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Mar 29, 2009 06:16 PM

Hangtown Fry in Seattle?

Any recommendations for a place to get a good hangtown fry in Seattle? I have had this dish down near the Long Beach peninsula at the 42nd Street Cafe in Seaview and it was spectacular. I haven't found a place in Seattle that serves one nearly as good. Nothing fancy required, just really fresh oysters and good quality bacon. Any suggestions appreciated!

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  1. Last time I had a hangtown fry was 30 years ago, when First Avenue was what it was, and its denizens were what they were. It was not especially chowish, I suppose, but definitely chow, and it may still be worth a look, if only to recognize the preservation of local culinaria.

    8 Replies
    1. re: mrnelso

      Nothing local about it - it's a San Francisco treat.

      The Athenian has one, but I can't say it was memorable.

      1. re: terrier

        I stand corrected.
        Thank you.
        I do advise a visit to the Athenian to guests, though, so they can get a bit of local flavor, preserved through decades, if dimming some in recent years. Last time I was there, it still had a few old-timers at the bar and remained redolent of fry-grease and spillled beer. More a cultural experience wiith a good view than chow...

        1. re: terrier

          terrier: "Nothing local about it - it's a San Francisco treat. "

          Au contraire. It's all about the oysters, and your proximity to THEM. They fly, they die...

          Where's the nearest oyster bed to the City? What's their production?

          1. re: kaleokahu

            The usual stories trace the Hangtown fry to Placerville during the California Gold Rush days. The choice of ingredients had nothing to do with local abundance; it was all about extravagance using ingredients that were difficult to obtain locally in the gold mining region.

            Obviously when served in San Francisco or Seattle it could use local ingredients, though I suspect shucked oysters from a jar (widely available in the Seattle area) would work in the dish just as well as freshly shucked ones.

            1. re: paulj

              paulj: Interesting article! Always nice to learn the etymology of dishes.

              But considering the ingredients, I wouldn't bet the farm this dish wasn't being cooked all over the world 'way prior to the 1850s.

              I'm no connoisseur of HF, but I've cooked lots of oysters. Alive has always been better than dead.

              And what's the deal with bacon and eggs supposedly being scarce in a mining town? Really?

              1. re: kaleokahu

                According to a Placerville web page:
                " Looking the prospector in the eye he said, “The most expensive things on the menu are eggs, bacon and oysters. The eggs have to be carefully packed to travel the rough road from over the coast; the bacon comes by ship round the horn from back east; and the fresh oysters we have to bring up each day on ice from the cold waters of San FranciscoBay. Take your choice. I can cook you anything you want, but it will cost you more than just a pinch of that gold dust you have there.”"

                I don't know if the bacon in this story was different from the salt pork which was a staple on sailing ships of the era. Eggs could have been produced locally, but that would have required someone giving up their dream of striking it rich panning for gold (or fleecing the miners).

                1. re: paulj

                  paulj: "'[T]he fresh oysters we have to bring up each day on ice from the cold waters of San Francisco Bay.'"

                  My bet is that pigs and chickens beat this miner to Placerville. And unless there was train service at the time up from the Bay, the 108+ miles the oysters had to travel meant they weren't very fresh.

                  But it's still a nice story.

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    FoodTimeLine to the rescue:


                    ". The successful prospectors were heavy spenders; they had to be when it came to food, which was outrageously expensive. Since nobody in California wanted to raise it, everything had to be imported."
                    " The provisions market on the California frontier--and on other metal mining frontiers to follow--was not characterized so much by dizzying high prices as by a crazy instability"
                    But there's a lot more detail there.

      2. I've not tried it, but they have a hangtown fry omelette on the brunch menu at Anthony's.

        1. I didn't have it but I saw it on the menu at Springhill in West Seattle.

          1. Does 13 Coins have it? Its seems like exactly the type of old school place that would have something like this on the menu.

            And while I don't love 13 Coins for dinner, this might be the kind of thing they'd be good at.

            2 Replies
            1. re: GreenYoshi

              13 Coins........they got it !!!
              Check their menu

              13 Coins Restaurants
              1000 Denny Way # 513, Seattle, WA

              Thirteen Coins Restaurant
              125 Boren Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

              1. re: GreenYoshi

                GreenY: "I don't love 13 Coins for dinner..."

                Not the best at much, but a grand old place where, when you want the broadest possible choices... It's like your Great Aunt who can cook anything. While you're drunk!

                13 Coins
                505 5th Ave S Ste 160, Seattle, WA 98104

              2. if you find yourself down south, try Cicada in downtown Olympia (my fav place for brunch in LaTumPia). It's on their breakfast menu. YUM.