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Margaritas and more

Don Juan's Mexican Kitchen

Don Juan’s shrimp tacos are packed with flavor. Photo credit: Dutch Randall

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ANNOUNCER: While Jackie tends to other things this week, Dutch goes solo and takes his cravings for Mexican food south this week. No, not that far south ... just as far as Olympia. Partnering the success of Don Juan's in Tenino, the Olympia location near Mud Bay has proven to be successful as well.

First, let's just get it out there right away; the margaritas are a must have. Available either blended or on the rocks, the offerings move well beyond the basic blend of tequila and lime that we all love. At Don Juan's you can choose between a traditional margarita infused with Corona beer creatively titled the Coronarita. Other specialty margaritas include mango, peach, pineapple, avocado and cucumber to name a few. But the one that caught my eye was the jalapeno margarita. All the sweet flavor of my favorite lime concoction, but with the sharp bite of heat that comes with a fresh sliced jalapeno. And I must confess, I really want to try the avocado.

Once you've sat down and have your margarita in hand, take a moment to soak in the atmosphere. Though the exterior is pure strip mall, the interior is all Mexican restaurant, with thick beamed ceilings, lots of earthy reds and golds, and black rod iron accessories everywhere from the tables to the chandeliers.

Of the appetizers, I gave the steak taquitos a shot while I awaited my main course. I was presented with a half-dozen house-rolled and deep-fried crisp sticks of nothing but goodness. Placed atop a bed of lettuce and tomatoes and then garnished with sour cream. Normally I would ask for a side of salsa for dipping, but it isn't needed in this case.

A favorite Mexican treat of mine is seafood, but let's face it, seafood can be a bit sketchy at times. But I had no such concerns here, so I ordered the shrimp tacos. I was served three large open-faced tacos piled with fresh pico de gallo, cilantro, and more shrimp than I expected. The shrimp was full of flavor with just the right amount of char to give it the crunch it needed. The only improvement I could offer is to double up on the tortillas, as one tortilla couldn't hold everything offered here. Ultimately, I had a pile of taco fillings on my plate and two halves of a tortilla in my hand. Fortunately, the tremendous flavor made this a minor inconvenience.

Other dishes I saw pass by my table that I plan to try were the wet burrito and the enchilada plate. Each was large enough for anyone with a healthy appetite, and each was smothered in salsa, covered in cheese and baked. The burrito comes filled with beans, rice and your choice of meat, whereas the enchiladas come with the rice and beans on the side and the option for traditional mole sauce as a topper.

DON JUAN'S MEXICAN KITCHEN, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday; noon-9 p.m., Sunday, 4419 Harrison Ave. NW #105, 360.688.1497,

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