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NYC Folks looking for cheap eats in Seattle

My wife and I are going to be house hunting in a couple of weeks and looking for cheap good eats in the Seattle area. No area is out of the question. What we are looking for is nice cheap ethnic eats, burger joints, fish shacks and any kind of taco truck or street food(do you guys have that?). Basically we did the higher end restaurants the last time we visited and this time we want to explore the cheaper options. Thanks

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  1. Lots of taco trucks, quality varies. They move around, of course, but a current fave has been in front of the Home Depot on Aurora Ave N for quite a while (cross street is around 110th or so, east side of the street, the truck is on the north side of the parking lot.) called El Camarone, I believe.
    Have also heard great things about Skillet, an upscale food truck - it has a fixed schedule, in Ballard on Thursdays last I heard. There have been some articles about this one in the local papers, so I'm sure you could find a link. I might have seen something in the NYT about Skillet, too -- the upscale truck idea. Good luck with the house thing.

      1. Taco trucks: La Pasadita (Northgate), El Asadero #2 (Rainier Valley), Rancho Bravo (Wallingford)
        Gourmet street food: Skillet (variable location)
        Tortas and Mexico City Style eats: Barriga Llena (Greenlake), El Quetzal (Beacon Hill)
        Cambodian Noodles: Phnom Penh Noodle House
        Pho: Pho Bac (7th Ave. S., I.D.)
        Malay/Singaporean: Malay Satay Hut (I.D)
        Sichuan: Bamboo Garden (Bellevue)
        Bahn Mi: Pho Cyclo (Capitol Hill)
        General Viet: Green Leaf,Tamarind Tree (I.D.)
        Ethiopian, Eritrean: Meskel, Ras Dashen (C.D.), Dahlak (Rainier Valley)
        Fried fish, etc: Jack's Fish Spot (Pike Place), Pacific Inn Pub (Fremont), Sunfish (West Seattle)
        Burgers and BBQ Sandwiches: Roy's (columbia city)

        Alot of other cheap "ethnic" or street food pales in comparison to NYC, so I'm omitting it (e.g. middle east, deli, indian, pizza).

        Ras Dashen Restaurant
        2801 E Cherry St, Seattle, WA

        Tamarind Tree
        1036 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104

        Green Leaf Rstrnt Vietnamese
        418 8th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

        Malay Satay Hut
        212 12th Ave S, Seattle, WA

        Bamboo Garden
        202 106th Pl NE, Bellevue, WA 98004

        Skillet Street Food and Diner
        1400 East Union Street, Seattle, WA 98122

        Rancho Bravo Tacos
        211 NE 45th St, Seattle, WA

        El Quetsal
        3209 Beacon Ave S # 2, Seattle, WA 98144

        Phnom Penh Noodle House
        660 S King St, Seattle, WA 98104

        Pho Bac
        415 7th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

        Pho Cyclo Cafe
        406 Broadway E, Seattle, WA 98102

        Meskel Ethiopian Restaurant
        2605 E Cherry St, Seattle, WA 98122

        Dahlak Eritrean Cuisine
        2007 S State St, Seattle, WA 98144

        Jack's Fish Spot
        1514 Pike Pl Ste 2, Seattle, WA 98101

        Pacific Inn Pub
        3501 Stone Way N, Seattle, WA

        2800 Alki Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116

        Roy's BBQ, Columbia City
        4903 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

        1. 2 pork sandwiches you might want to try: 1) Paseos, Caribbean style sandwich either the roast or tenderloin, and 2) Seattle Deli for the bbq pork bahn mi (for $2.50).

          1. First, I'd recommend the following places:

            1) Paseo in Fremont. It's something a little different--caribbean sandwiches; they're usually well-made, and I like the #1--the #2-midnight cuban is just pulled pork. Two caveats: the line at lunch is atrocious and they only accept cash. Everything around 7 or 8 bucks.

