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Looking for an "Only In Seattle" type place

Hello all. Long time reader, first time et cetera.

Anyhow, my girlfriend and I are driving from Minneapolis (where we live) to Seattle next week. We'll have 3-4 days in Seattle with a car and no major destinations, so clearly I've been doing a little research on food.

What I'm looking for is somewhere completely unique to Seattle. It doesn't have to be a 5-star joint, or award winning or anything like that (I'm thinking $9-14 an entree). But I want to find somewhere that's entirely unique to, and a product of, Seattle. And in all my reading on this site (and others), I haven't seen any good consensus yet.

For instance, if you're in Chicago (and you read this site), you go to Hot Doug's. If you're in Kansas City, you go to Arthur Bryant's. If you're in Denver, you just try to find yourself some good green chili. If you're in Minneapolis, you go to The Modern (as far as I'm concerned, at least), or Matt's.

I've already decided that Crush is going to be our "big night out" meal, but I want some other cheaper destinations aside from that. So far it seems that Baguette Box is a consensus favorite for a lot of people, and I'm intrigued by Spur and Monsoon. But I haven't quite found that perfect Seattle place yet.

So what say you, Seattle? I'll have a car, and will be willing to drive anywhere. I don't care if it's a dive. I don't care if it's pretentious. I don't care if it's in a suburb. Lunch, dinner, breakfast, Whatever. I just want it to be delicious, and I want to think about it when I'm back home a week later.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Try Paseo. They have Cuban sandwiches and their sandwiches have been nationally rated. Order the #2, don't unwrap the whole thing when you get it, just unwrap as you eat (it is that messy). Go to the Ballard location (on Shilshole) and get your sandwiches and go down to the beach. Just bring plenty of napkins.

    If you don't like or want pork, get the prawn sandwich. I recommend going for lunch or an early dinner as they usually under order on the bread and tend to run out on occasion, especially on weekends. But if you go for lunch or during the week you'll probably be fine even for a later dinner to watch the sunset. Their dinners are excellent too (basically the same meat as the sandwiches with rice and amazing beans. The onions are fantastic and the garlic bread is basically dipped in butter and garlic.

    This is the sandwich that will leave you wanting it for a year after you get home.

    Oh, and they are cash only. The Fremont location has a couple small tables, the Ballard location has a couple benches.

    2 Replies
    1. re: patriciajane

      Market Grill. Hands down. Get the grilled salmon sandwich.
      http://www.yelp.com/biz/market-grill-...

      Also Matt's in the Market; if you go for lunch, you'll be able to eat within your price range, though some things will be more expensive.

      If it's a nice day, eat oysters at happy hour outside on the deck at Elliot's. It's on the waterfront.

      1. re: patriciajane

        Here, here! I went to Paseo on a recommendation from this sight, (I live in Vancouver BC) and was blown away. Super good, tasty and fresh.... not mention inexpensive. Perfect!

      2. I was going to recommend Paseo. And who could describe it any better than patriciajane. Skillet Street Food (an Airstream trailer that changes locations daily) is very Seattle-like, as well.

        Be sure to hit the Theo's chocolate tour, 1 and 3 pm daily, right on your way to or from Paseo. This posting includes some other hidden food gems:

        http://www.examiner.com/x-255-Seattle...

        2 Replies
        1. re: zoogrrrl

          Paseo is officially on the list. I love Cubans more than just about anything, so it sounds perfect!

          1. re: stevemarth

            Be forewarned: Paseo's Cuban sandwich is NOT a Cuban Sandwich in the traditional sense.

            It's a pressed sandwich with roast pork and stuff, but not like you've seen before.
            It's good but it's different in style and taste.
            (I'm more of a fan of the chicken thigh sandwich)

        2. Really? I love Paseo, but I don't think of it as an "Only in Seattle" kind of place. It's a good sandwich, but what about it makes it uniquely Seattle?

          When I have friends in town and want to give them a "Seattle" experience, I've done a couple of things.

          For me, Tamarind Tree has always been a favorite from an ethnic bent. I think Vietnamese is one of best and most interesting cuisines we have around here and something that is more limited in other parts of our country. (it's a good one on a budget too)

          From a more American perspective, Matt's, Etta's and Dahlia are good choices with a nice local feel to them. All strike me as very Seattle-y, with a variety of seafood options and head chefs with strong local ties.

          And when I want to show off the water, I usually do Ray's up in Shilshole.

          But honestly, if you're looking for the experience that , the kind that ex-pat Seattlites will ask you about (ie, "Oh, you were in Seattle? Did you hit... ?"), it's probably Dick's and Ivar's. Not the best of food, but the definitely Seattle institutions.

          (You're choices of Spur and Monsoon are good ones too. I'd add Quinn's which is similar to Spur)

          2 Replies
          1. re: GreenYoshi

            Yeah, I've noticed a lot of Vietnamese places get mentioned in other threads. For whatever reason, here in the Twin Cities there are a TON of great Vietnamese spots, so I was leaning towards staying clear of them while in Seattle. But I've seen Tamarind Tree praised by a ton of people now, so I might just sneak in there. You really can't beat Vietnamese sometimes. Also, I read that Monsoon does Vietnamese with a bit of a Pacific Northwest twist (or so they claim), which is why I was intrigued. Their menu looked pretty good too.

            1. re: stevemarth

              monsoon in my opinion totally lives up to that promise (and you've got it right.) in a similar vein joule in wallingford, does interesting twists on asian flavors (with korea being the lodestar in this case) w/mediterranean flavors too. not some lame fusion place but genuinely interesting ideas well executed. that said i went there soon after they opened and not everything melded perfectly but it was definitely worth the trip and not something i'd expect to see in many other cities.

          2. I'd suggest the Lunchbox Lab - seems to be a love/hate relationship with posters on here, but, in my opinion, has the best burgers I've ever had. It recently made the foodnetwork best burger list (1 for each state). Interesting combinations and great shakes. I'd say it is unique to Seattle. Disclaimer: this is not your regular burger stand. The prices are high, but the quality of ingredients matches it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: BallardFoodie

              I read a little on that place, and definitely noticed the "love/hate" vibe. A couple reviews on Yelp, along with their website (yikes!) turned me off of it, but it's sounding better and better. I'll definitely keep it in mind.

              1. re: stevemarth

                They are clearly focusing their efforts on aspects that don't include the website. It has no bearing on the excellent food, though.

            2. Ivar's Salmon House has a Lake Union View and a pretty OK happy-hour menu (meaty squid so tender - plan to tear away the breading). There are lots of great Seattle history photos, but you might want to do your own search at historylink . org for the whole story of Ivar Haglund, much loved local restarateur, generous citizen, and a real card. We miss him.