Great Thai, Mexican, Ethiopian in Seattle
I will be in Seattle this weekend and would love suggestions for great Thai, Mex, and Ethiopian places. We're staying downtown but have a car- prefer something not too far from downtown. All suggestions welcome, but for the Thai and Mex. looking for "cleaner" food as opposed to "down- home greasy".
All advice greatly appreciated.
My favorite Thai is very convenient to downtown. Typhoon is on Western Ave just below Pike Place Market.
I have yet to find a Mexican restaurant here worth recommending, but after spending 3 years in California my criteria has changed.
I haven't been in awhile, but for Mexican I'd recommend Galerias on Broadway. Decor is uniquely "Capitol Hill", impressive tequila bottle display, large menu with some interesting dishes (beyond the traditional Mexican), and is just a fun place to dine. I don't know if I'd qualify it as "great", but it is certainly really good.
For "Tex-Mex" or "Southwest", you can't go wrong with Cactus in Madison Park, which is also a fun neighborhood to explore. http://www.cactusrestaurants.com/
For authentic Mexican, try Muy Macho in the South Park neighborhood (it's been written about on this board if you search via the non-google search engine on the home page). If you want to stay downtown, I'd recommend El Puerco Lloron on the Pike Place Market hillclimb (down the steps from Western Ave)-this is a very casual, order at the counter type place. Guaymas Cantina, in the Harbor Steps complex on 1st, is a decent option if you want table service and a downtown location. If you want something a little different than standard Mexican, I'd highly recommend a trip to Ballard to La Carta de Oaxaca (it's been reviewed lots if you google) on Ballard Avenue. Very good food and only about 10 minutes from downtown.
For Indian (to reply to your other post) I like India Bistro, also on Ballard Avenue. It's a little nicer than most Indian places here and just seems to be higher quality.
Also in Ballard is Melina's Taco Shop, North of Market, up behind the bank of America or like that. It is pretty darn authentic and quite good. I like their carne asada tacos. Qulifies as cheap eats, but without the over-the-topness of Gordito's (where the asada is also good, but then, asada is hard to ruin). Wait, I want to back up and recommend at least one trip to Gordito's (85th & Greenwood, just a quick hop up 99), just for the memory-book. Also nearby are Georgia's - reasonble Greek - for the real deal see Panos Kleftiko, near Seattle Center, and Szechaun something-or-other, right across the street, for HotPot. Go on over to 15th and up to Holman road, then right to 9211 Holman Rd NW; Burrito Loco. The Mole is my fave there, and I love that I watched this lovely family move here a decade-plus ago and prosper with their hospitality and good food. If Mole is your deal, too, though, I second a trip to La Carta de Oaxaca, on historic Ballard Avenue, just a pitch North of the Tractor Tavern, where a stranger in town for a day or two might could walk into something amazing. Oh, when you go to El Puerco Lloron (and definitely do, partly for food - guess what, I love the carne...lol) and partly for the experience, Twenty years later, the menu hasn't changed and they still offer tortillas they press right there at the grill, all day long. Definitely get a dozen and ignore the nay-sayers - you will savor every one and guard them with increasing ferocity as they disappear. In the grand scheme, they are practically free, and come from the very center of chow. Loving Melina's, Oaxaca, and Puerco as I do, it tears me up to agree that Tacos Guamas (in Fremont, too) does a great job. You can surely see this coming, but a plate of Carne Asada is to die for, with the roasted jalapeno (whole beans are well seasoned). Machaca, too. A great salsa bar (ask which is "the best" and prepare for a treat - I asked when I first enjoyed it and she said "we just call it 'the best'," so there you are.
For what it's worth, "most popular" Indian, hereabouts, probably goes to Taste of India, on Roosevelt, which is great - I can't figure out my own fixation on the nan, there, but I always enjoy my meals. If the mood calls for a more subtle ambiance (Taste is a little grand-central), I have greatly enjoyed Bengal Tiger, a few blocks North, at 6510, though I would not know East Indian cuisine from West Indian, from South Tacoma - no, wait, surely I could suss that out...
Downtown(ish) see Tamarind Tree (cheap, omg how do they do this? - have tamarind tree rolls, bonbon salad or mango/papaya - i ask to substiture shicken/pork skewer for crispy shrimp, though it has it own charm, then just hang out, eat a dish, order another. Yellow fish is good, but the 7-courses of beef, Bo-7-mon, or Bo-bai-mon is such a treat. Get a coconut from the dessert menu at the start and keep it handy. Have ice cream. Tham - god only knows where he finds time - makets it himsef: Durian, roasted coconut, pandan leaf, taro...). Too, see Seven Stars Pepper (ot-pot, handshaved noodle, crab in black bean), Bahn-mi 88, for a mind-bendingly goood deal, if you are intrepid.
Whatever you do, ignore the impulse to Typhoon, unless you really want to go smooth-jazz stlyle, in which case it's fine, and head up Capitol hill to Monsoon, instead. It ain't exactly dirt-cheap, but a hundred bucks is plenty to get two out well satisfied and probably with some change. Thai joints are a dime a dozen, and many are wuite good. There's an oddball in Ballard, Thai Cafe at 5401 20th NW, with a "baby bamboo" dish that is killer. Closer to town, in Fremont, is Chilie's Paste. Have the corn fritters and kick-back. Ask them to feed you and se what happens...
Have fun, this is chow heaven for visitor. Downtown find World Class Chili for Cincinatti chili better than any in Cinci, Salumi (i shall say no more), and the Market. Start upstairs at Maximilien's for memorable mussels and gird yourself for a gorge at the market. Delauranti's, Jack's fish spot for cioppino and oysters on the shell, maybe a crab cocktail for the real-deal Dungeness experience, Cafe Saigon for beef salad, a kefta-kebab at Turkish Delight, a total French-out at Campagne, or a petit french-out at Cafe Campagne or Le Pichet.
I have run out of gas, as will you, if you put pedal to metal in your short stay here. Have fun. (if you enjoyed this, search this site for mr.nelso, where you will see other opinions - lol).
For delicious, sidewalk-vendor style Thai food, it's worthwhile to take a trip to the U District and try Thai Tom. It's a tiny place with about 3 tables and a counter, and it's always busy -- but if you avoid standard mealtimes you can usually find a seat. I recommend the counter; I love watching the chef.
I agree with the rec for Typhoon but as I recall this is a Portland-based chain, so you've probably been to your local one.