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Feb 4, 2011 05:26 PM

Any restaurants worth the money in Olympia?

Is the dining in Olympia really as bad as it seems or am I just missing something? I'm new to the Pacific Northwest, we just moved here. I had heard so much about the food in this area of the country, the freshness, the quality, the local produce, the farmers markets, and so far I haven't eaten at one place in Olympia I'd go back to. Most local places just look unappealing, but I have given some a try anyway, only to find the food about as good as the condition of the building - this includes the somewhat saggy California Taco Van. I had a burrito with fajita veggies that poured grease onto the table when I opened it and was soggy and off. I am from southeast Minnesota, not known for it's amazing food, but I am suffering here in Olympia. On nights when I'm out of groceries or run out of time to cook, I am opting for boxes of Annie's mac and cheese and canned soup rather than buy food from restaurants here. Can you help with any recommendations? I'll take anything from kid-friendly fast food and take out to fine dining. Please help!

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  1. I feel your pain--I'm from the East Coast and I was pretty surprised at the lack of quality restaurant selection when we moved to Olympia three years ago. I have found that there are a few places that are consistently excellent though, so I thought I'd include the information here:

    Wagner's European Bakery & Cafe
    1013 Capitol Way S
    Olympia, WA

    Fifth Avenue Sandwich Shop
    117 5th Ave SW
    Olympia, WA

    Cascadia Grill
    American, Brewery/Pub/Tavern, Organic, Steak House
    200 W 4th Ave, Olympia
    (360) 628-8731

    Chili Thai Restaurant
    5823 Lacey Blvd. SE. #A
    Lacey, WA 98503

    Wagner's European Bakery & Cafe
    1013 Capitol Way S, Olympia, WA 98501

    Fifth Avenue Sandwich Shop
    117 5th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501

    Chili Thai
    5823 Lacey Blvd SE Ste A, Lacey, WA 98503

    1. I used to live in Olympia and to be frank there is not a whole ton in Olympia (Seattle has a lot better selection but isn't accessible for after work dinners)...

      Bread Pedder downtown has good pastries and the such, but not sure about dinner....

      That being said, Xinh's in Shelton is not that far away, and we drive from Seattle just to eat there... It's just that good!

      1. I grew up in Olympia and worked in several restaurants (as a server) before moving to Bellingham for college and grad school. I realized how much Olympia lacks in quality food in comparison to similar size Bellingham. Now that I'm back in Olympia, I have discovered some truly great and consistent restaurants. If you are willing to spend some cash, I highly recommend Cicada, Basilico, and Waterstreet Cafe (all in the downtown area). For more casual fare, my husband and I really enjoy Fishtale Brewpub and the Iron Rabbit (westside). I agree that California Tacos is greasy. There is a far superior Taco Bus on Capitol Way in Tumwater called Mero Mero. I hope this helps. Welcome to Olympia!

        Iron Rabbit Restaurant & Bar
        2103 Harrison Ave NW Ste 1, Olympia, WA 98502

        Waterstreet Cafe & Bar
        610 Water Street SW, Olympia, WA 98501

        2 Replies
        1. re: linzandchris

          Can you be more specific on the location of the Mero Mero taco truck? I haven't seen it. Thanks!!!

          1. re: Steve in Olympia

            360-515-6405 is the number for Mero Mero and they can give you the exact address; however, it's near the Shell station on Capital way. My husband calls in the burrito special from work and rides his bike to pick up during his lunch break. He has mentioned many times how much healthier the food seems in comparison to California Tacos.

        2. Little Roni's Sandwich Shop downtown is new, bare bones, and unusually good. It's a lunch place. Lemon Grass is probably the best Asian food in the area, consistently good. Iron Rabbit on the west side is kid friendly, local, lots of organic, nice waitstaff (casual). Vics is fun with kids for pizza. Curry Corner in Lacey, heading into Nisqually Valley, is delicious Indian (casual, no reservations). Decent banh mi sandwiches can be had at Mini Saigon on Columbia Street and on Capital Way next to Capital Florist, what was that place called? Nami's or something? Mercato's is decent and makes very good shredded duck salads. Pho Vy on the west side is also quick, cheap, kid-friendly and good. Thai Garden near the mall on the west side is quite good and the service recently improved. Xinh's in Shelton is excellent. Cicada can be very good but has off days. You're right, though, the best eating here is at good cooks' homes. Don't overlook the co-op and Top Foods for their selection of locally-grown produce.

          Curry Corner
          9408 Martin Way E Ste 2, Lacey, WA 98516

          Mini Saigon
          111 Columbia St NW, Olympia, WA 98501

          Iron Rabbit Restaurant & Bar
          2103 Harrison Ave NW Ste 1, Olympia, WA 98502

          Lemon Grass
          5215 W Clearwater Ave Ste 113, Kennewick, WA 99336

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