Poquitos is a People-Pleaser

The insanely popular Capitol Hill restaurant serves stylish Mexican fare in a warm, noisy room.

It’s hard to believe the prime location of the insanely popular Poquitos—10th and Pike—was home to anything other than Poquitos so very recently; the place, with its soaring ceilings, blue and white patterned tiles, wrought-iron fixtures and soft terra-cotta-hued lighting, recalls privileged hotel lobbies in touristy Mexican cities.

Seattleites crave a hint of warmer climes in months of dragging rain; I’ve walked by dozens of times and have yet to spot an empty chair, even in midafternoon. It’s not just the ambience, either, although with a year-round heated patio, that’s a big draw.

The Mexican food is pretty good, and sometimes very good: Prawns in a smoky hot (really hot!) chipotle sauce ($14.95) fit into the latter category; the grilled chicken, with its crisp, deeply smoky marinade ($15.95), into the former.

I also enjoyed the ceviche, made with tender local albacore mixed with slivers of radish and hunks of ripe avocado ($11.95).

The house margarita is simple and just right: reposado tequila with fresh citrus juice, triple sec and little simple syrup to sweeten it up ($7/50).

Like its sister restaurant, Ballard Ave.’s similarly stylish French bistro, Bastille, it’s a fun, people-pleaser of a place: noisy, loud, popular and ideal for groups

Lunch and dinner daily. Capitol Hill, 1000 E Pike St.; 206.453.4216; vivapoquitos.com $$ outdoor dining, late-night dining, full bar