WHENEVER MY FRIENDS who aren't elite or cool enough to live in Capitol Hill come to my hip, young, upwardly mobile neighborhood, they invariably say,

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Meals for under $50,000

Thrifty eating on the Hill.

WHENEVER MY FRIENDS who aren't elite or cool enough to live in Capitol Hill come to my hip, young, upwardly mobile neighborhood, they invariably say, "Yes, you are all very sexy here, but where the hell should we eat?" I pause, thoughtfully stroke my chin, and answer, "I dunno." Sure, it's easy to pay big bucks and get a great meal, but where do you go when you don't want to commit to that? When you just want to feed your head, maybe enjoy a beer, and get on with your life? Well, I've combed through my surprisingly empty memory banks to pull some not-that-expensive but good places to grab a bite while you're on Capitol Hill, taking up precious parking spots, dragging the coolness factor down to new lows, and starting fistfights at Linda's. I know I write this at the risk of incurring the wrath of my swank, with-it, stylish neighbors by making it even harder to get into any of these great places, but I think goodness should be rewarded. And since spending $80 at dinner is about as attractive to me as making it with a dead kangaroo, I'd be very sad if any of these places ever went away. Very sad indeed. SIX ARMS

300 E Pike, 223-1698

Far away from the painful pretensions up the street, Six Arms is the sort of neighborhood pub that makes paying three times the national average in rent almost seem sane. Lots of big tables, a long bar around the taps, dozens of eclectic chandeliers, and a way-friendly staff make Six Arms a relaxed, stress-free way to spend an evening—I don't care if it is a chain. Food is mostly crafty sandwiches and clever burgers, microbrews and fries, and the fish 'n' chips can hold its own against any in this city. Granted, you may occasionally run across the Amazon softball team or a clueless raincoat salesman from Tulsa who wandered up from the Convention Center looking for "some action," but if you can pry yourself from the vapid grip of the Pretty People on Pine, there are Six Arms around the corner waiting to hug you. CHARLIE'S ON BROADWAY

217 Broadway E, 323-2535

For some reason, I was always scared to go into Charlie's. From the outside it resembles either a place for the aging American Legion to slowly digest mashed potatoes or, even worse, it looks like it might be expensive. Duh. Not only is Charlie's not expensive, it's really good, which in the case of a restaurant is quite desirable. Huge booths with furry lampshades lend a taste of Olde Worlde charm as you're whisked away to a time when country-fried steak and club sandwiches are really good. And, regardless of what your priest told you, do not, I repeat, do not fear the "meat alternative" called Field Roast. They make a hell of a Reuben out of it at Charlie's. A smoky little bar in the back has a chicken-finger sort of menu, but if you're going for the tummy, don't be a dummy: Sit in the restaurant. ANGEL'S THAI CUISINE

235 Broadway E, 328-0515

My vote for the coolest Thai restaurant in Seattle, Angel's is a Broadway legacy that lives up to its word-of-mouth hype. Sit at the bar, chow on some garlic wings with a glass of rum, and watch passing Fred-Meyer-bag-hauling pedestrians through the window. Or retire to the simple comfort of a dining room that features goofy paintings of lions and angels. Pad Thai, the various red coconut curries, and the soups are all winning bets here, and the peanut sauce is delicious all by itself, no matter what the polite staff tries to tell you. Angel's also shines at lunch, where you can fill up on their cheap specials and get sleepy enough to deal with the rest of your day. TACOS GUAYMAS

1415 Broadway, 860-3871

Don't let its fast-food appearance deter you: Tacos Guaymas is hardcore Mexican at its best (and that's coming from someone who suffered LA for five years). Enormous burritos are served on enormous platters, with a choice of meat ranging from carne asada (chopped steak) to cessos (cow brains). Wash it all down with a huge glass of horchata, the surprisingly addictive rice, milk, and cinnamon drink, or a can of Tecate from the cooler. The standout for me at this place is the chili verde burrito, a pile of meat, onions, chilies, and beans wrapped in a tortilla and smothered with half an acre of cilantro and a gallon of green sauce. Lest I get caught in lie, the chili verde burrito is actually the only thing I ever eat when I go Tacos Guaymas, but if anything else is even half as good—whoa! PIECORA'S NY PIZZA & PASTA

1401 E Madison, 322-9411

Technically, this is almost in the Central District, and well worth hiking your big butt to, thank you very much. Pizza quality can occasionally vary inversely with the number of people waiting to sit down, but the pies are always a welcome addition to my ever-expanding gut. A very respectable variety of beer available by the pitcher helps the pizza on its way down, and if you're not in the mood for pie but somehow find yourself in this pizza restaurant, the veggie lasagna is boss. Best pizza topping is the fried peppers, which adds another delicious layer of grease to your belly. The convenient " Pizza" option keeps you from having to haul greasy leftovers across the street to the Breakroom. Dress is from casual to no pants, and the food is cheap, cheap, cheap. HANA RESTAURANT

219 Broadway E, 328-1187

Every time I get fired, I hit Hana Sushi for lunch and celebrate with raw fish and Kirin. (Yes, I eat there often.) Getting good sushi in Seattle can be a tricky thing, and the pursuit of said prey can be a scary operation. I mean, come on, we're talking uncooked flesh in the Year 2000. You're betting your intestinal well-being against whoever happens to be working that day. Happily, in spite of its low prices, I've never been handed a suspect fish at Hana. Hana sports attractive lunch specials of sushi combos of tuna and shrimp, as well as other standard Japanese yummies (udon, rice bowls, etc.) at amazing prices, and can get really crowded around dinner time if you're not careful.

 
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