Matador

matador-webNestled in the heart of Tacoma, Matador is a suave downtown dining hub that feels just right at any time.

On the menu is made-from-scratch, Northwest-influenced Mexican fare, hearty and healthy, as well as tasty. During lunch and dinner hours you’ll find a cozy noshing nook at one of the big wooden tables or booths in the dimly lit dining room amid soaring exposed-brick walls and handcrafted metallic decor.

There’s often space to share at the circular fire-pit table or at the smart, stylish bar. Colorful light fixtures and eclectic accents enhance the restaurant’s lively, fun and friendly vibe. Service is spot-on sharp with savory recommendations, as well as timely delivery.

But it’s the food and the reasonable prices that draw the crowds, particularly for the fresh drinks and inexpensive small bites at the early and late-evening daily happy hours. These are always shoulder-to-shoulder packed, but if you can squeeze in, you’ll enjoy a selection of ever-changing samples of appetizers and main dishes, most around $5.

House-made margaritas rule as the most popular drinks, but Matador also has a few unique concoctions to try. Ideas: the Jalisco Mule, with Espolon Blanco tequila, lime and ginger beer, served in a copper mug; the Jameson “New” Fashioned, with Jameson whiskey, orange and Bordeaux cherry, served in a coupe glass; and both red and white sangria.

When it’s time to get down to dining, you’ll be pleased with both lunch and dinner menus. The daily fresh sheet includes offerings as diverse as crispy spice-drizzled Brussels sprouts, tangerine chicken salad and traditional chili rellenos. Can’t decide? Go with the mix-and-match lunch, which offers a duo or triad of tacos, soup and salad choices.

For dinner, besides the oft-seen Mexican lineup of burritos, enchiladas, street tacos, fajitas and carne asada—all terrific—the menu includes unexpected outliers such as ceviche, pan-seared mahi mahi, a cheeseburger torta and spicy ancho chile wings.

Whatever the time, table, menu item or companions you choose, you won’t go wrong as long as the place is Matador in Tacoma.

HOLLY SMITH PETERSON

Matador
721 Pacific Ave, Tacoma
253.657.7100
matadorrestaurants.com