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Desert Hound Moving to Northwest

Seattle Hounds,

I am an avid foodie, currently living in the desert southwest of Phoenix, AZ. That all changes next week as I am moving to Washington. I will be working in downtown Seattle and living in Bremerton. It suddenly hit me last night that my 100+ list of restaraunts that I wanted to try here in the Valley of the Sun will no longer do many any good except on return trips to see friends.

Before you suggest it, I am going to search the board here and I am sure I will find all kinds of nuggets, but I also thought it wouldn't hurt to let you know what kinds of things I like and let you experts jump start my effort. You did me right last summer when I asked for a recommendation on the Kitsap penninsula and I was steered towards Xinhs in Shelton. Really enjoyed that!

Basically I like just about all types of foods. Typically stay away from chains as much as possible. Have a special fondness for that divey, family run, whole in the wall ethnic place that serves up incredibly authentic fare. I do enjoy fine dining, but not the high price to impress places, but a place like Binkley's in Cave Creek, AZ where the food and experience are worth the price. As far as location, I am willing to travel just about anywhere in the Seattle Metro area for a good meal, but obviously would give preference over places close to where I live or work. In addition, cool downtown lunch spots and good brewpubs in the area would be cool as well.

Looking forward to moving up there and experiencing the Seattle food scene.

Billy Bob

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  1. Good comfort food at Steelhead Diner near the Market. Just had a layoff last week at week and everyone (the laid off and the survirors) headed over to The Spitfire Bar and Grill to drink and commiserate.

    Welcome to the Beautiful Pacific NW, Billy Bob!

    1 Reply
    1. re: firecracker


      Sorry for the late reply. Don't have online access at home yet. Thanks for the tip. Steelhead Diner added to my list.

      Billy Bob

    2. Hole in wall:
      Zaina's on Cherry, does a great eggplant pita and arguably the best falafel in town.
      Green Leaf will blow you away (search here for details).
      Samurai Noodle for the spiciest ever fresh ramen (wow).
      You have a major project ahead of you in exploration of Chinatown and the 12th & Jackson zone. Lucky man. Details are here.
      Sigular experience: Bakeman's. Take a ten-spot and be ready: Turkey light with cran and soup and pie (be ready to talk fast and don't fret the line - Jason does keep it moving).
      Take a twenty and get some specials at Salumi.

      5 Replies
      1. re: mrnelso

        Mr Nelso,

        Thanks for the leads. I love falafel, so your first suggestion is spot on!

        Billy Bob

        1. re: mrnelso

          Mr Nelso,

          Made it to Salumi today and wow, it knocked my socks off. I had the Porchetta sandwich and it was amazing. Before I ordered I noticed the price of like $8 or 9 bucks and thought that seemed a bit steep. But after taking possession and then more importantly that awesome first bite of the tender, slightly salty in a good way piece of ham heaven, I definitely got my money's worth. Salumi will be put right to the top of my lunch roatation. (Big bonus, only 10 minute walk from work!)

          Thanks for the excellent tip.

          Billy Bob

          1. re: Billy Bob

            You are very welcome and thanks for reporting back. I'm glad you had a good trip. I work up at 5th and Jefferson, so maybe we can get together for lunch.

            1. re: mrnelso

              I work at 5th and Cherry and I think getting together for lunch would be great.

              1. re: Billy Bob

                I'm 3 blocks away and at nelsoeric at gmaildotcom

        2. I'm not familiar with Phoenix, but am trying to think of some things that you might not have much of there. Forgive me if I'm mistaken. Have you tried Ethiopian? Lots of those in Seattle. Cafe Soleil is one of our favorites. Heartily agree with Green Leaf recommendation for Vietnamese--the food is good and the family that owns it is wonderful. And for a family run, reasonably priced hole-in-the-wall Japanese place, try Tsukushinbo for noodles, tempura, sushi, etc. Malay Satay Hut is also an ethnic restaurant not to be missed--good Malay/Singaporean food is hard to find! We just tried Malabar for Southern Indian food and were impressed with the dosas. Panos is good for Greek appetizers and pita--make a meal of them! For take-out fish and chips with good views, try Little Chinooks or Anthony's outdoor stand on the waterfront (I would avoid Anthony's inside restaurants, however). Or if you want really high end but incredibly delicious french fries, try Sambar. Paseo is good for Cuban style sandwiches and roast chicken. The Pike Place Market (aka the Market) is a good place to nosh, although there are some real stinkers there as well (I'd avoid Emmett Watson's for instance). Elliot's on the waterfront for oysters on the half shell.

