While West Seattle’s awning-adorned newcomer still has the bones of the Fatburger that preceded it (and the same optimal views of Alki Beach), the po’ boy sandwiches therein are fashioned New Orleans–style: on baguettes shipped in from Louisiana’s Leidenheimer Baking Company, traditionally dressed with shredded iceberg, tomatoes, pickles, mayo, and stuffed with different fillings, like lump crab meat with red peppers. An order of chicken andouille sausage gumbo fries is a must.
What’s with all the people milling around outside this spare White Center storefront—or Capitol Hill or, its latest, Burien for that matter? They’ve come for Korean-style fried chicken—in sandwiches, rice bowls, and served straight up with a compulsory pile of napkins. In this context Korean doesn’t imply spicy (that’s what the sauces are for), but rather a delicate, shattering crust. It’s more akin to a Pringle, in the best possible way. Chef Brian O’Connor is a veteran of Skillet Diner and Roux, as evidenced by Bok a Bok’s perfect biscuits. But the rest of the counter-service menu that debuted in early June nods hard to the East, like a chicken sandwich with yuzu aioli and charred Korean chilies alongside the requisite spears of pickle or kimchi mac and cheese.
The serve-yourself hot sauce shelf could be this White Center sandwich shop’s manifesto: various bottles labeled with names like Dirty Dick (smoked jalapeños and onions) and Tijuana Necktie (jalapeños, cilantro, mustard). Not that sandwiches at Brass Knuckle Bistro require additional condiments. Swinery alum Case Justham does all his own meats; his renditions of pastrami, cheesesteak, and even a Nashville hot chicken sandwich each pack a carefully constructed wallop. Go there without delay. Get fries.
Amid the International District’s Uwajimaya food court offerings, this corner spot sounds like kids’ menu fodder, but Kevin Chung, who also owns 8oz. Burger and Company, knows how to embellish the classic grilled cheese sandwich. Take the Seoul, a blend of Beecher’s white cheddar, buffalo mozzarella, and fontina, melded with kimchi and slices of rich pork belly. Even better—a counter full of hot sauces await.
A dozen each “Traditionalist” and “Progressive” sandwiches fill the chalkboard of Pioneer Square’s manliest hipster-brick deli; choose among the latter for the smartest innovation. Like the glorious ShankLamb: lightly toasted ciabatta bread oozing braised lamb shank and chive aioli, ruffled with lettuce and tomato and the occasional thrilling detonation of hot pepper. A second location in Benaroya Hall has its own list of specialty sandwiches.
Chinatown–International District’s new family owned poke shop makes an incredibly fresh, pure-flavored version of Hawaii’s raw fish salad, mixed in batches, so it’s lightly marinated. But don’t sleep on the frosty pineapple Dole Whip (yep, the same stuff people line up for at Disneyland) topped with the salty dried plum powder known as li hing mui, an Aloha State obsession.
There’s something wonderfully dislocating about one of the state’s famed locavore restaurants sharing its name with a couple of delis—one in Georgetown, the other on Bainbridge. And they stick to the same careful sourcing and in-house elan, from condiments to fermentations, that make their namesake Hitchcock a destination. Feeling classic? They’ve got a turkey club. Even if you snag an adventurous sandwich—like the house-preserved Westport albacore with salsa verde and bibb lettuce—the side of Tim’s Chips and salted chocolate chip cookie keep things grounded.
Tom Douglas’s little market in the Via6 building at Sixth and Lenora began as a place to pick up fancy snacks and the occasional kitchen staple, with a salad bar toward the back. But the neighborhood let its needs be known: Home Remedy has become a takeaway lunchtime juggernaut, the market’s central counter now slings rice bowls and Indian-style burritos; hot sandwiches and pizza slices emanate from the back room. The salad bar is still going strong, and the selection of local beer, ice cream, salumi, condiments, and prepackaged hits from the Douglas universe is just as great, even if actual grocery shopping means doing a little bob and weave between people waiting for lunch orders.
