I haven’t been to the Virginia Inn since the expansion, but I’ve heard good things, especially about the muffaletta. And thinking of muffalletta leads me to think of the po boys at Matt’s in the Market, a place which has never done me wrong. Even though Matt doesn’t work there anymore and is at DeLaurenti’s instead. In between the two you’ve got the Crumpet Shop, with the best turkey sandwiches in the entire world, and the Pan Africa, with tasty Ethiopian food. Back toward Blanchard on First is the Buffalo Deli. Their beef on weck has been my default lunch for six or seven years now.
But there’s one place you haven’t mentioned. It’s not possible that you haven’t been to Le Pichet, is it? That is an oversight that must be corrected with all possible haste. Pork belly confit! Fat with fat on it. Woot!
Back to the italian theme, Tavolata may not be open for lunch, but Barolo is, and Barolo can certainly be wonderful.
Also, in the same general neighborhood as La Spiga, there’s Le Pichet’s sister restaurant, Cafe Presse. I haven’t been there in probably a year, but it used to be a regular destination. Last time, I had a mushroom-pear soup that was as unbelievably delicious as it was artery-hardening.
Sadly, my wife hates Presse. She though the salt cod puree (which I love) was disgusting and now refuses to go back. I’ve tried to point out that there are other things on the menu, but logic does not prevail.
I went to the Buffalo Deli once. It was OK, but nothing special. As I recall they used Boar’s Head meat, which people seem to like a lot. There was a little place called Hy’s Deli in L.A., on Beverly Blvd. I don’t even know if the place exists anymore. I never have found a roast beef sandwich quite as good as the one I got there – except for Canter’s on Fairfax; but that’s a little more than a walk-in deli. I’ll try Buffalo Deli again when I’m in the mood for a roast beef sandwich – although I have to say the I [heart] NY Deli in the Market is pretty good.
I think I’ve see Le Pichet. I tend to take half-hour lunches (although I can take an hour, and the boss wouldn’t mind if I took a long lunch now and again), so I go to the Market just because it’s a mile from the office to there and back. If I get something to eat, I take it back to my desk; unless I’m meeting a friend for lunch. So I’ve not tried most of the restaurants on the way.
I have felt the need for falafel on a few occasions. I don’t remember the name of the place. Their food tastes good, but they’re a bit slow. And I’ve tried Bayou on 1st. Oyster po’ boy. It was OK. (I also had an oyster po’ boy from the Frontier Room. They didn’t get it quite right. Mediocre burgers there, too.) Just yesterday I found out where that wonderful smell was coming from and picked up a to-go menu from Pan Africa. Haven’t tried it yet though.
Buffalo isn’t mindblowing by any standard, but it’s just a block away from me and the sandwiches are generously sized, so it’s become the fallback position. I’ve heard excellent things about Mike’s East Coast Sandwiches on 1st and Cedar, but apparently so has everyone else as the wait is something like 30 minutes unless you’ve called in your order in advance. I’m not that organized, so it’s never worked out for me.
Bayou on 1st used to be excellent when it was Danny Delcambre’s place, now not so much. You want a po’ boy in the area, you gotta go to Matt’s. And don’t forget the turkey sandwiches at the Crumpet Shop.
The Frontier Room used to be the most excellent dive bar on the planet. Filthy, sticky and dark with the best jukebox and the strongest drinks ever served. Then they cleaned it up and made it into a ‘barbeque’ joint. I will forever hold that against them.
Next to Mama’s (terrible mexican on 4th) is the Noodle Ranch. Pan asian food that’s worth a visit.
I used to be king of the long lunch, but that’s back when I was salaried and working long days plus weekends. Now that I’m on an hourly contract, I’m in more of a rush. But I’ve been lovingly poring over the Le Pichet menu and think another visit is in order.
WHAT??? Wow. That’s what happens when I move out of Belltown, I guess… Actually, they redid it while I lived there and I never went in after that, but I wasn’t aware it was a barbecue place. Did that happen recently (I moved in late 2004)?
When I lived there, my favorites were always Noodle Ranch (cheap and reliable) and Two Bells. Mama’s will always have a place in my heart because it’s one of the first places my now wife and I ate together. I also like the Thai place by Fisher Plaza (Golden Singha?); it’s not really anything special, but their pad thai is exactly the way I like it, and they make it nice and spicy when I ask. Le Pichet is great, of course. I liked Flying Fish too, but it’s been years since I’ve been there.
Is Flying Fish on 1st or 2nd? I think I went there once to try the fish’n’chips. Nothing to write home about. I wish there was someplace that made fish’n’chips like Ye Old King’s Head in Santa Monica. Look at that batter! I’ve never been able to find any other place that makes them like that. (If there’s no place like that in Seattle, I’m actually closer to White Rock and Vancouver, BC.)
Flying Fish is on 1st. I don’t think they’re particularly known for fish & chips, but I could be mistaken. I’ve been told that Spud (I think they have multiple locations) is good for fish & chips in Seattle, but I’ve never personally tried it, so I can’t vouch for it.
Speaking of burgers (this thread has moved a little distance from Italian food, hasn’t it?), who has the best burgers in Belltown? Two Bells claims it does, and they are pretty tasty. Not the best burger I’ve had, though. (Actually, the best burger I’ve had was at a place that closed when I was a kid; a place called Joy’s in Barstow. The second-best burger was at Kittyhawk Café at SMO. They were sold and replaced by a slightly more upscale place called The Spitfire Grill. They must have cleaned the grill, because the burgers weren’t as good as their predecessor’s.)