Best Bowling Alley
(1420 N.W. Market, 782-7310)
Sunset Bowl has tradition. It's a tradition that unites Ballardites and other Seattleites alike, a tradition that brings blacks and whites, Republicans and Democrats, manics and depressives together as one. It's a tradition that reminds us we're American: the tradition of tackiness. Thank god for it. You wanna do karaoke? Sunset has it. You wanna drink beer out of bottles shaped like bowling pins? You got it. You wanna get a little drunk with your friends, check out folks' asses while they scream at their gutter balls, and bob your head to the No. 1 hits of 1983? This is the place for you. On Wednesdays, with a wink and smile, you might be able to hop in the Bowling for Produce League. Get a spare, you'll take home a nice head of lettuce. Get a strike, and baby's eating steak tonight. Hot damn! S.P.R.
Second place: Leilani Lanes (10201 Greenwood N., 783-8010)
(302 Bellevue Sq., Bellevue, 425-454-8096)
Those who think a mall's a mall (a few department stores, tons of freaky specialty outlets, and a food court) haven't been shopping mindfully. The best malls cater to our instinctive hunting-and-gathering needs with canny infrastructure, simulating the spiritual conditions of tribal life using lighting and rest room placement. Why shouldn't a visit to the Clinique counter be the climax of a vision quest? Bellevue Square is monstrously huge, with ramps and staircases and catwalks and elevators pointing every which way in a cacophony of navigational choice. Shopping really does seem beside the point here—just finding one's way and negotiating the complexities of urban social life are challenging enough for us mortals. R.L.
Second place: Alderwood, Pacific Place, Southcenter, and University Village were all so close as to be statistically indistinguishable.
Best News Anchorperson
This is what I can tell you about Jean Enersen: If you find yourself bored and alone, sitting on the shores of Lake Washington in the cold, rooting for your friend's crew team which you can't see and don't even care about, feeling miserable, angst-filled, and constipated—Jean Enersen will sit down and talk to you. She's that kind of person. She'll talk with you for a few minutes about the rain and the UW, then she'll leave, and you'll notice you feel a little better all of a sudden. You'll feel better because Jean was sincere with you, like a good psychiatrist or a KING-5 angel. "I like Jean," you think to yourself, wet and constipated. "She's the best news anchorperson in Seattle." S.P.R.
Second place: Kathy Goertzen
(7311 Aurora, 782-5588)
A few of the many, many virtues of Beth's: Beth's is open ALL DAMN NIGHT. Beth's is decorated with crayon drawings executed by drunk patrons in the wee hours. Beth's is clean enough to inspire faith, dirty enough to inspire hope. Beth's staff is of the tattooed-with-hearts-of-gold sort. Beth's is not on Capitol Hill, not on Queen Anne—Beth's is on Aurora. Beth's has a game room for the youthful or bored (pinball: No Fear, Monopoly, The Who's Tommy; other: Centipede, Neo Geo, Maximum Force). Beth's breakfasts are exactly greasy enough, and Beth's breakfasts are all gigantic. Most gigantic of all, Beth's serves the famous and feared 12-egg omelette (and according to Amy at Beth's, it's the skinny ones who eat the whole thing). B.J.C.
Second place: The 5 Spot (1502 Queen Anne N., 285-7768)
Best Pool Hall
(1130 Broadway, 322-2296)
"But I'm not very good," we say, covering our ass in advance of our humiliation. We're always too drunk or not drunk enough or too distracted—more than golf, pool is the game of excuses. Garage offers us plenty of excuses, like surprisingly good (and surprisingly fancy) food; strong, expertly mixed drinks; and a gracious, lovely staff. It's as close to heaven as most of us will ever get; the sports-tuned televisions can be distracting, but they're blessedly silent, so they don't compete with the cacophony of tipsy hipsters and the musical m鬡nge of the week. And there's never a significant wait, the atmosphere is always fun, and we just might find that hustler with a heart of gold. R.L.
Second place: Belltown Billiards (90 Blanchard, 448-6779)
Best Place to Eat in Bellevue
(10500 N.E. Eighth, Bellevue, 425-462-4662)
Let's hear it for the chains! Not like leg irons, but like comforting, predictable, pricey, reliable, nonironic food and service. As usual, a number of you asked, "Who goes to Bellevue?"; may we remind you that there are a few very nice people who actually live there? (Or so we've been told.) Life is tough for you poor Eastside commuter types, and nothing takes your mind off your troubles like an ࠬa carte baked potato and slab of charcoal-grilled meat at a big expensive steak house. PF Chang's was runner up; apparently Chinese-food-as-concept is better than authentic—mu shu yumminess, honey fried chicken, and you can still have cheesecake for dessert! J.L.
Second place: PF Chang's China Bistro (Bellevue Square, 425-637-3582)
Best Place to Eat in Renton
I WOULDN'T EAT IN RENTON/I'D RATHER DIE
All you readers who answered so snottily should turn posthaste to the Highbrow Town section of this year's edition of Best of Seattle, where you may revel in pretense. The rest of you should direct your attention to the second-place winner, the new, the great—yes, in Renton—Melrose Grill. The rest of you should actually just go get in your car, drive to Renton, and go to the Melrose Grill. (But you might want to call for directions first; downtown Renton, while petite, is rather confusing.) The Melrose Grill is housed in a 1901 storefront; the interior is pleasant, old-fashioned, subdued, all dark wood and smooth surfaces with a gorgeous old wooden bar. The steaks (corn-fed! hand-selected! custom-aged!) are fantastic, the service is affably flawless, and the prices are Rentonian rather than Seattleite. Plus you can watch the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train roll by. B.J.C.
