Dining Showcase 2003 • An introduction from senior editor Roger Downey • Restaurants A-D: From Alki Homestead to The Dish • Restaurants D-M: From Dolce Vita to Mashiko. • Restaurants M-S: From Matt's in the Market to Salumi. • Restaurants S-Z: From Sazerac to the Zig Zag Café.
The Homesteadonce a carriage house for an early residence in West Seattleeschews modernity, which is probably why so few Seattleites (and particularly those under 65) don't even know it's there. The Homestead doesn't do fancy-pants fusion cuisine, they don't offer appetizers, and on most nights they're done seating by about 9 p.m. After all, this isn't Belltown, and for that you should be very, very glad. Regardless of your entr饠choice (most go with the famous all-you-can-eat fried chicken but the buttery baked halibut is great, too), your meal will begin with a basket of biscuits and jam, a small cup of hearty soup, and a simple iceberg salad. You don't have to order these things, they just arrive. Kind of like magicor Grandma's house. The rest of your meal is then served by a reserved, careful waiter or waitress, including rice pilaf or a baked potato and a pool of juicy peas. Quaint. And so incredibly pretension-free that it's even more so. L.C. 2717 61st Ave. S.W., 206-935-5678. WEST SEATTLE $$ From the Heavens:
THE ASTEROID CAFE
About the size of a large crawl space, the Asteroid is one of many pocket-size house-bistros on "restaurant row" in Wallingford (other 45th Street standbys include Mandalay and Chile Pepper). This cozy Italian oasis, however, packs a little extra charm, thanks in part to the asteroid facsimile perched coyly on the roof. The restaurant itself dispenses with the gimmickry, serving up excellent starters (the antipasto and cheese plates are outstanding), a thought-provoking wine selection, and some truly elegant pastas and entr饳. What's more, in this time of global strife, the Asteroid has plastered its own windows with political material: Mini-manifestos and peace petitions cover the glass and are virtually impossible to ignoreand it's been like this since before the Iraq conflict began. So here's a neighborhood mainstay having it both ways: snug date-night allure and anti-war protest in one tiny package that's always fun to unwrap. N.S. 1605 N. 45th St., 206-547-2514. WALLINGFORD $ Diner With a View:
Seattle landmark serves up a brew with a view.
In a Starbucks town, they serve Farmer Brothers coffee. In the bar, you sit with your backside mooning a million-dollar view. At the nearby shops and stalls, you can buy yuppie delicacies, but at the Athenian, you can still chow down on a plate of finnan haddie or pickled herring. In a town that's lost so many of its classic jointsfrom the Twin Tee Pees to the Dog Housethe Athenian just means more year after year. Caught like a bug in the amber of a revitalized (and sanitized) Pike Place Market, the Athenian is emblematic of Skid Road Seattle: honest, unpretentious, a seaport-town hodge-podge of old and new. Founded by three Greek brothers in 1909, it began as a bakery, then a luncheonette, and now features an extensive bar (famous for frosty beer mugs) and a long menu of diner food and daily specials prepared by the Filipino kitchen staff. Come on the off-hours or low season, and you can easily snag one of the small window booths and eat cheaply with a skybox view of Elliott Bay. In the summer, you might have to fight your way like a spawning sockeye through the river of tourists flowing by the front door, but once inside you can see the Athenian's integrity as a venerable establishment that serves tourists without pandering to them; that didn't have its head turned by Hollywood (it was featured in Sleepless...); that didn't gentrify to suck up the new money in town. It'll also make you wish that more of Seattle could say the same. K.B. 1517 Pike Place Market, 206-624-7166. PIKE PLACE MARKET $ Franc Chic:
It's a bistro, which here means "not as pricey as fine French food can be." Owner-chef Philippe Bollache keeps things simple, letting ingredients speak for themselves. Everything is rich and fillingeven salads are like small entr饳, with generous garnishes of meat, cheese, or nuts. Main dishespork medallions, duck breast, coq au vinare flavorful, the meats impossibly tender. Cassoulet, the hearty and filling traditional bean dish, takes three days to make, so fans have to wait two weeks between fixes (it's served on a bimonthly Cassoulet Night). They find it well worth the wait. The small, L-shaped space is intimate, and the supremely romantic atmosphere (if Bollache's food isn't enough to warm your heart, his heavy French accent should do the trick) and professional, attentive service make Au Bouchon a good place to take someone special. Share a cr譥 brl饗the recipe's a secret, but you'll sing its praise aloud. K.M. Wallingford Center, 1815 N. 45th St., 206-547-5791. WALLINGFORD $$ Speed Sandwiches:
Visited somewhat reverently by the workaday crowd, this Pioneer Square favorite is more than just your basic deli. Bakeman's is a subterranean lair whose efficiency would make the Soup Nazi smile. Hordes of ravenous suits descend the stairs to this freakishly busy midday hot spot only to face a barrage of questions: "Cheese on that? Bowl or cup? You want dessert? You want potato salad? Is that all?" Why do so many Seattleites risk the wrath of the Bakeman's sandwich makers? Could it be the renowned turkey with cranberry sauce on wheat? The yummy black olive spread? Maybe it's the luscious sides, including a warm, delicate cornbread that can melt you like a pat of butter. The fluorescent-lit dining room is nothing to brag about, so most of the regulars get their fix to go. Whether you stay or flee, Bakeman's seems to have cornered the market on fresh soup 'n' sandwich lunches assembled in a New York minute. N.S. 122 Cherry St., 206-622-3375. PIONEER SQUARE $$ Go-Go Girl:
BANDOLEONE AND TANGO
Danielle, the original nonstop go-go girl.
If the Energizer Bunny were to take human form, she would be something like Danielle Philippa. Philippa is owner, boss, and catering director of the pan-Latin restaurants Bandoleone and Tango, and she never sits down. If she does sit, it's briefprobably spent in front of her computer, typing up a new menu or a press release about one of her restaurants. She has a cell phone on her at all times, and she tells her employees: "Need a dishwasher? Call me. Need the toilet fixed? Call me. Need the light bulbs changed (on Tango's 30-foot ceilings)? Call me!" Her mouth, her mind, her sassy little bodythey all go a million miles per minute. She's been called crazy. Not crazy like Hannibal, but crazy like fireflies and amoebic reproductionas in most of us don't really understand how she works but we appreciate that she's supremely cool. The 38-year-old former child prodigy, drug addict, world traveler, and commercial fisherwoman moved to Seattle in 1990 and decided she wanted to own a restaurant. She had no experience, so she got a job prepping for the line at a local restaurant. In less than a year, she was managing the place. Later she started a catering company and a restaurant design consultancy that took her to Spain for nearly two years. She'd traveled around Mexico and South America before, but it was in Spain that she "fell in love with the whole Spanish, Portuguese, and pan-Latin way of dining, drinking, and living." In 1995, she started Bandoleone with a partner. In 2000, she opened Tango (she since opened and closed a cafe/deli/market on Capitol Hill). And, when she's not at her restaurants, she leads alt-country band Ruby Dee as singer/songwriter (seriously!). Employees either love her or hate hershe's that kind of person. (She does, after all, have a job to do: "One cannot always be so gentle and caring when one has a ship to run.") Those who don't care for her move on; the ones who love her tend to stick around for years (she has just under 50 employees). As for the customers, their loyalty is surely for the good food, but her energy has something to do with iteverybody wants to bask in her glow. K.M. Bandoleone, 2241 Eastlake Ave. E., 206-329-7559. EASTLAKE $$ Tango, 1100 Pike St., 206-583-0382. CAPITOL HILL $$ Ars Eclectica:
BIZZARRO ITALIAN CAFE
Bizzarro takes such a risky route with its decorclutter chic, like a boho art gallery hit by the proverbial tornadothat it's astonishing how well they pull it off. The perennially quirky Friday night date spot is known on a culinary level for eclectic, richly flavorful pasta concoctions (like baked cheese tortellini with andouille sausage or rigatoni with shiitake and portobello mushrooms in a sherry cream sauce). But what makes Bizzarro a species all its own is the nutty design concept. An enormous green puppet head hovers above your table, threatening to gobble you up. The mural covering an entire wall turns out to be a pastiche of major Western art images. Whimsical portraits of Napoleon, miniature Easter Island heads, Chinese lanterns, chairs hanging casually from the walls, and chile pepper lights coexist in this playful place as if they belonged together. The menu says "Celebrate!"and Bizzarro makes it difficult not to comply. N.S. 1307 N. 46th St., 206-545-3520. WALLINGFORD $$ Past and Present:
