Seattle's Top 5 Omelets (for Normal Human Beings)

Number Four: Geraldine's Counter
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, than ignoring omelets is just plain irresponsible. And while it hardly seems fair to add Beth's legendary 12-egg wonders into the mix (you know, the monsters featured on the Travel Channel), that doesn't mean it's forgotten. In the meantime, these are the five best omelets the city has to offer--that a normal human being can enjoy.

5. Coastal Kitchen, 429 15th Ave. E., 322-1145. When one enters a restaurant with Jack Kerouac's Big Sur in hand, glances at the menu and realizes one of the omelets shares the name, one must try said omelet. And with plenty of ham, fresh avocado and tomatoes wrapped in egg and accompanied by spicy hash browns, the encounter was clearly serendipitous. To complete the equation, match that with exceptionally friendly service that never lets the coffee mug reach half-empty and a respectable chunk of coffee cake. Seriously, please, please order the coffee cake--if it were a competition based on that alone, this kitchen would win hands down.

4. Geraldine's Counter, 4872 Rainier Ave. S., 374-8717. Resting in the heart of Columbia City, this bright, trendy diner (and sister restaurant of Capitol Hill's "modern comfort food" spot Table 219) offers its breakfast menu all day--a very good decision. The Herbed Omelet folds, you guessed it, fresh herbs right into the eggs and features caramelized onions, goat cheese and an optional add-in of smoked salmon for one of Seattle's richest breakfasts. Top it off with specialty toast from Columbia City Bakery and perfectly cooked hash browns, wash it down with Caffé Vita coffee and be ready to conquer the day. Or take a nap. Your call.

Number Two: Pete's Egg Nest
3. Salmon Bay Cafe, 5109 Shilshole Ave. W., 782-5539. People who argue that "Old Ballard" is dead are wrong, and Salmon Bay Cafe is proof. This isn't necessarily a place frequented for the ambiance, but once food hits tongue the parking lot views could be as good as gone. And when it comes to seafood, this cafe's omelets are really more of an excuse to plate a massive heap of shrimp and snow crab with a little egg and some home fried red potatoes. Seattleites would be hard-pressed to find a serving of that size and quality for the price, and no one seems to complain.

2. Pete's Egg Nest, 717 Greenwood Ave. N., 784-5348. Plastered with photos of the gorgeous blue-and-white buildings that coat the Aegean islands, this Greek family joint is perfect for a nice morning breakfast or hangover recovery with a mediocre cup of coffee. But patrons are served like long-lost family, in attitude (gracious!) and in portion (enormous!). The South of the Border omelet (which looks more like a massive Italian frittata) is loaded with chorizo sausage, jalapeño peppers, cheddar cheese, mushrooms, onions and tomato, and each bite tastes like its burning out just a little more unpleasantness. The portions are nothing to laugh at--though, thankfully, not at the expense of taste or service--and you can count on carting home the second half of your breakfast after admitting defeat.

1. Portage Bay Cafe, 4130 Roosevelt Way N.E., 547-8230. Fresh. In one word, that cuts to the core of this University District favorite. The all-you-can-eat fruit bar and towering bowlful of whipped cream will distract (as it should) but avoid shortchanging the diner as nothing more than a pretty all-organic menu. The pork sausage omelet, filled with house-smoked sausage, aged gouda cheese, caramelized apples and shallots, is but one tasty example of the wonders it contains. Though omelets unfortunately don't include a free trip to the toppings bar, you can add it to your tab--and no one will blame you.

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