Had an all-around great experience at Barbacoa last Saturday.
It's a tiny place (30 seats plus 8 at the bar), open since December on top of Queen Anne (between Boston & McGraw). Clean lines and modern design with a minimum of Texas kitsch and high ceilings make a welcoming space. It was full when my date and I arrived, but there were two seats at the bar, so we grabbed those and refused to give them up. We wandered in not knowing what to expect and left smiling and fully sated.
We started with a non-traditional but very delicious whole-leaf ceasar and some deeply satisfying queso fundido with chorizo and small soft corn tortillas. Plates were licked clean.
House margaritas were all too easy to suck down. Limey, not sugary, and very refreshing, although not the strongest. Also tried a hibiscus margarita which was herbal and fruity and again not too sweet, and pink grapefruit mojitos, which were REALLY REALLY good.
I had pecan crusted catfish with mashed potatoes and chunky tomato salad with cilantro and lots of little red peppers. Good crispy crust on two nice thick pieces of catfish - the crust stayed crisp until the last bite. Very good mashed potatoes and tasty salad. There was some sort of sauce on the fish, I can't remember what it was, but it was good.
My favorite guy had the BBQ brisket with borracho beans, which he completely devoured before finishing off the last few bites of my fish, raving all the while.
For dessert, mexican chocolate flan was silky and delightful. The pecan tart was a generous slice and packed with pecans, but I found the crust to be overly salty.
The food was good, solid, well executed, reasonably priced (drinks & apps $6ish, entrees $15 plus or minus a few, desserts in the $5 range). Lots of flavor but not trying to get too crazy or reinvent tex-mex.
Barbacoa is owned by two guys who are there every day cooking, making margaritas, and generally working hard to make people happy. This - owner/chef involvement - is in my mind a huge component of running a successful restaurant. It is a much more pleasurable experience when you can tell that some passion has been put into creating it. Look at Le Pichet and Harvest Vine - two of the most delicious restaurants in Seattle, also small and reflective of distinct personas.
They are also open for lunch. I have no idea if they take reservations.
Check it out!