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Freshly Relocated to South Seattle. Seeking council from veteran eaters of the area.

  • r

I've just moved into a place in Seward Park after years of exile to the Eastside. And while there are certainly gems to be found spaced between Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah, and the like, my excitement at Seattle's offerings being less than 20 minutes away is bordering on delirium. So, I intend to take advantage of being much closer to Downtown, Capital Hill, and the bounties of the ID, but my immediate focus is on the best food destinations in my neighborhood. So, I'm looking for any tips on eating between Rainier Ave, the south end of Lake Washington, and west as far as Beacon Hill. Columbia City, Madrona, MLK, even North Renton are all within a moment's striking distance.

I'm not a complete stranger to the area and have sampled or know of some of it's offerings, (La Medusa, Geraldine's, Pho Bac, Mutual Fish). But, I'm still interested in hearing specific menu recommendations for the obvious places. I would never have known to sample Geraldine's superlative french toast even after several visits if it weren't for this board. I'm guilty of falling into routine with some of my favorite places, and sample to little of a potentially revelatory menu. So don't be shy with your favorite finds, fine dining, or hole in the wall, all are equal in my eyes if the food is made with skill. I already plan on checking out some Pollo a la Brasa and Mekong Rainier, in the hope that it fills the hole Ranch 99 left in my life when I moved up from the Valley some years ago. I've also fallen in love with the pulled pork pizza at Flying Squirrel. But I'm sure there are a number of treasures within 10 minutes of my new home that I am completely blind to.

I'm pretty new to Chowhound and still overwhelmed by its value as a resource to someone obsessed with all things tasty. I was inspired to post this question after seeing a post by Equinoise from last year about lengua tacos being doled out of the back of a car in a Lowe's parking lot. I was out that Lowe's last night and would never have had the good sense to notice such an event. I envy that kind of gastronomic radar and eagerly (greedily) seek to benefit from yours.

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  1. Sunday afternoon (after church) there is a car out front of the church on Orcas, just West of Rainier. I haven't stopped, but they are serving roasted corn on the cob and other street treats to the parishioners. I wonder if this is the same "car service"?
    You can also get roasted corn up at McPherson's most days.

    Both Ways Cafe, next to Flying Squirrel, is a good place for breakfast or filling polenta or lasagna type casseroles for lunch. They were on the ferry overpass years ago and I still like their food. Especially homey baked goods.

    Verve - wine bar with a remarkably good kitchen.

    Empire Coffee, and of course, Columbia City Bakery.

    The taco truck or the falafel / Iraqi place at Rainier and Graham. Don't miss the chai.

    Thien Phat on Rainier, near Franklin. It's not Tamarind Tree, but it's easier to get in and it is less expensive. I like the egg and flour cake with green papaya salad, but pretty much everything is good - clay pot chicken, meat and pickled vegetables... Oddly, I've never tried the Pho.

    Spice Room - mostly for the kao soy.

    Full Tilt - ice cream (and beer!) In a strip mall off Rainier, south of Hudson.

    6 Replies
    1. re: tsquare

      Thai palms on mlk for good Lao food.
      Go to Columbia city bakery often.
      Bob meat next door is a good butcher, 12 a pound for dry aged rib eyes
      El quetzal for DF Mexican food. On beacon hill.
      Mawaddi in hillman is good
      Vietnamese market across from where chubby and tubby used to be is good. They have good Vietnamese sandwiches with house made bread.

      1. re: dagrassroots

        Mawadda Cafe on Graham? That's the place for chai.

        Seriously? The Vietnamese market has good bahn mi? I didn't care for the one I had at Thien Phat, so close across the street (poor bread quality mostly.) Excellent to know. Though I keep hearing about the fish bahn mi at Tommy's in the Viet Wah strip mall on MLK.

        Oh yeah, we like the inexpensive dim sum at Western Donut and Dim Sum too - but is has been a couple of months, so your experience may vary.

