Our fourth Neighborhood Snackdown semi-final match pits Capitol Hill (victorious over Queen Anne) against the Central District (survivor of a grudge match with Columbia City.) Which is the better neighborhood for eating?
Capitol Hill is chockablock with going-out restaurants: There's the highly sophisticated Spinasse for entertaining visiting relatives, Quinn's for raucous reunions with friends, and Café Presse for supremely romantic dates. Yet for all the ready-made meals the neighborhood has to offer, what really makes it an edible destination are the emporiums hawking the city's very best food and drink.
Melrose Market--a gussied-up, coherent version of Pike Place for locals--houses Rain Shadow Meats, where carnivores can stock up on lovingly butchered lamb chops and housemade hot dogs. Across the way is The Calf & Kid, Sheri LaVigne's well-curated selection of cheeses, with an emphasis on Pacific Northwest dairies. And Taylor Shellfish Farms, the building's newest tenant, sells bivalves harvested from nearby beaches. Not sure what to do with your haul? For culinary inspiration, Matt Dillon's terrific Sitka & Spruce is close at hand.
And Capitol Hill's got beverages covered too. Wine educator Steven Brown brings his expertise to 12th and Olive Wine Company, and Sun Liquor Distillery--perhaps the best cocktail lounge in a neighborhood populated by the likes of Liberty, Ba Bar, and Tavern Law--is on the cusp of pouring its own spirits. In Capitol Hill, the serious eater will find plenty of culinary achievements to cheer.
And Zibby Wilder wants to talk Central District.
The sign at 14th and Madison says "Welcome to the Central District" and for food lovers, the CD is truly welcoming. Though many recognize the CD for its concentration of Ethiopian restaurants, the depth and breath of its culinary offerings really does mean there's something for everyone.
Starting at one end of the spectrum, there's the James Beard award-winning Crush, Anchovies & Olives--Ethan Stowell's song to seafood, Marjorie's Southern soul, and Skillet--one of the most red-hot spots in all of Seattle.
Moving through the cuisines of the world you can find the city's best Ethiopian at Adey Abeba, Mesob and Saba; Southern spice at Catfish Corner and Oprah's favorite fried chicken at Ezell's. Teriyaki fans can get a great, cheap dish from the small kitchen inside Union Market (which also boasts the city's most diverse candy aisle--Pollo lollipops, anyone?) and authentic Mexican at the Tres Reyes food truck stationed at the car repair place in the old Shell station on Union and 21st.
For less-adventurous fare, there's neighborhood favorite Piecora's pizza and Central Cinema also makes a mean pie - nicely paired with with a hot bowl of curried popcorn. Beehive Bakery recently opened its doors at 23rd and Union, breathing new life to a sad location once considered cursed, and offering tasty, fresh-baked cookies, pastries, and cakes.