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Feb 1, 2008 01:22 PM

Brief review: Willie's Taste of Soul (S. SEA)

The place was packed for Friday lunch. A bit clean and "franchisy" for my taste, similar in style to the "new" Jones's in Columbia City. I ordered the combo lunch plate, medium spicy, for $7.95, which came with one pork rib, one smallish slice of brisket, two knuckles of chicken, and three slices of hotlink, along with wonder bread, beans, and potato salad (I subbed coleslaw).

This neighborhood on the edge of Mt. Baker SO needs more than the usual pho shack, so I was disappointed that my lunch was mediocre at best. Maybe it's unfair to make such a pronunciation after one visit. I'll update this after another try, but here's my initial take (and though I like to smoke my own meats at home, I'm not an authority on BBQ; Jones' is my favorite in Seattle): the hotlinks were mealy and flavorless, the pork rib was tender (as you'd expect), the brisket wasn't anything special, and the chicken a bit dry. The sauce bathing all this was a problem: somewhat spicy but with little real kick and not much to distinguish it. I tend to like sweet and tangy sauces like Jones'; this sauce looked the part, but it didn't amount to much, flavor-wise, maybe a hint of smoke and a little tang. My coleslaw was semi-warm, which is really off-putting.

The waitress worked hard and the diners around me seemed to be enjoying themselves, but I couldn't help but conclude that Seattle's BBQ track record is no better for this newest entrant.


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  1. Is the old one up on Beacon Hill closed now?

    1 Reply
    1. re: GreenYoshi

      Yes, Willie's original Beacon Hill location has closed (Larry's Volvo is expanding into it.) Willie moved his whole operation down to his brand, spanking new place on Rainier Avenue (near the old Chubby and Tubby's). That said, I can't picture Willie in a place that is descriped in the OP's comments as "...a bit clean and franchisy...". Yowzer. Nothing could have been further from his old (in every sense of the word) joint. Loved peering through the little window to his funky little kitchen hacking up up cabbages for that day's slaw with his big cleaver...but then our household members are long time big fans of Willie's.

    2. I ate at Willie's for lunch on Thursday and had exactly the same lunch as Finspot but with hot sauce rather than medium + a side of greens and Red Velvet cake for dessert.

      It was my first time at the new spot, altho I've been a customer of Willie's for years. I am also a highly critical BBQ fan.

      For me, it was the same as ever: as good as BBQ gets in Seattle. Which is pretty darn good, although we aren't KC or the Texas hill country. I like Willie's hot links a lot...they are deliberatly "mealy", that's how you can tell they are hand ground, I think. Sometimes he does pork hot links...they are to die for.

      The greens were awesome and the Red Velvet cake? Yum. I want a piece now.

      The only downside I see about the new place is that parking is even more of an issue than it was at the old location.