, diced onion, tomato and cilantro, strips of nopales (cactus in Spanish) and finished with queso fresco. The dish gets its Spanish name from its sandal-like shape.

We thought the huarache was a happy surprise. The variety of toppings made for a delicious meal — but the grilled steak and fried masa are big standouts. In between bites from Lety’s platter, I found myself sneaking one more taste, and then one more taste of the huarache. My only complaint is that the bland nopales didn’t do much for me. I’d order it without cactus.

Hutton, who covers law and justice for The Daily Herald, goes to Tía Lety when he’s in the mood for street tacos.

“Their asada and pastor tacos have just the right spicy burn, where it complements and doesn’t mask the flavor,” he said. “Then it’s your classic cilantro, onion, a slice of lime and a choice of green or red salsa. All fresh. So far both times I’ve gone famished and found a plate of five tacos for $8.99, to be enough to share … in theory.”

“The ambiance is cafeteria-like,” Hutton added. “A TV plays the news in Spanish, the lighting is fluorescent and you order through a literal hole in the wall. Do not let this distract you from the task at hand. These are tacos worth seeking out.”

In addition to tacos, Tía Lety also is known for her tamales. There’s pork in red sauce, chicken in green sauce and peppers with queso. Pick up an order of a dozen for $18, or try a few for $2.99 each.

We wanted to try one of each, but by 7:30 p.m. the kitchen was out of peppers and queso. While tamales aren’t my favorite, I’m a new fan of Tía Lety’s tamales. Now I understand why they’re so popular at Mexican food trucks.

I already know what I want to order next time. A couple of tacos, a couple of tamales and a steak huarache “sin nopales.”

If you go

Tía Lety Tamaleria Y Taqueria is at 9629 Evergreen Way, Suite 202, Everett. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Call 425-322-4701 or search for Tia Lety on Facebook.

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