Don’t underestimate this order-at-the-counter, lunch-only joint; its pasta is legitimately transcendent, and quantum leaps ahead of the field in creativity. Weekday mornings pasta geek Mike Easton blogs photos of that day’s handful of seasonal choices—maybe creste di gallo pasta with braised Treviso, garlic, chilies, and olives; maybe gnocchetti with sweet corn and sage—which pulls Pioneer Square office workers in droves. Easton’s repertoire is bottomless, his seasonality admirable, his passion winning. A couple of salads and a dessert round out the offerings, making this ticket to Italy no more than $15. Arrive early; lines can be epic.
Baker Mon Tat spent decades making the baguettes at his family’s banh mi shop in Saigon. Now a transplant to Seattle, he fashions the traditional loaves that drive the 17-item sandwich menu at this new banh mi shop generating major buzz in Chinatown-International District. Just about everything in these sandwiches—from the beef ground in house and flavored with lemongrass right down to the mayonnaise—is made in house. Sandwiches are $4 apiece; don’t miss the buttery, savory wonderment that happens in the pastry case.
An eloquent country-house aesthetic prevails in this airy, two-level space off Occidental, with its bakery, deli, and in-house flower shop, painting a Jane Austen dream of the English countryside—right down to the cobblestones and leafy London plane trees out the window. Foodwise it’s breakfast, lunch, and brunch iterations of Matt Dillon’s (Sitka and Spruce, Bar Sajor) signature passions: bold salads with grains and vegetables, lots of cultured dairy, extraordinary brown bread for spreading, and plenty of vinegar counterpoints. Don’t miss a slice of strawberry cake or gateau Basque for dessert—this bakery is outstanding.
Longtime culinary icon Bruce Naftaly (of the famed Le Gourmand) has gone more casual but no less careful in his Chophouse Row lunch and brunch spot, now open dinners too. The lunchtime soup menu unites Bruce’s saucier knack for deep flavors and wife Sara’s elegantly sturdy bread; dinner, however, more closely resembles the menu at Le Gourmand. Some dishes echo old favorites, and Bruce's famed French sauces are, as ever, an infinity loop of savory flavor notes. Weekend mornings mean rhubarb-dipped rice fritters that pack all the sugar-dusted appeal of fresh doughnuts. There’s even a happy hour; Bruce’s version of bar-snack potato chips are equally labor intensive and addictive.
It’s rare to find sandwich combinations that really seem new or unexpected, not just an ever-more-outrageous pileup of various meats. Then again, it’s also rare to find a hole in the wall sandwich counter serving natural wines on tap. A Momofuku alum does really exciting things in this bare-bones Ballard counter, like the signature Mean Sandwich (fat hunks of corned beef, mustard, pickled red cabbage—an unexpected gust of mint), a steak tartare club, and fried chunks of baked potato instead of fries. In case you still aren’t convinced: The kitchen takes its day-old sandwich buns and turns them into bread pudding.
Expect lines out the door of this quaint University District cafe, but the wait is oh so worth it. Besides, you’ll be dreaming up all your carb-filled possibilities... Choose your biscuit, be it buttermilk or cheddar chive, and marry it with anything from tomato jam to strawberry balsamic jam to honey butter. A sandwich with prosciutto, fried, egg, manchego, and Mama Lil’s pepper aioli is also a solid hearty choice.
The prowlers of Pike/Pine have taken to its deafeningly loud all-day commissary with unmitigated glee, and why shouldn’t they? Oddfellows covers all waking hours (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night), with espresso and a lineup of house-baked pastries by morning, meadow-fresh salads and hearty soups and paninis by day, warming nouveau comfort food by night, and cocktails and wines and foamy pints whenever. The place itself exudes the kind of rumpled, been-here-forever comfort that is the stock-in-trade of owner, legendary Seattle bar-maker Linda Derschang. And when the days eventually warm up, to the brick-walled back patio ye must go.