        Thien Phat
        3330 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

        1. re: tsquare

          Definitely Mawadda. It's all good, but do not miss the falalel.

        2. re: dagrassroots

          I second Thai Palms.

          Thai Palms
          6715 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Seattle, WA

        3. re: tsquare

          Finally made it to Columbia City Bakery, after going by when the doors are closed dozes of times. Brought a pistachio cake to work to celebrate my last day at the job. It was seriously good cake from someone who doesn't usually have an appetite for the stuff. Dense crumb but still moist and not too rich. The frosting tasted like lemon and good butter and just melted as soon as you taste it. Best of all, the thing had apparently been sandblasted with dusted, bright green pistachio. If everything there is that good, I'll be spending quite a few mornings exploring their case.

          1. re: Reloy

            While I love the pastries, cakes and other breakfast food at Columbia city bakery (tortas are always very good), where Columbia city really shines is the bread...world class.

        4. In addition to the "10 minutes from Seward Park" suggestions made thus far, here are a few more, moving from Renton northward:

          Starting at the south end, Naan 'n Curry is in "downtown" Renton, across from the yeppers, western wear store, (does downtown Renton remind anyone else of downtown Centralia?). I am sure everyone has their N&C favorites, but after trying several menu items, we now get double orders of the Chicken Mughlai - it's that good - no one wants to share. Moving north to Royal Orchid in Renton, closer to the Renton Airport, try the Emerald Garlic Tofu, Kee Mao Noodles, Coriander Chicken, and Panang Curry. The Larb Gai is also good, and the Tom Ka Gai is decent, but not as good as the old Siam on Broadway's (R.I.P, darn it.). Moving further north to Rainier Beach, Maya's Mexican Restaurant (9447 Rainier Avenue South) has marinated lamb shank on their menu, but the food is more plentiful than particularly delicious. A bit further north at Rainier and Othello is Los Tinos - another fairly decent Mexican place (but - speaking of Centralia - no place in Seattle compares to La Tarasaca). Many Columbia City and Hillman City places have already been mentioned, so, skipping north towards the city, you might want to try Rainier Teriyaki, next door to Thien Phat at 3300 S. Rainier (across from old Chubby & Tubby). It has taken me a long time to find good teriyaki, and Rainier Teriyaki has the best I've found so far. I have yet to find good pho south of the International District - if someone has a fav place, please chime in.

          Those suggestions should keep you chowing while you unpack your boxes and settle into your new home, but if you want more ideas and delightful writing, try Catherine Reynold's restaurant reviews on the Renton Patch - she's a wonderful source for Renton area restaurants.

          Royal Orchid
          104 Rainier Ave S, Renton, WA 98057

          Thien Phat
          3330 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

          Rainier Teriyaki
          3330 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

          1 Reply
          1. re: Olympia Jane

            I love Royal Orchid. Thai restaurants are a dime a dozen in Seattle, but RO really stands out with their versions of common dishes like Pad Thai. I never order it, since it usually tastes like ketchup noodles to me, but a friend did and it was eye-opening. They charbroil the meat (pork, in our case) and suddenly it's one of my favorite things in life. They also don't skimp on the hot peppers. I ordered the Som Tam and it was nothing short of incendiary - just the way I like it.

            Royal Orchid
            104 Rainier Ave S, Renton, WA 98057

          2. Thanks! These are just the sort of recommendations I was looking for. I still haven't made it to Columbia City Bakery despite having some of their goods elsewhere. I was very pleased with Bob's Meats on my one visit thus far. A freezer section full of cut up veal bones, caul fat, and lamb necks sits very well with me. Any butcher can get that if you preorder it, but I like that it's there in case I find an afternoon free and decide to do some unexpected stock making. I hadn't realized Naan 'n Curry was so close. I remember reading a glowing review when they opened and wanting to make the trip but never finding the time. I was expecting good Indian food to be one thing I missed as my old office was near the Lake Hills Mayuri.

            Looking forward to trying these and anything else Hounds offer up.