            2) Salumi in Pioneer Square. The line is terrible, they're only open from 11-4 Tues-Fri and they only accept cash but for the most part it meets with the hype if you go with the right expectations. Most of the salumi is very good--the original is a little greasy to me. The porchetta is overhyped. The sandwiches are huge and mostly under $10. The pasta specials are usually very good but it depends on the day.

            3) Uli's in the Pike Place Market - They make sausages everyday, at least they claim they do, and you can pick one out for them to grill and slap on a bun. I like the merguez with mayo and mustard but all of them are more or less good. Around 5 or 6 bucks.

            4) Mr. Gyros in Greenwood - These guys make a really good straightforward gyro, especially for Seattle, and they're really friendly to boot. Order it with hummus and harissa.

            Last, I'd recommend against Skillet. It's overhyped and is expensive for what it is--the kobe beef isn't even that good and it's small. You have much better burgers in NYC. And the mexican food in Seattle, especially at the taco trucks, is horrendous.

            Make sure to get some coffee, too. Espresso Vivace serves up a mean espresso-you have to drink it right away-and good mixed coffees (caramel is homemade), and Stumptown for a straight up latte.

            2 Replies
            1. re: tchad

              My Two Cents on Salumi

              Porchetta was divine, although I don't profess to being a Porchetta expert and I used my plastic to pay for it. I have been twice and love the place.

              Billy Bob

              P.S. Here is my write up on my first visit.


              1. re: tchad

                Friendly amendment: the line is part of the unique Salumi experience... Enjoy the locals and their visiting relatives. Thank you, Armandino.

              2. Please forgive duplication of other lists, but:
                Centers of cheap eats in Seattle are the International District (Chinatown), the Pike Place Market and upper-downtown (Don’t say Pike’s), and the University District, North of the ship-canal. Check this site and google for lots of great happy hour eats all over town.

                Beginning at the toe of Capitol hill, on Pine Street:

                Baguette Box, 1203 Pine

                La Creperie Voila, on the sidewalk in front of the Convention center at 7th & Pike

                Tower Deli, 1811 7th Ave, is a great sandwich stop. – get the potstickers

                Pamela's Fine Foods in between 6th and 7th on Stewart for sandwiches and more

                Dahlia Bakery, 2001 4TH avenue - tomato basil soup and half a sandwich +++.

                South of Macy’s, at the Westlake Mall, find Bombay Wala, where the Masala Dosa is recommended to me, though I’ve enjoyed other items there, too.

                Other items I intend to eat at the mall - Noodle Zone's shrimp pad ki mao

                Take the South Lake Union trolley to Slo Joe's BBQ on Westlake, for BBQ, and mac &

                Whole Foods Market, a short walk Westlake, has a prepared food section.

                There’s a new noodle place near McDonald's.

                Along First Avenue, near the Pike Place Market, find:

                Bottega Italiana. Wonderful gelati in many flavors.

                Pan Africa Market, 1521 1st Avenue, great njera and spicy combo plates

                The Crumpet Shop, 1503 1st Ave, for more great sandwiches (freshest TU thru FR) and, of course, nice, fresh crumpets.

                The Pike Place market itself is dense with very cheap amazing grub:

                From North to South (with errors, I’m sure) Turkish Delight, where the chicken chili is recommended, but hold on to your wallet.

                Pike & Western Wine Shop 1934 Pike Place for free tastings every FR from 3:00 to 6:00.

                Piroshky-Piroshky at 1908 Pike Place, for, well, piroshky,

                In the arcade behind the knife shop find Saigon Restaurant, sandwiches, SOUP beef salad is killer, but other god things are there

                A few yards South is Mee Sum, for Pork hum-bao and other goodies.

                A few yards away are Gyros and falafel at the Gyros stand

                A few more yard to Jack's fish spot for (great, fresh, cheap) cioppino. Also oysters on the shell, maybe a crab cocktail for the real-deal Dungeness experience.

