Kent & Seattle spring break
In Kent, there is a profusion of great little restaurants to try. You would never know it from the coverage Kent gets in the local food media (almost zero), but there actually are quite a few outstanding family owned restaurants in Kent. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Imperial Garden. This is an elegant and very authentic Chinese restaurant in the Great Wall Shopping Mall in north Kent on East Valley Highway (just down the hill from Valley Medical Center). They have dim sum daily... and Peking Duck for under $10 if you order $20 worth of entrees... quite a bargain. Also in the Great Wall, there are several other little restaurants (pho, Thai, Japanese, etc.) and a great tea room. I would recommend you spend a day there and eat your way through the mall. Don't forget to check out the 99 Ranch Market.
Spiros Greek Island in downtown Kent. (215 1st Ave S.; 253-854-1030). The vinaigrette is outstanding and I can't get enough of the housemade pita and falafil. They changed owners last year, but the food is exactly the same.
Paolo's, a great little family restaurant on the Kent East Hill. Chef Paul Raftis formerly cooked at Saleh al Lago (now Nell's). (Psst...They have a wine dinner coming up on 3/26 featuring Oregon winery Henry Estates). Paolo's is located at 23810 104th Ave S.E.; 253-850-2233
I like the Wild Wheat Bakery (202 First Ave. S; 253-856-8919), also in downtown Kent near Spiros. They've got some amazing pastries. Lunchtime is an eclectic assortment of bistro type food with ethnic touches. If they're too busy, look across the street to the Bittersweet Bakery... 211 First Ave. S.; 253- 854-0707.
Kent has a funky little German restaurant called the Duck In. It's located in the city's industrial area at 1717 S. Central Ave. They have an accordion player on Saturday nights sometimes. Only in Kent, I tell you. Do try the ruladen and the sauerbraten. Very homestyle cooking.
There is a great sushi place in downtown Kent and I can't think of the name right now. I'll post it later when I remember it. This place is worth checking out. It's a tiny place with just a few chairs, but the sushi is quite good. The guy behind the counter is a one-man operation, so be patient. It's the only sushi joint in Kent, so you won't have trouble finding it if you ask around.
For Thai, I like Chao Praya, located on East Valley Highway not too far from the Great Wall Shopping Mall (21222 84th S.; 253-395-7777). Great service, equally great food. Around the corner is Saya, another good Thai style restaurant. I like the moo yang.
And, finally, for Vietnamese, check out the new restaurant Saigon Rose on the East Hill near Lake Meridian. 12912 S.E. Kent Kangley Rd.; 253-630-0284.
Sorry for such a long post, but there are so many excellent restaurants in Kent, I can't help myself. E-mail me if you need other recommendations. I have several more in Kent, Auburn and Renton.
Sue, thank you so much for that great list. I leave tonight so your timing is perfect. The friend I'm visiting is TexasGerman/Chickasaw and new to the area, so she'll be very happy to know about the German place.
She practices in Auburn, so your tips for that area would be appreciated as well.
I'm replying by list rather than email as you suggested because I suspect AlphaHound will say "we ALL want to know where to eat in Auburn" and I might as well get there first.
Thanks again. I'll report back.
Ok, where to eat in Auburn, here are just a few of my favorites. Warning, this is a longish post:
Auguri is my top pick in Auburn. Great pastas and daily specials, jazz in the small bar on weekend nights. Auguri reminds me a lot of Il Bacio in Redmond (on Cleveland). It's elegant (think linen napkins), but also come-as-you-are casual. This restaurant formerly was located on Kent's East Hill, but moved to the location that for many years housed the Flapper Alley (a family pizza joint). Reservations are a must on weekends. Also, this place is expensive by Auburn standards (but cheap by Bell Town standards). Entrees: $10-$18ish. They're located at 18 Auburn Way S, Auburn; 253-887-1559.
For a totally memorable experience, head to the Spunky Monkey across the street on the other side of Safeway. It used to be a dinky little sandwich shop next door to Mazatlan in Auburn, but a few years ago they moved to a much larger location that used to be the Blue Moon coffee house. Spunky Monkey has a funky lounge upstairs with very good cocktails and a restaurant downstairs. It's very Trader Joe's meets Luau's Polynesian Lounge meets the Blue Onion Bistro (one of my new favorite restaurants in Seattle). The menu is mostly pastas and sandwiches and a few other more hearty dishes, but it's simple food done quite well. They're located at 124 Second S.E., Auburn: 253-804-9567.
Also in Auburn is a great little family owned Greek restaurant called Kouro's. This is on West Main Street as you're heading West toward West Valley Hwy. It's one of the cutest little restaurants located in a converted home. They're located at 721 W Main, Auburn; 253-735-2403.
The Sunbreak Cafe is a great place for breakfast and baked goods. I love that place. They consistently win "Best Place For Breakfast" awards. They're at 22 A St. S.W., Auburn; 253-939-5225. Also a decent place for breakfast that is sort of a greasy spoon is the Rainbow Cafe: 112 E Main, Auburn; 253-833-1880.
For barbecue, you have to try Smitty's. It's really just a hole in the wall, but the bbq is great (not Dixie's great, but at least Armadillo's great). They have weird hours, so call first. They're at 1022 Auburn Way S., Auburn; 253-735-3236.
Just a few doors down is the best place in South King County for burgers: Big Daddy's. In the spring on Friday nights they host classic car shows (it's totally a throwback joint). They're at 1138 Auburn Way S, Auburn; 253-833-7255.
There are two Thai restaurants in Auburn and a few Chinese joints, but I would go to Kent to the Great Wall Shopping Mall for Asian food. Auburn's Asian food selection hasn't quite arrived yet.
Hope these helps... I have other suggestions for Renton/Enumclaw/Black Diamond, etc. So e-mail if you need any others!