Whether emphasizing organic and sustainable fare or bringing globally inspired eats to the tray (or both), here’s the lowdown on our favorite fast-foodie spots around town.
Beloved Middle Eastern restaurant Mamnoon on Capitol Hill can be cost-prohibitive, but Mamnoon Street, its sister outpost recently opened in the Denny Triangle, serves the same bold flavors in a small space with a few tables and a takeout window at a fraction of the price. While the menu is more limited, the biggest draw is the manaeesh sandwiches, made on Lebanese flatbread and filled with yummies that include sweet and spicy ground lamb, pomegranate molasses, and herb salad. They also make a mean hummus, a superlative falafel, and shawarma. If you stay, there’s a small bar area, and seating smack in front of the kitchen, where you can watch your meal come together. Sandwiches range from $7 to $9 and meze (appetizers) are $6 to $7.
Bok a Bok
All the way out in White Center, people are flocking for lunch and dinner to a tiny Korean-inspired fast-food joint where giant pieces of sustainably raised chicken are fried to a perfect light-golden, flaky exterior and accented by dipping sauces that include Korean BBQ (made with a tangy fermented soybean paste) and sesame soy garlic. You can also get them on sandwiches—also with Korean flavors and fresh condiments, such as pea sprouts and green chilies. Sides include kimchi mac ’n’ cheese, biscuits with spiced honey, and sweet-potato tater tots. Also on hand: soju slushy machines, beer, and barley-roasted tea. The prices are right, with oversized sandwiches at $8 and sides for $3.
Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches
Inside Rachel’s Ginger Beer on Capitol Hill is a tiny window from which Monica Dimas (of nearby Tortas Condesas) sells a limited menu of truly delicious Southern-inspired fried-chicken sandwiches (made from free-range birds), fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, tangy slaw, and salads—most organic, and all to be possibly washed down with a RGB cocktail. The sandwiches, heaped with exceptionally moist meat, come in four iterations, including a Chinese-themed General Tso version doused in a sweet/sour sauce and scattered with fresh daikon and cilantro. There’s the Charleston too, a vegetarian sandwich of fried green tomatoes and pimiento cheese; the tomatoes are perfectly tart and crisp and stand up to a cornmeal coating that isn’t greasy but crumbly and flaky. For the more health-conscious, there’s a wedge and a kale salad. Prices are pleasing, with sandwiches running between $6.84 and $8.21 and sides going for $3.88 to $5.02.
Great State Burger
The menu is as simple as they come: three burgers (a single, a double, and a kid’s), all made from organically raised, grass-fed beef and served no-frills, with lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and “state sauce”—some concoction that tastes a lot like the special sauce on a Big Mac. There’s also a veggie burger made with organic grains and a seasonal vegetable patty; crinkle fries made from organic Yukon gold potatoes; and vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry shakes made with organic soft-serve ice cream from local artisan ice-cream shop Parfait. Shakes come in three sizes, including an 8-ounce perfect for kids or anyone watching their waist. To the burgers, there’s an option to add housemade pickles or grilled or raw onions for free. The place gets a Seattle twist with local draft beers, organic black tea, and Jones sodas.
45th Stop N Shop and Poke Bar
While raw fish might not sound like typical fast-food fare, this gem tucked into the back of a convenience store in Wallingford serves heaping bowls of Hawaiian poke salads for a mere $10. The fish itself—tuna, salmon, and snapper—is as fresh as what you’d get at first-rate sushi restaurants in town, glistening cubes rubbed lightly in sesame oil and a sweet and spicy house mayo with a hint of pineapple. It’s all layered over rice and lettuce and surrounded by seaweed salad, edamame, roe, a scoop of imitation “Krab” salad, a smashed hunk of avocado, pickled ginger, and nori—a brilliant explosion of flavors. There are a few seats inside the charmless gas-station-style food-mart, but most people take it to go.
It’s been around for a while, but Seattle’s sustainable sandwich shop is branching out to the Bay Area. Conscious sourcing is the backbone of the venture, and it even has its own Woodinville farm that provides organic produce. Likewise, Homegrown works with other small farms and producers for everything from the meat to the bread; and you’ll see familiar regional names like Beecher’s, Stumptown, and Grand Central Bakery in many of the offerings, including sandwiches, salads, and soups, which change up seasonally. All produce is organic and, whenever possible, local. Meats too are hormone-free and come from animals fed only vegetarian diets. Sandwiches range from meat lovers’ favorites like a grass-fed steak and Cheddar to a vegetarian TLT (organic tofu, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and roasted garlic aioli). A big perk: Sandwiches are available in whole and half sizes (from $4.50 to $12.30). Homegrown recently began offering all-day breakfast as well, including four breakfast sandwiches and organic oatmeal.