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Originally published June 18, 2014 at 3:05 PM | Page modified June 19, 2014 at 8:31 PM

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Essex: It’s totally Tuesday with tacos and tiki

On the once quiet stretch of Northwest 70th Street in Ballard, the raucous Tiki Taco Tuesday at Essex cocktail bar is quickly becoming a thing.


Seattle Times staff reporter

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Here now are bearded dudes spilling out into the slanting late spring light, downing tacos and Mexicali alongside girls sipping Mai Tais.

Out on the sidewalk, folks on this nondescript stretch of Northwest 70th Street are taking a drag or toiling with Facebook, while waiting for a seat at the bar.

It used to be quiet on this Ballard block. Not anymore.

They come for the croissants at Honoré Artisan Bakery, the Brooklyn pizza at Delancey and now for Tiki Taco Tuesday at Essex.

Essex is the cocktail bar next to popular pizzeria Delancey. It has an owner, Brandon Pettit, who must have enjoyed bouncing around the F train so much that he named his establishments after the subway stop in Manhattan.

His wife, Molly Wizenberg, runs the popular blog Orangette and recently wrote a memoir, “Delancey,” about their restaurant.

Most restaurateurs would choose a taco or tiki theme to drum up business on a slow Tuesday. But leave it to Pettit to think: street food, fun drinks. Why not both?

Tiki Taco Tuesday started as a trial run in late May and has remained on the calendar ever since. It might even expand to Monday, it’s been so popular.

The menu is short and simple. There’s a salad, two quesadillas, but you see Tuesday’s theme and you know what to order, right? There are cubes of pork seared in a wood-fired oven with charred pineapple, served on some moist and chewy tortillas made from scratch. Even better are the juicy braised chili lamb tacos, dripping with fat. You’ll need a napkin on your lap.

The beach staples — Hurricanes, Singapore Slings and Mai Tais — are featured; nothing exemplary, but nothing that tastes bad or watered down.

Essex draws some of the most attractive patrons you’ll find on a Tuesday night. There are folks in snug V-necks and perfectly hemmed jeans who look like they spend a lot of time in front of the mirror trying hard not to look like they spend a lot of time in front of a mirror.

The crowd is mostly what used to be called yuppies. They talk about the Sounders and John Oliver’s new HBO show. Their quips are a bit cutesy, a bit corny.

But it seems just fine: strong drinks, good chow, friends crowded together in a loud space. It works.

Essex, 1421 N.W. 70th St., Seattle, offers Taco Tiki Tuesday from 5-10 p.m. Tacos are three for $9 and tiki drinks $9-$11. (Note that its website has not been updated and indicates it’s closed on Tuesday; 206-724-0471 or http://essexbarseattle.com).

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle



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