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Los Angeles to Seattle. Need recommendations!

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Hello Seattle!

So after 7 years, my fiance and I are moving back to Seattle by way of Los Angeles. I was wondering if I could get any recommendations for any good authentic eats similar to the hole-in-the-wall type restaurants one would find in LA (Persian, Mexican, and Korean come to mind but we're open to any cuisine!). Thought I'd turn to the Chowhound boards since it has been a while.

To give a better idea as to what my definition of a great "hole-in-the-wall" is, Paseo and Panos Kleftiko come into mind. Many of the recommendations we've received from friends lately have been more on the upscale end but with mediocre food.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Golden Beetle Happy hour - get the whole HH menu
    Revel - same idea
    Both have excellent cocktail bars
    Art of the Table is upscale locavore
    Turkish Delight identifies Persian and the food is lovely.
    Little Uncle has Thai covered
    Dot's, in Fremont for killer Ruben and lovely meats.
    Nearby, you need a Uneeda Burger. They offer the most delightful plain burger ever, for $4. This perfected little baby is a hard burger to buy though, with delights like the green chile and the Philly Smash calling to you from the menu. I had the $4 burger; once. $15 is more like it and then shakes and fries and...
    You get what Mike's cooking that day at Pasta Freska
    Rainin' Ribs is all chow. Mike's with Spares and Brisket for me and a double order of hush puppies.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mrnelso

      Thank you for the recs! I'll definitely be giving these a shot. We're a huge fan of tapas, so Golden Beetle will be somewhere near the top of our list!

      1. re: ramyun82

        Keep in mind that while GB is worth your time and money, it is not really a hole-in-the-wall.

        1. re: sweetpotater

          Quite right, tater, but it had to be on the list. In my defense, it's smaller than Denny's...

    2. We are Seattle natives that lived in LA for 5 years before returning a couple of years ago. The food in LA is the biggest thing I miss about living there. The first year or so of living here I would fall in the trap of comparing places to what is available down there. Huge mistake. As with all places, you can good and bad food. LA's food scene is superior, but it's also home to nearly 4mil people - 10mil if you look at LA county. Some of the places up here that we remember being good were no longer that. That said, Seattle certainly has a lot to offer in terms of good food, IMO. Obviously, this is all very subjective and what I list below are places we enjoy - I don't expect everyone to have the same tastes.

      Here's a list of hole-in-the-wall places (mostly):

      Katsu Burger - Amazing katsu pork "burger". Incredibly tender and juicy. On the pricier side, but well worth it.

      Hue Ky Mi Gia - Either of the two roasted duck soups are excellent.

      Salvadorian Bakery - Pretty good pupusas, but the sopa de pollo is a favorite of ours. It's our go-to "sick" soup.

      Pho So 1 - I still believe this is the best pho in Seattle, but with a recent change in who is running it (different part of the family, from what I understand) it's not as good as before. They used to use the beef bones to make the broth and you could tell this by refrigerating the broth and see how it solidifies the next day. The broth no longer solidifies. Still good though.

      Huong Binh - Same shopping complex as Pho So 1 and Hue Ky Mi Gia (the place is a goldmine). They specialize in grilled pork. The lady who runs it is great. She tried to feed a friend of mine one time... a story for another time.

      Noodle Boat - One of the three best Thai places in vicinity of Seattle IMO. Everything we have ordered has been good. In Issaquah.

      Thai Curry Simple - I think they might have put it on hold for the time being, but the Saturday lunch menu has always been good to us. On weekdays they have a curry special and some noodle dishes (phad thai, phad ki mao, etc) and usually a daily special. The owner is great.

      Hallava Falafel - Their falafel sandwich is superb. I wouldn't get the shawarma... it ain't no Sunnin :)

      El Sabor de Oaxaca / El Tio - Two names, one place. Where we go to get our Oaxacan fix.

      La Conasupo Market - I think its Sundays that they do the barbacoa tacos... solid.

      Seattle Fish Company / Sunfish - Our two go-to fish and chips places. Both have pluses and minuses. Both are fine.

      Henry's / Facing East - Two Taiwanese places that are polar opposites. Henry's is in the ID (actually has two locations on one block) and Facing East is in Bellevue (not a hole-in-the-wall at all really). We really like both.

      Tsukinshinbo - For my tastes, it's the best ramen in Seattle. Go when they open on Friday (only day they have it). Other items we've tried on the menu have been good too.

      Blueacre - Certainly not a hole-in-the-wall, but their $1 oysters during HH are fantastic.

      Ras Dashen - Been quite some time since we've been, but I remember it being some pretty tasty Ethiopian food.

      Chili's Deli & Market -Good Indian food in the U District. You would never guess from the outside.

      BCD Tofu House / Jang Soon Tofu Restaurant - Put aside your memories of the amazing food in Koreatown. Heck, we fly down once or twice a year to eat at some of the places down there. We haven't found great Korean up here... yet... but these two are decent soon dobu places. Again, not to be compared to Beverly Soon Tofu or the likes.