BLUE ONION BISTRO
Another local New American landmark whose decor precedes it, the Blue Onion is a saucy spot on Roosevelt that walks the line between retro chic and outright camp, between upscale dining and truck-stop food. Looking for all the world like an exploded rummage sale, the Onion entertains an enthusiastic weekday lunch crowd. Chatty grannies and purposeful businessmen order the chili dog or the "macho" burger; 10 minutes later, enormous square plates emerge from the kitchen, bedecked withcan you believe it?tall food! Yes, the most lambasted of haute cuisine trends is alive and well at this unassuming ex-garage, a knickknack wonderland where tiny Curious George teacups, Jolly Green Giant dolls, and Dutch Coke bottles coexist in perfect pop-culture harmony. Memories of advertising icons past might be the visual grab at the Onion, but solid, dependable food is the coup de gr⣥. Believe it or not, their Buckaroo Sue Ten-Bean Chili might be the best bowl o' red in town. N.S. 5801 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-729-0579. ROOSEVELT $ Tight and Bright:
Everything at Brasa has polish; the look of the place, the food, the service all have the unostentatious sheen of long-polished copper. Tamara Murphy (chef) and Bryan Hill (wine) work hard to please you, but they don't try hard, because they know what they're doing. A one-word description of the Brasa menu is "Spanish," and sure, there's plenty of paprika and Cabrales blue in evidence. But they play second fiddle to proper Northwest fresh ingredients: Whether roasted, seared, braised, or saut饤, each main dish is flanked by its own imaginative array of complements. This is hearty eating, but not heavy. The bar menu offers a whole range of flavors, not so much lighter dining as lighter on the pocketbook. On both cartes there's always something new to try, and always an old favorite or two. And don't forget dessert. R.D. 2107 3rd Ave., 206-728-4220. DOWNTOWN $$ Sweet Meat:
BUENOS AIRES GRILL
Buenos Aires Grill is about meat. Lots of meat. A guaranteed pound of meat on every plate. Be clear about that before you think of going there: Meat is the motif, the mission, the modus operandi. Long-time Seattle restaurateur Marco Casas Beaux has finally opened the place he's dreamed of since leaving his native Argentina: a bistro very like the kind you might find off the Plaza de Mayo, redolent of tango music, loudly conversing diners, and the smell of hot beef fat. First timers should try the parrillada, a whole miniature grill's worth of beef, chicken, beef, sausage, and beef. As if that weren't enough, the waitstaff threatens to bring more to replace it until you cry, "No mas! No mas!!" You're more likely to go home with some of the first serving in a doggie bag, particularly if you've availed yourself of one or more of the nourishing sides: a creamed-chard concoction, garlicky fries sprinkled with parsley, et very much cetera. Some nights there are real tango dancers slinking past your table or snaking up and down the bar. More meat, in a way; but very classily packaged. R.D. 2000 Second Ave., 206-441-7076. DOWNTOWN $$ Hot Stuff:
Families, couples, sometimes even a mariachi band crowd into this narrow little hallway of a restaurant for some of the heartiest burritos, most authentic sauces, and damn near hottest salsas around. Chile verde, chorizo, and lengua (you don't want to know) are some of the more adventurous options, but the traditional huevos rancheros and seafood dishesincluding a to-die-for "seven mares" seafood soupare mighty fine, too. The mole sauce is complex and not overburdened with chocolate, and the verde sauce packs a deceptive punch. You'll work up a sweat munching on the free chips and hot sauce (especially at tables near the postage stamp-size kitchen), but a little of Burrito Loco's sangriared wine mixed with OJ and a splash of limewill cool you down. Bring tips for the mariachis on weekends, and save room for the custardy flan. Ahh . . . satisfacci�I>. E.C.B. 9211 Holman Rd. N.W., 206-783-0719. CROWN HILL $ Meatless in Paradise:
Meatless in paradise.
