Our third Neighborhood Snackdown semi-final match pits Wallingford (vanquisher of Madrona) against Fremont (decisive champion of the Fremont-Mt. Baker brawl.) Which is the better neighborhood for eating?
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?
And Erin Thompson really likes Fremont.
Fremonters already call their neighborhood the Center of the Universe; we'll go ahead and add Center of the Foodie-verse to that boast. Fremont's best restaurants range from casual to classy and offer cuisines from all over the world, meaning if you want to eat out and eat well for the night, your options are myriad.
35th Street Bistro's steak frites comes with the most flavorful, perfectly seasoned fries; the duck confit, steamed mussels, and coq au vin are also très français. Few meals are lighter and fresher than El Camino's mahi-mahi/shrimp ceviche, doused in lime juice, handily scooped with blue corn chips, and best followed by a Bartender's Margarita (which adds a cooling splash of cranberry). Chiso--tucked in a basement, probably Fremont's most hidden gem--serves gorgeous sushi rolls utilizing traditional ingredients such as kaiware sprouts, kanpyo gourd, and gobo that beautifully compliment the always firm and fresh fish. The fusion master Revel--owned and operated by two of Seattle's most creative chefs, Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi--concocts pork belly and kimchi pancakes and kalbi burgers, proving there is such a thing as Korean comfort food.
On the more casual side, SW just named Scott Staples' Uneeda Burger the Best Burger in town, namely the old-fashioned and succulent Classic Burger; Uneeda's overflowing outdoor deck attest to its success with diners. If your sweet tooth is calling, there are chocolate bars and caramels from the award-winning, organic, fair trade Theo Chocolate, whose ingredients can also be found in the newly-opened Bluebird Microcreamery just up the street, who also scoop a droolworthy peanut butter-and-jelly ice cream. If you just need a drink, Brouwer's Café has an unparalleled 300+ different varieties of beer, and Lighthouse Roasters brews up the city's best coffee--that's drip, latte, Americano, anything.
Like I said, so many options. And did I mention that Seattle's #1 most popular restaurant, Paseo, is in Fremont? We'll go ahead and take that crown now.