            1. Cafe Vignole is a pretty interesting Italian spot on 57th off Rainier South. Nice variety, and some unusual items. We enjoyed their Italian ribs recently. Very nice wine selection. We also enjoy Via Tribunali in Georgetown as well as the Thursday appearance of Where Ya At Matt's truck also in Georgetown.

              Via Tribunali
              317 W Galer St, Seattle, WA 98119

              Cafe Vignole
              9252 57th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

              5 Replies
              1. re: DonJ

                We were disappointed by the Georgetown Via Trib's pizza on a recent visit - it was soggy and bland. No amount of doctoring could fix it. Given the growing preponderance of passable pie in the sound end, there's no reason to bother eating a blah 'za. BUT a day does not go by that I don't spend at least a few moments fondly recalling the hyperdeliciousness of Via Trib's exquisite Strega Martini. Whomever is to praise or blame for it, the perfect blend of Strega, gin and muddled mint may prove dangerous to my health. Or cure everything. Either way, what a concoction. I am not sure the cocktail is called a "Strega Martini" - but - the description of ingredients will get you close enough for the V.T. bartender to put one in front of you. - it's on their list of specialty cocktails. And, no, the first one is not free, but it should be. I realistically envision a line item coming soon to my Health and Welfare budget just for 'em.

                1. re: Olympia Jane

                  Thanks for the recs. Knowledge of a solid martini location within reasonable taxi distance is a blessing and a curse.

                  1. re: Olympia Jane

                    Well I will have to try the Martini sometime! I eat there once a week, and your pizza experience is not at all typical....it is so packed at lunch time it must not happen to others!
                    I think they really are pretty darn good!

                    1. re: Olympia Jane

                      A different style, more Seattle than Italy or New York, is Stellar pizza.
                      On a good day, the Corson Classic (Yukon Gold, gorg, sweet onion) will knock your sox off.

                      1. re: mrnelso

                        The best thing about Stellar is that they offer half pies. (as in you only have to buy half a pizza). Otherwise, I kind of feel like this was "good pizza" five years ago, before some of the better new comers that have come along (although it's an entirely different style than Via Trib down the street...)

                  2. Folks have hit almost all of my area recommendations, already. However, I will toss Silver Fork into the mix. It's a southern style greasy spoon on Rainier and Charleston, by the Safeway. They do a great greasy spoon breakfast, with the best grits I've had in Seattle. It has an ambience somewhere between run down and well lived in, a friendly staff and generally very pleasant clientelle. Along with their grits, I really like their chicken fried steak with brown gravy, and they make quite good pancakes (they don't compete with the "best in town" places, but for an easy morning breakfast, they're very good).

                    Edit: Oh! And don't miss the Columbia City Farmers Market on Wednesdays!

                    Silver Fork
                    3800 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

                    1. Love the pulled pork pizza at Flying Squirrel!

                      And since no one else has mentioned it yet, how about The Corson Building?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Thiebaud

                        If we're extending the conversation north to G'town, go to Smarty Pants and order the egg salad sandwich, add bacon. Egg salad & bacon is a Texas classic, and they do it well at Smarty Pants (also a very useful bar).

                        The Japanese place a few doors north on Airport (I think maybe it's called the Cutting Board or something similar) is also good.

                        1. re: pusherman

                          I don't have any problem with going up to Georgetown now and then. I should probably do a little exploring aside from hitting the brewery for growler refills.

                      2. Alot of the good stuff has been covered, but I'd add:

                        Huarachito's on MLK for D.F. fare and tacos in a sit-down format with beer (and margaritas?).

                        The taco truck near Graham is Los Potrillos; have not been in a while as El Asadero #2 (further North on Rainier in a beached bus) is my go-to. Patzcuaro is a taco truck fairly far south on MLK that has the distinction of selling satisfying, if greasy, pupusas.

                        Has Dahlak (Rainier/State St.) been mentioned? Top-notch Eritrean food. La Medusa? Arguably one of the top Italian in SEA.