          Kitsap County is sort of a wasteland, especially compared to Seattle and the Eastside, but we enjoy Cafe Nola on Bainbridge Island for lunch/brunch (their dinners don't seem so good), Madoka (Asian fusion, sort of) on Bainbridge Island, and the Agate Pass Cafe in Suquamish. MorMor in Poulsbo is also good. For reasonably priced take out food, try Central Market in Poulsbo. They make their own flour tortillas, which are incredibly yummy, especially if you get one right off the press. In fact, Central is the place you want to shop for groceries when you can (T&C on Bainbridge is also very good--part of the same local chain, but Central is bigger and closer to you).

          1 Reply
          1. re: PAO


            Thanks for all of the good recommendations. I have already been to Central Market and agree it is a very cool place. I have been fortunate to have traveled to Malaysia quite a bit, so Malay Satay Hut moves to the front of the line. I hope they have my favorite Hawker (street vendor) food Char Koay Teow.

            Billy Bob

          2. Since you'll be working downtown, specifically search for threads about the Pike Place Market and the International District for lunch or after work. The happy hour threads would be interesting to you too since there are so many places that offer great food at bargain happy hour prices. Luckily chains are not as big in Seattle as they are in other parts of the country, though downtown does have a fair number (for the tourists or shopping suburbanites I think).

            Take yourself to lunch at Matt's in the Market as your welcome to Seattle lunch.

            I know there's a thread about Kitsap Peninsula eats, too, though from the complaints I've heard on this board I wouldn't expect too much.

            1 Reply
            1. re: christy319


              Thanks for the search tips. If I find any Kitsap goodies I will be sure to share. I did get a good recommendation for one of my visits in the summer for Xinhs in Shelton. It was good!

              Billy Bob

            2. Nice thing about working downtown (depending upon where you are) is the bus tunnel. Buses run pretty consistently and there are stops in Pioneer Square and the International District. As for a suggestion, I think that the Hing Loon in the ID would fit your needs.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BallardFoodie


                Hing Loon added to list!

                Billy Bob

              2. I moved from Phoenix to the Seattle area four years ago, and I think you're going to have a lot of enjoyment exploring the International District. There's basically nothing like it in the Phoenix area in terms of combined quantity and quality of little ethnic restaurants. The Vietnamese delis (Saigon Deli, Seattle Deli and others) serve great banh mi sandwiches, and Green Leaf is a terrific inexpensive place, serving less-common Vietnamese fare. Agree with the recommendations of Malay Satay Hut. Also, Seven Stars Pepper does better Chinese food than anywhere in Phoenix, and Phnom Penh does tasty Cambodian food.

                Also seconding Samurai Noodle , Bakeman's and Salumi (There's nothing like it in Phoenix. Just expect a really long line/wait for Salumi. I love it but I don't have a long enough lunch break to be able to do it very often.)

                Aside from the ID, a lot of the little ethnic gems are sort of on the edges of the city--Bellevue (great Chinese food at Szechwan Chef and Bamboo Garden, Taiwanese at Facing East, really unusual Indian food at Spice Route). The Aurora/Hwy 99 corridor (Korean, some Vietnamese, some really good taco trucks) and Rainier Valley (the best of the best taco trucks, El Asadero, plus quite a few Vietnamese places) are great areas to explore for ethnic food. White Center is also gaining a reputation for lots of great ethnic food, but I haven't been able to explore much of it yet.

                Good luck and happy eating!

                2 Replies
                1. re: creepygirl

                  White Center has a nice little Salvadorean bakery and a real Mexican carneceria (meat market)

                  1. re: creepygirl

                    Creepy G,

                    Good to see I am not the only desert dweller to make the move! Thanks for the tips, appreciate it.

