There are lots of very good taco places in Seattle. In fact, there are plenty of them on Capitol Hill alone. La Cocina Oaxaqueña, Fogón, and D’ La Santa are some of our favorites. But we happen to be of the (uncontroversial) opinion that you can never have enough great tacos in your life and/or stomach, so we’re always on the lookout for more spots to join their ranks. Unfortunately, Rocket Taco doesn’t make the cut.
We’ll start with the things we actually do like about this fast-casual place on 19th Ave. The cocktails here, especially the watermelon-mint and frozen margaritas, are delicious. The space—part of which is bright and colorful, and part of which is darker and more bar-like—is fun to be in, too. So this would be a nice place to stop in with friends and drink a lot of reasonably-priced tequila in a big booth. The problem is the serious lack of tasty things you can snack on to go with it.
There are tacos, of course, and you can get them two ways: classic (topped with onion and cilantro) or deluxe (with signature toppings that differ depending on the filling you choose). Whichever style you pick, they come in plates of three—and you can’t mix and match, even though the prices for every variety are the same. This might be OK if the tacos were so great you wanted three of every kind, but unfortunately, the fillings range from mediocre to bad.
Your best options are the carnitas tacos with pickled onion and “rocket sauce” (a chipotle cream that’s making a noble effort to save everything it touches), and the turmeric cauliflower/chickpea tacos with cucumber and lime cream. As for the not-as-good offerings, there’s the griddled fish taco with coconut cream and pineapple, which tastes like the result of an ambrosia salad experiment gone horribly wrong. And the quinoa/lentil taco, which proves that when you mix two inherently mushy things, you just end up with exponential mush. On top of that, for some reason, all the tacos we’ve eaten here have been served lukewarm. The side dishes aren’t much better: the mixed greens salad is a sad, inconsistent bowl of leaves, the guacamole is under-seasoned, and the queso fundido reminds us of the “nachos” you can buy at a movie theater.
Rocket Taco is a perfectly nice place to get some drinks after work or on a weekend evening. But there’s no reason to pass up the better taco options on Capitol Hill and settle for a meal here. Have a margarita or two, and then, when you get hungry, go somewhere else.
These are the best tacos in the house. They’re still just fine, so that’s not saying much. Thick homemade tortillas filled with not-hot pulled pork, guacamole, pickled onion, and rocket sauce. The sauce is good, so it at least masks how boring everything else is.
Cauliflower Chickpea Tacos
These taste a little like vegetarian gyros, and they’re the second-best option here. The turmeric cauliflower/chickpea filling comes with cucumber, cilantro, and lime cream on top.
These have ancho-seasoned chicken that looks and tastes like it’s been braised way too long. The flavor’s not bad, especially because there’s lots of rocket sauce, pico de gallo, and queso fresco. Squeeze on the homemade hot sauce to give it some pep.
The combination of melted cheese and shredded beef makes these way too greasy. Definitely skip.
Griddled Fish Tacos
Grilled fish, coconut cream, and pineapple salsa. These taste like a cruel riff on an ambrosia salad.
Quinoa Lentil Tacos
A lesson in combining two mushy ingredients: the result will be twice as mushy. Avocado cream and crispy sweet potato chips don’t do much to save these.
If you can’t talk your way out of a meal here, the quesadilla isn’t a horrible way to go. It’s oily and doesn’t hold up very well if you add meat, but they do grill it to-order, which means it will be hot. Get a side of rocket sauce for dipping. Rocket sauce for president.
This is bad, but not always in the same way. One time we tried it, the sickly-sweet dressing was only drizzled on the surface, and another time, some of the greens looked like they came from a discount bag at the supermarket. The spiced pepitas are the best part of this salad, but you can get those at the supermarket, too.
The undersalted, underlimed guacamole here just makes us want to shrug.
Do you like movie theater nachos? Then you might like these. The lukewarm chorizo-potato mixture on top tastes like cinnamon.
As mentioned, the drinks here are delicious. They do margaritas on the rocks and frozen, and the flavors change a lot - so expect combinations like watermelon and mint (our favorite) or pomegranate and ginger. Despite the food being generally not-good, we’d pop in for a cocktail on a hot day for sure.