Where's the beef? You really won't care when you're chowing down on spicy, mashed-potato-filled Oaxaca tacos or a juicy, pastry-encased portobello Wellington at Caf順lora. The airy, Zen-like Madison Park eatery has been serving deluxe vegan and vegetarian fare since 1991, and even as dozens of meatless contenders have come and gone in the ensuing 12 years, it's remained one of the most popular spots in town, non-beefy or otherwise. Certain menu items do riff on traditionally animal-enhanced dishes, like the "French dip" (which is really portobellos, caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese with a mushroom jus) or the vegan lentil-pecan p (served with mini gherkins, marinated olives, and a red-onion confit), but the majority of entr饳 are proudly plant-based. The special artichoke croquettes with goat cheese and chili lime sauce or Moroccan squash stuffed with saffron- infused couscous and roasted vegetables do just fine without an admixture of the bovine, thankyouverymuch. And if being vegan means a lifetime of lightly breaded coconut tofu with sweet chili dipping sauce or a spicy chickpea falafel wrapped in warm flatbread, you can sign us up. Even bacon junkies swear by the popular brunch, which features everything from vegan doughnuts and fluffy fig waffles to a "green eggs and yam" scramble with toasted hazelnuts, sage oil, and soft ch趲e or a rotating daily quiche, with all options $10 and under. The highest compliment the cafe receives, though, is the presence of its regularsmany of whom see nothing wrong with an occasional Dick's Deluxe or crispy-skinned Thanksgiving turkey, but still come to meat-free Flora because it's just that good. L.G. 2901 E. Madison St., 206-325-9100. MADISON VALLEY $$ Do the Dip:
CALYPSO CARIBBEAN KITCHEN
Although I might sometimes get down on Seattle for its small-town ways, one aspect of our city's provinciality that I adore is the smattering of restaurants housed in little houses. And Calypso is by far my favorite. Their jerk chicken is sweet and spicy, the grilled shrimp salad is excellent, and their fish and chips cut out the potatoes and substitute plantain chips instead. Brilliant. But the best thing in this Caribbean kitchen is called Keshy Yena, and once you've had it, you'll never be the same. Served as an appetizer, Keshy Yena is a lot like a fondue. Edam cheese is baked with raisins, spices, and baby shrimp and then served with plenty of crusty bread. It's so good, I'm surprised it's not illegal, and the serving is so generous you'll be dipping and redipping the whole meal through. If your server tries to take it away before you're done, slap her hand and tell her I told you to do so. L.C. 7917 Roosevelt Way N.E., 206-525-5118. MAPLE LEAF $$ Triple Bliss:
Mark Tobey called the Pike Place Market "the soul of Seattle," and I have always felt that the soul of the Market is Peter Lewis' Campagne. Several Market restaurants have more spectacular views, maybe even better food on some nights; but this place remains uniquely enchanting, a true soul-soother. Dates seldom walk into Campagne and say, "What a dump!" In fact, Campagne comprises three distinct dining opportunities. The most famous is the main room, graced with a soul-lifting vista of ferries plying Elliott Bay. Here you'll find pricey, Northwestified French cuisine and our laid-back version of a formal atmosphere. Adjacent is the charming bar, with a view of the lone Market tree, for the preservation of which the entire building was expensively trimmed. Food quality is spottier than wine quality in the bar, but a bar is to drink in, and to soak up atmosphere; plus you can usually get quick seating here, unlike the main restaurant. Downstairs, on Post Alley, is Caf頃ampagne, a less Northwesty, more fully French bistro noted for brunches and more Northwest-casual in style. I shall be savoring all three experiences again very soon. T.A. Campagne: 86 Pine St., 206-728-2233. PIKE PLACE MARKET $$$ Caf頃ampagne: 1600 Post Alley, 206-728-2233. PIKE PLACE MARKET $$ Above It All:
