Dude, burgers. Plus more Mexican awesomeness.


On the way back from the beautiful Yakima valley, my parents and I stopped in Sunnyside for some delicious Mexican eats. I happened to know that right down the road from my favorite Sunnyside eatery was a little burger joint that sells fried asparagus.

I was just hungry, but now I need shoes.

And, apparently, New Balance shoes.

That is weird.

Let's all go to Burger Ranch!

Frozen New Balance cakes!

The shoes looked pretty nice, I guess. Right next to the soft-serve machine. I can't figure out whether burgers and shakes make people want to update their footwear, or if shoe-shopping makes people crave deep fried mushrooms and asparagus. But apparently this set up is working for the owner, because according to the counter girl, he's been doing it for a while.

It's a Mexican food garage!

We decided to pass on the New Balance and ordered a few items to take down the road to Tacos Apatzingan. I discovered it last year, and they have some of the tastiest tacos I've had the good fortune to consume North of the border. Or South of the border. It depends on which border you're talking about.

Time to make the tacos.

They have my favorite kind, too. Lengua! And luckily for my parents, al pastor. And actually, they appear to have an incredible amount of beverages. I had the horchata, which was absolutely delicious. Not too sweet, with that nice ricey flavor and just a touch of cinnamon. Mmm. Mild.

Hot saucy goodness.

I ended up getting a couple of lengua tacos and one taco al pastor. Add to that cilantro, onions, lime juice, and some serious salsa and you get a great and satisfying meal. But my parents will not settle for satisfaction. They require nausea-inducing excess. So we broke out the Burger Ranch goods.

The classic.

Onion rings! Though they were the good kind (complete, fresh onions hand-dipped and fried) I found them to be too heavy. I prefer my onion rings with a light breading rather than a medium batter. They were meh.

The twist!

Asparagus! I am basically a fan of anything asparagus, so battered and fried falls into my "hell yeah!" category in this case. They were cooked just to tender and not floppy inside the crispiness, and the accompanying sauce brought out the sweetness. Sweetness!

The delicious!

Sweet potato fries! I effing love sweet potato fries. How I lived most of my life without them is a complete mystery to me. They're like regular french fries (which are already awesome) only with that light sweetness that makes them awesomecross '98.

Check out that spread.

Yeah, that was a lot of food. A lot of food that some people would say doesn't really make sense together. To those people I say, shut up! You can't tell me what to love! DON'T JUDGE ME!!


Cases upon cases. . .

After the lunch and a couple of hours down the road, we stopped into a combination restaurant, laundromat, convenience store, and Mexican bakery. I want one of these down the street from my house. It's a one-stop shop!

upon cases and cases!

Their pastries were all lovely. And there were a ton of them. Probably about 16 different kinds, and they were incredibly well stocked. Almost like they were planning for something. Like a block party. Or a wake.

I should've gotten some flan, too. Damn.

Next to the flan was something that caught my eye: fresh strawberries in cream. I was totally on board.

Berries 'n' goo!

I'm not quite sure what the cream consisted of - it was a kind of yogurty consistency with the flavor of lightly sweetened whipped cream. It was nice with the sweet, juicy berries. And it made our whole car smell like strawberry. Which should be a constant state of being for everyone's car.

Like a buttery halo.

I also picked up this little cream-filled pastry horn for later in the day. It was fairly unremarkable, except that it serves to further demonstrate my gluttony and I really liked this picture.


Two Kinds of Breakfast

I am willing to get up before noon for this. It's that good.

So with my parents being in town and me being unemployed, it just made sense to take them out for the greatest eggs Benedict in town - at Glo's on Olive Way. I never even liked eggs Benedict before I had them there, but their combination of (usually) perfectly poached eggs and amazingly tasty hollandaise sauce won me over. Mmmm.

It's Seattle. There's salmon everywhere.

My mom went with the salmon Benedict, I suppose because she was in the Northwest and consuming a meal without some form of fish involved seemed wrong. Luckily, that is never necessary in this town.

