Best Place to Indulge Your Inner Francophile

Playing Frenchy while on a budget usually means you're limited to picking up a cheap baguette from a bakery and maybe throwing it in your bike basket for a little extra je ne sais quois. But there are starving artists in France, too, and like you, they aren't eating foie gras. They'd most likely be found at a place like Cafe Presse—the new offering from the owners of French-inspired Le Pichet. Its menu gives you the chance to indulge in a croque monsieur (baked ham, Gruyère, and béchamel sandwich) while paying just $5.50. The flat screen mounted behind the bar shows soccer, of course; foreign newspapers are neatly folded over wrought-iron slats along the wall; and the clientele is as international as the reading material—accents from all different countries buzz around the room. It's also one of the only places in town where solo diners seem to feel at ease rather than embarrassed. Cafe Presse now affords Seattleites an (appealing) place to grab a late-night bite (it serves until 2!). You still can't smoke inside, but hey—it's almost as good as the real thing.—Aja Pecknold 1117 12th Ave., 709-7674,

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