                        Pizzuto's on Wilson in Seward Park is decent Ital-American that is reminiscent of the East coast.

                        Re: the Mexican ladies in and around Lowe's, it's difficult to predict when the goods will be available. Try to get there early on a clear weekend day before they sell out. My wife has spotted multiple sellers there on a few occaisions.

                        Ben Thanh across from Franklin HS serves Viet food that has some devoted fans, especially the soups and hot pots, and they offer some exotic meats. Hoang Lan on MLK is said to have the most authentic bun bo hue in SEA; haven't been yet myself. I've been dissapointed in the bahn mi from Tammy's Deli, the BBQ pork was cold.

                        If you a stretching to Renton, Pabla has probably the best Punjabi vegetarian food in the area, plus a pretty good sweet shop, if more limited selection than Mayuri in Redmond.

                        The Vietnamese/Thai grocery near to the former Chubby, Mekong Rainier, is an excellent source for all your SE Asian staples, at super cheap pricing. Never tried the bahn mi. Vieng Thong is a very respectable Lao-Thai on MLK near McClellan that has more limited Lao options than Thai Palms.

                        Just yesterday, I tried the Shophouse Thai stall at the farmer's market, and I enjoyed it, though I think they should drop their prices by 1$ or so per item.

                        Kawali Grill I was not that into, but my dining companions were; I'm not generally a fan of Filipino food (there is great long post about this issue elsewhere on this board).

                        El Pilon is a Puerto Rican place (Rainier/42nd) serves a good mofungo, but the prices are a bit silly for the homey atmosphere and unremarkable other dishes they offer.

                        5032 Wilson Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

                        Ben Thanh Restaurant
                        2815 S Hanford St, Seattle, WA 98144

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: equinoise


                          Care to expand a bit on Dahlak? I drive by every day to and from work, and have been curious, but have never actually gone in. What should I expect there?


                          1. re: equinoise

                            I'm curious too. I've never had Eritrian food. I'm fond of Ethiopian though, and anything with injera is going to have a hard time disappointing. A quick scan through Google makes me want to try kitcha fit-fit.

                            My folks are big fans of Pizzuto's because it is that classic American-Italian mafioso food. And sometimes a phonebook sized slab of lasagna is just what you need.

                            5032 Wilson Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

                            1. re: Reloy

                              Basically same cuisines. Dahlak is very good. I love kitcha with a nice spicy tomato stew and eggs. Good breakfast food.

                          2. Welcome to the South end! Many restaurants have already been mentioned, recommendations I'd second are Pabla, Naan-n-Curry, Mwadda, and Columbia City Bakery. Others not yet mentioned...

                            Chapinlandia Guatemalan Bakery & Restaurant 916 S 2nd St Renton - Try the enchiladas (not at all what you’d expect, beets, eggs, lettuce). The tamales are really good too. Haven’t had a bad thing yet and it is a sweet little family run joint (with crazy circus music).They also make pastries.

                            Liberty Café 926 S. 3rd Street Renton, WA 98057 Independent coffee shop in downtown Renton. Free Wi-fi, good coffee

                            Cedar River Smokehouse , 304 Wells Ave S, Renton, WA 98057- Beef ribs to die for, the rest is marginal.

                            If you are looking for a decent beer and burger try these

                            Dog & Pony Alehouse 351 Park Ave N Renton, WA 98055 – Upscale pub grub. Great and rotating beer selection (owner was a former brewmaster). Outside courtyard for the summer with movie nights.

                            Whistle Stop Ale House 809 S 4th St Renton, WA 98055 – Burgers, sandwiches and specials. Cocktails and Beer.

                            A Terrible Beauty 201 Williams Ave S Renton, WA 98057 – An Irish restaurant and bar that also does a decent brunch on weekends. Above average food and decent service. Looks much better on the inside than it does out.

                            I'm also surprised that nobody has mentioned Pizzeria Pulcinella• – good Neapolitan style pizza. This is the love child of the owners of Vince’s Italian.