                    Billy Bob

                  2. Howdy, Billy Bob.

                    I moved up here from Tucson about 5 months ago. I don't know much about the Bremerton area, yet, but here's my general impression:

                    Mexican restaurants are going to be disappointing, but check out the taco-trucks. I'm running well over 50% on them having a really good carnecaria type menu, with pretty authentic Sonoran and/or Mexico City style meats.

                    The south-east Asian food scene is terrific, with many, many, many little family run authentic places hidden in nooks and corners. The same is true for Halal places in my neighborhood, but I'm not sure how far that trend travels.

                    The big warning: You will long for good pizza. If you've ever been to Chris Bianco's, there will just be an empty place in your heart here. I've found a couple of decent pies (Stellar, Via Tribunali) but nothing like what you can get at Pizzaria Bianco and it's imitators in Phoenix.

                    Let's see... what else... Tom Douglas is the Seattle equivalent of Sam Fox. Most of his restaurants are good, except when he tries to get too specialized (Zin Burger in Tucson == Simply Pie here, for instance.)

                    There's also a great artisanal food scene here, both in terms of farmers markets, and restaurants. Definitely check out Salumi for a prime example.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: Booklegger451

                      BookLegger- Check out flying squirrel pizza. Its no pizzeria bianco but it is a good as seattle has to offer.

                      1. re: Booklegger451


                        I love Bianco's places. Next time in Phoenix also stop by Pane Bianco! Sandwiches to die for. Maybe we should open up a Gourmex restaurant up here like Barrio Cafe or Los Sombreros! Looks like we have a recommendation to check out Flying Squirrel pizza. If I make it I will let you know what I think.

                        Stay Warm and Dry!

                        Billy Bob

                        1. re: Billy Bob

                          Billy Bob

                          Oh, I've eaten my way through Pane Bianco, too... it just hasn't left me with an empty spot in my heart here... largely thanks to Salumi, and other artisanal meat producers in the area. I live a couple of miles from Flying Squirrel. I'll give them my business next time I'm out looking for a pie, and report back.

                          1. re: Booklegger451

                            Flying Squirrel is good, not great like Bianco, but good. For pizza to rival Bianco(deadly serious here, it may at times be BETTER) drive 3 hours south to Portland and go to Apizza Scholls. you'll leave town and contemplate looking for an apartment on craigslist!

                            1. re: nkeane


                              I make it down to Portland fairly frequently, so I will look up Apizza Scholls. The only artisan pizza I have had there is Ken's, which I thought was pretty good.

                              Billy Bob

                              1. re: Billy Bob

                                Ken's is closer to Napolitano style, ie. Via Tribunali. Apizza is doing something I havent quite found anywhere else. SImple Pies, his way, with the best crust I have ever had. Yeasty, perfect char and cracker like exterior but with a yielding and chewy pull. Brian understands that Pizza is just lightly dressed flat bread, so he doesnt over load the thing with ingredients(and wont let you do it either! 3 toppings max and no more then 1 meat) hence letting his dough shine.

                                one caveat, open tues-sat(sundays now, but they do a sicilian style pie on sundays. good but not like his normal thin pizza) 5pm-9pm or earlier if they run out of dough(since the dough is a 3 day, hand made process, they cant just whip up some more at the end of the night. there is only so much each day and when its gone, you are SOL). Some will decry his "rules" and hours, but for someone with the passion and dedication to his work, Thats what it takes to keep turning out such a wonderful product. Totally worth it!

                                damn, now im hungry!lol

                                p.s. my fav. pie is the Amore. its a Margherita with hot Coppa added.......yeah, now I am definately hungry.

                                1. re: nkeane

                                  Its new haven style pizza but probably better than any places in new haven. Other good pies are the Bacon Bianca pie and the Sausage pie. The caesar salad is pretty legit as well.

                            2. re: Booklegger451


                              I have Salumi on my list of places to hit. Please let me know what you think of Flying Squirrel

                              Billy Bob

                              1. re: Billy Bob

                                Billy Bob,
                                I think I'm going to order a pie from Flying Squirrel tonight. Assuming my plans hold up, I'll report back shortly.

