Renton: Worth the drive to eat?
While Renton is thought of as an unsophisticated backwater, it does have some really good eateries worth the drive from Seattle. many people know about Jubilante and her fine Italian sister Gene's, but few know about Chuy's on the Maple Valley Hwy just past downtown Renton. Chuy's primarily specializes in Mexican seafood, which is very fresh and unlike other Mexican restaurants(i.e King Salmon and Halibut tacos).
The place is very casual, small, and more like a urmet tacqueria than anything else.
Another unique Renton eatery is the Japan Thai restaurant project, next to the Renton civic theatre in downtown renton on 3rd. They do both japanese and Thai, and do both well. Owners are a Japanese man and his Thai wife. Prices are extremely reasonable, and great things include Thai crispy spring rolls, Japanese Miso soup , Salmon curry(thai)or salmon teriyaki.
Ira, thanks for your finds. I've got a few more to add to your list.
Not far from Chuy's is the RiverRock Grill. It's on the Maplewood Golf Course and serves up very decent American style bistro food. The bar has great blues and jazz (Korla Wygall/Deems Tstakawa/Two Scoops Combo, etc.) on Fri and Sat nights.
I think Zen Sushi on the Renton East Hill (by Gold's Gym) is a fabulous sushi spot and the only one of its kind in South King County. It's where we all go for our sushi fix when we don't feel like making the drive to I Love Sushi in Bellevue.
In downtown Renton is Armondo's, which has amazing woodfired pizzas and decent pasta (a few blocks from Jubilante). Another place I like for sandwiches, great microbrews (and is totally non smoking) is the Whistle Stop Alehouse (near Jubilante). Try the Kyoto or Renton Depot sandwich with some pesto bread. Yum. They also have a revolving menu of microbrews.
Also, McGowan's does some pretty fine southern cooking. The gumbo and hush puppies are fabulous, but they're really known for the catfish. It's not quite as good as Catfish Corner or Kingfish Cafe.. but still very good. They have gospel brunches on Sunday mornings. It's a kick. The nearby Cedar River Smokehouse is a good place serving very basic bbq sandwiches with really good Q sauce.
And just south of downtown Renton near Ikea and Valley Medical Center is the Great Wall Shopping Mall with a number of great Asian restaurants -- Imperial Garden (outstanding Chinese and dim sum), the Pho noodle restaurant, an OK Thai place and a very good Chinese bakery. I love shopping at the 99 Ranch Market.. it's sort of a mini Uwajimaya.