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Matador in West Seattle

Walking down California on an incredibly windy Friday afternoon, we decided to find a tasty happy hour in a place we’d never visited. I spotted the black iron decorating a store front and said, “”Hey, how about Matador?”

“Eh,” said James.

Less than an hour later his “Eh” had changed to “Ok, that’s my new favorite place in West Seattle. You can have your froo-froo croissants.”

He was talking to me! The froo-froo croissant hater! But I’ve got to admit, there’s no way I’m getting food in West Seattle without stopping in at the Nouveau.

It’s important to say two things about the Matador. Number one, there are only food items on the happy hour menu. That’s just weird, folks. Real weird. The whole premise of happy hour is getting happy on cheap cocktails. However, number two makes up for it. No minors allowed. A restaurant for adults only? Who knew such places existed outside the Acropolis? I love kids as much as the next childless-almost-forty-year-old, but it’s nice to know there are places out there that recognize we don’t have to cater to kiddies all the time.

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Danielle the server greeted us and was helpful and friendly. Two servers named Danielle in two weeks, maybe I’m visiting too many restaurants. Danielle was not only helpful and friendly, but was also young and attractive. So are all the servers at the Matador. What’s up with that? I can’t say that it hurt my feelings to look at good looking people, but it did make me wonder if homely folks got the shaft.

Despite the fact that there were no cocktail specials, what’s tex-mex without a margarita? Matador’s house margarita ($7) is tangy, with a smooth Sauza tequila goodness.

We ordered four different items from the happy hour menu. Nachos, spicy fried calamari, steak tacos, and garlic jumbo prawns. $4 for the first two, $5 for the last two.

The nachos are enormous. Way more than enough for two people, they’re loaded with black beans, cheeses, tomatoes, and generous gobs of guacamole and an interesting flavored sour cream on top.

If there’s calamari on the menu, I’m going to try it. The Matador’s got great calamari. It’s fresh and thick, and not overwhelmed with too much doughy batter. The squid rings (isn’t that a much more fun name than calamari?) are lightly dusted in a spicy seasoning, and there’s a perfect dip of aioli/chipotle on the side. Awesome cocktail food.

Probably my least favorite was the steak tacos. James liked them the best. I think there wasn’t enough steak (do you see any steak?) and it tasted like cilantro, although Danielle told us there was none in the dish. Maybe I was too suspicious to give it a fair chance, but I wouldn’t order them again.

We went with the garlic jumbo prawns and they were definitely tasty. I think there were four, maybe five shrimps on the plate, swimming in a garlic wine sauce flavored with bits of other things, but when garlic is the first ingredient in a dish, prolly the only thing you’re going to taste is garlic. It was the case with these shrimps. They were good, but I’m trying the fire prawns next time (and there will be many next times).

Happy Hour at the Matador may not get you a cheap cocktail, but that’s ok. The food’s worth it and if you do drink too many full-priced beverages and start singing La Cucaracha using your best spanish profanity, it’s ok. No kids’ parents around to give you the stink-eye about it.

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