                                1. re: Billy Bob

                                  So, I tried Flying Squirrel, and yes indeed, it was good pizza. I wouldn't call it a "destination" pizza place like Bianco, but in the neighborhood pizza joint category, it's top notch.

                                  They were willing to combine two halves of most of their pizza's, so I took the opportunity to try a couple of variations. The Eartha Kitt was a tasty white style pizza (no red sauce) with plenty of garlic and black pepper flavor. The Maggies Farm was a pretty classic caprese style pizza, which really spotlighted Fly Squirrels red sauce, which is spicy and acid and very very good. The next morning, I tried both cold, and found that the Eartha Kitt was a real winner in the "next day" category.

                                  The crust on the pizza was thin, crispy, with just a bit of char, and had a really good flavor. My only complaint was that the crumb lacked a bit of body.

                                  I also tried their garlic cheese bread, which was tasty, and seemed to be made on their pizza crust, and a bowl of mixed olives which were good quality olives, but nothing unusual or noteworthy.

                                  1. re: Booklegger451


                                    Thanks for the report out. Sounds like I will have to give it a try. I am going to have a houndish day in Seattle on Saturday. After riding the ferry over in the morning we are going to start with a pastry and coffee at Belle Epicurean, have lunch at Kushibar and then after a movie in the afternoon, eat dinner at Hidmo and then ferry back across the pond at the end of the evening.

                                    Of the three places, I have tried Belle before and liked it. Kushibar and Hidmo will be new experiences. Have you been to either one of them?

                                    Billy Bob

                                    1. re: Booklegger451

                                      Thanks for the report on Flying Sqirrel, Booklegger...I'm another Phoenix transplant (moved here almost 4 years ago) and the Bianco Rosa pizza is the only thing I miss...I admit my hopes were raised that FS might be somewhere approaching.

                                      I'm going back to AZ in April, anyone want me to bring back some Bianco pies? :)

                            3. Hounds,

                              Finally got the chance to give Bakeman's a try for lunch today based on your recommendation from my original post and I was not dissapointed. Heeding the caution I heard on here, I did not get in line until I knew what I wanted and what I had decided on was a Cous Cous Soup and a Pastrami Sandwich on wheat. The soup was amazing, but maybe missed name as there wasn't much Cous Cous present at all. That didn't matter, the broth was hearty and a touch spicy and all of the ingredients blended in well. The sandwich was equally impressive. Lots of thinly slice Pastrami piled on a light and tasty wheat bread (and it has been my experience that those adjectives don't typically go with wheat bread). I am pretty sure I couldn't have made this good of a sandwich at home. Very good. Since it is only 3 1/2 blocks from work, I am pretty sure I will be going there frequently.

                              Thanks for the tip.

                              Billy Bob

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Billy Bob

                                Welcome to a very good casual grub town.
                                Up at the Pike Place Market, see El Puerco Lloron. Some are all about their carnitas, I go for the Asada and ALWAYS order a dozen tortillas (freshly pressed and grilled, hot, tasty).
                                Borek and other goodies at Turkish Delight are, indeed, a delight. Don't expect Turkish here, as they are Iranian (Persian), but the food is good, fresh, and plentiful. Here's a curveball for you: Bulgogi at Shilla in the Uwajimaya food court.
                                Bakeman roasts their own turkey, as does The Crumpet Shop, another good sandwich stop. Have Cioppino from Jack's Fish Spot with a Rueben from 3-Girls, across the corridor, if you an avoid the Guyere and Ham on Dark Rye, and the rest of the menu (heh).

                              2. If one is moving to Seattle there are two musts.
                                Bakeman's...although I was born and raised in the Emerald City (now live elsewhere) this business is legendary...an icon. It's been around for decades. I dare anyone, during their lunchbreak while working in downtown Seattle, to order a turkey sandwich and not fall asleep back at work. Their sandwiches are 'the real deal'.
                                The next business is Le Panier in the Pike Place Market. I still dream about this bakery...it's also been around for, at least, 25 years and it's my 'go to' place whenever I'm visiting. It's the best French bakery outside of France....anything sweet or savory is exceptional.
                                I hope Seattle works out for you!

