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recent winners from a boston transplant

Hi folks,

We recently moved to seattle from boston, and are getting used to the food landscape.
I'm a little surprised at the low volume on CH, given what appears to be a higher food nerd density. Is there some other forum that is more popular?
But more about food:

Some places we've eaten in the last couple of months that have been good:
(And I know the regulars are rolling their eyes about some of these --- just trying to inject some more data into the system...)

Alladin Gyro-cery in U district: Lamb sandwich.

Araya: lunch buffet -- a good way to get some vegetables. Dinner - more put together.

Pagliacci: I might get razzed for this, but I've found it to be totally acceptable delivery pizza.
I liked the margherita. Also I appreciate that they have logistics down.

Jack's tapas: I'm not sure the region (Some of the dishes seemed taiwanese..) , or why it's called tapas or cafe, but the eggplant basil hooked me up. ALso the green hot sauch with chiles and fermented black beans. Hand cut noodles were good too. I think one of the specials menus never changes and should just get printed up as a menu...

Galway arms: Burger + beer. I like a high food quality to ambience ratio, and this is off the chart with what I think has been the best burger so far, the second diviest atmosphere so far. (first is the blue moon...) Fried fish was also well fried, but more of a batter style than I like.

Sitka + spruce: Simple preparations, good ingredients. We had some apps and drinks standing at the "bar", and the menu lends itself well to getting a few small plates to share.

Tilth: Pretty awesome. The standout was a smoked bean dish that we ordered as filler. Maybe too nice service and atmospere for my liking.

rancho bravo taco truck on 45th: Pretty solid. Not sure why, but no one seems to put beans on a torta by default here. Also I haven't seen al pastor on as spit.

salumi: porchetta (duh...)
Paseo: roast pork sandwich. messy and a bit sweet, but delicious. Beans and rice: meh.

Seattle deli: pork banh mi (and the other ones in a one block radius. All pretty good)

Green leaf:; their marinated mushrooms were particularly amazing.

Overall observations as a boston transplant
Grocery store sticker shock. Where's a market basket when you need one?
expensive low-end food -- sandwiches etc.
(A lot of mediocre $6 sandwiches)
Even bad coffee is better here.
Farmer's markets are a whole different scale.

Ethiopian on Cherry... sorry, I forget which ones but so far all good!

Things I'm missing and would love to find if they exist here, though I know I should learn to love Seattle's unique offerings as well:

Brazilian by the pound
portuguese
a cheap steamed tortilla burrito (A la anna's/boca/felipe)
Greek. At first I thought I was in luck seeing "olympic" this and that, but no, those aren't greeks.
the gyro at pike place was pretty good though.
Turkish (brookline family....)
Low end Indian
budget Puerto Rican (izzy's)

-beancan

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  1. bbc- I moved to Seattle from Boston in 2002 and moved back a few years ago so this might be outdated. Brazilian P. Rican and Indian escaped my rader there if it was there at all. I tended to miss "comfort food" in Seattle i.e. fried clams, "greek pizza" etc... But now back east I miss the excellent Asian and Mexican. I live between Annas and Boca G in cambridge now but cant eat either, or the pho in supposedly authentic Dorchester. Take advantage of the great markets (farmers and supermarkets like central market) nothing like them back here. South Park neighborhood has Mexican places (muy macho was my go to) with real pastor on a spit. Different oysters, halibut and salmon all the time, local beer selection in Seattle probably equals the entire Northeast.

    4 Replies
    1. re: uwebres

      thanks for the tips! [off topic porter sq rec: tacos lupita's torta al pastor.]

      1. re: black bean can

        try the muy macho al pastor, then tell me what you think. Two totally different things.

        1. re: uwebres

          It is indeed a great torta, and in a totally different style. thanks! (the rest of the menu looks good too)

          1. re: black bean can

            I miss it like crazy. Just as in the pizza debate, what you are used to usually wins out. I went out there just as Annas was expanding around town here and I actually liked it. Now that I am back, I just cant eat it anymore. Boca Grande has some legit stuff, but almost every mexican place here is actually Salvadorian owned and operated. The 2 countries are close together, but I see the difference now.

    2. Welcome to Seattle and thanks for the report.
      By the way, don't worry at our eye-rolling, it's a local issue...

      Jack's tapas: Lamb stir-fry is for me, after, of course, the hand-shaved noodles.