Omelet! Hash browns! Breakfast!

My dad, not so much a Benedict guy (his loss!) went with an omelet of sorts instead. I didn't try any, but it's really hard to mess up an omelet. I mean, even college boys can make them, you know?


My dad also ordered the blueberry buckwheat pancakes. They were delicious. If I weren't so full after my eggs that food coma was pending before 10:00 AM, I would have eaten more. Even my mom liked them, and she's not a pancake person. Which is strange to me, but she's foreign - go figure.

If only we could have ordered it all.

Our next breakfast would take place in Yakima, WA. After a day of touring the wine country, we were ready for some seriously delicious Mexican food. What's the connection, you ask? Well, Yakima valley is home to a ton of little wineries and a ton of inhabitants of Mexican decent. And they brought with them the cuisine of their homeland. How nice of them!

Aww, menudo only on weekends.

At the suggestion of a local, we went to check out Tacos los Primos #2. She didn't even mention #1, so I suppose they improved upon the idea before opening the second one. It's a wagon-shack building in the parking lot of a laundromat. I was sincerely excited at the prospect. I mean, just look at that menu!

They look a little grim, but it was pretty early.

As we perused the (Spanish!) menu, we got to see all of the tasties being prepared right next to us. There was some serious freshness going on. We ordered a bunch of stuff and awaited the arrival of our Mexican breakfast.

In English it means "little donkey."

I, of course, couldn't resist the lengua. Tongue, you say? Ew, you say! Well, you can shut up. Tongue is amazing when prepared correctly, and I've never had it in Mexican food with anything but delightful results. In my burrito, it was tender and flavorful, perfect with the hotness I subsequently poured all over it.

Aw yeah, boy, I am the burrito wrapping master. Snap!

And just check out my burrito-wrapping skills. I know it's dangerous to post this picture, since I'm sure Chipotle will come knocking at my door, but I'm pretty proud of it.

Look at that spread!

My parents could not resist the draw of the tacos al pastor. I mean, you really can't go wrong with pork, you know? Especially topped with caramelized onions and fried pineapple. That's right, pineapple! I have never had pineapple on my tacos before, but it was a welcome addition.

You can really taste the goat head.

I had to try something on the menu I'd never heard of before, so I went with the birria. From the man in front of the grill's description, it's goat. I think from the goat's head. Which I'm still a little confused about, but I was feeling adventurous so I ordered it. It was. . . good. It was really tasty, with an oddly soft texture.

Mouths full of goodness.

All of that with some mandarin Jarritos made for one pretty kickass breakfast. I wish I could do it every day.

Ding ding! Helados!

And for dessert (what, you don't eat dessert after breakfast?) we were treated to ice creams from the roving ice cream man!

Thanks, dad!

He pulled into the parking lot to pick up some tacos to snack on while jingling through the streets of Yakima, and we took advantage of his pit stop by picking up some frozen treats.

Coco y fresa.

They were pretty interesting. It was sort of like a cross between an ice cream bar and a popsicle. My mom got the coconut flavor and I got strawberry, which ended up tasting like frozen strawberry Nesquick. Not bad.


Seven Courses of Beef, not as many of Sushi

Kumquat-tini. How very asian.

The first day of my parents' visit to my new hometown, my aunt wanted to take them somewhere Vietnamese. For some reason, she decided that this should be Tamarind Tree. The only restaurant in International District with a line out the door.

Comprised entirely of white people.

Anyway, it's a more upscale Vietnamese place with fancy cocktails and very low lighting.

Asian pear flower. Aww.

I had actually only been in for cocktails in the past. They have some pretty sweet ones. And by sweet, I mean sexy. Like lemongrass, kumquat, and asian pear. How cool is that!

Hi Mom (and Dad)!

My parents seemed pretty cool with the whole vibe, though. My dad is white, after all. In typical fashion, we all ordered way too much food.

