So delish

Fave Mom ‘n’ Pops

The little gems that quietly rock our world

By Kathryn Robinson March 4, 2009

My most loyal correspondent Venivedivolui recently asked me for a list of my favorite Mom ‘n’ Pop restaurants. Pleasure to serve, Veni.

I’m taking Mom ‘n’ Pop to mean “small owner-operated business.” Of course by that definition Cascina Spinasse and Monsoon both qualify. Certainly they are two of my all-time favorites in this town.

But I’m guessing Veni wasn’t aiming that high up the food (or notoriety) chain. I think she wants a list of really terrific restaurants that might be more accurately described as joints…am I right?

Alrighty then. Here’s my nowhere-near-complete list, in no order whatsoever:

Bistro Turkuaz in Madrona, for an authentic Turkish dinner cooked by Mom, served by daughter (one of the best waiters in town), and cleaned up by sons. Don’t miss the stunning cacik, Turkish tzatziki.

Panos Kleftiko Taverna in lower Queen Anne, Panos Marinos’ lovesong to his hometown of Nafplion in Greece. If there are better feta-prawns in the city, I can’t imagine where. Plus the cozy place is crazy-romantic.

Chiang’s Gourmet on Lake City Way turns out seriously authentic and cheap Chinese food (ask for the non-American menu to get it) in the most undistinguished building in three states. I guess there’s one in Renton too, but I’ve never been there.

Island Soul in Columbia City does up heaping platters of soul-kissed Caribbean fare like curried goat with basmati and sweet collard greens and coconut-cornbread muffins. Man, it’s good.

Roy’s BBQ, also in Columbia City, makes this sandwich called the Georgia Gold, which I dream of at least once a week. It’s sloppy and porky and mustard saucy and topped with slaw, and the family owners serve it with a smile.

Kabul, in Wallingford, provides a really satisfying survey of Afghani cuisine, from kebabs to qormas, all exotically spiced and terrific.

Pan Africa, in Pike Place Market, looks way too up-market to taste this hole-in-the-wall great. But that’s Ethiopian-born owner Mulugeta Abate’s mom back there in the kitchen, stirring up big pots of Senegalese yassa, South African bobotie,and lots more in between.

Lee’s Asian, in West Seattle, knocks its pan-Asian items (oh the seven-flavor beef!) out of the park, for way less than you’d pay at Wild Ginger. Thanks Lee.

Finally, Tacos El Asadero in Columbia City (I assume a taco bus counts?) is my fave of the mobile tortilla purveyors. (Although I haven’t tried the one up by the Shoreline Home Depot. Anyone?) The mulitas quite simply rock.

I was going to include Filiberto’s, the Burien pizza place—cause how can you not when talking about family joints?—but I suspect it’s history. Anyone have the story?

Please share your other nominees. Veni deserves it and so, quite frankly, do I.

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