MELROSE MARKET IS PART of a three-sided block bordered by Melrose, Minor, and Pine—and home to perhaps more great eats per square foot than any other real estate in Seattle. There’s Tamara Murphy’s new Terra Plata and these newsworthy nosh spots:
The Vietnamese fusion sandwich joint was recently sold off from the rest of owner Eric Banh’s empire (Baguette Box in Fremont, Monsoon, Monsoon East, and Ba Bar). Would the new owners know the precise proportion of peanut oil to truffle oil required to make those truffle fries so addictive? Would they understand exactly how much battered fried chicken, caramelized onion, and dripping sauce it would take to suitably strain the holding power of a crispy baguette? The answer in this cozy shoebox restaurant is yes and then some. Banh’s successors have even enhanced the joint with a selection of panini and at least one new baguette sandwich, a fiery classic from day one: grilled chicken with jalapeños, smoky marinade, aioli, and cilantro. It’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten directly off the big spill on your white shirt.
Next door is a hipster lair with craveable char-grilled burgers on pillowy buns. We love the Tillamook cheddar-and-bacon Big Woody, though third-pounders feature foofier combos like pickled figs with Gorgonzola and bacon, or apples and caramelized onions and horseradish. Thin fries, nice greasy onion rings, and artery-slamming Molly Moon ice cream shakes round out the offerings, and the eater, nicely. Open till 3am weekends.
If Asian fusion and hipster cool still aren’t Seattle enough for you, proceed around the corner on Melrose to the shellfish heart of our region. Long a revered wholesale source among restaurateurs, the Shelton shellfish operator goes urban-retail in this shiny outpost, where oysters and crab and geoducks and more loll about in briny tanks, and a chowder bar sustains shoppers. Fresh shucked oysters or boiled Dungeness crab can be eaten in, at one of the five windowside tables, along with bowls of oyster stew or smooth geoduck chowder with its softly oceanic essences. A few local oysters, a cup of geoduck chowder, and gingery squid salad from the refrigerator case will remind you why you live in Seattle—and your guests, why they’d like to. Closes at 7pm; 10 on Fridays and Saturdays.