Find a bit of Los Angeles (and tiki) at the Hill’s newest cantina.
Isn’t it always nice when parents say, “Listen, my occupation has givin me and this family a lovely life. That being said, I do not want this for you.” Lucky for us, Mari Tiscareno Lee and husband, Walter, didn’t listen, so after years of service in a law firm and the military respectfully, opened Chinos this winter, following their parental sets into the volatile world of restaurants.
Both are from LA but have been living in and around Seattle since 2003, and couldn’t resist bringing a bit of tiki, heat, and plenty of peanuts to our cloudy abode. (A well put allergy warning from the menu: “Chino’s uses LOTS of crushed peanuts and it gets everywhere.”)
To make the space feel even more like home, the couple took upon the decorating responsibilities as well, making sure LA staples like flower print table-clothes, murals, cinder blocks, and multiple representations of the Virgin Mary await, because let’s be honest, the sun just wasn’t making the trip.
Must Have Grub: Finger food is always nice, especially when it’s $1. Two options can be found at such a bargain. 1.) a bowl of furikake (salty / sweet spice mix of seaweed and fish scales) kettle corn that will make you forget about all that wasabi fluff and 2.) a bucket of five-spice boiled peanuts still in the shell.
Moving up in price and portion, Chino’s gua bao (1 for $3 / 3 for $8), features a choice of either tender pork belly or tofu in a squishy steamed bun, topped with not-too-pickled pickled greens, and the aforementioned allotment of crushed peanuts. Do yourself (and your companion?) a favor, and get three
Must Have Drinks: Half of Chino’s cocktail menu (featured for $6 / $1 off others) is rum focused but ambiguously named. Venturing into (not so) familiar territory, I sipped on the aptly named Between the Sheets whose boozy ingredients (brandy, rum, Cointreau, lemon – for those counting at home, that’s only one pour sans alcohol!) were swirling, rich, and sure to put me to bed after a few, with or without a friend. The beer run is highlighted with Mexican classics like cute, little Pacificos, but also strong Northwest options from the likes of Chuckanut Brewery in Bellingham. Feel free to take a $1 off the drafts, and as dependable as LA gridlock, Chino’s has a glass of red or white wine for $5. Need more? Sake even sneaks on the menu at $6 a glass. Now isn’t that just a perfect example of West (Best) Coast hospitality?
Happy Times: Sunday through Thursday 4 – 6 p.m.
Chino’s| 1024 E. Pike St, Seattle | (206) 860-4238