                                1. Billy Bob,
                                  I see this thread is still active, hope you are loving the PNW. If you are close to the ID you will very very much enjoy this website/blog
                                  These guys have been eating their way around the ID for a few years and post extensive reviews and photos. I found it last month and it has really increased my enjoyment of visiting the ID--like a decoder ring to help discover the cream of the crop. There's a mexican place they just reviewed recently (anomaly for the ID), I haven't been but maybe you can review it and say how it ranks by your Phoenix trained standards.
                                  I found your post because we will travel to Phoenix in May and I was trying to figure out if Pizzaria Bianco is a possibility for us (we arrive at 5:30 on a friday night and need to get to Sedona that night).

                                  11 Replies
                                  1. re: rbid


                                    I am having a blast in the PNW. I have started my own food blog detailing some of my experiences. www.taoofchow.wordpress.com. As far as Pizzeria Bianco on Friday night is concerned, unless you don't mind getting to Sedona very late, I would pass. Bianco doesn't take reservations and on a Friday night, you probably won't get seated for a couple of hours. If you had the time, Bar Bianco, next door is a great place to wait over a good bottle of wine, but since you have places to be, I would suggest waiting for another time. IMHO, if you have the time, it is defintiley worth the wait! A fun place near the airport, that will get you in and out quickly is Cornish Pasty Company. It is off of University in Tempe about a 5-10 minute drive from the airport. www.cornishpastyco.com. It is not a destination foodie spot like Bianco's, but good food and fun atmosphere. Who knew the English could cook?

                                    Thanks for the link on the ID guide. I will definitley check it out.

                                    If Cornish doesn't ring your bell and you would like any other recommendations, let me know. Enjoy your trip, weather is gorgeous down there right now!

                                    Billy Bob

                                    1. re: Billy Bob

                                      Hi Billy Bob,
                                      We headed right over to Cornish Pasty Co. and enjoyed a great and quick meal. Husband had a carne adovada and I tried the rosemary chicken (on the advice of the server). I REALLY liked their mashed potato side dish and the mushy pea side dish. There was no way we had room for dessert but it sounded good.
                                      Enjoyed Sedona too, by far the best meal of the trip at Elote Cafe. Man we would go back just for their Elote appetizer.
                                      Anyway, thanks for the suggestion-- we appreciated the guidance!

                                      1. re: rbid


                                        I am glad you liked Cornish Pasty Co. I have tried both of the pastys that you two sampled and love them both. The desserts are delish, especially the Banafee (sp?) pie! I saw a place up near the university district here in Seattle that does Pastys that I want to try. I forget what it is called, Pints and Pies or something like that. If I try it I will let you know how it is.

                                        On another note, last time I checked it looks like the msg150 site was down. I really liked it for the brief time I got to it.

                                        Billy Bob

                                    2. re: rbid

                                      rbid: Billy Bob probably has more discerning tastes in Mexican food than us. I'm scared to see what he thinks if he makes it there :-)

                                      Here is a link directly to our review of Tenoch (the lonely isle of Mexican on the ID)

                                      206 5th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

                                      1. re: adamb0mb

                                        Mr. Bomb,

                                        I saw your review for Tenoch and it intrigued me. I went to the ID last Friday for lunch and walked by it a little after 11:00 and it wasn't open yet. That was ok, since I really had a hankering for Pho anyway and ended up at Pho Bac based on your guy's review! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

                                        When I have a hankering for Mexican for lunch, Tenoch will be the next place to try. It was open on my way back to work. I suspect as you do, it will be hard to measure up to all of the good Mexican food options we had in AZ, much like it was tough for AZ to match the Seafood and International variety here. AZ had a decent international mix and it was growing, but nothing compared to here!

                                        Billy Bob

                                        1. re: Billy Bob

                                          Thanks for the Phoenix tip, we are coming to the same conclusion that we don't have time for Bianco. I was thinking of going to the super food court at Ranch Market, someone said it was like a Latino Uwajimaya.

                                          I'll bet my husband will be gung ho for the Cornish Pasty place--as his favorite place to eat out in Seattle is Pies and Pints (Roosevelt area). http://www.piesandpints.com/

                                          I'm waiting for your Tenoch review! We stopped by on a Saturday and they weren't open for lunch. So we headed over to Sub Sand and it was great--followed up by a crepe next door at Unicorn. Thanks MSG men!