You can spend as muchand probably moreat some new Belltown joint where the food isn't as good, the waiters are too hip for their job, and the valet parking guys can't find reverse in your vintage CitroꮠDS. Or you can go with the pros. Memo to attitude-slinging hipsters who want to burnish their retro act with old-school credibility: Canlis has been there, done that, before you or your icons of cool ever got the idea. Established in 1950 and designed by Roland Terry, Canlis is, to an extent, the last of its breed. Your parents went there for a reason: The menu is excellent; the waitstaff is all-pro; and the viewwell, let's just say that everything else about Canlis lives up to its eastward-looking panorama over Lake Union, designed before I-5 marred the skyline. It's like you're Kate and Leo on the bow of Titaniconly without James Cameron or Celine Dion to spoil the experience. B.R.M. 2576 Aurora Ave. N., 206-283-3313. NORTH QUEEN ANNE $$$ Rugged Elegance:
A fabulous vision, flawlessly executed. Chef Kerry Sear takes his tremendous skill as an artist working with taste, smell, and appearance and welds it to the political and ethical vision that food should be at least local, if not wild and organic. With seasonal ingredients from the fields, forests, and seas of the Pacific Northwest, Sear creates ingenious dishes that dazzle the plate and delight the palate. The menu changes daily depending on what the maestro has to work with. What Sear can do with simple vegetables like parsnips and potatoes is extraordinary. All of this culinary wonder occurs in a calm setting that encourages the patrons to slow down and relish the food. Time seems suspended as the "rain window" sculpture that dominates the dining room babbles in the background. The bill will bring you back to reality, but if you've got the feddy, why not spend it on the best? G.H. 2328 First Ave., 206-448-8884. BELLTOWN $$$ Currant and Choice:
In France, "cassis" is a black-current cordial that, frankly, only a French person could love. But in Seattle, Cassis is a bistro that any lover of fine food can enjoy. Inspired, but not slavishly, by traditional French caf頣ooking, the menu at Cassis changes only with the seasons, and minimally at that: You can always count on finding the Mediterranean fish soup (more like a garlicky, fragrant stew), the dangerously succulent pommes frites, and classic, perfectly roasted chicken or saut饤 calf's liver. The daily specials (cassoulet Monday, coq au vin Tuesday, etc.) are exquisite exercises in essential French country cooking. So delicious are the standbys that it requires an effort of will to order one of the current specials. The house wines, by the quarter-, half-, and full liter, are solidly dependable. If you're on a tight budget, Sunday through Thursday before 7 p.m. there's a light and inexpensive four-course prix-fixe dinner. Don't stint yourself. R.D. 2359 10th Ave. E., 206-329-0580. CAPITOL HILL $$-$$$ Masterpiece Theater:
CHINOISE ON MADISON
Apothesis of the California roll.
