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Originally published Friday, July 4, 2014 at 6:30 AM

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Red Star Taco Bar hits its marks in Fremont

Red Star Taco Bar puts a tasty Fremont twist on traditional Mexican fare.


Special to The Seattle Times

Red Star Taco Bar

Mexican/bar

513 N. 36th St., Seattle 206-258-3087 www.redstartacobar.com

Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Friday; noon-2 a.m. Saturday-Sunday; happy hour 4-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-1 a.m. daily

Etc: Major credit cards (no Discovery or American Express); no obstacles to access; beer, wine and cocktails available; street parking

Prices: $

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The solitary red star outside the newly minted Red Star Taco Bar, across the street from Fremont’s Lenin sculpture, appears to bolster the neighborhood’s penchant for Communist iconography.

Three local bartenders opened the 21-and-over establishment, where the White Rabbit was previously located, in March after heading to Guadalajara, Mexico, for culinary inspiration.

The result: a decidedly Fremont-esque taco cantina that starts with the happy-hour crowd and stays open into the wee hours for the pub crawler’s midnight snack. Coming soon: a revamped menu offering larger platter options, according to co-owner Padraic Markle.

The menu: The Red Star guides you through four phases of eating: pre-taco, taco-ish, taco and post-taco. In the first two stages: taquitos ($8), nachos ($8-$11) and taqui-quesos ($7) and gringas ($4-$6), cousins to the familiar quesadilla.

Tacos (from $3-$5 now, but soon to all be $4 each) come with an assortment of fillings — tequila lime chicken, Korean short rib, chorizo, carne asada, tofu and more — on your choice of flour or house-made corn tortillas. To finish, there is coconut flan.

The drinks menu rivals the food menu, with tequila and mezcal-based cocktails and various hues of blended margaritas ($5-$6).

What to write home about: The gringas hit the savory jackpot. Oaxaca cheese and plump chunks of meat are grilled within the chewy confines of a flour tortilla, until the outside is freckled black from the griddle. Don’t leave without trying a margarita or tequila Manhattan.

What to skip: The blackened rockfish tacos ($5 each) registered a step too far on the fishiness scale.

The setting: A dim, darkly wooded bar in the shadow of Lenin, with a back porch for a sunnier dinner perch.

Summing up: A plate of nachos with chicken ($10), carnitas taqui-queso ($7), carne asada gringa ($5) and three tacos ($11) came to $33 before tax and tip, and fed two hungry eaters.

Katrina Barlow: kbarlow@seattletimes.com



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