Shawn O'Donnell Jr. was only a day old when his dad brought him to the original Shawn O'Donnell's in Everett. He began greeting and seating guests while he was still tiny enough to inspire confused stares when he introduced himself as Shawn O'Donnell. Now with a second location on the ground floor of the historic Smith Tower (or in its balls, for those who refer to it as the Penis Building), the pub's specialty is slow-cooked corned beef and cabbage. Additionally, the O'Donnells may have invented "Irish nachos" (potato chips with corned beef, cheese, and jalapeños).
But it was Shawn O'Donnell's "Boxty Cakes"—described on the menu as "Irish crab cakes"—that piqued my interest. The fried cakes of potatoes, cheese, and corned beef with horseradish sauce tasted like no box I'm familiar with, and for some reason were better cold. There were plenty of leftovers—at happy hour, six cakes were $6. A wooden plaque above the bar reads: "What whiskey can't cure, there is no cure for." Most afternoons, a room furnished dramatically by the Chinese empress Cixi is open on the top floor of the tower, and $7.50 buys a ride up in an opulent brass elevator piloted by Seattle's last elevator operator.