In trying to find a fun restaurant in West Seattle that Ryan and I hadn't been to recently, we came up with The Matador. The last time we had visited this tasty Tex-Mex restaurant, we fell in love with their grilled, charred, spicy asparagus. Unfortunately, it wasn't on the menu this time but we found something almost as good (more on that in a bit).
The Matador appetizers offer a generous variety of spicy, chilies-infused options, but it was the Chilean Rock Crab Cakes that really caught my attention. Even though they're not packed as full and aren't as chunky as the Steelhead Diner's jumbo lump cake, you do get two cakes and they offer a completely different and equally rewarding flavor. Packed with Habaneros and shredded crab, then pan seared and served with a sweet and spicy pineapple cream sauce and tomato and green onion relish, the crab cakes certainly won't disappoint. The combination of sweet coconut and heat from the chilies is reminiscent of Thai curries, but this definitely stayed Tex-Mex with the tomato salsa.
As for the aforementioned asparagus, Ryan had to settle for the Grilled Broccolini. Oddly enough, this dish is not listed on their website or in-house menus and was simply on an insert for "current specials". That said, these were a satisfying replacement to their incredible asparagus side. Complete with red chili flakes, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and charred from being grilled to al dente perfection, the mound of vibrant green stalks were quickly finished off. It's served with a side of their southwestern sour cream "ranch" dipping sauce and Ryan said he loved it.
For my entree, I had to order the Pan Seared Mahi Mahi. It's very lightly floured, then pan seared and served on top of a roasted Serrano and tomatillo tequila salsa. A generous dollop of Habanero cream tops the fillet. This dish usually comes with annotti rice, but I asked for "seasonal veggies" instead and got a side of the charred broccolini along with halved grape tomatoes. The Mahi Mahi was perfectly cooked, moist, flaky, and had a great flavor that didn't get overwhelmed by the bold flavors on the rest of the plate.
Despite being at a Tex-Mex restaurant, Ryan decided he really wanted the huge Matador Burger. This half-pound all-beef patty is served with caramelized onions, thick-cut bacon, sweet cherry peppers, cilantro, cheddar cheese, lettuce, and tomato. It's accompanied by chipotle mayo both on the bun and in a side sauce container. Ryan ordered his giant burger without tomato but with extra onions. Ryan said the burger was excellent even though he waited almost 10 minutes for his extra caramelized onions (the burger was served with literally only three). His fries had a slight spice on them and were crispy, but ultimately just "regular fries".
Overall, we both felt the depth of flavors, interesting use of chilies and heat throughout the course offerings, and generally quite delicious food was more than enough to award Matador 4 Stars. This is a local chain restaurant, but the West Seattle location is certainly worth a visit especially if you are a tequila connoisseur as they have over 80 varieties!