Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Greater Seattle >
Jan 30, 2012 01:53 PM

ISO a lunch stop near or in Seattle but before Tacoma and a dinner stop on the way back

We are setting out from Vancouver, BC at 9 am on a Wednesday next month. Sadly, no time to do any justice at all to the local eating scene. But we *should* arrive on the outskirts/Sea proper around about lunchish and would sure appreciate some assistance. Since we need to get to Portland by late afternoon, we can't go too too far off the I-5 (sigh) and thought we should stop before we hit the section of road that can be congested btwn Sea and Tacoma. We'll be reversing the trip and looking for dinner on the way back.

We're pretty flexible apart from needing to find some gluten free dishes for one passenger for the lunch only. We'd be thrilled with a good Mexican option, cart or whatever, and don't mind holes in the wall at all. The goat at La Conasupo sounds great but apparently it's only available on Sunday and the rest of the prepared food is just okay. Any other ideas to save us from a roadside stop at a chain? TIA.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. How about dim sum somewhere in Chinatown. It's easy to get to right off the Dearborn exit from I-5. Different people will pick different places as a favorite. Jade Garden is kind of the default (and it's good), but I'm a fan of Tea Garden (especially if you get in at an "off-peak" time, since they will do stuff to order) and New Kowloon on Jackson.

    Couple of nice spots off the Swift and Albro exit in Georgetown too. Hangar Cafe would be a nice light meal (although I don't what they do for gluten free...) and Jules Mae does some nice food.

    If you want to be adventurous, take the Kent-Des Moines road exit, hang a right, and then a left at the light to cruise down International Blvd/Pacific Highway until you find an authentic looking Vietnamese or Mexican spot. I'm willing to bet you'll have a damn good meal as good (better?) than anything a "foodie" would tell you about in Seattle proper.

    1. Grayelf, I suggest Vuelva A La Vida in Tacoma for authentic Mexican. (Lots of seafood on the menu including oysters.) They are located at 5310 Pacific Avenue which is an easy off/on from Interstate 5. I am a big fan of their Ceviche and also their goat tacos. (Don't expect any chips and salsa--this is not Americanized food.)

      2 Replies
      1. re: Leper

        Thanks both of you for your replies. Hadn't thought of dimsum which is funny as it's such a staple here at home. Will have to check if it passes the gluten-free test. Also may prefer to go for something we can't get at home such as one of your Mexican suggestions!

        Leper, since we don't know what the border will be like I'm a bit chary about waiting for Tacoma for lunch as I've heard the road btwn Sea and Tac can be slow. Can you tell I don't drive in your area??? We're happy with non-Americanized, especially me, as I've spent a bunch of time in Mexico and we can't get anything decent north of the border.

        1. re: grayelf

          Also, I'd add that mid-day on a Wednesday I can't imagine the drive from Seattle to Tacoma would be too bad...

      2. Greyelf, knowing your level of high standards on Chinese food, I'd steer you away from the dim sum in Seattle...

        Our Vietnamese food on the other hand....You could do Green Leaf or Tamarind Tree in the ID, just off the Dearborn exit, or go a little further to my personal favorite, Ben Thanh, on Rainier.

        The Salvadorean Bakery in White Center is good, though it takes a little while, so perhaps the nearby Rosteceria El Paisano?

        2 Replies
        1. re: dagoose

          Thanks for the additional tips, dg! Vietnamese would be good on two counts: it's gf friendly for our gluten avoider, and the SO's current favourite cuisine is Vietnamese. We have a lot here but it tends to be the same dishes repeated so would be cool to see what yours have to offer.

          Sadly, I am so unfamiliar with Sea restaurants. Will deffo research all the choices offered here more thoroughly, as it has occurred to my slow brain that we will need sustenance on our way home (Sunday early dinnerish, no gf restrictions then though as our friends are taking the train back) as well. Much appreciated, all who answer :-).

          1. re: grayelf

            You might consider the Ba Bar for some nice Vietnamese with higher end ingredients. It gets mixed reviews here, but I think the food is fabulous.

