Scanning the business addresses as I cruised down Eastlake looking for my destination, I didn’t see anything that screamed delicious Mexican food and a stellar view of Lake Union, though I’d heard tell of both. It turns out that Little Water Cantina is hidden behind a rather unassuming new condo façade, just down the way from the Eastlake Bar and Grill. EB&G is the spot that everyone knows for its bustling deck and proximity to Lake Union, and it looks as though they have a new neighbor with similarly compelling qualities.
Once inside, the space opens up into a large lounge-y area, long bar, open-air dining room, and enormous patio, all with a great view to the water and boats of Lake Union. Granted, it was a sunny, summer late afternoon when we were there, but the whole interior has an extremely inviting, casually breezy feel. Rough hewn wood tables paired with light metal chairs, picnic tables on the patio, and red cushy bench seats and backs in the lounge and dining room. The latter might be my favorite, with strings of lights criss-crossing the ceiling and huge doors that accordion all the way open to catch the breeze off the lake. Given the gorgeous day, the patio and dining room were packed, and on weekend nights I can imagine that the lounge and bar are hopping as well. The crowd was a mix of ages – older folks, younger folks, babies – so seems to have wide appeal.
But how about the food, right?? We were there for happy hour, and I can’t say that the fare was anything extraordinary. We sampled the (perfectly good) guacamole, coctel de camaron (a few white gulf shrimp, guacamole, red cocktail sauce, and corn chips), and the special taco of the day (a Pacific ling cod). Not the best value in happy hour food, in my opinion, but I was so distracted by the restaurant’s interior, excellent service, and gorgeous view that I hardly noticed.
I’ll definitely be back – hopefully before this beautiful weather deserts us again for nine months – and I’ll give the dinner menu a spin. The diver scallops with mango-habanero sauce and fried kale sound delicious, as does the wild boar ahogada (a “drowned” sandwich, explains Wikipedia) with grilled pineapple and fried onions. Given everything else to recommend it, Little Water Cantina deserves another shot at good food. Or maybe this is one of those “drinks and atmosphere only” places, a worthy category all its own in my book.