After a four-year hiatus, “Tito” Greg Rosas and daughter/co-owner Rita Rosas Glenister have reopened their iconic family-owned diner, Ludi’s, just two blocks north of its old location at Second and Pike. The Filipino-American greasy spoon has taken over the former Long Provincial space, and they’re slinging the same royal-purple ube pancakes, long-silog (that’s sweet Filipino sausage and eggs on garlic fried rice), and other delicious old-school standards.
For seven years, Ludi’s held court at the corner of Second Avenue and Pike Street, in a space that old-timers may know better as the profoundly crusty, slightly dangerous Turf Restaurant and Lounge—one of the greatest dive bars in Seattle history, which the Seattle Times once described as being “like the United Nations with knives.” Gregorio “Tito Greg” Rosas, who emigrated to Seattle from the Philippines in 1978, was a dishwasher at the Turf until he bought in as a part owner in the '80s. When another part owner died in 2012, Rosas bought the restaurant in full and cleaned it up, and then he, Glenister, and his brother Ramon Rosas added Filipino dishes. They rechristened the shop as Ludi’s, after Rosas’s foster mom, and continued on happily until 2019, when lease renegotiations and later a fire knocked them out of biz.
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The first day at the new location came with a long line, but by the third day, things had chilled out and the wait was only five or 10 minutes. The new joint is slightly snazzier, but still retains some of the historical grit of the old location: cool neon, snarky menu descriptions, and that ragtag communal collection of Filipino condiments, as before. It’s new, but it’s at once the comfy old thing you remember.
The Ludi’s reopening comes almost exactly a year after its announcement; they’d actually planned to open at the top of 2023, but the buildout was slightly behind schedule, as these things always are. “We’re just so glad to be back,” Glenister says as she drapes her arm around her dad, who’s clad in a hair net and a mile-wide grin. “We can’t believe it’s finally done.” She adds that they actually spent Father’s Day in the restaurant, on Day 2, and it was really special to work together again on the holiday.
When asked about how the soft opening will differ from a full-swing operation, Rita replies, “Y’know, truthfully? I don’t know what a soft open is versus a regular opening! I think I was just like… we closed abruptly, so why don’t we just open abruptly? I said, ‘Y’know, look, we’re just gonna open the door. See what happens.’ So we opened it.”
The new spot at Second and Stewart is a split-level layout with a separate dining room and bar and old Ludi’s and Turf decor all over. The specter of the Turf actually looms large here: In addition to the wall art, the name of the bar, Langi’s Lounge, is a tribute to previous Turf co-owner George Langi, who passed away in 2009 and whose granddaughter now works at Ludi’s as a server. And although opening hours are only 7 am to 3 pm right now, the presence of the lounge—and an updated cocktail list on the menu!—gives one some hope of extended hours to come.
I know ube pancakes are the classic thing to get here, but for me, it’s the eggy breakfast plates with Filipino meats. I got a real fuckin’ emotion this weekend from my first bite of long-silog in years, NGL. Addicting, as ever. I seriously considered trying to take home a pound or two of longganisa to put on, I dunno, everything I eat for the next week. And they do such a great job with the Spam too. Grilling Spam is an art—because of the high moisture content, folks tend to overcook it, but you want it just a little bit toasty, like a grilled cheese, but not hard. A delicate, crystalline, light-brown crust on the exterior, like a golden sear on a porkchop. Ludi’s still nails it.
By the way, the ordering setup at Ludi’s right now is a little unusual—first, you check in with the host, who hands you a menu while you’re still in the foyer, and then you put your order in, and THEN you’re seated. Glenister says they’re still ironing kinks out, so this ordering system may change.
“We’re basically ducks right now,” Glensiter laughs. “We’re just swimming frantically, making it work!” she continues, “But I know that eventually, in another couple weeks, it’s gonna be just like old times. We’re all gonna be shouting at each other! I mean, uh, with love!”
Like my first bite of long-silog in years, I’m also VERY EMOTIONAL about all the Seattle restaurants that have gone away and then are suddenly and magically reappearing. As y’all know, Seattle’s restaurants have been getting slaughtered at a terrifying clip in the last decade, as local rents skyrocket and COVID transforms the entire universe, and they almost never come back! Ludi’s, Beth’s, Glo’s, Med Mix, the Neighbor Lady, even Jackson’s Catfish Corner. I’ve been thanking all of our lucky stars for this replenished bounty, on everyone in Seattle’s behalf. This feels nothing short of miraculous.
“Well, we had no choice to reopen,” Rita laughs, in response to my cheeseball sentimental display. “We had to come back. Ludi’s is all I know!”