Best Diner

Chelan Cafe

There are no real surprises on the plate at the 74-year-old Chelan Cafe, an all-American, family-owned diner just off the West Seattle Bridge's Delridge exit, where Harbor Island's heavy industry contemplates morphing into the sands of Alki. Pouring country gravy on every imaginable dish seems to be the Chelan's overarching game plan, and that seems to be fine with the totality of the establishment's robust clientele of blue-collar regulars and beach-bound interlopers. But a greasy spoon's a greasy spoon, right? There are two reasons why this theory doesn't hold true at the mouth of the Duwamish. For starters, the Chelan's crew, uniformly dressed in blue logo T-shirts, is a skilled, vocal, dexterous, and politically incorrect assemblage of self-deprecating veterans and youngsters whose collective floor show tops that of most theater troupes. Furthermore, the Chelan's layout includes a connected bar, the Ebb Tide Room, open every hour of the day it's permissible to serve liquor (put another way, it's only closed 28 hours per week). There's also a barbershop in the building, in case your hair is too drunk or stuffed to drive home. Far more than just a diner, the Chelan Cafe is a full-service entertainment mecca, a longshoreman's salt-rimmed dream. MIKE SEELY 3527 Chelan Ave. S.W., 932-7383

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