Mexican Madness in Tacoma, Washington

Fabulous red-chile pork tamales at Vuelva a la Vida in Tacoma, Washington

Fabulous red-chile pork tamales at Vuelva a la Vida in Tacoma, Washington

From a culinary perspective, Tacoma, Washington might conjure up the usual west-coast images of oysters, crab, salmon. But a mini-Mexican hotbed? Who’d have thunk it? Yet when you get east of the city centre, there are a few places that define Mexican authentic: streetfood, casual, inexpensive, friendly. My kind of joints.

Leading the way is Vuelve a la Vida, which translates as “come back to life.” Here, that means returning to Mexican roots, with no Americanized chips and salsa. My asada (steak) taco, served on a corn tortilla with whole beans, is very good. But the standout is the smoking hot tamales, the masa dough enveloping a rich filling of red chile pork. Seriously, you only need two of these bad boys for a filling, $5 lunch.

None of that Americanized chips and salsa at Vuelva a la Vida

None of that Americanized chips and salsa at Vuelva a la Vida

But my server, Juana, is not done with me, bringing over complimentary samples of Mexican drinks—horchata and jamaica—along with a little plate of shrimp ceviche. Any minute, I’m expecting to be introduced to the family.

Vuelve a la Vida
5310 Pacific Way, Tacoma
Weekdays 10:30 am-10 pm, weekends 10 am-10 pm
Vuelve a la Vida on Urbanspoon

About a mile away, Taqueria La Fondita is a food truck that pulls into a gravel parking lot every morning, with smoke soon belching from the tiny kitchen. A steady stream of neighbourhood youth saunters up to the window, ordering junior burritos to go.

The Taqueria La Fondita truck in a Tacoma parking lot

The Taqueria La Fondita truck in a Tacoma parking lot

I choose a more substantial torta, handing the included Sprite to a surprised kid. The bread isn’t as substantial as some tortas I’ve had, but the tender chicken filling melds nicely with slices of avocado to create a fine, gooey mess, kicked up a notch with some flavourful green chile sauce.

It's all gooey goodness in this chicken torts

It’s all gooey goodness in this chicken torta

Taqueria La Fondita
3737 South G Street, Tacoma
Daily 11 am-10 pm
La Fondita Taco Truck on Urbanspoon

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