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Originally published Friday, February 22, 2013 at 5:30 AM

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Plaza Garibaldi: fresh and tasty Mexican fare near KeyArena

Plaza Garibaldi is the perfect place to grab tasty Mexican before (or after) a show at KeyArena.

Seattle Times arts critic

Plaza Garibaldi


129 First Ave. N., Seattle


Hours: Monday-Thursday, Sunday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

Etc.: Major credit cards; wheelchair accessible; street parking; full bar

Prices: $-$$

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You can add another tasty, affordable dining option to your list of eateries near
Seattle Center.

About seven months ago, Plaza Garibaldi opened its doors on a quiet stretch of First Avenue North, just off Denny Way and a short stroll from KeyArena and other Seattle Center attractions.

Charmingly decorated in folklorico style, the spacious, welcoming restaurant is divided into a bar area with plenty of seating (for some busy karaoke nights), and a quieter adjacent dining room. The food is fresh and tasty and the service prompt — helpful if you’re trying to make a show. There’s a happy hour, and a bonus for after-show dining: Plaza Garibaldi is open weekend nights until 2 a.m.

The menu: The meal starts with crunchy, warm chips served with two kinds of salsa (hot and milder). There’s a good array of well-prepared renditions of the usual Mexican restaurant entrees like enchiladas with choice of four sauces ($10.95-$14.95), and fajitas ($12.95-$16.50), well-portioned with sides of refried beans and rice. Or try some special regional dishes from the state of Jalisco (which includes Guadalajara). Among the array of seafood dishes is campechana, a cold shrimp and octopus stew with diced tomatoes, cilantro and avocado ($14.50). Another Guadalajara favorite: torta ahogada, a “drowned” sandwich with pork carnitas and refried beans that’s drenched in zesty tomato sauce ($8.95).

What to write home about: Enchiladas with real, succulent crab and tomatillo sauce ($14.95) were to die for. (Or you can get them with crab, shrimp and scallops for the same price). The popular emerald salad, with spinach, beet, tomato, berries, strawberries and toasted almonds ($9.50), is a great relief from iceberg lettuce. And the Garibaldi platter gives you samplings of butter-garlic shrimp, grilled chicken, carne asada and the excellent house guacamole ($17.95) — enough to fill two, if you’re not ravenous.

Summing up: An order of a Garibaldi platter ($17.95), crab enchiladas ($14.95) and a side of chile relleno ($5.00) served two amply, with leftovers, and came to $37.90 before tax and tip.

Misha Berson:

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