There are important lessons to be learned at Zayda Buddy’s, the new Ballard hot spot from the Top Pot people that specializes in square-cut pizza and other curiosities of Midwestern cuisine. Like the fact that approximately seven out of 10 clean-living Seattleites will recoil in horror at the prospect of Tater Tot casserole—but all 10 will dive in unrepentantly when it arrives before them: hot and steaming, creamy ground beef topped with a blanket of tater tots and melting cheddar. And as for the three who didn’t even bother to fake it? Zayda Buddy’s, with its exposed-brick-and-beer-sign rec-room decor, will be their little square slice of heaven. So the Tater Tot casserole is authentically bland, the burgers and hot dishes authentically uneven, and the service as slow as a Minnesota winter—none of this matters to the hordes of folks who wait nightly for a booth or a barstool so they can dive into green-bean hot dish or deep-fried cheese curds or, if they’re feeling pious, a Cobb salad. (Topped, of course, with fried tiger prawns.)
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