NFT Seattle Alki / West Seattle / North Admiral

Alki / West Seattle / North Admiral

Essentials
Many Seattleites believe West Seattle is on the other side of the world. The monstrous West Seattle Freeway Bridge connects this area with the rest of the city. The California Avenue and Alaska Way intersection--known as The Junction--feels like a small, hip town of its own, littered with fabulous restaurants, shops, and historical landmarks. Similarly, west-facing Alki Avenue feels like a California beach town--with little sunshine, snow-capped mountains, and ferry boats.

Sundries/Entertainment
Park free in lots around The Junction and start roaming. Get caffeinated before the in-store appearance at Easy Street Records. Stock up on potato guns, slingshots and other wholesome toys for the child in your life at Max and Quinn's Atomic Boy's Shop-O-Rama. Head downhill and west to See more.

>Alki Beach for a Guinness at The Celtic Swell and explore what's referred to as the birthplace of Seattle.

Get the chef specials at Mashiko. Hit Lee's Asian Restaurant for its encyclopedic Asian cuisine; their Seven-Flavor Beef will haunt your dreams. Meanwhile, there is homemade ice cream to be had at the historic Husky Deli. If you get a jonesing for lubrication by fish and chips, Spud on Alki is classic. Dig on swine at The Swinery. And local chains Pagliacci and Than Brothers' serve up competent 'za and pho, respectively.




         



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Mission Tapas and Bar
"Fusion" cuisine is a little overused these days. It seems like most places are just being lazy about their genre. Mission calls their food "Latin" when most of the dishes are Mexican. It's like they just really wanted to serve plantains and small plates with their tacos. Well, as far as I'm concerned, Mission can fuse whatever the hell they want because their food is incredible. Their nachos, served on a hot skillet, are the best restaurant nachos I have ever had. Expertly constructed, they manage to get toppings on every chip. That's no easy feat. It doesn't stop there. Every dish is the perfect version of that dish. Their ingredients are creative yet traditional. All your favorite meats are accounted for but there are also loads of viable vegetarian options. They'll bring you plenty to eat without embarrassing you with insane portions. But definitely save room for dessert. The Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream is a must. If you prefer to drink your dessert, they have about a million different tequilas. As if all this weren't reason enough, the wait staff is attentive, laid back, and not afraid to make suggestions. Your mission is to get to Mission as soon as possible.



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

La Rustica
Sure, every Italian restaurant claims to provide the authentic experience. Even the Olive Garden. But take it from me; La Rustica is the real deal. Everything from the stone interior to the vine-covered patio to the fresh, tender pasta will transport you straight to the Old Country without having to endure the long, crappy flight. Spoil your appetite with fresh garlic bread sticks. Take your time perusing their enormous menu. But don't stress too much. Anything you get is going to be awesome. And you'll definitely want to save room for dessert. Best Tiramisu in the city. In true Italian fashion, you will not leave the place without having to unbutton something. The downside is that the dining room is tiny, especially when the weather is too crappy to utilize the outdoor patio. And no, you can't make a reservation, unless your party is 6 or more. But trust me. Put your name on that list and wait. Prego.



Posted By:  Courtesy of Watson Adventures
Photo:  Karen Watson

Atomic Boys
I admit I was disappointed when the old stationery store that was in this space closed shop. It was the kind of place where you could buy musty-smelling wrapping paper for ninety-nine cents or a birthday card with daisies and kittens on it. It just reminded me of the places I went to as a kid, you know? But Atomic Boys has proved to be a great replacement. I just bought some super stylin' retro Valentines and candy cigarettes. Does the Surgeon General know you can still find these sugar smokey treats? Atomic Boys specializes in throw back toys like Pick Up Sticks, candy (think Good and Plenty), and Fifties inspired cards. A joke display is always a hit with kids so unless you want to leave with a trick cigarette that squirts water, steer them clear. Point them towards the tin robot straight out of a drive-in movie. Oh, the magic of the Fifties.



Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Freshy's
The sandwich board outside Freshy's reads, "Coffee, Sandwiches, Arcade, Kitchen Sink." I haven't seen the kitchen sink but they do have a seating area that looks exactly like the rec room where I played Twister in 1978. Mrs. Pacman greets you at the door with her sensuous digital glow and tempts you to be her high scorer. Fresh made soups like the curried cauliflower are the perfect partners for the healthy sandwich options. Everything is fresh, tasty, and mostly veg. When you want something a little more filling, grab a couple micro-brews from the cooler and settle into a killer game of Centipede. Tea drinkers should love this place since the menu is bigger than Madonna's divorce settlement. My fave is the Siam which pairs mint, clove, and cardamom flavors. Although it is a bit more of a walk, I'll always bypass the corporate coffee in favor of the funky vibe at Freshy's.



Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Easy Street Records & Cafe
When I want cheap comfort food I go Sailing the Seas of Cheese. That's Easy Street speak for a grilled cheese with tomato soup. Easy Street's West Seattle location is a weekend breakfast mecca, drawing in everyone from music lovers to donut whores. A Mighty O donut is the perfect finger food when you're browsing the CDs, waiting for a table. And you could be left waiting for quite a while because the service here is as slow a snail on Quaaludes. But it's hard to blame the wait staff. The cooks seem able to focus on only one order at a time. And they probably can't keep track of all the menu items and music-themed names. Should I have the Bennie and the Jets (eggs benedict) or the Horton Heat Hash (corned beef mixed with hash browns and peppers)? Healthier options include the Hall and Oates (obviously oatmeal, duh) or the Salad of John and Yoko. Despite the spotty service, I really like the Easy Street Cafe for its chill atmosphere and awesome selection of veggie breakfast meat options. I almost have my stomach convinced that soy bacon is just as good as real pig.




Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Cactus
Cactus doesn't get it right all the time, but when they do the food is really, really good. You wouldn't think that nachos would be difficult to do well but so many Mexican restaurants fail in their attempts (finish off the upper crust and you're left with naked chips). Cactus gets it spot on with layers of cheese, jalapenos, beans, and chicken stuck in between all the toasty chips. Then they top it off with crisscrossed stripes of sour cream and tomatillo salsa. Some of the dishes push the envelope of Mexican fare like the Chicken Fried Chicken served with chipotle mashed sweet potatoes and chorizo gravy. When you are searching for comfort food with a slight twist this is the dish that will satisfy. Other things like the Goat Cheese Grilled Asparagus Quesadilla fall short however. I loooove goat cheese but its intense flavor goes a long way. The happy hour here is hard to beat with five dollar Margaritas and Mojitos, plus great food specials (six dollar nachos). If you stick to the Mexican basics you won't be disappointed, but order the more unusual items at your own risk.   




Posted By:  Barrie Arliss
Photo:  Barrie Arliss

Zatz A Better Bagel
I've heard stories about this West Seattle bagel shop. Apparently, these tall tales go on and on about how this is the East Coast bagel(ery) right here in Seattle. Complete with too much fatty cream cheese and extra fishy lox, more legends say that the bagels are warm and fresh and gooey and yes, please try the pumpernickel. So I went and all is true. They are good. Maybe not oh-my-god-I'm-in-New-York-with-my-Bubbe good, but some-guy-is-pushing-me-to-hurry-up good. But nonetheless, I'd recommend the Everything bagel, toasted with the works (meaning cream cheese, lox, capers, onion and tomato). Sit by the window with a concentrated variety of OJ and a wrinkled-up newspaper. Don't talk to anyone, stare out the window. It should be raining outside. Or at least that's how I have my Zatz experience, and it always turns out in the end.



Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

The Bohemian
The Bohemian has smartly applied the mullet approach to the restaurant industry: Business/coffee in the front by day, party/drinks in the rear by night. Covering all the bases ensures they draw more interest along that desolate mid-stretch of California Avenue before the Junction. French favorites like Cassoulet and Raclettes (various meats with moldy cheese melted on top) hold steady with the European atmosphere. If one of these old world gut bombs doesn't suit you, order the yam fries with honey lavender, smoked tomato ketchup, or herb and garlic aioli dipping sauces. I couldn't resist the tantalizing cheese plate; it was just begging for me to eat it. Cocktails are mostly traditional and well done with premium liquors and heavy pours. Farther down the drink menu are the unique cocktails like the Saketini, made with Yazi Ginger infused Vodka, sho chiku bai sake, and orange blossom water. With a flavor somewhere between bubble gum and perfume it was fun to try but I'll stick to martinis. Edith Piaf would be proud.



Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Ama Ama Oyster Bar
Where are all the hipsters who would totally cream themselves to have dinner at Dean Martin's swinging bachelor pad? Why aren't you at Ama Ama? I know it's West Seattle, practically the burbs, but the interior looks like something out of one of those Doris Day/Rock Hudson bedroom comedies right down to the zebra skin on the wall and starburst sconces. If low lighting and animal skins don't get you in the mood for gettin' down, how about seventy-five cent oysters between 4-6 pm and 10-11 pm? Add seven or eight five dollar cosmos and I guarantee someone is gonna get lucky. A choice of lamb, Dungeness crab, or lamb sliders are good happy hour options for those who don't like eating things with the same consistency as snot. Ama Ama features live music every Thursday and it's a great alternative to spinning records on your hi-fi.



Posted By:  Ingrid Mattson
Photo:  Ingrid Mattson

Mission Tapas and Bar
I'm not a picky eater--I don't special order my food to come with extra this or without that. I don't grill the wait staff about what's in something or if I can make substitutions. Hell, I don't even care how rare my tuna is. But seriously, when you order what's billed as "Chicken Tamales," you expect chicken, right? I guess one person's unanticipated surprise is my unfulfilled dream. I anticipated chunks of smoky roasted chicken like you'd get at a carniceria. What I got instead was shredded chicken I had to poke around in my salty masa to find, let alone taste. And after two margaritas, you'd think I'd have dulled my disappointment, but no. I tasted (and felt) nary a trace of tequila. But Mission's not a total bust. The crispy thin fried plantain chips served with really delicious guacamole was almost worth the whole trip. My best advice? Go to happy hour (5 to 7 pm), drink a beer, and gorge yourself on plantains and guac.



Posted By:  Ingrid Mattson
Photo:  Ingrid Mattson

West 5 Lounge & Restaurant
In the pantheon of takeout food, there's Chinese, Mexican, and Pizza. For some reason in Seattle it seems that people rarely get takeout from the restaurants they’d actually dine in at. New Yorkers seem to get this right and so should you. Give West 5 a call when you leave the office and pick up your food on the way home. The dining options are classic American (BLT, Sloppy Joes, Meatloaf Sandwiches), and though there aren't a ton of vegetarian options, all a veg really needs is the Astral Mac 'n Cheese. Never have I seen macaroni and cheese travel so well. Even after placing an order and picking it up half an hour late, the cheese was melty and gooey and creamy and still warm. No curdling on these noodles! One word of caution when ordering to go: get the phone number right. Although the Web site directs you to WE5-1966, the funky hipster font makes it look like the first three digits are WES, and I guarantee the cranky lady on the end of the wrong number will not be making you Mac 'n Cheese.



Posted By:  Ingrid Mattson
Photo:  Ingrid Mattson

Husky Deli
Even if you're not a person who eats, this place is worth a trip just to try and make sense of it all. First, there's the branding. What does a German-style Leavenworthish look and feel have to do with the University of Washington Huskies? Second, is there really that big a demand in West Seattle for countless kinds of jam and jelly, barbecue sauce, pastas, and food I can't identify because the packaging is entirely in another language? Third, why does it take so long to get your sandwich? Even with four people working the food counter and no other customers, my order (two panini sandwiches) took 15 minutes, not that is wasn't worth the wait. If, on the other hand, you are a person who eats, go in and order some sandwiches, ice cream, and essentials (Danish bacon, anyone?). Try the turkey sandwich with cream cheese and mango chutney or the field roast panini with homemade pesto. In the ice cream department, get a cone with scoops of Coffee Oreo (brilliant idea!) and Swiss Orange Chocolate--these Husky Germans make it themselves, so you can't go wrong.