      How can I not know Galway arms? Thanks for the tip.
      Grocery store sticker shock. Where's a market basket when you need one?
      See Cash & Carry Commisssary for good prices on industruial groceries.

      A cheap steamed tortilla burrito - try Gordito's or Burrito Loco (Mole)

      Greek. Skip Costa's Opa, but see Panos Kleftiko and dine from the huge app menu.

      For me, Low end Indian is probably Taste Of India, on Roosevelt.

      1. i found the best sandwiches in Seattle to be more satisfying than the best sandwiches i've had in Boston (and no more expensive)-- I'm thinking (in Seattle) the pastrami or reuben at NY Deli (which I prefer over Sam LaGrassa's in Boston), sandwiches atTat's, catfish or fried oyster sandwich at Matt's, lamb burger at 94 Stewart, burgers at Lunchbox Laboratory... a few more non-Boston items to enjoy while you're in Seattle http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/590613 . Boston does have its lobster roll but I have to say the best lobster preparation i've ever had was in Seattle (at Crush), not in lobster-happy New England

        3 Replies
        1. re: barleywino

          That's so sad, barleywino! Because, really, there are some good lobster dinners to be had in New England. (You know: where lobsters come from.)

          What, pray, was this "lobster preparation" you had at Crush? I am agog to learn!

          1. re: Pigeage

            THey have several variations, but if it says "butter poached" or "in coral sauce" be sure to get it-- cooked just this side of rare, so it melts in your mouth

            1. re: barleywino

              Yeah, those east coasters always seem to overdo it with their seafood preparations. I felt like a lot of times, seafood was merely a butter deliver device for them...

              -Native Seattlite back after 7 years in the NE

        2. As a Boston transplant (almost 6 years in Seattle), I have to say welcome. Your assesment is pretty dead on - Seattle is a vastly better food city than Boston in most areas. I spent a week in Boston earlier in the month and it made me realize how good we have it here. Even going out for a burger and a beer here is a much better experience. The grocery store sticker shock is a big one (especially with the sales tax) but I find that shopping the farmers markets, getting a CSA box and using Trader Joes to fill in the rest does help a great deal.

          5 Replies
          1. re: cvn66

            I wouldnt' go so far as to say that Seattle is vastly better than Boston in most areas...for high-end dining, for Italian, and for Japanese and CHinese food (but not Vietnamese, Indian or Korean) I would give Boston the edge...also for cocktails (although I do like Spur)...Boston has great ice cream, Seattle has great gelato...

            1. re: barleywino

              I have trouble saying any major metropolitan area is vastly better than any other. Part of finding good restaurants is actually living in the town for some appreciable amount of time and, honestly, I'm not going to say that the food in (say) Austin is better or worse than Seattle, because I live here, not there, I can spend time finding gems here while there I'm a bit rushed and need to depend upon other people to help me make decisions (which isn't always the best idea unless you have lots and lots of time to figure out whose opinions you can trust).

              Boston isn't better than Seattle (says the Mass. Native), Seattle isn't better than Boston. They are two different cities with different restaurants. I can name resto's in Boston area that put Seattle to shame (Blue Ribbon BBQ, Bob's Clam Hut, Elephant Walk) and one's here that do the same.. well, actually I can't name them right now because I've been out of Boston for too long.

              Same goes for other cities. NYC isn't better than us, it's different. Same with Vancouver. Same with SFO.

              (can you tell I'm sick and tired of 'Restaurants in XYZ are better than the ones in ABC!' threads?)

              1. re: jaydeflix

                C'mon. Let's be serious - we are on a food opinion site here. New York has better restaurants than Seattle. I live in L.A. New York has better restaurants than L.A. This is not something to dispute and get upset about. It is pretty well established and why amateur opinion sites get bogged down and trusted review sites are worth subscribing to. The "it's just different" argument is silly (unless you own a heap of Contemporary Art - then it's just funny, and soon to be a loss if you read about recent sales). Lobster is better in New England. Why? It's fresher. But guess where Olympia oysters and handcrafted brews and most salmon are better? Celebrate your strengths, don't dwell on weaknesses, support the great places identified on this site, and try to encourage good eating, reward sustainability, encourage independent restaurants rather than chains, etc. But don't give me a load of PC - I know full well the pizza in WA isn't as good as CT. So what? The Copper River salmon in New Haven is non-existent. BTW - I am heading to Seattle this weekend and am really looking forward to my visit - I'll be spending money in restaurants that I found recommended on this site, helping the local economy, and excited to try the good stuff. Don't confuse the mission of this site - it isn't to boost us up with the quasi-political idea that "we are all winners" - it is to identify, clarify, and reward excellence locally. I've loved reading the Pacific Northwest board and you have helped me decide where to go and what do do this weekend - thanks to you all, even those I'm sparing with! ;-) Viva la Chow!

