Our second Neighborhood Snackdown semi-final match pits White Center (which upset West Seattle to claim its second-round spot) against South Lake Union (winner of a battle with Wedgwood). Which is the better neighborhood for eating?
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.
And Laura Onstot is all about South Lake Union.
Thanks to Paul Allen's insistence on building up the neighborhood that no one else seemed to want, South Lake Union (with its unfortunately named streetcar) is now thriving. Heavy hitters like Flying Fish and Lunchbox Laboratory now call this burgeoning 'hood home. But you really only need to know one name to understand why SLU is quickly becoming the best place to go when you're getting hungry in the Emerald City: Tom Douglas.
Douglas has more or less moved his food empire from downtown to South Lake Union. The Cuoco/Ting Momo/Brave Horse Tavern complex he built gives you the chance to eat well-executed fare whatever you might be craving all in one building. Just around the corner, Serious Pie beckons with easy access to Dahlia Bakery and a wine shop in the space below.
It's easy to be a little cynical about Douglas and his massive empire of food. But once you taste the pretzels at Brave Horse, or run into the man himself sampling wines at Serious Pie (again, just around the corner), you'll get over it.