SEATTLE -- When Kathleen Andersen moved from Seattle to Mexico City 16 years ago, she never imagined she'd be back to open her own restaurant in Ballard.
"I had no idea at this late date in my 'golden years' that I would actually, you know, hit something that really seemed to hit other people," she said.
Kathleen moved back to Seattle in 2004 to take care of her sick father and ended up buying an old restaurant to earn money.
"It was called 'Johnny's' and it's been a restaurant since the 60s, actually. It's been Lambert's and Paradise Cafe I think was the first incarnation in the 60s. This building (was built in) 1890 something."
She named the place Cafe Moose.
"It was kind of just a name that popped into my mind. Why not?"
At the time, the menu was your typical sandwiches, hamburgers and fries.
"And then little by little I started adding the Mexican specials and then I had a longer specials sheet of Mexican things than I did of the American."
She changed the name to Senor Moose to reflect her passion for Mexico.
"That's where I belong," Andersen said. "The first time I went there in 1979 I was like, 'Oh, here I am at home.'"
It was her interest in the country's local produce that helped her learn the language.
"I learned food Spanish. I would take my notebook and I wrote recipes since day one. And so this is what these recipes (at Senor Moose) are."
Those recipes are dishes you won't find in your typical Mexican restaurant.
"We have several swordfish dishes, short ribs done with a red sauce that's just amazing. We make every single thing. We don't buy many cans except canned jalapenos here and there that we need for the juice more than anything else."
And there's a reason you won't find baskets of free chips and salsa when you eat here.
"The point is, I want you to taste the other appetizers. We've got a cheese that is seared and then we put salsa over it and then you put that in tortillas which is dynamite! Or another one that's got olive oil and herbs and garlic that you dip up with bread."
Kathleen says while she never expected to open a Mexican restaurant in Seattle, she's glad she did.
"It's just so exciting, I'm just so thrilled! I am really so thrilled that it's done what it's done, you know, and people have figured it out."
Places Kathleen likes to Go Eat!: Volterra, Wild Orchid, Jolly Roger Tap Room.
5242 Leary Ave. N.W.
Seattle, WA 98107