Jackalope Tex-Mex & Cantina’s Brisket Enchiladas
Tex-Mex meets the 1990s in this Columbia City, Seattle-based restaurant.
The jackalope: an elusive jackrabbit-like creature with the antlers of an antelope. Entirely fictional, of course, and a suitable iconography for Jackalope Tex-Mex & Cantina’s nineties-Seattle sensibilities.
As a teenager of the era, I very much appreciate Jackalope’s reverence for the nineties. Music from R.E.M. and The Cure booms over the speakers, and the staff exudes the decade’s aesthetic vibe—minus Gen X’s famously aloof attitude. Jackalope is an inviting spot. And the food is excellent.
The latter is not given with Tex-Mex, which often is good but seldom exciting comfort food. Big flavors can only get you so far. And while Jackalope leans on Texas’s larger-than-thou take on Mexican cuisine, it does so with restraint.
Their “famous” brisket enchiladas—their adjective—are high in flavor without being overpowered by the meat. There is plenty of space for the guajillo sauce to meld with the tender and juicy brisket, and the otherwise prevalent cheese doesn’t drown out the dish.
On the side come beans with a subtle smokey bacon flavor and Spanish rice with a slightly citric undertone.
There are many things going on with the dish, but all those flavors coexist harmoniously. Throwing together enchiladas doesn’t take a whole lot, but making a dish that stands out requires time and effort. When it clicks, it pays off, as is the case here. Rarely do I find Tex-Mex exciting, but Jackalope shows how a little ingenuity can go a long way and that simplicity can be complex.
Props, too, to their bar for their “Pathfinder Sour,” a drink not dissimilar to the Topo Chico Cup recipe we posted a while back. It’s as refreshing as it is pungent.
Columbia City has had a lot going for it for a while now, and Jackalope fits the neighborhood vibe well. It’s a good restaurant in a good location and sits high in our current rotation.
Jackalope’s address is 4868 Rainier Ave S. On the web: jackalopetexmex.com
Jackalope. (2022, November 16). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackalope
Now, granted, that is also the aesthetic vibe of 2023-Seattle.