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Puhleeze ... there must be SOMETHING between the sound and Portland

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I travel regularly between Portland and Seattle on business, and usually find myself in need of something interesting (in the evening) in Chehalis or Longview or Olympia or any town in between. I've been to the little restaurant that serves one entree only in Richfield. But mostly I've been very, very hungry -- since chowhounding means avoiding the indelicious I simply can't find anything to eat. Any ideas? I've heard there's a "chicken and dumplings" place in Centralia(?). Any ideas are appreciated.

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  1. Try Capitale in Olympia. It's on Capitol Way South, just about a 1/2 mile from the Capitol Building. There is a little park across the street. I think it may be on the same block as a Ramada Inn. It's basically Italian and the brownies are worth the trip. We stop there whenever we go through Olympia, about 4 times a year. There is also the Spar Restaurant. The Spar is on 4th Avenue East, about three blocks from Capitale. It is an old restaurant that looks pretty much the way it was when it was a loggers' joint. The breakfasts are teriffic.

    1. There is a great spot in Tacoma (actually Fife) called "Fife Bar & Grill" it's between a tire shop and a motel, just off I-5. . The chef is a CIA grad and the food is very good. I always try and stop there on my way out or into town.

      1. Yes, there is a place! Try Mary McCrank's. I've been there a few times. It's a 1940's era road house/restaurant on route 99 in Chehalis or Centralia. The food hasn't changed much since the 40s, so it's vintage Americana comfort food. I'm not certain they have chicken and dumplings, but I'm pretty sure they do. Save room for pie!

        I don't remember exactly how to get there from I-5. Anyone?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Brendan

          I second the vote for this charming and delicious dinner house. As I recall, you take exit number 76 from I-5, head east until the road ends, turn right and head south for about 3 to 4 miles. Mary McCrank's is on the left.

          1. re: Darren

            While I've yet to make it to Mary McCrank's, I've also heard good things...the menu I saw once had lots of old-school favorites, like chicken and dumplings.

        2. I used to make this drive a lot, and I had a couple favorites. Burgerville in Centralia, Longview, and Woodland - Great burgers (including a good turkey burger), and seasonal specials included deep fried portabella mushrooms strips in the fall and blackberry milk shakes and Walla Walla sweet onion rings (one order is enough to share!). Personally, the Woodland one is easiest to get to, Centralia 2nd and the one in Longview is actually on the border of Longview/Kelso.

          In Olympia, there is Meconi's Subs, about three blocks from the Capitol on Capitol Way S. Pepper's is pretty dependable - good enchilada combo dishes and great burritos. It is a couple blocks past the Starbucks on the square (Legion Way). The Spar, when I lived in Olympia, was our restaurant of last resort - open late, served alcohol. For breakfast and lunch, the Urban Onion is a better bet. It is on Legion Way as well, about three doors down from Starbucks. Cinnamon roll french toast was my usual...just a disclaimer it has been about a year since I have been to any of these places, but I can't imagine they have changed much.

          1. My friends in the south sound swear by Arnold's in Yelm, WA. It's a little upscale but it's in Yelm so...

            1. You're talking about Country Cousin. Right off exit 82.

              1. Mcmenamins olympic club pub in downtown Centralia serves excellent food and brews in a really cool atmosphere imo. especially compared to anything else in the area.

                2 Replies
                1. re: bighound

                  Of course there is the great La Tarasca in Centralia. The carnitas and the adobada are both wild good, the tortillas handmade, and pretty everything else quite solid.

                  1. re: equinoise

                    Ditto on La Tarasca. I stop there every time on the way from Portland to Olympia.

                2. I just want to chime in and say the spar is NOT WORTH IT except maybe for breakfast which is still overpriced. Their food is continually lackluster and poorly prepared (soggy fish and chips, completely unseasoned "blackened" chicken, 5 oysters in the bowl of $12 oyster stew), beer is boring and often poorly poured (seriously, 2 inches of foam?), can't speak for the wine or whiskey they also make. we go there because it has a pretty good late night happy hour.

                  in olympia, lemongrass thai is quite good among the surplus of thai places run by vietnamese people downtown. (and nothing against vietnamese chefs or cuisine, sometimes i just think, what does this dish have to do with thai cuisine when i eat at certain "thai" places in olympia)

                  you've also got South Bay BBQ, which does a fantastic job i think from delicious smoky meats to the mac and cheese with green chilies on the side.

                  for great food i actually go to lacey, surprisingly. on martin way there are tons of "ethnic" places which consistently deliver unique authentic dishes for a reasonable price. my favorites are Curry Corner for Indian (crazy good) and Seoul Restaurant for Korean (out of control awesome, you get about 12 tiny plates of side dishes to share at the table with whatever you order and hot tea). Good things are said about Cebu for filipino food but I have not tried it.

                  Also, at the Nisqually exit off I-5 there is a taco stand which is housed in a bus called Tacos La Fuente which is fantastic with $4-5 burritos or 4 taco specials everyday. it is behind the gas station next to norma's. they've turned the inside into a little seating are with the kitchen in the back or you can order from a window on foot. they open around 11 or 12 and i'm not sure how late they stay open.

                  Lemon Grass Restaurant
                  212 4th Ave W, Olympia, WA

                  South Bay Dickerson's BBQ
                  619 Legion Way SE, Olympia, WA

                  Seoul Restaurant
                  7515 Martin Way E Ste B, Lacey, WA 98516

                  Curry Corner
                  9408 Martin Way E Ste 2, Lacey, WA 98516

                  Cebu Restaurant
                  9408 Martin Way E Ste 4, Lacey, WA 98516

                  Tacos La Fuente ("the Taco Bus")
                  Mildred St Exit Rd, Tacoma, WA 98407

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: dahliachewswell

                    Burgerville seriously has soom of the best burgers in the NW, I now enjoy the drive just knowing I get to hit the joint up.

                    McMenamins is boring, but yummy beer.

                    1. re: jorvack

                      I will add to the recommendations for La Tarasca in Centralia. We even plan our trips to pass by there at meal times.

                    2. re: dahliachewswell

                      Curry Corner is GREAT. Lemon Grass is good as well, but their menu is exactly the same for a decade! Cebu is ok - it isn't spicy phillipino, which is what I prefer. Seoul is pretty good as well, for the area.

                      Have you tried Tofu Hut yet? It is new, on Pacific between Ruddell and College - I think it is the best asian place in town right now! It is billed as asian fusion, which is always scarey, but the super adorable Korean mama-san that is the cook (mother of the owner and very friendly - came out to check on our food both times I've been) is GREAT! she actually cooked each dish the way that country would do it, instead of mish mashing the flavors. The pad thai is the real tangy salty tamarind fish sauce kind, not the ketchup kind! The koren stuff, was of course authentic, but each had a distinct flavor, not just generic hot chili powder, like some places. The curry friend rice wasn't great, but it was up to any other place in Olympia. Oh and they have vegan cheese cake! Made with tofu. My friend who is a cheese cake fiend loved it.

                      Also, Little DeNang's, downtown, has the best vegitarian pho I've ever had - the broth is sooooooo good that I am torn each time whether to add the hot sauce etc or not because the flavor is so exquisite!

                      Tofu Hut
                      4804 Pacific Ave, Lacey, WA

                      Little Da Nang Restaurant
                      301 4th Ave W, Olympia, WA 98501