Torteria Barriga Llena, La Cocina de Oaxaca joining Hill’s burgeoning Mexican food scene

For Edgardo Mendoza, being on Broadway is just his style.

“I’m originally from Mexico City. I like the city!” he said Thursday as his restaurant Torteria Barriga Llena prepared to surprise passersby at the Broadway Alley with a from-out-of-nowhere opening.

The now-open torteria is one of a handful of new Mexican food-focused restaurants coming to the Hill including one taking over an empty restaurant space along Melrose and another that qualifies as a fast-food giant.


Barriga Llena, it turns out, is Aurora Ave’s loss and Broadway’s gain. Mendoza said he decided to move his operation to find a place with better foot traffic. He’s also old friends with Galeria’s operator Ramiro Rubio and may have some staff from the old place join the new Broadway operation. You might recall that Galeria’s shut down following a fire that did $800,000 damage and that investigators said was arson. Rubio is apparently traveling these days, Mendoza said.

With that tough Broadway restaurant story as backdrop, we should also note that Mendoza is taking over a space that Guanaco’s Pupuseria abandoned after a year of giving it a go in the back of the 1918-build Broadway shopping mall.

Let’s hope for happier times for Barria Llena and Edgardo and his wife Gabriela Mendoza who are responsible, many say for some of the best tortas in Seattle as the venture takes its third incarnation — you can throw a food truck in there, too. Here is the secret of the torta according to Barriga Llena, or Full Belly:

The Mexican torta can be described as a sandwich or sub in a special Mexican bread with unique and rich ingredients that make the torta a delightful traditional dish from Mexico. The bread used is referred as bolillo or telera (french roll) and split in half, horizontally. To each of those halves avocado, beans, and a touch of mayo is spread, then the main ingredients are applied, such as: carnitas (pork meat), milanesa (breaded steak or chicken), carne asada (grilled steak), chorizo (spanish sausage), jamón y piña (ham and pineapple), among many other combinations. Finally, tomatoes, onions/purple onions, salsa, lettuce, and chiles are applied based on your preference.

You can check out the menu here. Highlights include:

  • Diabla (Devil’s Torta) – Carne enchilada (Spicy steak), pineapple, and quesillo (Oaxan Cheese).
  • Jarocha (Veracruz, Mexico) – Breaded steak, pineapple, and quesillo (Oaxan Cheese).
  • Suiza (Swiss Torta)- Quesillo (Oaxan Cheese), swiss cheese, and cheddar cheese.
  • Veggie Torta- Seasoned mushrooms, melted panela cheese (Soft mild Mexican cheese), lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, etc.

House-made chorizo? Yes, please (Images: Barriga Llena)

Customers can also order sandwiches custom style. They’ll set you back somewhere between $6 and $8 depending on your choice. Some things like hours are still being worked out  — probably opening at 11 in the morning and waiting to figure out what makes sense at night. Mendoza says he’ll be very open to suggestions from customers as he finds his footing. A transfer of the liquor license is in the works. The sandwiches and menu of other standards, it sounds like, should also help.

“Our specialities are the torta. Homemade chorizo. Tacos, burritos, everything,” Mendoza said.

Meanwhile, back on the sandwich end of things, Chico Madrid is aiming for a spring opening on Bellevue Ave E. But that’s Spain, not Mexico — doesn’t make our list.

It’s been only half a year since CHS reported on a previous wave of Mexican restaurant activity on the Hill. Fogon  joined E Pine at that time. So, let’s play the game — and see who I forget *this* time. In I haven’t had a margarita yet order:

  1. Barriga Llena
  2. Fogon
  3. Bimbo’s
  4. Poquitos
  5. Barrio
  6. Rancho Bravo
  7. The Saint
  8. La Cocina (Broadway)
  9. Tacos Chukis
  10. El Gallito
  11. El Portal
  12. El Farol
  13. Qdoba
  14. Ooba Tooba
  15. Taqueria Las Torres (has been parked at Pike/Broadway)
  16. Taco del Mar
  17. Tacos Guaymas

Whoa. Speaking of Guaymas, they’re now safely ensconced in the old home of the Broadway Cafe. Their move from the Harvard Market just down Broadway opened up a space for Mexi-behemoth Chipotle. A company spokesperson said the location is on target for a late February, early March opening. That makes 18.

So, who is next? We don’t know much about it but we can tell you that two partners are working to open La Cocina de Oaxaca in the former home of Pho Tai at Melrose and Pine and, while we haven’t been able to confirm much, we are fairly certain the cocina will feature Mexican food. It also apparently has nothing to do with Ballard fave La Carta de Oaxaca. One of the owners we contacted said the restaurant will feature “authentic southern Mexican food with fresh tortillas and good old traditional dishes from Oaxaca.”  Excellent. Make it 19.

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12 thoughts on “Torteria Barriga Llena, La Cocina de Oaxaca joining Hill’s burgeoning Mexican food scene

  1. Barriga Llena had a small truck in South Lake Union for a while. Very tasty food, but very big — when they say “full belly,” they mean it! Glad to see they’re the latest in a long string of small restaurants expanding from (storefronts to) food trucks to more storefronts.

  2. I love Barriga Llena, but generally can’t be bothered to drive all the way up there. (It’s easily been over a year since I went up there for a torta.)

    I miss Guanaco’s, but this is a fine trade-off. I hope BL does better in the off-street space than Guanaco’s did.

  3. Is TacoCity food truck on 21 and Union out of the boundaries?

    and I’m pretty sure El Portal closed (and didnt serve food or margaritas! annnnd was East of 23rd!)

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