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Seattle's Delicious Dives

Sometimes you find the most amazing food in a completely unassuming restaurant. I'm not talking about guilty-pleasure food like McDonald's fries. I mean grade-A food served in a hole-in-the-wall that's easy on the pocketbook. My current favorites are:

- Fu Man Dumpling House in North Seattle for boiled dumplings and leek pancakes

- Thai Siam in Ballard for Tom Ka Gai and top-of-the-world beef

- Bad Albert's pub in Ballard for fried crawfish and a great burger with hand cut fries

- Olive You in Greenwood for Mediterranean food

- Market Grill in Pike Place Market for a salmon sandwich

- Bizarro in Wallingford for Italian

- Paseo in Fremont for a Cuban pork sandwich

What are your favorite delicious dives in Seattle?

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  1. I like the tacos (specifically the cochinita pibil) at La Botana in Greenwood.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dylinw

      dylinw - I tried the cochinita pibil at La Botana last night. Sadly, I was disappointed. It was quite oily. As were the other two tacos we ordered - carne asada and chorizo.

      1. re: frygirl

        darn! i haven't been there in about a year - sorry to hear it wasn't enjoyable!

    2. I'm not sure I'd accept half of those as a dive. Bad Albert's is close, but Paseo and Bizarro? Definitely not dives. Paseo might be a hole in the wall, but I'd never label it a dive.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jaydeflix

        I'm with you. Olive you is certainly no dive. Nor very easy on the pocketbook! Thai Siam isn't really a dive. Just sort of an average looking thai place!

        1. re: dagoose

          I've been trying to think of someplace I'd actually consider a 'dive' and I'm coming up short. Beth's should qualify, tho I'm so out of the breakfast game that I haven't been there in years to know if it's still 'delicious' (knowing that one person's delish isn't anothers).

          Mike's Chili Parlor is *almost* a dive. At least, it's bathrooms should have 'dive' status, if not the restaurant itself.

          To me, a dive is one of those places where, when you walk in, you almost think that the health dep't should shut it down.

          Szechuan Noodle Bowl down in the ID fits the bill for me. Seeing the old ladies making the dumplings right there at a table, generally with a few flies flying around the restaurant always struck me as... well.... but I always forget that the minute I bite into a green onion pancake and some dumplings.

      2. Definitely the Dock Street Burger at Leny's qualifies.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Lauren

          But wait. I thought they repaired the name to Lenny's, but maybe that was just wishful thinking... Or it might be that the Elo's Phily Grill, which bugged me for maybe 20 years, got repaired to Elo's Philly Grill and my wishful brain transferred that improvement to Leny's. It's all good.

        2. Fish and chips at Pacific Inn Pub.
          Soba or Ramen at Tsukushinbo.
          1000 layer pancake at Rocking Wok.
          Wonton and Sui-Kau noodle soup at Mike's Noodle House.
          Veggie combination platter at Tagla Cafe and Store.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ceester

            Ceester, you rock. I add hand-shaved noodles and lamb stir-dry at Jack's Tapas Cafe, mainly Chinese.

          2. Market Grill may not be a dive, but no one does salmon better...

            1. Definitely The Shanty for breakfast. It's old and tired and sooo comfortable. Good breakfasts and great service.

              1. Seattle's a tough place for dives due to the high cost of, well, everything, but I don't think any list would be complete without:

                Sichuan Cuisine in the ID for awesome Chinese;
                Samurai Noodle also in the ID for Ramen; and
                Asadero, the taco truck on Rainier, for great tacos and tortas.

                1. I think the Mexican sandwich place on Aurora across from Stupid Prices should be on the list, as well as the little kitchen at the back of the mexican market at 86th and Greenwood (next to La Botana).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: GreenYoshi

                    Ooooh yeah, I second the vote for La Consupo (next to La Botana) especially for consome and barbacoa on sunday mornings!

                  2. I vote Mike's Chili Parlor, Voula's Offshore cafe, and Rancho Bravo. The gyro place on the ave- name escapes me and The Sloop

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: natalie.warner

                      Mmmmmiiiiikkkkeesss Cccchhiillllii. Yuhhmmmmmoooo.

                      1. re: natalie.warner

                        Gyro place on the ave is Aladdin's Gyrocery. During the roughest all nighters in college, they were my rock, my provider.

                          1. re: cscsman

                            I second this as well. For some reason we always called this place "Crazy Ishmael's" despite knowing full well that the sign said "Aladdin's Gyrocery". Oh man. Love that place for my 3am gyro fix!

                        1. No list of Seatlle " grade-A food served in a hole-in-the-wall" would be complete without Salumi.

                          Can someone tell me what the appeal of Voula's and Olive You is? I've never eaten at Olive You because both times I've tried I couldn't find anything to order that didn't seem scary oily. Voula's I've only had breakfast and it was okay but nothing special - should I go back? Am I missing something?


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: cburnsi

                            If you're scared of oil, then perhaps Mediterranean food isn't for you. Olive oil is quite commonly used both in the dish and then drizzled over the top before serving. I've enjoyed the panini and several of the spreads with pita at Olive You, but then, I love olive oil!

                          2. Cyndys on Aurora. For years I was too scared to go in, but recently decided to try it and their Holland Babies are to die for. Mind you, I haven't had them anywhere else, so I don't know how they stack up against other places' Dutch Babies, but they are tasty.

                            I agree with the other posters that many of the OP's picks aren't what I'd call dives. Also, I have to say that although I used to love Bizzaro 5-6 years ago, my most recent trip there last year was horrendous. They have definitely gone downhill.

                            I was also disappointed with the lack of variety of dumplings at the fu man dumpling house. I went expecting a wide range of dumpling fillings, but I think they only have pork. Disappointing.

                            My one visit to Mike's Chili was enough - took some chili home and ended up with a full inch of oil on the top that had to be poured out. What was left was basically disintegrated mystery meat chili. Gross.

                            Another dive I love in Ballard is Michoachan - not "authentic", I'm sure, but excellent cheap, tasty Mexican on huge plates.

                            My all-time favorite dive is the Wing Wah BBQ house in the ID. You can get a plate of noodles with two meats (I get charsiu and roast duck) for about $5, plus veg. YUM. Some of my friends refuse to go, though, due to questionable cleanliness. Oh well. It's never made me sick.

                            1. There are a lot of surprisingly good diner foods at the Mecca in Queen Anne. I love their open faced turkey sandwich w/ mashers and cranberry sauce, the Club Sandwich, and the fries are the best.