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TnT Taqueria

Seattle WA (Wallingford)

2114 n 45th st, seattle WA 98103
daily 8am-10pm

Agua Verde

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Rating: 88
Price: $$$

The To-Go

TnT Taqueria provides a casual dining experience surrounded with hip, attractive Seattle-ites. However, TnT is hampered by a seriously flawed salsa hoarding strategy.

The Sit-Down

Mildly hypothermic and extraordinarily badass, 4 members of the mountain expeditionary squadron emerged from the Cascades this past Monday after a pseudo-VisionQuest, designed to encourage introspection about the hottest new meat-tortilla combos. At the recommendation of the local village elders, we met up with business associates Derek & Erin to sample some tacos indigenous to the Lake Union watershed at TNT Taqueria. Billed as hip but still a good bargain, TNT Taqueria is part of the Chow Foods empire and fits both of those bills.

Rather than being offered a la carte, tacos are only available in multiples of 3. Fortunately, 3 is typically the perfect amount of tacos, and TNT Taqueria does allow mix-and-matching of flavors. When we visited, there were 5 meat options, spanning slow-cooked meats both classic (al pastor) and unique (beef brisket), along with a couple vegetation options. Summoning the spirit of the mountain to guide my decision, I went meat-heavy: one al pastor, one pollo verde, and one chorizo verde - quite appropriate for the Siempre Verde State. After placing my order, the (hip-as-advertised) cashier caught me completely off-guard with an almost unprecedented question for sit-down taco consumption: what type of salsa would I like? As it turns out, TNT Taqueria has abandoned all faith in humanity's ability to self-regulate salsa consumption (perhaps cautioned by the tragic tale of the legendary salsa bar at La Guanajuatense) and offers only one salsa container per meal, with additional salsas costing 35 cents apiece. I chose the avocado crema, but longed powerfully for more.

The tacos came out after a brief wait, during which I rehydrated by downing an entire horchata. They were uniformly drizzled with cotija, cilantro, onions, and radishes, and served on doubled-up tortillas with a lime wedge on the side. The meat quantity was medium - the tacos weren't overstuffed, but there was enough meat available to nab a couple pieces for a pre-taco taste, for independent analysis. I started out with the pollo verde, TNT Taqueria's eponymous meat. The chicken was tender, but above all mild. The chile verde wasn't an evident flavor, and it ended up tasting like a well-prepared but fairly nondescript shredded chicken. However, in general, chicken is one of tacosmog's least preferred flavors, so I remained optimistic. Next up was the al pastor, which has supplanted asada as our standby for comparison across all taquerias. TNT Taqueria's was well done, favoring the smoky spit-roasted approach. The pork was billed as a highlight going in, and was definitely a strong performer. The marinade was mild enough to let the porky flavor really take over the taco. Finally I tried the chorizo, which was starkly different from the other two meats. Though the al pastor was the favorite of several business associates, I thought the chorizo shined above all the meats. It was spicy, tangy, yet amazingly not-too-greasy. It paired well with the avocado crema salsa, which gave it a smoothness to balance out the spice of the chorizo.

Overall, TNT Taqueria did a great job easing our transition back into society after a wilderness reflection, and the mountain crew was quickly reaffirmed our commitment to a lifetime of taco documentation. Normally considerations like salsa have a noticeable but not oversized impact on reviews. However, in TNT's case, the lack of salsa options had a huge deleterious effect. Any self-respecting taco purveyor should know that a chicken, pastor, and chorizo taco have very different flavors and hence very different salsa requirements. While the crema went well on the chorizo, the chicken would have benefited from something smokier, and the al pastor could have even gone for a flavorful pineapple-based salsa. Thus, despite the excellent meats and generally hip ambience, TnT Taqueria does have to suffer from a minor point infraction, bringing them down into the 80s.

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