Last night, I had a lovely dinner with a friend at the Pan Africa Restaurant and Bar in Pike Place Market. It was exciting to see the place so packed at 9 pm---the market recently extended its closing time from 6 pm to 8 pm, which could be one reason so many tourists were still in the neighborhood---and the owners were so friendly, we didn't really mind waiting a half hour for our appetizer to arrive. (That said, outside seating---at a premium on this lovely summer night---would've been nice.)

For less than $30, we had: Two feather-light blackeyed pea fritters with an intoxicatingly spicy chile sauce and a lightly dressed mesclun salad; a vegetarian sampler, served on a pizza-pan-sized circle of sour injera bread, featuring cabbage and potato stew, lentil stew, and curried split peas (I didn't try any, but my pal happily polished it off); and a perfectly spiced plate of ful, fava beans stewed in ample oil with onions, serrano peppers, garlic, cumin and tomatoes. As long as you're not in a rush, I highly recommend going to Pan Africa soon---before the start of a seismic retrofit that will mean fairly significant construction inside the restaurant, part of the improvements funded by the Pike Place Market levy approved by voters in 2008.

Funny footnote: When we left the restaurant, I went outside to grab my bike off a nearby railing where I'd locked it earlier in the evening. (Yes, it said "No Bicycles." But there were no free bike racks within two blocks, so I took my chances.) My bike was chained to the railing, and taped to it, along with a business card for Market Security, was the following sign:

THE SIGN SAYS NO BICYCLE!

THIS IS NOT A BICYCLE RACK

CEASE AND DESIST

DON'T YOU HAVE ANY SHAME

I called the number on the card, and the guy who answered told me, without prompting, "Oh, you're at the Bayou. She does that. Just go in and ask her to unlock you."

So we went inside, and received---I kid you not---a five-minute lecture about the prevalence of nearby bike parking, the fact that the sign clearly reads, "No Bike Parking," and the damage I was doing to her "new paint job" (scuffed up all over, and definitely not new) before she finally accepted my profuse apologies and let me go.

Ironically, we'd been talking about whether to try out the Bayou the next time we were both in the Market; if the service is anywhere near as overbearing as the censure I received for parking my bike on their railing, however, I think I'll go back to Pan Africa instead.
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