Yakima is one of the rare places in Washington where you can find really, truly authentic Mexican restaurants, which serve the large community of Hispanic farm workers in the valley.
One of the best spots in town is at Los Hernandez (3706 Main St., Union Gap, 509/457-6003, 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun., closed Mon.), which serves homemade tamales better than you can get even in Southern California. You’ll regularly see folks load up coolers full of them to take home. If you go in springtime, be on the lookout for the inventive asparagus tamales. They may sound strange, but they sure are delicious.
Santiago’s Gourmet Restaurant (111 E. Yakima Ave., 509/453-1644, 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–9 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 5–10 p.m. Sat., closed Sun.) is a lively and popular Mexican restaurant with all the standards and excellent daily specials.
El Pastor (315 W. Walnut, 509/453-5159, 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Fri., noon–8 p.m. Sat.) is a small place with inexpensive and delicious Mexican dishes. Find lots more tortillerias and panaderías on South 1st Street heading toward Union Gap.