Hey, check out that mood lighting. Moody.

We started out with the Hến Xúc bánh đa - the baby clams with rice cracker. The clams must be very small as babies, because I couldn't really pick them out from the rest of the stuff in the dish. It was pretty tasty though. I think they were the little vaguely meaty things. Sort of sweet, in a nice savory sauce.

Are baby clams cuter than adult clams? I wonder.

I generally like the concept of food as eating utensils, but the rice cracker thing was kind of a pain. Something in the breaking and scooping and dipping didn't translate into easy consumption for me. But I am half retarded at the dinner table, so there's that.

Delicious char.

The next thing to come was the ever-present grilled meat with vermicelli noodles and green stuff. I think it's pretty much a dinner staple at Vietnamese restaurants. And I'm fine with that.


The "food as utensils" principle works slightly better here - wrapping all the business up in a lettuce leaf for nuoc mem dipping. Quite nice!

Four courses right there.

My dad and I split the seven courses of beef. When the first plate came out, I was nervous. How do you get through seven courses of this? The first one is huge! It was various preparations of beef on a plate, accompanied by the standard noodles 'n' greens.

Well, as it turns out, that was actually the first four courses. Oh. Different preparation = different course. I think that's misleading. The should just call it "a few courses of beef, but with variety." That would look just as good on a menu.

That sauce should come with everything. including tacos.

The salad course of the beefness was really, really good. Probably my favorite dish of the night. The beef was sliced very thin and was super tender, sitting on a bed of shredded cabbage and other greens, and doused with a sweet fish sauce dressing. It was light and lovely.


The last course was a little DIY. Very thinly sliced raw beef came out, with just a sprinkling of white onions and a bit of seasoning. Raw beef course!

This pretty much got us all high.

Ok, turns out you don't eat it raw. It was accompanied by this little mobile cooking pot, heated by fuel source that gave off horrible, nausea-inducing fumes. They should really rethink ending the meal with this number.

Umm. . . soup?

My mom ordered some kind of soup. The end!

"Grip it as you would a mischievous child's neck. . . "

Well, the end of Vietnamese. The next night I took them to my favorite fancy-sushi restaurant in town: Shiki.

It's a cool little place with incredibly fresh seasonal fishes. It's also very, very expensive, so I go there never. But my parents are parents, and therefore I don't pay for food when I'm with them. Score.

We chose the agedashi dofu as an appetizer, and I was a bit disappointed. It came out cold and bland, with too much garnishy stuff and a vaguely unpleasant sauce. I really like the version at Kaname, and this one was sub-par in comparison.

Ah, fishskin.

My dad's king salmon was good. It was listed on the board as a special that day, so it was super fresh. I don't remember much about it, but fresh salmon is always pretty good. Right?


My mom wanted to get the seaweed appetizer. Or was it spinach? I just recall that it was unremarkable. Why do I like this place so much again?

Hey, little guys! How's it goin. . .

Oh yeah. . . the seafood. I remember seeing a tank full of these playful little guys when I walked in the door. Shrimps! Frolicking!


It practically frolicked right into my mouth. The sushi master pretty much fished him out, de-meated him, and put him on some rice. They fried up the heads for us to consume separately. It was deliciously barbaric.

What a spread!

And the rest of the sushis were similarly fresh. I can't quite recall all that we got, let's see. . .

Camera 2.

We got an unagi roll, and some nigiri. I believe it was albacore, salmon, er. . . something pink. . . .something. . . shiny. . . damn. I can't remember. I pretty much just ask the chef what's good that day and order two of everything he says. And it's always awesome.

Silverfish? No, silver fish.

These little guys came out after everything else for some reason. I believe they were Spanish mackerel. My mom says they're a bit "fishy" for her taste, but I rather enjoy the flavor. Mmm. Fish.

Oh, the carnage.

You know what was awesome about these meals? They were free for me. I love when family visits. And they were delicious - but the free really takes it over the top.