For our honeymoon, my husband and I went to New Mexico. We visited Santa Fe, Taos, Albuquerque, and Roswell, and we completely fell in love with the food. So when signs went up in a previously vacant space in downtown Burien for a New Mexican restaurant with vegan options—well, we couldn’t wait. Black Zia Cantina opened in September, and it’s a great destination for Seattle-area vegans.
They do have vegan and non-vegan options here, so be sure to specify that you want your food vegan. You choose your “meat,” your filling, the way it’s served, whether you want red or green chile, and whether you want it spicy or not. You can choose from two house-made seitan options: herb-seasoned and roasted (asada), or herb-seasoned, roasted, and simmered in Hatch red chile (adovada). The asada is great, but the adovada is definitely my favorite. They also offer a vegan ground beef in the form of house-made TVP.
Also, if you have never had fry bread, then this is the place to change that. You can opt for a burrito, a stuffed sopapilla, or fry bread. A burrito is never a bad choice, but the fry bread is like a cloud made of carbs. You can’t go wrong with that.
For the fillings, your options are roasted potatoes and vegan cheese, or else beans, forbidden rice, and vegan cheese. Forbidden rice is also known as black rice. Whatever you call it, it’s fantastic, and a nice change of pace. Each New Mexican entree comes with a side of rice and beans, so you can try it no matter which filling you choose.
Your final choice is whether you want red or green chile (or Christmas style, which is both)—and whether you want hot or mild. If you’re uncertain, go with the mild and add a little hot sauce yourself. There are bottles on every table. I loved the hot version, but my dining companion found it too spicy.
They also have corn tortillas, and serve TVP tacos on those during happy hour (weekdays from 4 to 7 PM), but can also use them for entrees for gluten-free folks upon request. I don’t pretend to be a gluten-free expert, though, so call ahead for additional details if you have specific gluten-free needs.
Black Zia Cantina even offers vegan options beyond New Mexican cuisine—including a Reuben, a gyro, a portabella burger, and a veggie burger. I have not tried any of these yet, but the portabella burger sounds enticing enough that I plan to give it a try on my next visit—even though I almost always pass on mushrooms. These all come with fries.
The people here are incredibly friendly and hard-working, and manage to strike just the right balance between leaving you alone and stopping by to check on things, freshen drinks, etc. They have a good tap list (small, but chosen well), and an extensive drink menu. They even offer non-dairy alternatives for certain drinks. But their specialty, naturally, seems to be margaritas. All of them are made with fresh-squeezed juices, and range from the classic margarita to the blackberry habañero.
They opened just last month, and are still working out occasional kinks. We had one meal that had to be re-done because it was made vegan, but topped with non-vegan cheese (the error was caught in the kitchen before it was brought out, thankfully). On an earlier visit, when it came time to pack up our leftovers, they had run out of lids for the to-go cups. My food—and car!—survived the short drive home inside a box, but I don’t think I’ll transport enchilada sauce that way again.
The interior is dark, sleek, and simple. The walls are decorated with work from a local photographer, and they also have flat screen TVs and pool tables. Black Zia Cantina is open to all ages until 8 PM, and is 21 and up after that. They are closed on Wednesdays, but are open from 11 AM to 11 PM on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and from 11 AM to 2 AM on Friday and Saturday. See you there!
Black Zia Cantina
15212 6th Ave SW
Burien, WA 98166