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.
Here’s another really cool event in Seattle this week. This time it’s to support local businesses throughout town. It’s called City Stimulus and runs from December 4 through 7. It includes restaurants, coffee shops, record stores, shoe stores – basically anything you can spend money on. It is a great way to start checking some gifts off your holiday list and savor a few tasty goodies along the way.
Some of the more distinguished restaurants in our area are participating:
Boat Street Cafe
They’ll be having special offers, discounts, etc for ‘City Stimulus’ cardholders! Check out the website, download your card, see which of your favorite stores are participating and go out and support local businesses! Avoid the big box stores and go to the local gem that really looks forward to your dollar. Did you know that for each dollar spent at a local shop, about 45% of it goes back into the local economy? Pretty cool. And local business owners are truly the backbone of the community.
See you around town for the small business party!
A benefit of working in Pioneer Square is that its character and history is everywhere. You have Occidental Park, the epicenter of the First Thursday artwalk, Elliott Bay Book Company, the Underground tour, and the pergola. And there are so many great places to grab something to eat for lunch; Tat’s, Grand Central, Salumi, and Jimmy John’s – a sandwich shop with its own character and one that I really like.
When you go to JJ’s you go for the sandwiches. And they are good. Quite good. What elevates these sandwiches is the bread. It’s so addictive. Chewy, fresh, great flavor; the bread is what keeps me coming back again and again. It’s a french loaf, and apparently they have a multi-grain wheat. I’ve never had the wheat, because I’m brainwashed on the standard bread.
From the sandwich menu, my favorites are the Turkey Tom (#4 w/cheese) and the Italian Night Club (#9 w/hot peppers). The #4 is a turkey sub with sprouts, tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber. Nice to have all those veggies to offset the amount of mayo they load on. I also like the #9 because the salami and peppers provide a nice spice to give it a ton of flavor. It helps to order with numbers because the staff calls them out by number rather than by name.
When you get the sandwich you’ll notice that they aren’t skyscraper tall. This is because they scoop out a bit of the bread inside to put in the ingredients. This is a sandwich technique to hold in the contents so things don’t slide all over, and it provides a little well to hold even more stuff.
Another thing is that the service is very up front. As soon as you step in, you’ll be peppered with a greeting asking what you want. When you do decide, the sandwich will come out super fast. As in you can get in and out in less than three minutes. Super fast food. And don’t fret if there is a long line, it’ll move. As a chain, there are Jimmy John’s all over, and a bunch in the Seattle area. I particularly like the Pioneer Square one because it’s next to Cow Chip Cookies on First and Yesler; my love of cookies is well documented, so of course I’ll grab something there.
I’ve talked about a bunch of my favorite lunch spots in Seattle; from cheesesteaks to chinese barbecue pork to a famous charcuterie; I’ll add Jimmy John’s to my list of places to grab a midday bite.
This November starts another great food event throughout the Seattle area. It’s called Dine Around Seattle, and I love it! This is a great event to try out restaurants you’ve always wanted at a bit more approachable prices. Basically, some of the finer restaurants in Seattle have prix fixe menus during the month. You’ll get three dishes; an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert for 30 bucks. That’s why they call it 3 for 30. Pretty good prices for a fancypants dinner.
We’ve been going the last few years now to try out places; we’ve been to Campagne, Brasa, Oceannaire, Barolo, and a few others. It always makes for a fun evening to have dinner with friends and compare notes. Plus with the prices a bit more controlled you can partake in more wine!
A few tips, take a look at the Dine Around Seattle website at the restaurants’ menus. You’ll get an idea for what interests you. Make reservations! Some of these places are very popular, so peace of mind with a reservation will help. Be mindful that the promotion only goes from Sunday to Thursday. Also, think about location. It’s not just Seattle, some of the restaurants are on the Eastside and outlying neighborhoods.
This year, we’ll be going one of these nights; we’ve always wanted to visit Nishino, maybe there? Bin Vivant? Choices! Dine Around Seattle kicks off on November 2nd and rolls through the 30th. Have fun and eat up.
If you love bivalves, then this event is for you. It’s Flying Fish’s Oyster Frenzy and it’s a day of oyster decadence. It’s on Saturday 10/25 from 1-4pm and it’s all you can eat. That’s right all you can eat oysters. Buy your tickets now as this event sells out often.
We went a few years ago and a had a great time. I lost count of how many I had when all was said and done. There were freshly shucked oysters, oysters Rockefeller, and oyster stew. Whatever else they had, chances are there were oysters in it. We loved this event.
Be mindful that with it selling out and a short time frame, it can get packed in the place. There will be hands flying in every direction when food is in the vicinity. My advice; get there early, try to grab a plot of space to have a basecamp, try everything, have a plan of what you want (the cooked stuff is in the back) and make sure to thank the shuckers, they are working like crazy. Most of all…
One more thing, the folks at Marx Foods is holding a contest where you can win four dozen oysters. Check it out!
Photo from oysters4me’s Flickr.
To conclude Pho Week, we’ll be visiting Pho Bac. This is my favorite place for pho in Seattle, and I’m not the only one. Another thing that is really cool is that Tom Douglas likes the pho here. Always nice when one of the best food dudes in Seattle likes a place. If you take everything that Pho Bac brings to the table, you’ll understand why I think Pho Bac has the best pho in Seattle.
Located on Seventh Ave in the ID between Jackson and King, you’ll notice it’s blue awning and neon cow in the window. Why a neon cow? No idea. But stepping in you’ll see a very basic and humble restaurant. The aroma of the place is unique, pungent from a day of broth cooking, you’ll notice it right off the bat. If you’re lucky the music that will be playing will be some Vietnamese standards, this only adds to the authenticity. Another thing I like is that you’ll be seated within a minute. In the next moment you’ll be asked what you’d like to order. If you know what you want, you’ll be able to get seated, ordered, and served in less than 10 minutes. Awesome.
In our continuing series on the goodness of pho in our esteemed city, we find ourselves at Pho Cyclo, in particular their location on Broadway.
We first discovered Pho Cyclo doing a little research on pho places; wanting to branch out and try some new places that others really enjoyed. That led us to Pho Cyclo and their recommendation by the Chef in the Hat. Thierry Rautereau is one of the more dynamic personalities in Seattle’s food scene. With Rover’s being regarded as one of the finest French restaurants in town, we figured he knew good food. And finding out that he liked Pho Cyclo we had to give it a shot.