                1. re: Pigeage

                  It's not being PC.

                  It's being sick and tired of people complaining because restaurants in place A aren't as good as restaurants in place B.

                  Tell you what, you want to say that NYC has better restaurants than Seattle? Fine. Stay there or don't go out to eat here.

                  There are restaurants in Seattle that are better than restaurants in NYC.

                  And there are restaurants in NYC that are better than restaurants in Seattle.

                  1. re: jaydeflix

                    Why would you be tired of people expressing their opinions (complaining)? This site is to encourage debate, not to stifle it. It seems silly to suggest that we all have to agree. I am sorry you disagree with me - such is life. But your anger is misplaced - I am merely stating something that to me is quite obvious. And you might want to steel yourself for further disappointment and frustration, because I won't be taking your advice to stay in New York (one: I don't live there). No, I think I'll stick to my planned itinerary and hop this plane this to Sea-Tac. I expect to eat well and happily all weekend at a variety of restaurants in Seattle (and maybe even buy some of the Mangalesa pork I've been reading about at the University farmer's market and have a cookout with friends), and write about my experiences and express my opinions on this very website when I get home. Have a nice weekend!

          2. > the gyro at pike place was pretty good though.

            Better gyros at Aladdin Falafel Corner‎ on University Way in the U District, Athina Grill in Lower Queen Anne, and Main Street Gyros in Pioneer Square. The place at the market often their meat off the spit in advance and stores it in a steam table, where it soaks up water and gets soggy.

            1. Long rambling post

              I would like to point out one more thing, being a chef in Boston and was a sous and line cook in Seattle. First of all any city the size (at least global importance if not true size) of Seattle and Boston (both cities have similar populations for city proper, Boston's metro area obviously dwarfs Seattle's) should have great restaurants in the following catagories :

              1. Classic local high end spots. Bring your parents or a business partner etc... The food may not be cutting edge or even that good anymore but it is always there.

              2.Chowhound/foodie places. If you are reading this you know what I mean, anywhere on the price and ambiance spectrum but unique and great.

              3.Ethnic food based on immigration patterns. In Seattle the cooks were Mexican and the produce vendors were East or Southeast Asian so where do those folks eat. In Boston all the cooks are Brazilian or Salvadorean and the produce vendors are Italian...

              Where I think you can give Seattle an edge is the quality of lower priced restaurants not obviously foodie/chowhound joints. I have been back in Boston for a few years now, but I remember neighborhood spots in Seattle that would be the talk of the Boston board based on price to quality ratio or just on quality alone. Having also worked in NYC as a chef I have noticed that on the east coast there is more reliance (even in lower end spots) on French technique and hierarchy so you have to really break away from this to be special. In Seattle there tended to be less of constraint on "fusing" things or being traditional. One last thing is the markets in Seattle blow Boston out of the water, I have to say whole foods is the best supermarket here and the produce section of bostons best whole foods looks like the qfc on cap. hill. You can go to seperate produce/fish/meat shops here but boston is a subway and bus town not a car town so whole foods it is.

              1. I too am a Boston Transplant living in Seattle (2005) and experienced firsthand some of the exact things you mentioned. Hopefully I can help you with your list:
                Burrito: My favorite burrito in town is the Super Prawn Burrito @ Tacqueria Guaymas in Fremont.
                Greek: Consistently good falafel and gyro @ Mr. Gyro near 85th & Greenwood. Also check out Olive You in the same neighborhood. Sometimes tends to be hit-or-miss, but when its good their food can be great! - No Greek Style Pizza though, which I miss!!!
                Indian: Is Chutney's high end?

                11 Replies
                1. re: chowdahhead

                  Chowda- There have been some fun greek pizza discussions on the Boston board lately. You wouldn't think it would be good enough to miss, but other then the north end it dominates the landscape here. I kept trying different Seattle spots that claimed NY style, but that wasn't what I missed (not that they got it anything like the north end or NY anyway) it was the "fill in the blank" house of pizza style that I eat less of as I am halfway through my 30s, but still call on it once a month.

