Too many Mexican restaurants on Capitol Hill? La Cocina Oaxaquena is Oaxacan

Opens Thursday but the sauces are already stewing (Image: CHS)

Opens Thursday but the sauces are already stewing (Image: CHS)

Before the chorus of “no mas” begins at the news of yet another Mexican restaurant opening on Capitol Hill, take a step back and imagine you are in the shoes of Misael Dominguez and David Gradwohl. You’ve both been part of the restaurant industry for years. You’ve managed Mexican restaurants that ascended into the foodie hype zone. And, as Dominguez, you’ve seen your home cuisine escalated into very successful Seattle businesses backed by deep-pocketed investors.

“A lot of people say they have a Mexican restaurant — we’ll have the real thing from the south,” Dominguez tells CHS.

The first-time restauranteur and his business partner Gradwohl have hired the mariachi band and will open La Cocina Oaxaquena to the public for the first time for dinner Thursday.

But, while he is eager to succeed in a venture he can finally call his own, Dominguez says he looks at the wave of Mexican restaurants upscale, low scale and in between as a good development for La Cocina Oaxaquena’s business.

“It’s good to have many options,” he said. “And it’s good to have some place to go when I want to eat,” he said, laughing.

27135_531105683597681_1355321657_n (1)The mouthful that is La Cocina Oaxaquena has been built out in the space formerly home to Pho Tai at Melrose and Pine. CHS first reported on the early word on the project in February (we also tallied the current population of Mexican-focused restaurants). The restaurant will stay focused on dinner — and drinks — only to start, opening 4p-2a daily. The kitchen will probably close around midnight during the week. Expect food including tacos, moles and entomatadas until later on the weekends. Expect the giant new bar to be ready to serve. Also expect the restaurant’s patio to be full of people again.

The opening comes a few months prior and only a few blocks away from another new Oaxacan project we reported on last week. Mezcaleria Oaxaca will expand to Capitol Hill later this summer. It’s part of the Carta la Oaxaca family — the Ballard restaurant that put the region on Seattle’s tongues as a new brand of the familiar cuisine. Dominguez previously managed the Ballard restaurant. Now he and Gradwohl are ready to open their own take on the food Dominguez grew up with.

“Oaxacan means good food to people,” Dominguez said. “Oaxacan means authentic.”

UPDATE: Did you visit Oaxaquena on opening night? Mariachi Fiesta Americana did:

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Camarones estilo Oaxaca

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28 thoughts on “Too many Mexican restaurants on Capitol Hill? La Cocina Oaxaquena is Oaxacan

  1. Most mexican food in this neighborhood is either greasy or bland or flat out sucks anyway. Tacos Chukis is probably the best simply made Mexican food available right now IMHO. Just make it like Carta in Ballard and it will the bomb.

  2. I love Mexican food, but there really is too many on the Hill already. I wish there was more diversity in the style of restaurants on the Hill. It’s either sushi or Mexican (most of which are over priced and mediocore) but nothing else. When did Capitol Hill become such a sheep mentality neighborhood?

    • There are plenty of Thai, Italian and American restaurants too. And tons of cheap mexican too. Poquitos is overpriced, but Fogon is reasonable as are Rancho Bravo and Cocina Cantina on Broadway. And Capitol Hill has never really been unique with regards to the sheep mentality. There was a time when you couldn’t go 2 feet without tripping over a Thai restaurant or a coffee cart. Without the sheep mentality there wouldn’t be Starbucks. I suppose you hate your cable and mobile phone companies and your bank too. Like all good sheep.

    • Nothing better than a bitter biggot queen. How is calling someone a breeder any better than them calling us Fa**ot? Tolerance begets tolerance. Bigot.

    • A basic, underlying premise of the site is that participants here have love for Capitol Hill and the nearby neighborhoods. If you can’t handle that, again, let me suggest finding another venue. CHS is extremely tolerant of criticism but there’s no reason to foster purely destructive dialog. Ideas here should start with the premise that we’re all working to make things better. Keep it in mind the next time you comment.

  3. lighten up! I’m a big old ‘mo too, and I’m not offended by the term ‘breeder’ or fa**ot, as you delicately put it.

    If it weren’t for breeders, you and I wouldn’t be here. To me ‘hipster’ is more offensive than breeder or fa**ot. Hipsters use and throw out when it’s convenient. If somebody breeds, they’re in it for the long haul.

  4. ” It’s either sushi or Mexican (most of which are over priced and mediocore) but nothing else.”

    Right, except for Italian, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, burgers, Indian, Greek, etc., etc., …… there’s really nothing but sushi or Mexican on the Hill.
    Seriously, there’s pretty good diversity of cuisine in the neighborhood, all you have to do is look.

  5. I’ll be there tonight… can’t wait.

    If you think there is not enough variety on the hill, then you’re living on a different hill than I am… There is more variety (at high quality) here than any neighborhood in Seattle.

    Oaxacan is also a totally different style than what you will get at fogon or tacos chukis or other good places around. You’re missing out by just dumping everything into the “mexican” category and dismissing it.

  6. I cannot wait to be back on the Hill this summer to sample the new Mexican wares. There are never too many taquerias. I’ll only worry if they start pushing out pho restaurants. Otherwise, burritos are magical.

  7. PS I’d love to see someone take another go at good Salvadorean on the Hill. Pupusas are pretty magical too. Just don’t open it up in Broadway Alley. (How is Tacos Chukis surviving in there, btw?)

  8. “Too many Mexican restaurants on Capitol Hill?”
    The problem is too many MEDIOCRE Mexican restaurants on the Hill. Tacos Chukis is the only legit Mexican you will find in the neighborhood. Barrios, Poquitos are overpriced, pretentious and flavorless, especially the latter. Fogon, is forgetful and La Cocina & Cantina on Broadway is downright horrible and disgusting as is Rancho Bravo. Real Mexican food has soul, like Tacos Chukis or La Carta in Ballard.

  9. Sorry to be a spelling nazi but what is listed as “entimatados “, if i am correct, are actually entomatadas. And having family from Oaxaca, I have to say I am very excited and hopeful that this food will be good. El Fogon makes a very decent attempt. I have been to Carta de Oaxaca and although the food is delicious, it is not as regional as it could be. Carne asada is easy to make, I will say that their shrimp Cocktails are very authentic.. I do not think it reflects how exotic southern Mexican cuisine is. In my humble opinion, Senor Moose in Ballard (despite the non- Mexican name) has more authentic dishes and are not run of the mill. Meaning, if you really want to eat something different that isn’t tacos, burritos, or carne asada you will like this place. this is just my opinion.

  10. Dang it! I saw your tweet and got excited for a New Mexican restaurant (i.e. the state). Though it will be nice to be able to skip the trek to Ballard. Pay attention to your capitalization please, you got my hopes up!

  11. I’d have to say that the best taco that I’ve had in Seattle is from Tacos Chukis. And that’s after having lived in West Seattle and having had easy access to some good authentic taquerias in White Center.

  12. It is totally sketchy that this guy opened up a new mexican restaurant right before the Carta owners. Not to mention he has worked for them and has the EXACT same menu as them. The same dishes, the same every thing. He has stolen every part of their Ballard restaurant and has duplicated it right before they open a new place. Shame on him for stealing someone elses success.

  13. You can choose for yourself what words are offensive, but “breeders” and “fa**ots” are clearly derogatory for the vast majority of people.

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