Second place: Melrose Grill (819 Houser Way S., Renton, 425-254-0759)
Best Cheap Stiff Drink
(526 Queen Anne N., 285-9728)
A little blasphemy never hurt anyone—but naming a pork 'n' booze joint after one of Islam's holiest sites does seem curious. Perhaps a consideration of the Five Pillars will yield insight into the founder's choice:
1. Faith: "I believe I need a drink."
2. Prayer: "God, I'm so drunk!"
3. Concern for the Needy: The drinks are absurdly cheap and strong—a bargain for the underemployed masses.
4. Fasting: You won't be eating tomorrow, if you even wake up.
5. Hajj: Everyone must visit the Mecca at least once, though it seems superfluous to make the trip mandatory.
Now that we've guaranteed places for ourselves in hell, we may as well join our damned (and damned cute) brothers and sisters in Seattle's drunkest bar. R.L.
Second place (tie): Hector's (112 Lake S., Kirkland, 425-827-5959) and the Nite Lite (1926 Second, 449-0899)
(105 W. Mercer, 284-4618)
Somehow it seems best to salute the singular pleasures of karaoke at Ozzie's with a song, attempted after a couple of strong mixed drinks—and performed completely off-key but with every last inch of life wrenched from it.
"An Anthem for Ozzie's"
(to the tune of Neil Diamond's "America")
Everyone around Queen Anne
Does Ozzie's karaoke now!
Every blonde girl and straight man
Does Ozzie's karaoke now!
Want to think your singing's fine?
Hear Ozzie's karaoke now!
Listen to "Sweet Child o' Mine"?
Try Ozzie's karaoke now!
Today! Today! Today! Today! Today!
Second place: Sunset Bowl (1420 N.W. Market, 782-7310)
Best Place to Buy a Used Sofa
(Rainier S. and S. Dearborn, 329-1000 and 14506 N.E. 20th, Bellevue, 425-649-2080)
Some may recall that in this publication a few months back, several writers penned short odes to their couch. Brilliant. In mine, I explained how I chose a luxurious brand-new sofa over the cheaper, more lived-in variety. The sofa cost more than I wanted to spend, but the purchase came at a tumultuous time in my personal life, and the newness of this piece of furniture was supposed to be representative of some larger renewal process. Crap. Or should I say, piss. Yep, a couple of weeks ago a cat (not even mine) peed all over the couch—which, incidentally, I've sat on about three times in the past four months. I should have bought a used couch. I should have gone to Goodwill, where only some of the couches are soaked in urine. P.F.
Second place (tie): The classifieds and a yard sale
(312 N. 67th, 783-6362 and 1613 W. Dravus, 284-6363)
This is how it always is at Red Mill: You open the door and step in sideways because it's the only way you fit; the place is packed. Your olfactory senses send a message to your stomach that you have arrived at burger 'n' fry heaven, but you panic because all the tables are taken and several greedy, vulturelike creatures are ready to pounce on the next vacancy. But sooner or later you make it to the counter, sooner or later you order. Sooner or later, you snag a table, and sooner or later your name is called. Sooner or later, you bite into the best goddamn burger (veggie or bacon-topped, either way) and follow it with a long slurp of chocolate shake. You are in heaven. This is how it always is at Red Mill. L.C.
Second place: Dick's (five locations to serve you!)
Best Place to Get Pancakes
(950 E. Madison, 322-4450)
Globalization can't be all bad if it brought us IHOP. Though its reading of "International" may be wanting, it satisfies the basic breakfast needs of U.S. citizens: starch, fat, caffeine, and all-day availability. Those who eschew chain restaurants avoid IHOP with the same censure they apply to Starbucks and McDonald's, leaving the joint pretty much hipster-free. But unlike its overbranded kin, this chain still retains the barest trace of unmediated reality in its choices of decorations and staff. Every American should eat a Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity washed down with endless coffee once before dying, if only for the sugar high. IHOP's "International Passport" might only take us to Sweden, France, or Germany, but that's still pretty far afield just after waking up. R.L.
Second place: Original Pancake House (130 Park Place Center, Kirkland, 425-827-7575)
Best Chain Restaurant
(115 Broadway E., 323-1300; 500 Queen Anne N., 285-5155; 111 N.E. 45th, 632-5125; 9208 Holman N.W., 783-5233; 12325 30th N.E., 363-7777)
I used to be vegetarian. Then I met a Dick's Deluxe. It's true. We fell in love, and I wanted to marry it, but I ate it, and then it was gone. I was sad but fulfilled—ecstatic with a strange new brand of satisfaction, and it wasn't just the sensation of eating a cheeseburger; it was a Dick's. A Dick's Deluxe. And I wanted more. Everybody wants more. That's why meat-loving folks stand in lines out to the sidewalk to get the damn things. Since 1954, they've come. And they come for more than the Deluxe—the real ice cream shakes, the house-made French fries, the understated cheeseburger. Dick's fare, in all its delectably greasy goodness, is an American classic—but somehow better. K.M.
Second place: Red Robin (everywhere)