When asked if he would dab some Diablo Sauce on his tacos, Pecado Bueno (4307 Fremont Ave) owner James Schmidt passes on the opportunity.
That doesn’t mean you have to. Just know you’ll need to fill out a waiver, courtesy of the “law firm” Diablo, Sloth, Lucifer & Venal just to try it.
As a fan of hot sauce, I decided to put my soul on the line and taste this spicy beast described as “the sauce for the guy who says he can eat any hot sauce.” Made from extracted red chili pepper oils, the blood red liquid is dispensed via eye dropper to ensure safety. I put a drop on my finger, lick and start praying to God (and The Devil, just in case).
It’s hot. No doubt about that. My tongue was coated in a stingy heat for the next five minutes. But in a good way. For spice lovers, it’s the best kind of heat. Your palate remains intact and it’s still possible to taste the grilled chicken or chipotle BBQ tiger prawns or roasted butternut squash inside your taco or burrito.
Like me, you’ll probably live to tell the tale of the Diablo Sauce to others. And the tale of Pecado Bueno is one worth telling.
Local Mexican food aficionados might know Schmidt as one of the founders of Taco Del Mar. The chain, which was recently sold to Franchise Brands, LLC., grew into one of the biggest quick-serve Mexican restaurants in the Northwest.
In a way, Pecado Bueno is what Schmidt originally envisioned for Taco Del Mar when he opened the first restaurant in 1992. The menu, which features black beans and vegetarian “green” rice with most dishes, includes “a lot of the same items that I started Taco Del Mar with.”
Citing customer tastes and preferences at the time, the Taco Del Mar menu changed to meet expectations of eaters who only knew Mexican food as Taco Bell, Del Taco and the like. These days, customer interest in natural, fresh and organic ingredients allows him to get back to his roots.
“Maybe it’s not authentic, but it’s good.”
Pecado Bueno focuses on keeping the portions smaller, using high-quality ingredients (sustainable seafood, hormone-free meat and organic products when possible) and making food that’s somewhere between soulful and sinful. Hence the name, which roughly translates to “sin good” or “sin well.”
Pecado Bueno features burritos, taquitos, enchiladas and salads but Schmidt recommends the soft tacos for first-timers. “They’re small, you can mix them up and try different ones.” Mainstay taco fillers like chicken, carnitas, carne asade, cod and BBQ shrimp are available. For vegetarians & vegans, there’s also a roasted butternut squash option.
Huevos Rancheros is served all-day. “It’s my favorite meal,” says Schmidt.
The signature drink is the 100% agave tequila Margarita, which is available for $3 and made fresh at the bar. Soft drinks, beer, wine and well drinks are also available.
Speaking of the bar, there is one, along with two TVs for game-watchers. Pecado Bueno straddles the line between fast-service restaurant and neighborhood hangout. “I want people to feel comfortable enough to hang out all evening but also be able to have a meal in 20 minutes if they want.”
Schmidt has removed the parking lot that used to fill the space between the restaurant and Fremont Avenue. Once the weather turns nice, it will become a patio expanding the seating to 150, some of whom will be able to enjoy the firepit that’s been added.
Schmidt says he has plans in the future for a build-your-own-burrito buffet, possibly in the spring. In the meantime, Pecado Bueno serves breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays between 9am and 2pm. The regular menu is served daily 11am to 11pm.
The Diablo Sauce is available all the time. The only question is…can you handle it?