Meat, Potatoes, and Gin at the West Seattle Jak's

"West Seattle is not a melting pot. There is nothing blended, nothing smooth, nothing uniform, level, or wedded about it. West Seattle--particularly that small bit of it centered like a sniper's crosshairs at the junction of California Avenue Southwest and Southwest Alaska Street--is like a cloistered experiment in ethnographic isolationism done in too small a space.

Within two blocks and four cardinal directions of this bull's-eye, one can find almost anything. It's 10 steps from a wedding dress to a bathing suit to a DUI attorney, from London Calling on vinyl to a Brazilian wax, a cocktail, a used television, and a new set of dentures. Measure your steps just right and you can get all this in an hour, maybe two. Fire down the gin, wear the dress, carry the TV on one shoulder, and snap at passersby with your new chompers and you'll fit right in. Welcome to the crossroads.

As for food, this intersection is a chunky stew of possibility and potential digestive challenges for any hungry pilgrim making the West Seattle hajj. Step blindfolded and open-mouthed through any unlocked door, and the odds are about 50-50 that you'll end up snapping the unagi right off the chopsticks of some bewildered girl in nerd glasses and spike-heel boots (which is fun, but not necessarily a good way to make new friends). On one side of the street, diners still cling to the cracked linoleum and shotgun architecture of pre-gentrification. On the other are flamethrower curries, tacos, microwbrews, chowder, cupcakes, oysters, root-beer ice cream, croissants that'll make you weep for distant arrondissements, tumbledown teriyaki shacks burning with neon, and empty noodle shops where the staff stand, looking out suspiciously into the busy street as though waiting for Godzilla or, at least, the late-night udon rush that resolutely refuses to come.

Smack at the red-dot center of this is Jak's Grill."

From this week's review of Jak's Grill in West Seattle

That's right, kids. I'm back! Did you miss me? Yeah, I know you did...

In keeping with the West Seattle focus of tomorrow's paper, this week's offering is an overdue review of the Jak's Grill empire. I'd been badly in need of a big fat steak for quite some time, and this just seemed like the perfect excuse. After all, there are probably bigger steaks out there. And there might be fattier ones. But Jak's has been an institution in West Seattle for a good, long time and if a fella is in the neighborhood and looking for a ribeye and a martini, he could certainly do worse.

Actually, it might be tough to do much better. Even just thinking about it is making me hungry all over again.

Anyway, not to give anything away, but I like Jak's a lot, and for a number of different reasons--all of which will be laid out when the review hits the stands and the internets. Check it out in your preferred format tomorrow.

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