                A few feet away is Three Girls Luncheonette (not Sisters) for soup and sandwiches

                Way upstairs, Matt's in the market is spendy for dinner but at lunch the catfish sandwich and salad nearly qualifies as cheap at $15, but is worth the trip.

                Turn up Post alley for The Seattle Chowder company’s seared scallop and other good chowders

                The Market grille, across Pike Place in the main arcade will grill you up a salon of halibut sandwich in minutes

                Across the arcade, maybe 20 feet away, is Uli’s Famous Sausages, where they will grill you up any sausage from his amazing selection and serve it to you with a basket of fries, good aioli, and a beer in his new Bierstaube (do get the fries).

                Turn toward the water just before the fish throwing guys and find Sound View cafe, for good views, soups, salads, sandwiches...

                Back to the Main arcade, find daily dozen donuts, and next stand, find good Pastrami, corned beef, etc at I heart NY

                then across the arcade to deLaurenti, where you will find pizza and salad (only – save other deli impulses for Big John’s PFI)

                From there, make your way down the Hillclimb to El Puerco Lloron, 1501 Western, and order a dozen fresh tortillas (not on the menu, but ask and you will be rewarded). I like the asada tacos, but there is more.

                >>>>>All the way down, at the waterfront, find Elliott’s Oyster House – go at

                Get to the bus tunnel and off at the Pioneer square station and find Bakeman's, at 122 Cherry:. Take ten bucks and get ready. Maybe sneak in and watch the process before you get in the (very fast) line.

                From there, it’s a short walk, or one more tunnel stop to the International District (Chinatown )tunnel station, where you’ll step across 5th to Samurai Noodle (love the Tetsu Hellfire and other ramen). Inside is Uwajimaya's food court [http://www.uwajimaya.com/locations.html], with lots of cheap eats (I like Shilla’s Bulgogi [http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/food/22...] and the Buns next door at Yummy House.

                Once you’re in the International District (Chinatown), there is cheap food in every block.
                Pho Bac, at 415 7th Ave S, for pho tai chin and other good and bountiful pho. Also Pho Cyclo, a few blocks away at 2414 4th Ave S, where you smell the star anise as you enter.

                Get roast pork to go at Kau Kau

                Keep going uphill to12th and Jackson for even more.

                Proceed South from Chinatown to the area around Starbuck's galactic HQ to find
                Pecos Pit for a good sloppy BBQ pork sandwich, then down 1st a block or so farther to Pho Cyclo, for good pho, and a block or so more to Jones BBQ

                North across the ship-canal, to the University (of WA) district, find lots of things on the Ave (University Way).

                Pam's Kitchen for Trinidadian food,

                Across the street = Jack's Tapas Cafe, mainly Chinese. Get the hand shaved noodles, and pretty much whatever else looks good on the special board.

                Get information about Seattle’s METRO transit system at their HQ at 201 S. Jackson St.
                and in the Kiosk at the west end of the Macys’ Mezzanine level Bus Tunnel station.
                The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel runs 1.3 miles through downtown, mostly right beneath 3rd avenue, from its South terminus, in Chinatown, to the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, at the North end. All buses in the Transit Tunnel are free, as are buses in the downtown core, where you will see FREE RIDE AREA on the bus stop signs.

                4 Replies
                1. re: mrnelso

                  "Take the South Lake Union trolley to Slo Joe's BBQ on Westlake"

                  Please don't.
                  Terrible, mass market BBQ.
                  There was talk of this being a franchise at one point. Not so much for quality but for a concept (and food) that could be duplicated by alot of folks.

                  Other stuff seems good though.

                  1. re: GreenYoshi

                    Sorry about that. Yoshi's right, but there ain't much even remotely BBQ around here and I was Texas hungry that day. Jones and Pecos get my business now and then, too.

                    Also, I dropped a stitch at my enty for Elliott's - go at 3:00 for Oyster Happy hour. Starts out 50 cents apiece and goes up 20 cents each half hour til it gets ridiculous again. I liked Dime-time, in Florida and a buck a dozen in Georgia, for appilachicola (spelling?) oysters and shrimp. This ten bucks for a half-dozen stuff is nuts.