When is a sushi chef not a sushi chef? When he's also a bartender, a marriage counselor, an artist, and a performer. Need some friendly advice? Amateur legal counsel? Homeopathic cold remedies? A sympathetic ear? Secure a seat at the sushi bar at Chinoise on Madison and get to know chef and part owner Jae Ahrens. Oh, and if you're in need of some artfully prepared nouveau pan-Asian cuisine, you can get that, too. A graduate of the other CIAthe Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.Ahrens is Korean-born; his adoptive American parents brought him up on a typical American-kid diet of hot dogs and soda pop. He studied sushi-making under a straitlaced traditional Japanese chef and one who was very open to Western interpretations, so, all things considered, it's no wonder that Ahrens is as happy to set you up with some exotic shellfish as he is the perfect California roll. And considering his good looks, charming sense of humor, and the meticulous attention he pays to his craft, it's also no wonder that his Madison Beach neighbors linger at his raw bar all night. Just watching him carefully prepare a thick slab of tamago for the evening's rolls, one feels like one's up on the Sistine scaffolding with Michaelangelo. Ahrens does it his way, with style, imagination, and entertainment. Lucky for us, it's our way, too. L.C. 2801 E. Madison St., 206-323-0171. MADISON VALLEY $$ Fresh Catch:
CHINOOK'S AT SALMON BAY
Mostly seen at Chinook's are two kinds of people: natives taking out-of-towners to taste fresh Northwest seafood, and regulars at large tables with rambunctious kids. The space is large, cavernous, and noisy, but that doesn't deter those in search of fresh oysters in the winter and wild blackberry cobbler in the summer. The help is professional and efficient, promptly appearing with baby booster chairs and Redhook pours alike. The extensive menu, with fisherman's cioppino, five variations on the Caesar, crab cakes, and (of course) fish and chips, will have your relatives from Milwaukee enthused. The requisite burgers, chicken yakisoba, and fettuccine round out the menu nicely. Look toward the seafood fresh sheet for real gemssuch as tiny, succulent Olympia oysters on the half shell and fresh-caught salmon. Treat yourself afterward to one of their delicious, shareable desserts, such as bread pudding or Bailey's chocolate mousse. Then dab at your chin with a napkin and sighthank goodness someone in Seattle is doing unpretentious, quality seafood, with not a frothing white-truffle-oil reduction in sight. R.B. Fisherman's Terminal, 1900 W. Nickerson, 206-283-4665. INTERBAY $$ High and Low:
Reinventing restaurants four times a year.
"These restaurants are self- portraits of Peter Levy and me," says Chow Foods co-founder Jeremy Hardy. "We are not four-star guys. We like to be loud and drink beer and whiskey and have kids running around." So that's the secret ingredient that makes all of Hardy and Levy's restaurants such a unique, damn good time: two crazy family men who love food and fun! In 1990, Hardy and Levy opened the 5-Spot Restaurant on Queen Anne, realizing their vision of combining "the quality, innovation, excellence, training, and passion for food from the top-end restaurants and the price, kid friendliness, accessibility, and neighborhood feel" of the low end. The signature aspect of their chain came from a wild hair of Levy's: a rotating menu focusing on a different region's cuisine every three months. Hardy says he responded to Levy's idea at first by observing, "What a pain in the ass." They kept talking about it, however, and the notion proved too seductive to resist. As they open each new restaurant, they swear they won't do it again: It's "too expensive and too difficult, but we have gotten addicted," Hardy admits. The excitement of creating new art, new music, a new wine list, and changing half of their menu every three months is irresistible. "We like to push it," he says. While it's not a business model too many restaurateurs will embrace, we happy customers reap the joys of this Bushmill's-inspired whimsy. G.H. The 5 Spot Restaurant: 1502 Queen Anne Ave. N., 206-285-7768. QUEEN ANNE Coastal Kitchen: 429 15th Ave. E., 206-322-1145. CAPITOL HILL Atlas Foods, 2820 N.E. University Village, 206-522-6025. UNIVERSITY VILLAGE Jitterbug, 2114 N. 45th St., 206-547-6313. WALLINGFORD $$ Not-Dogs:
