El Chupacabra: authentic vegan Mexican

Up until a few weeks ago, I’d had yet to experience the vegan-friendly Mexican food of El Chupacabra. Anika has raved about this place for years, but for some reason, every time we’d visit from Tacoma we’d end up at another one of our standby vegan or vegan-friendly joints. What were we doing all this time?!

I love Mexican food more than I can properly articulate. My ethnic background is part-Mexican, so I grew up eating tacos, enchiladas, burritos, tamales, and everything else delicious made in authentic style, and it was glorious. When I transitioned to veganism, (and especially after I moved to the PNW), I’d resigned myself to the fact that the only good Mexican food I’d experience would be in my kitchen. Thankfully, I now know that’s not the case, and I have a spot to visit whenever we’re jonesing for vegan Mexican eats and are too lazy to cook!

Located in Phinney Ridge/Greenwood, this Mexican restaurant/bar is adorable. Decorated in reds/oranges and Dia de Los Muertos style, I almost felt like I was at a restaurant back home for a second once inside. More things that makes me love this place: Christmas lights, board games, a working jukebox, front patio – prime for this season, and a full bar.

We’ve only happened to go on Friday nights (date night, etc.) and both times we’ve visited it hasn’t been longer than 15 minutes for a table. Not bad for a place that’s extremely popular with both the herbivorous and carnivorous types. For us vegans, El Chupacabra offers Gardein meats (chicken with green or red sauce – verde or rojo – and steak) and Daiya cheese, which means that lunch, dinner or happy hour meal options are endless.

The first time we visited, we started out with their chips, salsa and guac and I grabbed the Bartender’s Margarita, (all pictured above). Because, you know, Mexican food.

The guac – fantastic. Chips – warm, okay. Salsa – a little watery in my opinion, but doable. The marg – not my bag. It had a splash of cranberry and was made with Jose Cuervo, and while drinking it I was wishing I’d had the house one. C’est la vie.

In what seemed like no time at all, our food arrived. I went for a vegan enchilada with daiya and “chicken,” and R went for three tacos with the “steak” and rice and beans. See here:

The server warned me that the enchiladas were huge, and hence I got one instead of two. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had them and they’ve always been a fave. Chupacabra’s did not disappoint. All the flavors were there, the red sauce fantastic, and the combo of daiya and faux chicken was through the roof delicious. Goodness gracious.

R loved his tacos and sides and devoured them quickly too. We left no stone unturned.

On top of this, our server was wonderful: sweet, delivering excellent service and chatted with us about their vegan food. I’ve read reviews of their service as being spotty, but we experienced no such thing – not even on a busy Friday night.

About a week after we first visited, we headed back, because we both couldn’t get this food out of our minds. This is what happens when El Chupacabra gets to you.

This time we started out with the same apps, and I went for the pomegranate margarita – our server’s choice. Usually this isn’t something I’d go for, but I loved it. The flavor was sweet but not too much so, and like last time, it was strong. I’d order this again, easily. And for food, I chose the large vegan burrito with daiya and vegan “steak,” (don’t judge, I wanted leftovers!) and Rick went for the taco salad.

My burrito was indeed huge, so I halved it down the middle to look at the delicious inside.

I loved this, loved all the flavors at play again, and doused at it with their homemade sauces. I was in delicious Mexican food heaven by the end of this evening.

Comes fully loaded.

R is a sort of connoisseur of taco salads, and he gave this one two enthusiastic thumbs up. It was huge, had rice/beans, “steak,” salsa, guac, lettuce, etc., and looked like a great, filling meal option. His only gripe was that the shell was overcooked, (guessing that it was baked then cooked again with filling). Despite that, he loved it.

This place is ridiculously popular, so I feel like it’s a fluke that both times we’ve gone we hadn’t had to wait too long for a table, inside or out. If you go, I recommend either going early, going later (which is what we did), bringing a friend to catch up with or hanging out at the bar. Believe me, whatever the wait, it will be more than worth your while.

If you’ve been, what are your favorite vegan menu items? And if you haven’t been, what are you waiting for?

El Chupacabra
6711 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA, USA
(206) 706-4889

 

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