                            And a bit further afield, but a good pairing with the $3 movie theater Schezuan First, 18124 E. Valley Hwy Kent, WA 98032- The address says Kent, but this is right near the $3 theater and Ikea. Hands down, the best Schezuan food in the south end. Try the smoked tea duck.

                            Whistle Stop Ale House
                            809 S 4th St, Renton, WA 98057

                            1. THE place to get ingredients and carry-out dishes of Italian heritage in Seattle is Remo Boracchini's on Rainier!

                              Pastries are wonderful. Was able to find out that the difference between $7.50/lb prosschiutto from Safeway and $15.00/lb proschiutto (sorry about my Italian spelling!) is money well spent!

                              Deli, pastry shop, carry out heat-n-eat, hot food and ingredients for all your Italian cooking needs, including a selection of olive oils and I guarantee a good time visiting this place!

                              Unlike most of the Italian/Pizza places recommended in this list, Remo Boracchini's is left over from when the entire Rainier Valley was just Italians, and used to be called "Garlic Gulch"

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: PeteSeattle

                                I've been dropping by Remo's for only about 20 years and I can not recommend it to anyone except as an adventure into what was available before the food revolution (that is , the huge changes in imported food and locally produced artisan type foods - along with the interest in/market for them.)

                                The "cream" cakes are renown, but taste awful to me, like dipping into a can of crisco. The cookies and pastries pale in comparison to places like Columbia City Bakery, Besalu, Bakery Nouveau etc. The ice cream is soft serve that they "flavor" to order. Full Tilt blends in fresh frozen fruit, fresh brewed coffee, etc. You can find some Italian stuff there, but little that you can't find at the Albertsons in Bellevue (ie, little that is special.) I'll admit I haven't investigated what they have available in cured meats, but I am guessing they aren't selling prosciutto de parma or even the best of the domestic at $15/lb. Probably selling the same stuff as Costco or Trader Joe's.

                                Sorry - I am definitely going to disagree with you on this recommendation. Just because it has stuck around doesn't mean it is good. Now, Mutual Fish, a few doors away - that is a place worth visiting - but you still need to know what you are buying.

                                Bakery Nouveau
                                4737 California Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98116

                                1. re: tsquare

                                  Ah well, the entire cuisine you mentioned in the first paragraph is anathema to me! And to the rest of the world, by the way: Northwest Cuisine has nearly as bad a reputation as English food, but for different reasons.

                                  At least the Northwest people are trying to enjoy good tasting food! There are some whopping mistakes here, however. The tend is to lean on the words "Food Revolution" and "Fusion Cuisine" and get infatuated with the words. (The English seem to be guilty of something similar. )

                                  So back when I had more $$ than I do now, I was newly arrived here with a local friend and we went to a restaurant north of Green Lake that had "Salmon with Mole Sauce" on the menu. Now, no matter how you slice it, that's still chocolate-covered fish! (THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!)

                                  Getting disgusted at that point, we adjourned over to a Persian Restaurant (Shamsi, now defunct) nearby, and enjoyed a cuisine that was actually delicious, and had recipes that were tested over thousands of years.

                                  The thing that recommends Remo's is primarily LOCATION, PRICE, and QUALITY. The prosciuto is true Prosciuto de Parma, and while it's not worth the effort to travel far from Nordstrom's in Bellevue to enjoy any of Remo's offerings, the original question was "What's good here?" and Remo's is.

                                  One thing I like to do because it's very popular with the kiddies, and with Food Stamps it's important, is to buy Remo's frozen pizza dough and some toppings and work with the kids rolling out and making our own pizzas. You can't do that in Bellevue. You wouldn't do that in Bellevue. The pizza dough costs $1.00 for a packet of two, enough to make two ten-inch pizzas. You have to work with the little girls to keep them from snarking all the mozzarella as they're grating the cheese, but it's a lifestyle and taste that's unfamiliar to the shopping mall set.