You never know what to expect when you walk into Cyber-Dogs. That's part of the charm of this all-vegetarian hot-dog hideaway near the downtown Convention Center, which doubles (or triples) as an espresso bar/Internet cafe. (Logging on is free for the first 20 minutes, $6 an hour after that.) You may be pressed into service taste-testing new products, like the Italian "meatball" sandwich or the beet-flavored Russian dog, or drawn into conversation with Cyber-Dogs' friendly proprietress, Tania Harrison, who seems to know half her customers by name. But you'll never spend more than a few bucks for as convincing a not-dog as you're going to find. A wild selection of toppings, including "eggplant caviar," hummus and feta cheese, and cucumber-yogurt sauce with spicy potatoes, keeps things interesting (as does the ever-evolving menu)though traditionalists can opt for the plainer German dog, topped simply with sauerkraut and onions. E.C.B. 909 Pike St., 206-405-3647. DOWNTOWN $ Burger Fervor:DE LUXE BAR & GRILL
When I go, I want to go with a De Luxe bleu cheese burger in my tummy. Better yet, half a burgerI'll need the other half to bribe my way into heaven. Those De Luxe folks really know their way around a beef patty. And here's another thing about this beloved bar and restaurant: Most places that do burgers well don't know a salad from a sack of beans, but the salads at this joint rival the juicy burgers themselves. Try the peppered bacon and Tillamook cheddar burger, the house greens (with toasted hazelnuts), or the bleu-cheesy spinach salad. Sure, you could branch out and try other menu items, like the goat-cheese ravioli with roasted red-pepper cream sauce or the pepper-and-thyme grilled pork-loin chops, but why? Still, don't forget to check out the daily Blue Plate Specials (Wednesday's burger day!). K.M. 625 Broadway Ave. E., 206-324-9697. CAPITOL HILL $$ Classic Seattle:
Just about everyone likes Dick's: They're open till 2 a.m., they've been a Seattle institution for almost 50 years, and they're arguably the best fast food in town. As you're standing in line, debating between a root beer float or chocolate shake, look on in awe as the workers fold cheeseburgers in orange wax paper at a lightning-fast pace. And of course, don't forget the fries: hand cut from real potatoesnone of your freeze-dried McDonald's carbohydrates here. Some out-of-towners have complained about the thin hamburger patties or the extra price you pay for ketchup. But Seattleites know that Dick's is something specialeven when the town seems dead on a Thursday at 1:30 a.m., drive past one of the locations on Broadway or 45th and the lots are packed with cars, their drivers standing in multiple lines braving freezing cold winds for a serving of hot, greasy, salty fries, a Special, and a Coke. Taco Bell's marketing schemes just can't compare with that bright orange sign. R.B. 111 N.E. 45th St., 206-632-5125. UNIVERSITY DISTRICT
115 Broadway Ave. E., 206-323-1300. CAPITOL HILL
9208 Holman Rd. N.W., 206-783-5233. CROWN HILL
500 Queen Anne Ave. N., 206-285-5155. LOWER QUEEN ANNE
12325 30th Ave. N.E., 206-363-7777. LAKE CITY $ Eggcelent Eatery
It's always breakfast time at the Dish. You can stop at this tiny diner midway between Fremont and Ballard anytime between 7 a.m. (8 on Sunday) and 1:45 p.m and expect eggcentric favorites like the Seattle-to-Portland omelet (bacon, tomatoes, spinach, and Parmesan), biscuits and gravy with eggs, and the Slacker Especial (an enchilada scramble). If you want to do it right, stool up at the wraparound counter and make friends with your neighbors (sooner or later, you're going to need the Tabasco to be passed, so you might as well be friendly). If you're lucky, you'll have a view of the very small, very busy kitchena spectacle to behold. Try a house scone instead of toast. And if you don't like waiting outside on weekend mornings, don't go here (they do sate sidewalk waiters with coffee). Bring cash; the Dish doesn't take plastic. K.M. 4358 Leary Way. N.W., 206-782-9985 . BALLARD $ firstname.lastname@example.org