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May 10, 2007 02:10 PM

SEA: Dining in the Rainier Valley

We just moved from northern Seattle to Rainier Beach. One of the many changes: a completely different selection of restaurants.

Sites like Urbanspoon, Yelp, and Menuism have some recommendations, but there are a lot of hole-in-the-wall places about which we can find no information. And I'm happy to experiment, but why not ask the experts for leads?

We've been to Salima on MLK Way, and plan on going back. We've gotten barbecue from Jones BBQ in Columbia City several times. We've had carryout from Cafe Vignole, who messed up the sauce on one order but was nonetheless tasty.

But we want to know where else to look.

So: where are the good restaurants in the Rainier Valley? Like I said, we're in Rainier Beach (or maybe Dunlap, technically), but we're willing to explore. And by "explore," I mean "drive." Bonus points if anyone can point out a decent pizza place that will deliver to us.


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  1. Check out columbia city. You have Tutta Bella's for neopolatian style pizza. La Medusa for really good sicilian style italian food. Geraldines Diner for upscale diner food. Along with Jones, there is also Roys bbq which has a very good carolina style pulled pork sandwich and also a very good smoked oyster po'boy. A little further north, just past genesse on rainier there is DaPino's meats and deli which has very good cured meats and hot sandwiches. A little north of that on rainier is a taco truck which serves some of the best mexican in the city. Even further north of that around the intersection of MLK and Rainier there is a really good northern thai/ laotian restaurant, whose name I cannot recall. Also I forgot, in columbia city is my favorite bakery Columbia City Bakery, which makes amazing bread and pastries.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dagrassroots

      I think the taco truck you mention is El Asadero, the taco bus; it is between court and estelle streets on Rainier. Solid.

      Alos, Dahlak on State just off Rainier is a current favorite for Eritrean.

      I like Vieng Thong Lao-Thai near the intersection of Rainier and MLK for unusual SE Asian dining

    2. We keep meaning to try Maya's, as I've heard it's pretty good (by Seattle standards for Mexican). There was a review of it in the Seattle Times last year you may want to dig up. It's at 9447 Rainier Ave S.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pitchblende

        Mayas was great, when I was last there (7 yrs ago) but clearly good and memorable enoguh that I remembered it!

      2. There's a Caribbean restaurant next door to Jones BBQ that I've been to a couple of times. I've had their pulled pork sandwich for lunch and a spicy jerk pork chop for dinner. Both preparations were delicious. My boyfriend had a halibut special one night that wasn't so great, though...he said the fish quality was fine, but the preparation was not good. He had serious entree envy after trying my yummy spicy pork chop. Oh!!! And the carmelized plaintains are especially gooey and tasty. YUM!

        1 Reply
        1. re: mariannas

          I really don't like that place. I've been three or four times--other people choosing. I think the ambience is totally off and it generally feels big and empty and overly sanitized. The food is nothing to write home about. Neither is the service. Their crab cakes were decent one day and awful a week later. The plaintains are probably the best because they reminded me of Costa Rica-- the restaurant is Trinidadian.
          It might be hit or miss there, because I have friends who like it. I've just never hit. My brother had the fried chicken one night and he liked it. The salads are bleh.

        2. Great responses. I'd also like to add the Lake Route Cafe just 1 block south and up the hill from Mayas mexican. They've had the same menu for breakfast for over 20 years for a good reason. Try the Montanna potatoes; it's good home cooking and a great local hangout for years.

          Up in Mount Baker on 31st ave s is Sweet & Savory a little hole in the wall bakery/espresso joint. I feel they have the best croissants and baked goods in Seattle. Very limited choices, but, very good.

          1. I agree - Maya's Mexican Restaurant is pretty good - it is the only place I know of in the city with marinated lamb shank wrapped in banana leaves on the regular menu. Across the street and just west from Maya's is Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant - a local place for dim sum. South of Rainier and getting into Renton is Royal Orchid Thai - their Emerald Garlic - a cooked-until-just-crunchy green broccoli dish with a lot of garlic and fresh tofu that is quite tasty. Their coriander chicken and Larb Gai are also recommended, but the Larb Gai is not as good as Noodle Boat (a far trek).

            The Columbia City Alehouse further north on Rainier has good fish tacos and brews. You might want to try the Columbia City Farmer's Market on Wednesdays between 3pm and 7pm. They don't have a lot of prepared food vendors there (just the tamale folks, I think, and all you can buy and eat out of hand from the Columbia City Bakery and artisan cheese stands), but you can get some very good fixings.

            Oh! And how could I forget the Donut King in the same building with the teriyaki folks and the laundromat at the bend in the road by the south Rainier Valley Safeway? Maybe because one or two of their big doughnuts is enough for a lifetime?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Olympia Jane

              I must admit I haven't been yet-- but there should bruschetta as well at the market. Hopefully I'll be able to stop in tomorrow to verify.

              Love love the Columbia City Farmer's Market.

              The Renton one is fun too. In a completely different way. It's themed and feels like a county fair.