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Photos by Matthew Piel
The Station: Westlake Center

The Vibe: A sunny Saturday afternoon at the light rail's northern terminus is exactly the kind of

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Westlake Center Mall Has Any Dish You Might Desire Waiting Just Behind the Sneeze Guard

cafe_car_westlake_escalator.jpg
Photos by Matthew Piel
The Station: Westlake Center

The Vibe: A sunny Saturday afternoon at the light rail's northern terminus is exactly the kind of day a movie maker planning a shoot in Seattle prays for. A couple of hare krishnas chant and wave signs while nearby a stocking-cap-wearing canvasser hits up passersby for donations for the charity du juor. In the concrete park across Third Ave., a man plays accordion for a tiny audience sitting at a spattering of tables next to a permanent hot dog stand--the closest thing the plaza has to a food cart.

The Café: You want your dining experience to match the cacophany that is Westlake Center, which means there is only one place to go.

A sign at the top of the mall escalator has two arrows. The arrow pointing left directs you to the monorail; the one facing right promises "cafes."

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Like many downtown workers I walk past or through Westlake Center at least once a week. But I haven't set foot in the food court in years.

A few of my childhood favorites are gone. No longer can you get chowder in a bread bowl or hot dog on a stick. But those have been replaced to meet the needs of a city whose population constitutes a palate beyond that of suburban middle class kids.

If you're feeling barbecue today, Westlake Center has it. Same with Indian, sushi, Thai, Cajun, and Mexican. And not to worry, even if a few old standbys are gone, that staple of mall food courts everywhere--Sbarro--is still pulling pizzas out of the oven to feed a big lunch rush.

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We let our noses--and a sample-peddling employee--do the choosing for us. It leads to a plate of curries and two mango lassis from Bombay Wala, and chicken and shrimp over rice courtesy of Cajun & Grill.

The food isn't what one traditionally thinks of as "good" in the critical sense. But no one is afraid of MSG in a mall food court and the portions are big. A lunch with more than enough calories to cover lunch and dinner comes in under $25. We share it under an umbrella advertising trips to Hawaii and watch the canvassers try to get people's attention over the sound of a truly awful teenage rocker screaming over his guitar.

 
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