Seattle sports two different places with lines winding out the door for the same pork sandwich and you'll need to book weeks ahead of time to get a table at Altura for your next celebration (worth it). These are not those places. These are for the people who want to be confident of walking in at 7:30 on a Friday night and getting a table, or who want their sandwich with a side of instant gratification and a place to sit, to boot.
While Janet Lau's upscale Seattle dim sum spot, O'Asian, plods along like an awkward older sibling, this two-year-old Bellevue spot soars. Making good use of a spacious Factoria Mall location, the menu (non-cart) dim sum is served hot, fresh, and filled with high-quality ingredients. But don't stop at dim sum: the dough doyenne has trained her staff to turn out soup dumplings so good that a certain other mall-based Chinese restaurant ought to be ashamed of itself.
Every time I sit down in this Wallingford Japanese noodle house, I wonder how I was able to get a same-day reservation, why they're not charging more, and whom I should tell to change that. But it doesn't seem to help: Seattle Magazine once ended its review with, "You really should go," Seattle Times called the chef "one to watch." And yet, the elegantly decorated restaurant always has an open space at the re-purposed-sewing-machine tables for me to enjoy a matsutaike chawanmushi (pine-mushroom custard) or handmade soba noodle. (These dishes that would cost twice as much anywhere anyone knew how good they are.)
After yet another soggy-bottom burrito or flavorless taco, I always schedule a visit to this Greenwood taco shop crammed into the back of a convenience store. The weekend specialty, slow-roasted lamb called barbacoa, restores my faith in Mexican food and humanity. Slippery and sticky from the long cooking process, brightened with a special fresh green salsa, and wrapped in a warm tortilla, it transports me to Sunday mornings in the hills of central Mexico without needing to board a plane.
Phinney Ridge residents are silently cursing me right now for spilling the secret on this neighborhood gem. There are only a handful of tables inside, and a few more on the lovely patio out back, so by telling you about the simple, fresh Japanese food they serve for lunch and dinner, I'm running the risk of not getting a seat at one of those tables. But it seems terribly mean for other people to miss the big, comforting bowls of udon noodle soup, the simple menu of sushi, and the phenomenal selection of Japanese pastries.
There's a segment of the Seattle population that argues these sandwiches are better than the ones at Paseo or Un Bien. I'm inclined to agree with them, but it shouldn't even be a discussion because Paseo and Un Bien barely even have places to sit, while Bongos has converted an old gas station by Green Lake into a Caribbean coastal shack, beach and all. Put your toes in the sand and bask in the glow of the neon building it makes the sandwiches taste even better.
Eating good pizza and drinking beer next to a chicken shack is sort of a weird thing to be excited about, until you realize that the egg on your pizza comes from the chicken shack. There's a lot that's quirky about this place: it's housed in shipping containers and the space is half garden but the pizza is not one of them. It's not fancy pizza, it's not Neapolitan, and it's definitely not trendy. But it tastes good and the wine is all half-off on Wednesdays