Seattle's Essential Dishes: Anything From Beth's Cafe


Anything (seriously, anything) from Beth's Cafe:

There are restaurants in any city where locals can honestly say, "You haven't seen nothing 'til you've eaten at Blank's." Blank's usually isn't good. Sometimes Blank's is downright frightening. But Blank's is almost always long-lived and looked on with smirking affection, and always always a memorable, defining experience.

In Rochester, where I was born and raised, one couldn't really consider themselves fully dipped in the local culture until they'd found themselves, in the middle of the night, eating a garbage plate from Nick Tahou's. Provided you could get out without being shot (or even if you were shot, but only wounded), you'd walk away with your own Nick Tahou's story--something that everyone in the Flower City has. In Denver, no one got to be a local until they could say that they'd been through Black Bart's Cave at Casa Bonita (kind of like a Mexican-themed Chuck E. Cheese's on acid).

In Seattle, that place--the one that you simply can not miss--is Beth's Cafe. It's been open for more than a half-century, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. It serves 12-egg omelets (most famously to that Travel Channel guy who eats big foods) and massive plates of hash browns and pancakes the size of your head.

But Beth's is more famous as a location than as a restaurant--as a place you go when you have no other options: after last-call on a Thursday night when everything else is closed and you find yourself powerfully in need of some starch, some grease and the company of like-minded night creatures. It is always busy, always a-flutter with the crayon art of its fucked-up clientele taped to the walls, always an event. On a good night, being there can seem like being at the center of the universe (a very greasy, coffee-scented and small universe, but still...), and to not go there is to be missing out on one of the essential experiences of living in Seattle.

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