La Isla

Written by on October 24, 2010 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

( – Ballard
How I heard of this place: A few friends recommended it for lunch and, since it was new to me, I couldn’t refuse!
Type of cuisine: While I had seen it and walked past it many a time, I had not considered sampling the Puerto Rican cuisine until the Gottlieb’s (Jordan and Randi) invited a few of us to dine with them.
Ambiance: The space is large and open with a warm and cozy feel to it. Large windows, floor to ceiling are found at the front of the restaurant giving diners a view of the busy and rain-drenched Market Street. Wooden chairs and tables, a large bar area in the back and to the right, mood lighting during dinner hours, the space is a great getaway with flavors and tastes of old San Juan. “La Isla Seattle started 5 years ago as a small food vendor for the Sunday Fremont Market. It didn’t take long for us to realize that the next step to our small, salsa music filled food stand, needed to be a full blown restaurant! Here we are, 5 years later with a little island of our own right in Downtown Ballard. La Isla is Seattle’s and we’re pretty sure the whole state of Washington’s only Puerto Rican restaurant! Here you’ll come to love the flavors of Puerto Rico that we’ve grown up with, without actually having to go down there (although we advise going: Sandy beaches, Caribbean oceans, warm tropical breezes-I miss it already!). Inside our façade of old San Juan, you’ll find fresh, wild caught seafood (which by the way, has won 2 first place awards at the Ballard Seafood Festival), vegan and vegetarian dishes, flavors you can’t find anywhere else, and you can wash them all down with what our reviewers say, ’Some of the best, unique and STRONG tropical drinks in town! Come visit The Island and sit on our patio in the sunshine. Grab a cool, tropical drink with your friends and family. Enjoy our food and let the city melt away to those warm island breezes and sandy beaches. I can see it now.”
What I ordered: I was dining with three, very hungry men, so we had large portions of food on our table. Since I had dinner plans for three hours later, I opted to partake of the half-priced appetizers from the happy hour menu (every day from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. and again from 10:00 p.m. until closing). For starters we ordered the batatas fritas ($2), sweet potato fries, salted and served with ketchup. I selected the medley de platanos ($2.99) with three tostones and five maduros served with a side of mojito and michael sauce. The dining companion seated directly across from me ordered the highly recommended La Isla favorite: pastelon ($14.99), a Puerto Rican style lasagna with layers of sweet plantains, mozzarella cheese, filled with all natural, seasoned ground beef (other protein options include a tofu-veggie mix or pulled pork). Our other two dining companions each ordered one of the emparedados de la casa (sandwiches), served with tostones ($7.99) or sweet potato fries ($1 extra). My friend seated to my left, ordered the pernil ($7.99), a pulled pork sandwich, marinated for days and slow-cooked, tender and flavorful. Our dining companion, seated across from him, ordered the pechuga de pollo ($7.99), a tender flattened breast of chicken marinated in a sweet cilantro and essence of orange sauce, grilled and pan finished in the oven giving it a sweet, sticky and “awesome” taste. He opted for the side of sweet potato fries ($1 more).
What I loved: The rice and beans that was served alongside the pastelon was delicious! The two sauces, garlic and creamy, could have been served in bottomless containers and every bite would have been savored and devoured. The sandwiches looked tasty and simple and the sweet potato fries some of the best I have sampled in town.
Why I loved it: The space is open and casual, but with an air of intimacy and simplicity. The staff are friendly and make you feel at home. The restaurant is clean and well-maintained and the food worth every penny!
Cost: Low to average ($8-$17 per sandwich or entree)

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