Spike Your Afternoon at the Basket Case

If it doesn’t put you to sleep, a pounder in the next South Park will.

Common sense would dictate that Renton Avenue South is a main thoroughfare in Renton. It's not. While its origins are in Renton and Seattle, it's really Skyway's main drag. This goes a long way toward explaining why Skyway is the new South Park: It's really hard to find unless you know exactly where you're going. Only, unlike South Park, gentrification has yet to cast its hungry gaze on Skyway, a socioeconomically diverse (and not just by Seattle's skewed standards) community that sits just east of I-5, south of Beacon Hill and the Valley, and northwest of Renton—the city, not the street.The first sign of commercial life in Skyway is a strip mall that includes an Ezell's, a casino, a bowling alley, a Louisiana fried-fish joint, a laundromat, and a nightclub. It also includes the Basket Case Drive-In, a well-established Route 66–looking eatery that does heavy takeout traffic and features but a half-dozen tables inside its cozy, no-frills dining area.The Basket Case's clientele draws from a rainbow of ethnicities, but is predominantly black. This was apparent on my visit, but I could also tell just by looking at the menu. What I've found to be a telltale sign of a restaurant that caters mainly to black folks is whether said restaurant offers the option of adding a hot link to a burger—"spiking" it. The Mimi Ultimate is a concoction of two hamburger patties, special sauce, and a hot link split down the middle, all packed between a pair of buns. It's named after a friendly employee. Mimi's sandwich is decidedly less intimidating than the much bigger versions you'll find at full-on soul-food restaurants, but it's still the perfect precursor to an afternoon nap. Meat will do that to you; it's the anti–Red Bull. That's why the Barney Miller–era practice of chasing a cheeseburger with a cup of coffee is actually more utilitarian than nasty.If Mimi doesn't seal the sheep-counting deal, there's a bar a few blocks southeast on Renton Avenue called the Beachcomber. It boasts a gorgeous seafoam-green neon sign, so you can't miss it. It was once owned by the family that owns Mike's Chili Parlor, so you can trust it. Order a pounder—blue-collarese for "pint"—of Rainier here, and that'll ensure a siesta. But only one, because afternoon drinking on a hot summer day can be a slippery, infinitely enjoyable slope.mseely@seattleweekly.com

 
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