Nicole Hardy’s favorite way to burn calories? “Dancing.”

It’s been a whirlwind month for Nicole Hardy. Since her essay, “Single, Female, Mormon, Alone”, ran in the New York Times Modern Love column in early 2011, Hardy, the manager of Circa Neighborhood Grill and Alehouse and an active member of the Seattle Arts and Lecture program Writers in the Schools, has found herself to be a hot topic.

“My phone blew up immediately after—agents wanting to represent me, editors wanting to work with me on a book, notes of empathy from LDS members, Catholics, Baptists, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Fundamentalist Christians, gay people, straight people, Planned Parenthood employees, atheists, and agnostics.”

Phew. Even so, Hardy squeezed in a call from us to talk Seatown eats.

Where do you take out-of-town guests to eat?
Seattle first-timers like to go to Pike Place Market—I love Maximilien, especially for brunch. Mae Phim Thai under the 99 onramp for something divey and delicious. And Circa Neighborhood Grill and Alehouse in West Seattle. Yes, I’ve worked there for almost 10 years, but I still love to go with guests. There’s a super cozy Cheers-ey feeling, and the best cheeseburger in town.

Vita, Stumptown, or Starbucks?
Stumptown, for sure. I came to coffee late in life and used to say I couldn’t tell good coffee from bad. Then I discovered Stumptown.

What’s your guilty food pleasure?
Quiche, a French 75, and the latest Vanity Fair for brunch at Spring Hill.

Do you use recipes or wing it?
I don’t really cook. I just show up at friends’ houses at opportune times and ask if they have snacks. I do make a magical eggnog that steals the show at holiday parties, but I’m not telling you my secrets.

Are you or have you ever been a vegan?
Carnivorous to the core.

What’s your desert-island condiment?
If there are eggs on this island, it’s green Tabasco.

Eat to live or live to eat?
Live to eat, unfortunately for my waistline in recent years. Working in the restaurant industry can get dangerous…you make friends with a lot of people who know just how good food can be. And then you find it (or make it) and eat it.

Three restaurants that sum up Seattle?
This question gives me anxiety.

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