You can eat at Beth's Café during daylight hours, but to step inside the cramped space while the sun is up is kind of like

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Best After-Hours Scene

Beth's Café

You can eat at Beth's Café during daylight hours, but to step inside the cramped space while the sun is up is kind of like seeing your favorite dive bar with natural light streaming through the windows, or a tranny hooker the morning after—disturbing and revelatory in ways discomfiting to the spirit. Beth's in daylight makes you wonder what you ever found charming about it in the first place, why you have spent so many nights and so many hours slumped in this weird hole—the walls covered with layers of customer art flapping in the fitful breeze; the blackened and battered galley; corners and rails and flat surfaces all stuck with taped-up bits of headlines clipped from magazines like the lair of a hyperactive ransom-note writer. Beth's true strength, and the most consistently amusing thing about this restaurant that's been seeing to the after-dark needs of Seattle's night creatures since 1954, is its late-night allure. It's the kind of place where you get into debates over whether a lap dance ought to be cheaper for someone in a wheelchair because they've brought their own chair—where a man of small means and strange appetites can go for mountains of hash browns, gigantic pancakes, and greasy-spoon egg plates at 2:15 on a Sunday morning and know beyond any shadow of a doubt that he's landed smack in the vital center of whatever action is left when the best of the night has already been wrung out. The food is heavy and workmanlike, the prices cheap as sin. But the real reason anyone goes to Beth's after hours is for the people-watching. For that, there's no place better in the Emerald City, and not many better anywhere. —Jason Sheehan 7311 Aurora Ave. N., 782-5588

 
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