Who Needs Taco Time? Capitol Hill's Top 5 Indie Fast Food Stops

Yesterday, Capitol Hill Seattle announced that the Taco Time on Madison and 14th is closing on Sunday. The blog noted that this Oregon-based fast food chain, whose take on Mexican cuisine has been satisfying Northwesterners and puzzling everyone else for 50 years, is leaving the Hill on the heels of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Jack in the Box, and Taco Bell.

Voracious feels for the employees who will be let go or displaced by the closure, but in terms of the food . . . good riddance. Who needs the national chains when there are better, equally fast, equally cheap, locally run fast-food options all over the neighborhood? Here are our top five:

Three Runners-Up

Martins Off Madison for fried tater tots (Mexi-Fries without the Latin pretense)

Dick's Drive-In on Broadway (duh)

Pike St. Fish Fry for fries and grilled fish sandwiches (when your drunk ass needs some fat)

5. Pho Cyclo Cafe, 406 Broadway E., 329-9256, open until 9:45 p.m.

Beef-noodle soup is Vietnam's favorite early-morning and late-night fast food, and Seattle's almost as enamored of pho. At this mural-covered pho joint, Capitol Hill's best, the $6 small bowl of broth, rice noodles, and beef is so deep that most people can't slurp their way to the bottom.

4. Rancho Bravo Tacos, 1001 E Pine St, Seattle, 322-9399, myspace.com/ranchobravotacos. Open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Rancho Bravo is home to one of Seattle's great sandwiches: the carnitas torta (griddled bread, slow-roasted pork, lettuce, pickled jalapenos, and your choice of salsa). The $2 tacos are so huge that a couple suffice for a meal, and two slim-waisted hipsters should be able to subsist for 24 hours on the calories in a single steak burrito. Rancho Bravo's open after the bars close, making it the best place on the Hill for the fourth (and most critical meal) of your Saturday.

3. Teriyaki Madness #3, 111 15th Ave. E., 328-0144. Closes at 9 p.m.

Let us not neglect the maddest of teriyaki shops, where $7 gets you two cups of rice, a half pound of grilled chicken or beef, and a mountain of cucumber pickles. Screw Subway -- Teriyaki Madness is Capitol Hill's healthiest fast-food restaurant. Well, unless you get the teriyaki shortribs, succulent and subversively fatty, which are really the best item on its menu.

2. Hamid Hot Dogs, 1325 E Madison St (outside Chop Suey). Open until 3 a.m. Thurs.-Sat. and show nights. Does the stand outside Chop Suey actually have a name? We don't know, its Facebook fan page doesn't know, and the staff at Chop Suey thinks it's just named after owner Hamid Abbari. There are a number of hot dog stands in the Pike/Pine club district, but Hamid fills the surrounding block with the siren smell of caramelizing onions, a heap of which constantly sizzle away on the grill next to the sausages (meat and veggie). And yes, you can get your dog with cream cheese, Seattle style.

1. Tie: Pagliacci Pizza, Hot Mama's Pizza, and Piecora's Pizza.

Who needs Mexi-Fries, Colonel's Extra-Crispy, chalupas, or Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburgers when you have pizza? Straight-out-of-the-oven pizza, the aroma of just-baked bread wafting up from its crust, molten mozzarella and tomato sauce pooling dangerously on top? Okay, we'll settle for marginally warm pizza that's been sitting under the heat lamps for a while. When you're broke and pinched for time, any pizza will do.

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