                                          1. re: rbid


                                            Ranch Market would be a great choice as well (and that is a great analogy comparing it to Uwajimaya). It is like stepping south of the border for sure. Be sure to get one of their many scrumptious Agua Frescas drinks with your meal. My fav is watermelon!

                                            I did go to Tenoch today and will probably try to get something posted soon.

                                            Billy Bob

                                        2. re: adamb0mb

                                          Adam and the rest of the MSG150 guys,

                                          I did try Tenoch today and before I write up my thoughts, I want to put a few things in context. First, like you already know, I have been spoiled when it comes to Taquerias. I grew up near San Jose, CA and it's large mexican population and then moved to the desert southwest of Phoenix and its rich mexican heritage. Second, is that I am pretty particular on what I think a burrito should be and a lot of my friends feel differently. I realize it is personal preference, but La Taqueria in downtown San Jose produced the holy grail of burros for me that I measure everything else against.

                                          Ok, now that I have that out of the way, I hit Tenoch today for lunch. First impression of the place was good. I liked their menu options and chose to go with a Steak Burrito, no rice (one of my pet peeves is places that put rice in a burrito. IMHO rice is a side dish, not a burrito ingredient) black beans and everything else in a whole wheat tortilla (bonus points for having that option). I also ordered chips and salsa and a Jarrito Tamarind soda.

                                          One of my pet peeves about a burrito is that I should be able to eat the whole thing with my hands. My friends like a burrito so packed full of ingredients that it explodes and you end up eating it mostly with a fork. For me I judge a burro more on its quality ingredients then on how big it is. When I watched the lady put mine together I knew I would be using my fork.

                                          My first taste impression was not good. I started by eating some chips and salsa. The chips were over fried, greasy and old. Luckily the salsa was excellent and the combination was edible. It looked like the chips were made there, so maybe the oil was old or something. I think I would have rather have had Tostitos out of a bag. The salsa was very good. It had a good kick and a nice smokey, dried red pepper taste to it. Usually salsas are too tame for my torched taste buds, but this salsa did give my mouth a yummy tingle.

                                          After a few chips, I dug into the burrito. It was humongous and like I thought, about half way through, I had to abandon the Dos Manos method and go with a fork. The steak was ok, fairly bland (maybe they de-tune it to make it more palatable to more people) and not enough of it. I felt it was really lost in the burro. I like a steak burrito to feature the steak, with a smattering of the other ingredients. This was the opposite. All in all, I would say the burro was better then a Taco Bell burro, but not up to a Taqueria burro.

                                          Now I know I am pretty particular when it comes to my Carne Asada burros, so I won't close the book on Tenoch just yet. Their menu really did have some intriguing choices and mabye I should opt for another delivery vehicle beside a big over stuffed tortilla next time. I will keep you posted.

                                          Billy Bob

                                          1. re: Billy Bob

                                            Have you tried either El Sabor or El Rinconsito (both have multiple llocations) for Mex? They are pretty similar--in former fast food joints, taco-trucky menu only bigger. I slighty prefer El Sabor, but they are both quite good and authentic IMO.

                                            1. re: allisonw


                                              No I haven't tried them. I have been focusing more on the more Northwest regional stuff. I will add both to my ever expanding "to try" list. Thanks for the tip.

                                              Billy Bob

                                              1. re: Billy Bob

                                                I've tried El Sabor, and it was ok, but nothing to write home about. The closest I have come to "back home" Mexican has been at a couple of taco buses. They seem to be everywhere in my neighborhood, and they are about 50/50 hit or miss. I can tell just on first smell which way they'll go now. They have pretty authentic tacos de cabeza and lengua, not bad asada, barbacoa, with bad carne seca, and unspeakable carnitas... wildly greasy at every place I've tried them. (Hey, have you heard my new band. Unspeakable Carnitas?)

                                                If you happen to run across Gelato any where in town that is up to Arlecchino standards, please, please let me know. I stopped by for a scoop of pistachio last time I was in Phoenix, and now I miss pizza AND gelato. ;(