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Eat Mexican this week

A fiesta of Mexican joints

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As far as the Weekly Volcano is concerned, any excuse to eat Mexican food is a good one. But the celebration of Cinco de Mayo — usually observed over a period of days, not just on the 5th — provides us with even more ammunition for gorging on tacos, chile peppers, mole, pozole, menudo and burritos, while of course washing it all down with frosty Margaritas and Mexican “cervezas.”

EL TORO: You can’t say you’ve really lived until you’ve had the chicken molé at El Toro. There is nothing else like it in these parts.  No, make that the chile verde.  3820 Bridgeport Way W., University Place, 253.565.2265.  Also in Lakewood at 12914 Pacific Highway S.W., Lakewood, 253.588.5888.

LA PALMA MEXICAN RESTAURANT: La Palma boasts traditional Mexican cuisine, a festive atmosphere and knock-your-socks-off margaritas. Their Cinco de Mayo Party will include $3 beers and karaoke.  North side of the Lakewood Towne Center by the Pierce Transit Center, 253.582.8349.

MASA COMIDA MEXICANA: Their Cinco de Mayo party begins May 4 with a Latin DJ at 8 p.m.  On May 5 they host an all-day party with the grand opening of the deck and Vicci Martinez at 8 p.m. Masa also debut its new menus throughout the dining room and bar. 2811 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.254.0560.

MATADOR RESTAURANT & TEQUILA BAR: Matador is a flirtatious Tex-Mex spot. It’s sexy.  It’s spicy. It’s ohmigawd spicy with quality, fresh ingredients and interesting combinations. Matador also hosts a who’s who of tequila ranging from a cheap shot to one that might require a little overtime to pay for. 721 Pacific Ave., downtown Tacoma, 253.627.7100.

MAZATLAN: Holy molé, Mazatlan is loud. And talk about a crowd? Even on weekdays the bar area of this local Mexican chain restaurant is many people deep, and tables in the vibrantly colored dining room are closer together than Frida Kahlo’s eyebrows. The food is really good and reasonably priced, and the margaritas are big and potent. 10518 S. Tacoma Way, Lakewood, 253.588.8817.

MELAQUE MEXICAN RESTAURANT: The raison d’etre at Melaque’s, for the Weekly Volcano at least, is the Tacos Melaque, authentic soft tacos with grilled beef topped with cilantro-rich pico de gallo, enchilada sauce (too creamy to pick up) and topped with Parmesan cheese and tomato. 4820 Yelm Highway, Lacey, 360.459.0818.

PEPPERS MEXICAN: Peppers is a classic Mexican restaurant in that it is more about food combinations and spices than glopping on a lot of Thickener #5.  While Peppers’ menu features its share of mondo burritos and frijoles surprise, you can also find some selections centered on the less is more concept. It’s the chimichanga that will keep us going back to Peppers. 422 Legion Way S.E., Olympia, 360.943.1111.

REYNA’S: A deity must have plucked this tiny hole-in-the-wall from a Mexican village and dropped it on Garfield Street. Reyna’s offers homemade cooking compliments of Felix Guzman served by his wife, Reyna.  It has everything from chimichangas and burritos to specialty plates such as Mexican stuffed peppers. We’re addicted to Reyna’s pollo de molé.  411 Garfield St. S., Parkland, 253.538.2368.

TACOS GUAYMAS:  The real deal. No, seriously, the real deal.  10105 South Tacoma Way next to the Great American Casino and at 2630 S. 38th St., Tacoma.

VUELVE A LA VIDA: Although this joint has little atmosphere, the authentic Mexican food is fabulous.  The kitchen, open for view, prepares unbelievable carne asada, top-notch tortillas and items that you simply won’t see at most Mexican restaurants in South Puget Sound, such as marinated goat meat and beef tongue tacos. 5310 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.473.7068.

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