Box Office

Line up, pay, move along

Ezell's Famous Chicken As penetrating as the smell of hot buttery popcorn is as it escapes through the box-office window and catches you in line, so is the scent of Ezell's chicken wafting around the store. It's a dangerously alluring temptation—and once you're drawn through the doors, the choices are much more difficult than deciding between that new Mandy Moore rom-com or the edgy buddy flick. Do you go with the spicy skin or original? The crispy strips, succulent breasts, or meaty legs? Creamy coleslaw or chunky potato salad? Sweet potato pie or syrupy peach cobbler? Fortunately, though, as your salivary glands go into overdrive and you stand there attempting to decide your fried-chicken fate, rest easy in the knowledge that there are no wrong decisions here. There's no danger of having to walk out in the middle of an unsatisfactory flick, or sit through the entire thing only to demand a refund. At Ezell's, no matter what feature you choose, the greasy, crispy goodness always gets two thumbs up (and even the bonus Oprah stamp of approval). AJA PECKNOLDServes: any time is fried-chicken time. 501 23rd Ave., 324-4141; 11805 Renton Ave. S., 772-1925; additional locations in Lynnwood, Renton, and Woodinville. CENTRAL DISTRICT/SKYWAY $www.ezellschicken.com Husky Deli If you ask West Seattleites what they like most about their neighborhood, the attributes they'll likely name—laid-back pace, affordability, small-town-within-a-big-city charm—are all more or less embodied by Husky Deli. Since moving to the west side last June, my trips there have increased in frequency, to the point where a voyage to California Avenue for salami, roast beef, horseradish cheese, rye bread, bacon potato salad, and peanut-butter-cup ice cream has become something of a Sunday staple. It has made me forget about the 10 pounds I've been meaning to shed, and rationalize that a carnivorous armor of lard is more utilitarian in these climes anyway. It has made me appropriately devalue supermarket express lanes, mind-blowing variety, and robot-like efficiency and thrust service with a smile, hand-picked quality, and colorful yarns steeped in neighborhood lore to the fore instead. It has made me slow the hell down, take a long walk, make my own sandwich, put down the phone, enjoy real conversation, and stop staring at screens, if only for a too-short spell. Like waiting all night to get tickets to a hastily announced Prince gig, the crawl to the register at Husky Deli only makes the payoff more satisfying. What church is for some people, Husky Deli is for me. MIKE SEELYServes: lunch. 4721 California Ave. S.W., 937-2810. WEST SEATTLE $www.huskydeli.com Lee's Asian Restaurant If I ever ran for mayor of Seattle, my platform would focus on the inalienable right of every citizen to affordable and ample takeout. In this endeavor, we have a long road to walk, my brothers and sisters, before we sleep, albeit unsoundly in a fit of MSG. But tucked among the neighborhoods of our fair hamlet, there are people doing the good work. Lee's Asian in West Seattle is such a takeout haven, specializing in American, Chinese and Thai. Lee's also has the honor of harboring one of the original chefs from Wild Ginger. Sure, you could Eat At Lee's, but . . . it rarely occurs to me. The standard-restaurant bad lighting and slapdash decor distract from the bounty offered within. Lee's food is most appreciated out of the box. I am too mystified by enjoying, on the comfort of my own couch, the tom ka gai, a coconut-milk soup, with just the right amount of heat, that rivals the remedy of a bubbe. Or the seven-flavors beef, a sweet and spicy alternative to white America's favored General Tso's. The duck with plum sauce and bao removes any thought of tackling the downtown-parking situation, especially when eaten in your jammies. MAGGIE DUTTONServes: dinner. 4510 California Ave. S.W., 932-8209, WEST SEATTLE $$ Paseo Unless you've driven up Fremont Avenue and wondered at the crowds milling about, you may not have noticed Paseo. It doesn't advertise, in the traditional sense, and signage is minimal. But queues for this underground show form early. The place is indie-theater small; the flavors and aromas, however, are huge. Caribbean sandwiches play the lead. The Cuban-style pork sandwiches, in particular, have star power: They're two-handed, fall-apartish affairs—crispy baguettes overstuffed with tender, slow-roasted meat garnished with cilantro, piquant peppers, aioli, and thick rings of caramelized onions that are seared yet sweet and crunchy. The onions are popular enough to warrant their own billing in the "Onion Obsession" sandwich. Supporting roles from cumin-laced black beans, corn on the cob, and garlic tofu should satisfy vegetarians. If I lived in Fremont, I'd try to keep the place a secret too. DEL ENGENServes: lunch. 4225 Fremont Ave. N., 545-7440. FREMONT $ Red Mill Burgers Jurassic Park is perhaps the greatest summer blockbuster of all time. The plot, based on a simple and completely outlandish premise (oops, we brought back the dinosaurs!), is totally predictable. The twists and turns are few but jump-out-of-your-seat terrifying. There is an easily distilled message that doesn't take much thought (don't clone things higher than you on the food chain). And Samuel L. Jackson has a fair amount of screen time chewing through cigarettes and saying things like "Hold on to yer butts." The movie was great in the theater when I was a kid, and it's great now. The Red Mill burger is the summer blockbuster of sandwiches. The bacon is perfectly done, the beef patties aren't rubbery, and the house sauce is predictably delicious. There are a couple of twists and turns, like a little heat if you go for the Verde, with its Anaheim peppers, but nothing that requires an overly refined palate. Like movies about dinosaurs, Red Mill won't change your life, but you'll have a damn good time. Hold on to yer butts. LAURA ONSTOTServes: lunch, dinner. 312 N. 67th St., 783-6362; 1613 W. Dravus St., 783-6363. PHINNEY RIDGE/INTERBAY $www.redmillburgers.com Taqueria la Pasadita #2 The line out front of this gas-station taco truck most resembles the one outside a boxing ring: a bunch of guys standing around, sizing each other up, everyone keyed up about the coming spectacle. That's because no one contemplates a taco. They attack it, crouched defensively to avoid getting splattered with grease, driven to devour by some primal hunger. And La Pasadita's tacos—which I think are some of the best in town—attack back with the righteous muscle of the meaty carnitas, the one-two of the onions and cilantro, and the killer hook of the salsa, one hit of which can leave a grown man a little squinty. Steak, tongue, chorizo, spicy pork, chicken: All put on a good show. (The tortas on griddled bread kick ass, too.) Leave quickly after it's over, in case someone you know sees how 'roided out you just got. JONATHAN KAUFFMANServes: breakfast, lunch, dinner. 2143 N. Northgate Way. NORTHGATE $

 
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