                  2. re: mrnelso

                    What a great and thoughtful list! Of course I have to note an exception :)

                    "Turn toward the water just before the fish throwing guys and find Sound View cafe, for good views, soups, salads, sandwiches..."

                    A group of us spent all of 2008 eating at every lunch spot in the Pike Place Market. Sound View Cafe ranked our bottom 5. The views are good but the food is inedible. Go to Lowell's for the same view and decent (note I didn't say good!) food.

                    1. re: Lauren

                      Thank you Lauren. It's been years and I knew what you observe was likely to have happened, but back in the day it was cheap cheap cheap (the point of the OP) and pretty good, for what it was. Sorry it's slipped, and surely you're right about Lowell's (or even Athenian) but I'm thinking slumming here. Speaking of which, gosh, I think I forgot Beth's and Dicks...

                  3. Check out the Hopvine on 15th Ave on the top of Capital Hill. They do AMAZING soups. The sandwiches/salads are tasty too, but the best part is the killer tap list! Do yourself a favor and try the deliciously hoppy beers that the Northwest has to offer. This is a great place for lunch and then walk on over to Volunteer Park to the Asian Art Museum.
                    Another gem in this area is the Volunteer Park Cafe. It is in a residential neighborhood just East of the park and offers great baked goodies and soups/salads and a pot pie of the day.
                    I would also make a go of Ballard. I am currently addicted to Senor Moose, a mexican cafe that serves up a mean breakfast. Today, I had the sopes for lunch and then took a nice walk through "Old Ballard" and then down to the locks. If you haven't been before, the locks are a great spot to scope out your dream sailboat. It makes for a fun day and you can bookend the walk with a stop at either the Sloop or the Lockspot for fish and chips or a burger. Great local watching at the Sloop where your beer comes "Sloopersized".
                    Last, but not least, take advantage of happy hour! Seattle has a great happy hour selection. Check it out at
                    For happy hour, I recommend Il Bistro at Pike Place Market and McCormick and Schmick (any location) for late-night hh and Brasa and Union for early hh.

                    Have FUN!!!

                    Union Restaurant
                    1400 First Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101

                    Volunteer Park Cafe & Marketpl
                    1501 17th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112

                    Hopvine Pub
                    507 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA

                    Senor Moose Cafe
                    5242 Leary Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107

                    Sloop Tavern
                    2830 NW Market St, Seattle, WA

                    Lockspot Cafe
                    3005 NW 54th St, Seattle, WA 98107

                    Il Bistro
                    93A Pike Street, Seattle, WA 98101

                    2107 3rd Ave., Seattle, WA 98121

                    McCormick & Schmick's
                    1103 First Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101

                    McCormick & Schmick's Harborside
                    1200 Westlake Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109

                    1. Definitely be sure to get a pork sandwich at Paseo's. If you have a car and can drive a bit north also check out the great sandwiches at Grinders Hot Sands. You can't leave Seattle without trying a special or deluxe with fries and a shake at Dick's, it's the true Seattle cheap eats institution. More than most other cities, Seattle's staple cheap eats are teriyaki and pho, many teriyaki joints are ok, Pho Bac or Green Leaf in the ID are great places to start for Vietnamese. Maekawa Bar and Fort St. George and also great for funky Japanese food (izakaya style/Western-Japanese hybrids respectively) that you wont find at most other Japanese restaurants. Grazing while wandering through the Pike Place Market is also a must, just eat what looks good.

                      1. Green Leaf in the ID for Vietnamese. Panos near the Seattle Center for Greek (don't bother with the entrees--make a meal out of the appetizers). Tsukushinbo in the ID for Japanese (especially their noodles). Little Chinook's at Fisherman's terminal for fish 'n' chips and clam chowder. Agree with recommendations for Malay Satay Hut, Paseo, Senor Moose, Salumi.