Posted By:  Sara Dow
Photo:  Sara Dow

Duke's Chowder House
As a New Englander with chowder makers on both sides of the family, it's taken me nearly 5 years to taste northwest chowder. But damn I am set straight--Duke's has some really good chowder. Best to eat it at Alki where you can sit on their view patio. Blue checkered tablecloths with tiki style bamboo accents, all looking over the Puget Sound. Go for the chowder sampler: dungeness crab, lobster pernod, cajun chicken corn, cioppino style and their signature award-winning chowder. My friend Kyung pulled the lobster pernod over to her side of the table and we never saw it again, it was that good. The drinks are pretty impressive as well, with margaritas that rival Cactus down the street.



Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Talarico's
Only at Talarico's do televised sports have stiff competition for viewership from the pizza cooks deftly lifting 28 inches of pizza dough over their heads. Pizza is available by the slice or pie, but don't even think about ordering a pie unless you are with 5 other adults or Godzilla. I'm a purist and usually order plain cheese but there are other yummy options like arugula, roasted garlic and goat cheese. It may be wise to calculate the Angle of Repose before dumping on a multitude of heavy toppings since thin crust, enormous surface area, and gooey cheese make for fine avalanche conditions. Sauce stains are a bitch to clean. Talarico's bar is almost as large as its pizza and is the best spot to enjoy the three dollar beer and slice specials during happy hour or American Idol during karaoke night.



Posted By:  Ingrid Mattson
Photo:  Ingrid Mattson

Bakery Nouveau
William Leaman is a baking god. The croissants at his Bakery Nouveau are crispy, buttery and light. Unfortunately, the croissant sandwiches can be slightly gloppy: the havarti/butter/sandwich spread combo on the turkey havarti croissant sandwich reminded me of Velveeta. Not to knock Velveeta, but it seems a shame to mix its texture and flavor with other, more divine, ingredients. On the flip side, the peppered turkey was great (I could almost tell it had led a fulfilling, life-affirming existence before becoming lunch meat). When the croissants at Bakery Nouveau are filled in true French fashion rather than done up as standard American lunch fare, they are fabulous, especially the chocolate croissant. The other baked goods are stellar as well, including cinnamon rolls, brioche, and cheesecake. So, as I said, Mr. Leaman has no peer in the baking department. But perhaps take a pass on the conventional lunch items. As an aside, despite a line stretching out to the street, I was in and out in about 15 minutes. One downer: no formal menu, so you almost have to go in with an idea of what you want, otherwise you feel like you're holding up the line (or maybe that's just my Catholic guilt talking).



Posted By:  Jessica Baxter
Photo:  Jessica Baxter

Heavy. That’s how I felt after dining at Shadowland. Sure, I enjoyed every morsel of calorie-laden gourmet bar food that I put into my mouth from cauliflower cream soup to poutine (Canadian-turned hipster fave involving fries, gravy and cheese curds). But afterward, I had regrets. To be fair (to myself), we ordered exclusively off the “small plate” menu. When our food started to arrive, we soon realized that their idea of “small” is actually quite heavily portioned and we had a lot more coming, none of it vegetables. If you take steps to avoid the carb coma, you can have quite a nice time at Shadowland in their high-backed, low-lit private booths. Or you can join the chatty bar flies along the bar. They have a happy hour food menu which includes the edition of Scotch Eggs (fried, sausagey goodness). There’s also a nice selection of desserts which is rare for a Seattle bar. Lacking are drink specials but you’d be wise to stick to 2-ingredient cocktails or beer anyway. The specialty drink list is overpriced and underwhelming. Whatever you decide on, get one thing at a time lest you have to be rolled home.



Posted By:  Karen Watson
Photo:  Karen Watson

Before AMC and generic chains molded movie theatres into sameness, venues like the Admiral Theatre were the norm. If you are over 30, chances are you saw the original Star Wars, E.T., or The Dark Crystal in a theatre just like this. The screens are huge, candy is two dollars, and dancing popcorn asks you to please be quiet during the show. The Admiral is a second-run theatre, so yes the movies are only five dollars, but you will have to wait a few months to see that big blockbuster. Never seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show or dying to see it for the 453rd time? Stop by the first Saturday of each month for a midnight showing, and don’t forget to come in costume.




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