Some say Columbia City’s stretch of Rainier Avenue, between about Dawson and Alaska, takes the prize, swooping you to Kenya (Safari Njema), Japan (Wabi-Sabi), Mexico (El Sombrero), Thailand (Spice Room), Vietnam (Paris Bakery and Deli), the Caribbean (Island Soul), and a couple of places in Italy (La Medusa, Tutta Bella).
Others insist upon Ballard Avenue, with its forays to Mexico (La Carta de Oaxaca), Japan (Shiku, Moshi Moshi), Scotland (MacLeod’s Pub), France (Bastille), Italy (Volterra), and Germany (Peoples Pub), with a couple of pitstops in the American South (Bitterroot BBQ, Sexton).
(The American South is another country, right?)
But for depth and authenticity of experience, I’m with those who vote for the really extraordinary eight-or-so-block piece of 12th Avenue in the Central District/Capitol Hill, Jefferson to Pine. Among the many eateries along that row, one can experience the street eats of Saigon (Ba Bar), the all-day casse-croute culture of Paris (Cafe Presse), a classy Japanese sushi bar (Momiji), a loud splash of Mexico (Barrio), fresh pasta from the Romagna region of Italy (Osteria La Spiga), unusually solid Indian cuisine (Bombay Bistro), and a German beer-hall so gigantically Bavarian it looks like someone stuffed it with Leavenworth (Von Trapp’s).
And where else are you going to find a place that qualifies both as Middle Eastern (its schmears and sandwich spreads) and Canadian (its Montreal-style bagels)? That is, of course, Eltana Wood-Fired Bagel Cafe. (And in fact you’ll find it in two other places: Eltana outposts at Seattle Center and Wallingford.)
What are your favorite restaurant rows?