Our first Neighborhood Snackdown semi-final match pits the International District (winner of the ID-Ballard contest) against Wallingford (fresh off its victory over Fremont.) Which is the better neighborhood for eating?
Erika Hobart says International District.
Why is it that a major metropolis like Seattle goes to bed so damn early? Most of its restaurants--and, sadly, even bars--close when the revelry should just be getting started. The exception to that rule, of course, is the International District.
The neighborhood bustles with as much action at 3 a.m. as it does during dim sum. The options for authentic Asian cuisine almost around the clock, including Cambodian, Chinese, and Japanese, are endless.
Step into Ga Ga Loc, Jade Garden, and Honey Court to experience an eclectic crowd of Asian immigrants, college students, and groups of clubgoers trying to sober up over piles of chow mein. What all of them have in common, of course, is that they are grateful to have a neighborhood in the city that offers not just one, but several, awesome alternatives to loitering in a Dick's parking lot.
And Jay Friedman is sticking up for Wallingford.
Wallingford as a winner of the Great Neighborhood Snackdown? Absolutely. After all, Wallingford has evolved from a neighborhood where families frequented pizza joints to a place where hungry hipsters enjoy fast-food and food-truck options to award-winning restaurants--and good dessert choices as frosting on the (sometimes provocative) cake.
While most of Wallingford's food scene is on 45th, a couple of other places are well worth checking out. At Art of the Table, Dustin Ronspies prepares food that's fun, creative, bold, and artistic. Enjoy small-plate nights or the intimacy of fixed-price supper clubs. Meanwhile, Cantinetta is a high-quality Italian restaurant that every neighborhood craves for one of its corners. Pastas are divine, and you'll also want to enjoy pastry chef Lorna Stokes' creations. And Kisaku, a favorite of the Japanese community, has some of the best sushi in Seattle.
On 45th are eateries for the budget-minded and the bigger spenders. Here you'll find burgers, fries, and shakes at Dick's; or tortas, tacos, and other Mexican treats at Rancho Bravo--one of the older taco trucks in Seattle. You can find some of the city's tastiest vegetarian dishes at Sutra. And for some of the finest organic fare in the city, check out Tilth, where chef Maria Hines won a James Beard Award as Best
Chef of the Northwest in 2009.
Perhaps the jewel of Wallingford is Joule, appropriately named for the spark and energy of its food. Chefs Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi have received numerous accolades, including an appearance on Iron Chef America and semifinal status for a James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest. Also, Joule was named one of the top 50 best new restaurants by Travel + Leisure in May 2009.
Joule's menu contains a limited number of items under the "Abroad" and "Native" flavor categories, as well as a seven-course "Collected" flavor menu for $35 per person (served family-style for the entire table). It's East meets West as you jump about the menu. Expect a symphony of bold flavors. The Joule chefs are great with the grill, which you'll notice in their preparations of beef tongue to octopus to fingerling potatoes. It's always great to get a little glass jar of kimchi or pickles, and if you find whole fish on the
menu, grab it. Note that Sundays are typically special at Joule, where there's family-style dining during the Urban BBQ series or the winter Sunday Supper series.
Finally, dessert lovers should have no fear, as there are options for a sweet finish in Wallingford. Molly Moon draws long lines for its popular ice cream. Another option is Fainting Goat gelato, with its bright, delicious flavors. And if you're not looking for a frozen treat, stop by the Erotic Bakery. Open 25 years, you'll find provocative cakes turning in the glass display, but if you prefer a "quickie," cash in on the cupcake craze and grab your choice of penis and vulva cupcakes--and maybe some sex toys to boot.
How many neighborhoods can provide the makings of a happy ending after fulfilling your culinary dreams?