Our second Neighborhood Snackdown semi-final match pits Central District (victorious over Capitol Hill) against White Center (South Lake Union-slayer, and darling of the Snackdown thus far.) Which is the better neighborhood for eating?
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.
And Chris Kornelis loves eating in White Center.
White Center is the best neighborhood in Seattle for people who like to eat, not for foodies who like to be seen eating and heard talking about food.
The motivation behind the establishments here is to create good food at prices their customers can afford, not--as could be said about basically every other neighborhood in this town--to transplant an experience to a foreign audience.
The butcher shop, Carniceria El Paisano, sells tamales because folks in the neighborhood like tamales. They're indigenous to the neighborhood. That they are just a buck, served seven days a week, and are delicious makes them an unspeakably great deal. They're also indicative of what you're going to find all over town in hole-in-the-wall bahn mi slingers to taco trucks and corn-on-the-cob vendors: non-pretentious, delicious, affordable food.
On 16th, the neighborhood's strip, Proletariat doesn't offer cheap pizza, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a better pie in town. Around the corner, on 14th, there's Big Al Brewing, a clubhouse brewery if there ever was one. In addition to their own impressive handles (try the Kolsch), they regularly feature "local hero" brews, which are recipes from their home-brewing regulars. At Big Al, you can bring in your own bag of tamales or a pie from Proletariat and make it a meal.
Wear what you want. Drink what you want. Eat how you wish. It's that kind of neighborhood.