                        1. Thanks folks, you have come through once again, these lists are awesome. I can't wait to move there and try them all!

                          1. What a great thread!

                            I'll second El Puerco Lloron down by the Pike Place Market hillclimb. Another thing that's not on their menu: guacamole tacos. Three handmade corn tortillas with perfect guacamole and a side of rice and beans. So incredibly simple. So satisfying. While you're down there, you can also check out the great spice shop around the corner, peek into The Spanish Table, and get gelato if it's gelato weather.

                            Also cheers for Ethiopian food. It's been 13 years since I lived in NYC, but I remember it having a dearth of Ethiopian and Eritrean food. Seattle has lots, and it's good and cheap. I can't think of an Ethiopian restaurant I've disliked.


                            2 Replies
                            1. re: seattledebs

                              Paseo (both Fremont and Shilshole (Ballard) locations) consistently end up at the top of Urbanspoon popularity rankings). They have top Cuban style sandwiches. I like the shrimp sandwich.

                              Carta de Oaxaca (Ballard) is extremely popular for inexpensive Oaxacan cuisine. I have been to Senor Moose a couple times as well. Great cheap Mexican breakfast.

                              For taco places I really like Malena's in Ballard. My favorite taco truck is El Camion (Ballard, behind Mud Bay Granary on 15th). I have been meaning also to make a special trip to White Center to get tamales and chicharrones from Carniceria El Paisano. My wife went with some friends to a pupuseria in White Center. However I can't remember the name right now.

                              I used to live in DC where there is a huge Ethiopian community and I love Ethiopian cuisine but I have only been to a few places here: Cafe Selam, Tana Market and Amy's Merkato (all on Cherry Street in the Central District); and Zuma Grocery in Greenwood on 85th. I could recommend all of them.

                              For dim sum I pretty much always go to Jade Garden on King in the International District. I was turned on to it from a friend born in Hong Kong. It is still overwhelmingly Chinese although it gets a lot of good press nowadays. I would also recommend generally the Uwajimaya superstore in the ID, which has great grocery selection but also a lot of good prepared foods.

                              There have probably been other threads on oysters on the half shell here but there are some great places to get oysters for a song in Seattle. Walrus and the Carpenter on Ballard Ave. is not inexpensive generally but Sunday to Thursday during their progressive happy hour they have 50% off oysters from 4-5 and 25% from 5-6p. The difference between W&TC and other places that have specials is that there are could be 8-10 options vs. some places that only feature specials on 1-2 oysters. Elliotts, Anchovies and Olives, Flying Fish all have happy hour oyster specials and now Bastille in Seattle is featuring $1 Hama Hamas on certain nights.

                              For something a little interesting and not at all expensive Copper Gate in Ballard is currently the only Scandinavian restaurant remaining in what is a traditional Scandinavian restaurant. This is going to change with the coming opening of Queen of Norway but for Copper Gate has a great happy hour from 5-7 with $1-$2 off just about everything including Kjottkaker (Swedish meatballs with celeriac-potato puree and lingonberry preserve), sursild (pickled herring, beets and pumpernickel), blaskjell (mussels, aquavit tomatic broth and bacon), house-cured gravlax, house infused aquavit, Icelandic style brennevin, danish style bitter dram and Finish salmiakki (Tyrkish Peber licorice candy infused vodka) etc.

                              I agree with the recommendation of Salumi. The cured meat is not tremendously inexpensive but it is still an excellent excellent value. The homestyle Italian food at lunch is a great deal and the communal dining and honor system wine from the mag on the table is classic. I haven't been in a while so I hope they still do that. On Tuesdays you can get housemade gnocchi. It used to be that the old aunt Izzy would make it with her gnocchi board in the front window. If you go, go early. They sometimes have a line start before opening at 11am. You can call in advance and order then go to the front of the line to pick up.

                              If I can think of more I will post again.

                              1. re: klsalas

                                I forgot for oysters that you should check out Taylor Shellfish at the Melrose Market.