        2. Everyone here seems to want to send you towards Asian food for some reason...if you're set on Mexican, you might want to think about Poquito's in Capitol Hill (it's maybe 10 min from I-5 near downtown, but the directions are kind of it) or if you want something more like street food, there's a food truck immediately adjacent to the freeway at the Northgate exit that many people like (Exit Northgate and turn right, it's on the left in the gas station/Starbucks parking lot).

          If you're into food trucks, you might also want to check out Seattle's highly regarded Marination, they now have moved from the truck to a permanant location, but the same food, kind of Korean/Mexican/Hawaiian fusion. It's at Broadway / Pike, close the fwy but like Poquito's via a roundabout route -- nothing you can't probably handle.

          1. Just south of SEA proper, is Burien; easily accessable from I-5 at the airport exit.

            Head to Taqueria La Estacion. Definelty not fancy, but fabulous food. In a building that had a former life as some kind of fast food place, but man - the salsa bar, the huaraches (hard to find), excellent tortas. Great carne asada, good looking 9have not tried) roasted chicken meals. Super horchata.
            It's always full of mexican families eating, and very few gringos when I go.

            This is a 10 minute drive West on highway 518 from I5. Freeway dead ends at Burien. Go straight through the lights at 1st ave S, and up to Ambaum. About 1/3 mile. Go right. It will be up on your left about 4 blocks. Your welcome, really:)

            Taqueria La Estacion
            14820 Ambaum Blvd SW
            (between 148th St & 149th St) Yum!
            Burien, WA 98166

            7 Replies
            1. re: gingershelley

              Perhaps Chinese is not the best choice with our scene at home but I'm really okay with Vietnamese options (SO fave, good for gf travelling companion) and Mexican is great too, so thanks for the additional ideas. I think I can talk my little gang into a small detour for really good food :-).

              Would the places mentioned so far on this thread also be options for our trip back which will involve an earlyish dinner on Sunday? I was reading about this place on a local blog and it rather appeals, appearing to be nearish the I-5:

              1. re: grayelf

                5 spot is part of a small local chain. Nothing to write home about. Popular for late breakfasts... you can do WAY better. It's kind of over-priced too. Maybe the location rent, but whenever I have eaten there (breakfast), I always feel my meal should have been at least $1-2 less.

                1. re: gingershelley

                  I wouldn't go out of the way to hit the 5 spot. Honestly, the thought of sitting in a car for 2.5hrs after a 5 spot meal is not very pleasant, so to speak. If you want to eat on the early side, you could stop before Seattle for the best Mexican around in Chehalis (or on the way down if you hold out) at Taqueria Juquilita.

                  If you're coming through Seattle though...the world is your oyster--almost everything will be open, so it's just a matter of what you want to eat.

                  1. re: dagoose

                    Dagoose, who I absolutely respect,
                    You meant for grayelf to stop at Taqueria Juquilita as a 'on the way back" destination for mexi, non? Not on the way down... that would be too far for any CH tummy to wait:)

                    Good to know about that spot, as I regularly go to Cannon Beach a few times a year, and find that my peckishness on the route has less great options than I like.

                    1. re: gingershelley

                      I just googled and Chehalis is 4 hours from Vancouver, so Taqueria Juquilita might be a bit far for us once you factor in a likely pause at the border and the slight possibility of traffic around Seattle. But I plan to include it as a second choice, and if that doesn't work out, it appears to be only 1.5 hours from Portland for the way back. I'm getting more determined about chowing on as many antojitos as I can on this trip, dang it.

                      1. re: gingershelley

                        Or as an additional stop, since like all good hounds, I'm confident greyelf could convince her buddies one more stop wouldn't hurt ;)

                        I just thought I would put a plug in for it, since it's absolutely fabulous and right on her route...

                    2. re: gingershelley

                      Argh, the $2 rule! Thanks for the warnings, both of y'all. Juquilita is deffo on my list for Mexican. And catfish tacos sound interesting, akq, especially with a view (this is a holiday, after all). It doesn't have to be authentic as long as it tastes good!