                  1. re: chowdahhead

                    I can't speak to authenticity, but Greek pizza is available from Pegasus on Alki; Olympia on Queen Anne, Wallingford, West Seattle, and Capitol Hill; and Romio's in like 7 different locations.

                    1. re: not the bad Steve

                      That's the funny thing Steve!
                      We aren't talking about a Greek Pizza with Olives, Feta and tomatoes..... Greek Pizza from Boston is a different beast entirely... more a style of pizza, rather than a name of a particular pizza.
                      How I miss a nice, greasy, hamburg greek style pizza!!! Luckily, I am heading back to Boston this weekend!

                      1. re: chowdahhead

                        Greek pizza is such a strange thing to talk authenticity about, but if you have spent any time here in Boston, you know it when you see it. Probably 70% of the pizza places here are greek.

                        1. re: uwebres

                          Can you explain what Greek Pizza is?

                          I live in Boston for 4 years and don't remember anything being referred to as Greek style pizza?

                          1. re: GreenYoshi

                            In boston most of the pizza shops are Greek owned. They tend to make pan pizza, a bit greasy, medium thickness crust some better then others but only if you grew up with it would you miss it.. With the classic old school Italian North End, the assumption is Italian pizza dominates the area but one you get out of the North End (Bostons "little Italy) almost all teh shops are Greek owned. They all sell Gyros and have baklava.

                            1. re: uwebres

                              Sorry, still not thinking of it. Can you name a couple places in Boston that serve this so I can get a point of reference? Cuz even outside of the Northend I don't recall pizza like this.

                              1. re: GreenYoshi

                                Stefani's / dimitrio's in cambridge for example. spongy crust, not much gluten. cooked in a pan. doesn't fold well. I'm not really a fan of the style myself. I think they all buy from the same distributor(s).
                                I see wikipedia is on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_pizza.

                                Also quite a few of the [town name] house of pizza places are greek style.

                                bbc

                        2. re: chowdahhead

                          Sorry, I wasn't trying to refer you to a particular entry on the menus of these places called "Greek Pizza;" I was trying to tell you that they make all of their pizzas in the Greek style. They're all run by Greeks, except Romio's, which is largely run by Russians.

                          1. re: chowdahhead

                            Yeah, Greek pizza is what you find at any place called "_____ House of Pizza" in the Boston area. It's difficult to describe the difference, but like all Boston transplants to Seattle, I totally miss it!

                            Black Bean Can:
                            -Barriga Llena on Aurora and 78th does authentic Mexico City style tortas, with the beans and avocado and everything else right on the bread.
                            -I agree with some other folks that Aladdin Falafel Corner in the U-dist is much better than the gyro-cery. Middle Eastern gyro rather than Greek, but amazing nonetheless. Also, fantastic falafel.
                            -Best burger: Quinn's. Hands down. Also, a high food quality:ambiance ratio. I've never been in the Galway, just always assumed it was a sketchy dive bar in that slightly ghetto north of 50th part of the Ave.
                            -Second best burger: skillet street food. Other good burgers: Wedgwood Ale House, Spur, and the Kobe burger at Blue Moon (go on Wednesdays when it's 1/2 off).
                            -not sure if you're gonna find the brazilian or portuguese you're craving, like the east cambridge style or Fall River Azorean style food. my advice is to save that for when you go back to visit Boston.
                            -taco trucks: there are SO many better ones than Rancho Bravo, I'd snoop around here and find the ones throughout South Seattle and White Center that folks always rave about. For North Seattle, though, try El Camion in the Home Depot parking lot on 130th and Aurora. Amazing fish tacos.

                            1. re: jakecola

                              Thanks for the recs! I'll have to be contrary though and argue that, at least as far as the lamb sandwich is concerned, the U district Gyrocery beats Alladin (although I think they are the same people... weird)

                              Barriga: not my favorite styles of torta, but very glad to have the variety

                              El Caminon tacos: Fish and carnitas were both super tasty! I might need to do more shopping at home depot!

                      2. BBC - For Greek Food: Nick's Gyro's in Magnolia Village. Seriously.
                        Small Place. Fresh fresh fresh.
                        When I first discovered it I ate there three days in a row.

                        2231 32nd Ave W
                        Seattle, WA 98199
                        (206) 285-4778‎