We’re pretty sure the soul of gritty, folksy White Center emanates directly from the busy ovens of Proletariat Pizza, where the young Albaeck family labor to feed the masses simply spectacular pizza. Self-taught, they figured out the basics of thin crusts—puffed and golden and bursting with flavor—and pristine ingredients, from the organic over-easy eggs and prosciutto and meadow of fresh arugula on the ham and egg pie to the anchovies and ricotta and milky mozzarella on the anchovy. “Nothing that we use contains…anything we don’t feel good about putting in our bodies,” the menu reads. “Except Spam.” Taken together with the U.S. Army Medical Department dishes, the utterly sterile interior decor, the toe-curling homemade tiramisu for dessert, and the rainbow coalition of families eating it all up.
Around the corner from and sharing a kitchen with John Sundstrom’s magnificent Lark is its daytime takeout sibling, dedicated to the reinvention of sandwiches and pie. About a half dozen of the former are on hand any given day, including things like short rib meat pies and English muffin breakfast sandwiches and gluten-free flatbread. (If the Spanish sardine sandwich is on offer, get it: a masterpiece of meaty fish and piperade and plenty of lemon on a yielding French roll.) Pies are equally various and sure handed, with offerings like caramel apple pie between slabs of biscuity pie crust that exist at the corner of divine inspiration and butter.
It may look like a wee courtyard off a West Seattle butcher shop, but it’s actually Holy of Holies for those who want their pig and want it bad. Pulled-pork sandwiches, burgers crafted of pristine grass-fed beef and topped with smoky pork belly, chorizo tacos, bacon dogs–bacon caramels!—every porcophile’s dream is here for your artery-clenching pleasure, served off a grill under an awning to a crowd who doesn’t much miss tables or a roof. (And don’t worry, cows are given their due: the Danger Fries are done in beef tallow.) After, a wander through the Swinery butcher shop is de rigeur if only to see the other parts of the pig—the tongue, the livers, the kidneys—in glorious display in the pates and terrines this whole-animal butcher shop has made its name on. Lunch and brunch only.
Tacos Chukís drags eaters by the taste buds on a tour of Mexico City. Yes there are $3.50 baby burritos and $4 quesadillas in its slight and sunny second-floor slot on Capitol Hill—but your first order of business has to be the tacos, swaddled in their corn cradles with plenty of cilantro, onion, salsa, and guacamole. And meat, like the deeply marinated adobada pork—sheared off a vertical spit and served with a slice of caramelized pineapple. If there is a single more compelling taco in this city—bring it. The original location is hidden in the upstairs warrens of the Broadway Alley building, and a second outpost feeds the Amazon lunch hordes. A third graces Beacon Hill, and oh you better believe it, a fourth and largest spot is coming for the Central District.
The headliner in this crammed East Coast deli is the Tat’strami, a sweet-meets-savory mess of pastrami and Russian dressing and coleslaw and melting swiss: the unholy spawn of a pastrami sandwich and a cheesesteak, served hot and goopy inside an Italian roll. For the two of you who don’t like the sound of that, Tat’s offers nearly 30 other sandwiches—bountiful riffs on cheesesteaks, hoagies, subs, and grinders—that make Seattle feel like Jersey.
The Thai couple who run this crammed lunch joint near the corner of Fifth and Jackson discovered the secret to success in their New York restaurants: Use curries made in Thailand, with native lemongrass and galangal, from Grandma’s own recipes. The distinction is evident, particularly in the green curry, which you can augment with crazy-fiery hot sauce (one is labeled “No Kidding”), only if you’re, well, not kidding. Frugal lunchgoers pack the joint, digging the $5 lunches and sweating out their eye sockets. For dessert try roti, the panfried flatbread of Thai street culture, drizzled with condensed milk and lavished with whatever sweet toppings are listed on the wall-size chalkboards.
The sons of the original Paseo founder opened Un Bien with their dad’s recipes—which makes this Caribbean roast sandwich the legendarily messy original: pork shoulder, caramelized onions, pickled jalapeños, all on an aioli’d Macrina roll. A blast to eat, especially with a cob of slathered grilled corn—but have multiple napkins handy. Two locations bookend Ballard.