      Flame Catering - Truly a hole-in-the-wall. Typically, they just have burgers and sandwiches to feed to courthouse crowd, but once in a while (I need to ask if they actually have a schedule) they roll our some Lebanese specials. Had a more than satisfactory fesenjan there recently... and it was only $5.

      Those are some ideas. I understand if folks disagree, but that's what great about food... we all have different tastes.

      10 Replies
      1. re: tykapfh

        This is... this is pure gold! I shall cherish this list until I try every last one. Thank you, thank you, thank you! :)

        I agree with you on putting on a completely different perspective when eating in Seattle, however, I've found that Seattle does have a few areas that are stronger imho. When in Seattle I try to make an effort to visit at least one Vietnamese restaurant, since many of the Vietnamese restaurants in Los Angeles don't have much to offer (Banh mi is still a relatively new discovery to many locals here). Which is why I'm excited to see that a couple Vietnamese places have made it to your list! :)

        1. re: ramyun82

          Well... try some first and then begin to cherish it if we have similar tastes ;)

          You are absolutely correct about Vietnamese in LA! Unless of course you venture down to Westminster / Garden Grove. Some excellent Vietnamese food is found there. We lived in West LA, so it was quite a trek for us to do that though. From our experience Vietnamese in Greater LA, and more specifically West LA, was sad to say the least. That is the one cuisine that we feel Seattle has the advantage. Sure there are one offs here and there, but you get what I'm saying...

        2. re: tykapfh

          Forgot one...

          Northwest Tofu - I crave their salt and pepper tofu. As well as that big bowl of sweet warm soy milk.

          1. re: tykapfh

            What a great list! I can think of several more to add, and there are more focused posts elsewhere that are directed at specific cuisines.

            Persian sandwiches and groceries from Persepolis (Bellevue)

            Suprisingly authentic regional Mexican at Senor Moose
            Al pastor tacos at Los Chilangos (Bellevue)
            D.F.-style antojitos at El Quetzal
            Salvadorean at El Comal (Bellevue)

            Soon dobu at Seoul Hot Pot
            Genearl Korean at Garden and Western Garden
            Noodle soup and dumplings at Kalguksu
            Korean fried chicken at Chicky Pub or Cockatoo's
            Korean-chinese at Sahm Gook Jih Palace

            Bun bo hue at Hoang Lan
            Bahm mi at Tonys' Bakery, Saigon Vietnam Deli, etc.

            Lao at Vientiane Grocery, Vieng Thong or Savatdee.

            Eritrean at Dahlak
            Ethiopian with fresh made injera at Altaye
            Senegalese at La Teranga

            Cheap middle eastern at Mawadda (Graham St. location only)

            Sichuanese at Bamboo Garden, Spiced, Spicy Talk

            1. re: equinoise

              Whoa... Is the place called Kalguksu? I googled and came up with nothing. I'm seriously missing some of that soup!

              I forgot about banh mi places. I'm a fan of Saigon Deli myself, but I think I need to try the ones you list too.

              I also think the bun bo hue is pretty good at Pho So 1. That shopping complex is fantastic.

              Good additions!

              1. re: tykapfh

                I think the kalguksu specialist is referred to as Youngwol Noodle. http://www.yelp.com/biz/youngwol-nood... . It seems there is often confusion about the English names for the more specialized Korean joints.

                The woman who recommended this place also recommended Shin Sung for BBQ and stews and Yummy Banchan for the eponymous banchan. I have not visited them all yet. All together, there are about 10 Korean places in Federal Way on my to-do list, some very old, some new.

                Agreed that the Ding How Center complex is outstanding. Aside from the places we mentioned, there is also Lemongrass which is great for central Vietnamese dishes such as Mi Quang. I only wish that Seven Stars Pepper was better.

                1. re: equinoise

                  This thread is fast becoming my favorite one--full of places that I love/need to try.

                  Equinoise, question: when were you last at Dahlak? I, too, was a huge fan of them, but the last time I went in (6-9 mo ago?) it seemed to be under different ownership? The lovely woman and her niece were nowhere to be found and it was all men, tons of smoking inside, no food to be seen, just drinks. We sat for a second, while they continued as they were, then ended up leaving.

                  1. re: dagoose

                    What a shame. It has been probably a 6-12 months since I was there.

                  2. re: equinoise

                    Sweet! Going to check out Youngwol soon! Thanks for passing that along.

                    1. re: equinoise

                      Finally tried Youngwol. I thought it was pretty good, but pretty far out of the way for me. I would probably hit it up occasionally if I was closer to it. I'm thinking they make their own noodles which is always a plus. Better than anything I've had in Seattle proper :)

              2. Great thread! I'm also an LA transplant and I agree that Seattle's selection of ethnic hole-in-the-wall spots is meager in comparison. That said, I'll throw another thumbs up for Hue Ky Mi Gia, Facing East, Viengthong, Altaye, Noodle Boat, and Little Uncle.

                I also like:
                Seven Stars Pepper (Szechuan)
                Jebena Cafe (Ethiopian)
                Fu Lin (ramen)
                Ocho (tapas)

                Indian - Clay Pit and Mayuri seem to be the local favorites.

                Kedai Makan (Malaysian take-out) has been popular since they opened last year, but I've yet to go there.