Revisiting the new Elliott Bay Café

Pioneer Square has an embarrassment of riches in the lunch department. We’ve covered a bunch and now we have a new entry that has the potential to be the best in the area. It’s the Elliott Bay Café; an old standby that has undergone a recent refreshing. We can thank Tamara Murphy for this rebirth. The Elliott Bay Book Co. is already a destination, but with a great cafe it can be a local institution.

I knew that Chef Murphy would take over the café but it wasn’t until Nancy Leson’s article that I realized that the cafe was open and running. I made the trek for lunch and after reveling in that experience, I’m sure I’ll go again.

The Elliott Bay Café is famous without most locals even knowing it. Word off the street is that it served as inspiration for the coffee shop on Frasier. Cool huh? The updates that Tamara and team have made are for the better. The lighting is warmer, the walls have been refreshed, and the beautiful textures of the wood – the EBC now feels like a place that you can spend some time in. It’s part of a bookstore, of course you’ll want to linger! Now you can eat some good food during your time there.


The menu is café-oriented with sandwiches, salads. and plates. But the efforts and creativity of it makes it more than standard fare. Here are some of the things that immediately caught my eye:

  • The Spaniard – Manchego, Serrano ham, arugula, and fig mustard on a baguette
  • Moroccan steak – Skirt steak, chermoula, minted yogurt, and feta on grilled pita
  • Country Pate – Ground pork, chicken liver pate, veggies, and mustard on a baguette

I grabbed the Grilled Cheese: simple yes, but one can understand the story of a place and their take on the classics. The Elliott Bay Café’s version uses three kinds of cheese (herbed goat cheese, Italian fontina, and cheddar) to create this nice balanced sandwich. And the bread was perfectly grilled. Sometimes grilled bread can tear up the roof of your mouth, but not here. It’s fresh and soft but still has a good chew. Along with the house greens, it made for a nice lunch. With my drink it was under ten bucks. Holla.

I’ve been a fan of Chef Murphy’s for some time. She revived the Belltown dining scene when she opened Brasa many years ago. Her take on food with a Mediterranean flare woke the Seattle food scene and we are all appreciative for it. Brasa still is one of the best restaurants in Seattle, yet it could also still be considered underrated. Kind of a cool position it’s placed itself.

Other things to love about Tamara Murphy: She has competed on Iron Chef America. She is the creator of The Incredible Feast; a great end of summer event that celebrates local farms. And she loves pork! Try the roast pork at Brasa sometime. You’ll swoon. Trust me.

The café is open everyday from 8 – 8. The menu rotates, which is great because it’ll be fun to see what the seasonal offerings are and Tamara’s take on lunch. And like any good Seattle café, the pastries and coffee are good too. The esteemed Mighty-O Donuts are represented and they get their beans from Fonté roasters.

Tamara reopened the cafe right around Thanksgiving and her beautiful space is her gift to Pioneer Square. Spend some time at her spiffy new Elliott Bay Café, and then walk up the stairs to partake in the best bookstore in Seattle. Or hang out in the cafe and be inspired by creativity. I wrote this post over lunch sitting in the cafe. Be mindful though, the word is getting out and the crowds have already arrived, so it could get crazy but those are the sacrifices we make for great food.

Elliott Bay Cafe on Urbanspoon

Photo from sonofabike’s flickr

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