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Why are burgers beautiful and meatloaf hideous? Finding the photos (which

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Seattle's Top 10 Meatloaves

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Why are burgers beautiful and meatloaf hideous? Finding the photos (which don't correspond to any of the loaves highlighted here) to illustrate this post was a fairly nasty task, since most meatloaves are baked without any regard to aesthetics. Meat, fat, ketchup and onions are a messy mix.

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But the unattractiveness of meatloaf is a testament to its deliciousness. All that matters here is flavor, and it happens to be the flavor most folks crave when the weather turns wintry. Have at 'em!

10. Take 5 Urban Market

Let's say your Mom was a good cook and she decided to open a corner store that sold the essentials, plus made kick-ass comfort food. You could go in and pick up some homey entrees, a classic sandwich or a bowl or soup without Mom hassling you about paying your bills and doing your stupid laundry. Well, that's the dealie-o at Take 5, a sweet spot with a friendly staff that mothers their regulars. Pick up a meatloaf burger--the meat is grilled and served topped with grilled red onions, lettuce, tomato, and pickle on a butter-toasted bun. Come dinner time, you can also take home the loaf topped with a beef gravy and fresh veggies.

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9. Lowell's

This decades-old Seattle institution inhabits three floors in the heart of Pike Place Market. Seafood dominates the large menu, but there's also a delicious meatloaf sandwich available. The meat is smoked over hickory chips in-house, giving it an extra depth of flavor, and wedged into a sandwich that's comprised of iceberg lettuce, tomato slices, sun-dried tomato chipotle sauce, and two other local favorite ingredients: Beecher's white cheddar cheese and a fresh ciabatta roll from Macrina.

8. Heartland Cafe

Heartland is all about Midwestern comfort food, you betcha! Think chicken-fried steak, shepherd's pie, and, of course, meatloaf. Meatloaf's a comfort food staple, but the variety Heartland is currently serving actually isn't a traditional one. They fancy it up by wrapping it in bacon's higher-class cousin, pancetta, and, for sauce, eschew a heavy gravy or a sticky glaze in favor of a tasteful wild mushroom coulis.

7. Skillet Diner

Diners come to Skillet for a high-end grease fix, a hankering that doesn't need to be stretched out over lots of dishes. "Grease" sounds like a slur in a restaurant review, so it's worth noting that Skillet intends for its dishes to glimmer with butter and swell with pork fat. Their meatloaf, accordingly, surges with the swine-rich flavor of ground pork and bacon. There's also ground beef and onions, and it's glazed with a housemade ketchup demi-glace. Sound good? Make sure you visit on a Monday--it's only available as a special on that day.

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6. Geraldine's Counter

This colorful Columbia City restaurant is much raved-about for its brunch menu, but its dinner offerings should not be ignored. The meatloaf comes in a large portion and is generously topped with a homey marinara sauce, much tastier than the topping of plain Heinz ketchup you've had on your worst meatloaf experiences. It's a lot of sauce, but the dish is nicely balanced with a side of mashed potatoes and fresh sauteed mushrooms and green veggies.

5. Restaurant Bea

Kate Perry envisioned Bea as a sit-down sanctum untouched by trends, where Madrona residents could count on getting a decent meatloaf made with house-ground beef, and it's accordingly become a dependable source of comfort food. Bea has lately upgraded its popular meatloaf from beef to wild boar meat, adding a gamy note to a song everybody knows by heart.

4. Circa Neighborhood Grill and Alehouse

It's standing room only at West Seattle's favorite miniature alehouse; this place is almost always packed, whether you go on Friday night for the fabulous French fries or for a Sunday brunch of Hawaiian sweet-bread French toast. It's the kind of place where if you ask the bartender for a food recommendation, a half-dozen regulars will lean over to tell you how much they love the bacon-wrapped meatloaf. The loaf is sliced, grilled and topped with a Dijon mustard and brandy gravy that gives it a tangy kick.

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3. Icon Grill

Between the tunes and the sculpted glass art, Icon easily ranks among the city's most exuberant eateries. One of its loudest dishes is the molasses-glazed meatloaf, a dish that will please sauce lovers. The meatloaf is completely encased in strips of applewood smoked bacon and coated with a syrupy-sweet molasses glaze; things get even saucier with the loaf's complement of a pile of mashed potatoes and blackstrap gravy. For a lighter version of the same flavors, try the lounge's meatloaf sliders--they're mini-sized but still wrapped in bacon.

2. Bakeman's

At Bakeman's, the meatloaf is fairly rudimentary: The beef is pressed until smooth, and seasoned with a mix of spices that taste something like onion soup mix. Seated on housemade white bread with a plug of lettuce shreds, the meatloaf has a blue-collar appeal that helps the basement cafeteria sell hundreds of sandwiches every weekday. Bakeman's has been around for decades, and is likely to be around for many more. The good news is Bakeman's version of meatloaf is awfully soft, a sandwich with which to grow toothless and old.

1. Hattie's Hat

The dinner menu at Hattie's Hat offers a variety of big, meaty platters of comfort food--fried chicken, fish and chips--but the most unique tasting is the Guinness meatloaf, which they accurately describe as "not your mom's meatloaf." The dish gets a double dose of beer--the meat itself is moistened with Guinness and then doused in a thick and rich Guinness gravy. Homey and comforting, it's the stuff of good comfort food dreams.

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