The J&M Cafe: John Wayne, Sweet Bacon Jus, and a Chipotle Lamb Burger"/>
The J&M Cafe, born of the ashes of the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 and killed off 120 years later by mounds of snow and ice that temporarily cut off foot traffic and tourism, reopened last year and is dishing up old favorites with a twist.
For an establishment with a distinguished history -- it was a hotspot for thousands of men on their way to Alaska to pan for gold, and served as the backdrop for a scene in a John Wayne movie, 1974's McQ -- the J&M has an extremely relaxed, warm feel.
The original owners (Jamieson and McFarland, hence the name) brought the place to life in 1889. In January 2009, it closed, its former owner telling the Puget Sound Business Journal that heavy snow the month before was "the nail in the coffin."
Now, it features a revamped menu. For $8, start with the braised slab bacon. It instantly caught my eye, and really, who can say no (vegetarians, ignore this) to all-natural slab bacon, pepper-crusted and braised with maple syrup, served with mashed potatoes and sweet bacon jus?
If the weather's nice, sit outside and people-watch; tourists and locals alike whirl around. You're bound to be asked for money at some point, but alas, it is Pioneer Square. One man in a rumpled suit asked a friend and I to buy him a cheeseburger. At one point, a neighbor from my apartment building, who had just partaken in a sanctioned food fight elsewhere, walked by, smeared with tomatoes. "Now I know why there's a lady with red crust in her hair sitting at the bar," our waitress said.
For an entree, there are plenty of meats to choose from -- bacon, ham, beef, turkey, chicken, pepperoni, salmon, pork, meatballs, cod -- but try the chipotle lamb burger, ground lamb with feta cheese and a slightly-too-strong, but still delicious chipotle-mayo.
If the J&M is good enough for John Wayne, it's good enough for you. Give it a shot.
Address: 201 First Ave. S Hours: 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., seven days a week
Hours: 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., seven days a week