I appreciate the advice I received on this board so I thought I'd give a run-down of where I went and what I thought. I unfortunately didn't have as much time to spare as I thought I would due to a variety of circumstances, so had to stick pretty close to La Mansion and late dinners were a regular occurrence. Most places recommended were far out of my reimbursement rate for work, so sadly had to avoid them. It was shocking *shocking* how expensive everything was! Seattle at least has a good variety of places, even in the tourist core, and a variety of price ranges. All places I went to were in the $15-$20 minimum range no matter the cuisine or quality with the exception of breakfast at Pesca.
- El Colegio Bar in La Mansion. Absolutely the best Margatini I've ever had in my life. The bartender knows what he's doing. I had several. Also ordered a prawn skewer. This took about 1 hour to finally arrive at the table. It was semi-cold and dry as a bone. It had been grilled as promised, but no seasoning was added to it at all. The chutney came on the side (should have been brushed on while the prawns were still warm in my opinion) in a small dish and it was so cold and hard, it was like dipping prawns into hard plastic at first. Not good. The chips were from a bag (red, white and blue) and the salsa was just strange. Bean-dip type with little flavor. Go for the drinks, quite pricey but worth it.
- Rita's. I had the chicken enchiladas and talapia tacos. To their credit, they forgot about my taco and added an extra one for free. The enchiladas and tacos were quite delicious. The enchiladas were not drowned in sauce, and had a slightly smoky note in the background. The tacos were fresh, hot and wonderful. The rice and beans on the side were so-so and the magarita from a mix. What's with the chips and salsa issue in San Antonio? The chips tasted stale an the salsa, if I can call it that, was some of the worst I've ever had. The tomato base tasted tinny and canned with a strong background of carrot - yes, carrot! No spice to it at all. In fact, there was no Pico-Pica, no Tapatio anywhere I went, just tobasco. Is this typical of SA Tex-Mex? Good service here - very fast and friendly. I should have gone back here for more tacos before I left.
- Acenar. The wait, on a Tuesday night, took twice as long as we were told. It was not crowded. We waited near the bar area and were asked once, about 1/2 way into our hour-long wait, if we wanted a drink. We would have liked to be asked again, but sadly, we weren't. Not even offered water. The dining room left acoustics to be desired, and tables were very close together. Difficult for even the waitstaff to get through. Chips again, were hard and tasted stale. They had a pretty good mole-based salsa which was the best salsa I had the entire time. The house margarita was excellent. Too bad I finished it just as our food arrived and was never asked if I wanted another one. When ordering, I asked the waiter about what taco filling he suggested. I received a blank look and he said, "Well, the chicken is healthier." Um, no, can you suggest which is better, the chicken, beef or pork? "You can get all three." Ok, so I got all three. The pork was dry (Tacos Guaymas in Seattle does it sooooo much better), the beef pretty good and the chicken was the tastiest. Again, where is the flavor and the spice? They were a bit bland. The rice was standard, nothing outstanding and the beans just refried beans. Does anyone serve whole beans instead of refried? I never saw this as an alternative on the menu - probably should have asked. The toppings (cabbage/pineapple) on the tacos were meager and the taco shells cold. I left feeling like I paid too much for what we got with a server who disappeared after our dinner was served. Maybe I would have liked dessert or another drink!
- Paesano's. This was one choice that left me thinking about Rita's (but not the salsa). I've never, ever, seen so much cheese in my life. The "olive oil" was poured over a huge mound of grated parmesean in which we were meant to dip the bread. Terrible! The olive oil had zero flavor, so all it tasted like was wet cheese. The wine per glass selection was mediocre. Either you chose a cheap glass of cheap wine, or were charged almost double the cost for a decent wine. I chose the ceasar salad, and my two companions the regular side salad. The regular salads looked good. My ceasar came drowned in dressing and again, a pile of cheese. Scraped off, it was pretty good. But I missed the lemon tang and sardine flavor in the dressing so suspect it was from a jar. Also, the waiter wouldn't let me request that the crouton be left off the salad (pre-prepared?). Seconds after our salads were finished, we received our meals. One person had the tuna appetizer which was truly well prepared and fresh. Another had a spicy chicken penne, which was not spicy in the least, came with an unseasoned grilled (frozen) chicken piece and the penne was not fresh - I buy the same brand at my grocery store. I chose the beef ravioli and suspect it was also frozen. Lack of tooth in the pasta and the filling was not in any way fresh. The red sauce was a bit sweet, and guess what, mixed into the red sauce, more cheese! And brought to the table for me, on the side in case I need it? Yes, more cheese, a huge pile of it. Amazing. The food was serviceable, but not worth the price my any means. We did get dessert and this is what to come here for. The key lime cheesecake was a bit over-powered by the cinnamon/apple sauce and the cappucino chocolate pie was very good. Everything was probably pre-prepared, but the desserts survived it the best.
- Waxy's Irish Pub. Basic pub. Decent fries. I went here out of desperation for a fast, fast lunch. Had the beef sandwich. Which came with hard-to-eat chunks of too-fatty and too-greasy beef instead of strips of beef. I also think I got a case of food poisoning from the sandwich. No proof, but the timing of everything leads me back here.
- Pesca. Go here for breakfast. Go here for lunch. If you can afford it, go here for dinner. I was only able to go for breakfast, but both the lunch and breakfast menus are surprisingly affordable for the area. I had the smoked salmon omlette, which was more of a torte with the salmon on the top. They smoke their own salmon which was obvious. It was fresh, tender, and delicate. A top-rate job. The torte was maybe just a bit over-cooked, but it didn't matter as it was so well thought out. The potatoes were fantastic (spice and flavor-finally!). The toast was cold as a stone, the only problem. Good basic coffee. Since I was not feeling well by lunch, I wasn't able to go back. Would have loved to try the cevice and any of the fish dishes. The 45 minute quick lunch menu looked fantastic. I wish that there was more 'talk' about this place for b-fast/lunch options, not just dinner since I wasn't aware that it was mostly more than a dinner place. The service was good, but after all the food came, and I was full-up on coffee, and my bill arrived, my server disappeared. I waited a good 10 minutes before someone came by so I could pay...BTW, several people walked by while my credit card waited in the bill holder, peeking out and pointed out to the aisle...I was the only one in the restaurant...