Food Issue

Tampon-Sized Snacks

The Hot Dog Challenge

Suckin' the Bone

It's Not You; Pass the Wine

Notes on Food

Cooks and Cowboys

Sweets for the Sweet

Pizza of Death

Pim and Francie

Like a Clear Blue Flame


Thirteen Coins
125 Boren Ave N (Downtown), 682-2513. Open 24 hours, 7 days. $$

Nestled in the mysterious Denny Way trough, this bottom-feeder has been serving its mixed clientele 24/7 for 32 years. You can get breakfast, lunch, or dinner at any hour, the first two running between $8 and $15; the latter about $15-$40 à la carte. Although Thirteen Coins adopts the coinage of the romantic restaurant, in fact it qualifies as a ridiculously expensive dive, with the milieu of a '70s-era family den: good for breakups. The well-padded booths provide conversational privacy; the food is abundant and comforting; the waitstaff is disinterested; cocktails are stiff--and, most importantly, Thirteen Coins never closes, so you can argue your heart out until dawn.


Hing Loon Seafood
628 S Weller St (International District), 682-2828. Sun-Thurs 10 am-1 am, Fri-Sat 10 am-2 am. $

At Hing Loon Seafood, the lights are bright, the floor's scuffed, and the Formica tabletops are dewy with the residue of the just-swiped waiter's rag. Handwritten signs on the wall advertise fresh fish and their sauces, while the menu tops eight pages. Chow fun--pale rice noodles wide as a newborn's wrist, boiled and stir-fried, peppered with meats or vegetables and served in a variety of sauces--averages $7 for a generous platter. The seafood is excellent--fresh and expertly handled--while the land meats are unremarkable. Other highlights include a medley of small, hat-like dumplings (shu-mai) steamed in bamboo (good for throwing during an argument); a black cod smothered in salt and then charred over flames; and long, light brown mushrooms steamed and dressed lightly in soy and sesame oil. The food here, in fact, may make you forget your sorrows.


Cyclops
2421 First Ave (Belltown), 441-1677. Lunch daily 11:30 am-2:30 pm; dinner daily 6-10 pm; brunch Sat-Sun 9 am-2 pm. $$

Strange behavior is well tolerated at Belltown's semi-posh, semi-not Cyclops bar and restaurant. Building on Cyclops' well-honed reputation for eccentric but excellent and moderately priced American-style food, owners Gina Kaukola and John Hawkley have designed a friendly menu, featuring new, seasonally changing items alongside old favorites: notably trout, coated in cornmeal and studded with sunflower seeds; and Chicken Cha-Cha, featuring an artistically angle-sliced chicken breast kissed with rum and orange-juice-sweetened coconut curry sauce. The staff here is willing to leave you alone, and arguments will readily be absorbed into the animated crowd's general ambience.


El Greco
219 Broadway (Capitol Hill), 328-4604. Tues-Thurs 5-9:30 pm, Fri 5-10 pm, Sat 9 am-10 pm, Sun brunch 9 am-2:30 pm, closed Mondays. $$

El Greco serves some of the best-prepared food in one of the least comfortable rooms on Capitol Hill. The room is narrow, an L-shaped corridor with a hard tile floor; breaker-uppers may wish to locate near the back, away from street-side windows. The wine, however, is excellent and affordable. The menu is largely Mediterranean: pastas, panini, hummus, tzatziki, and baba ghanoush share space with lamb, pork, chicken, and fresh fish. Basil, oregano, garlic, and tarragon are favored. Pork and lamb are invariably tender and moist, threaded with spicy marinades. El Greco also has some terrific vegetarian fare, especially its Crispy Penne ($10) tossed with eggplant, tomato, kalamata olives, and capers, then grilled; it's every bit as complex as the richly marinated pork loin ($13).


Ray's Boathouse Cafe
6049 Seaview NW (Ballard) 789-3770. Daily 11:30 am-10 pm. $$

Ray is blessed with a big fancy boathouse, and his upstairs "cafe" has a glistening bar, deck seating, and a Shilshole location that's the envy of Seattle's seafood restaurateurs (except for Anthony, whose place is next door). The key here is the view--an uninterrupted and distracting swath of Puget Sound from Discovery Park to the Olympic range. The food is, for the most part, merely decent. The clam chowder ($3.99) is perfunctory, but the crab cakes with Dungeness crab and rock shrimp ($12.99) show much more inventiveness. As for entrées, the top sirloin steak ($13.99) is not that great, but the grilled Alaskan king salmon with wild mushrooms, hazelnut, and blackberry purée ($14.99) is excellent. If you can stiff your soon-to-be-ex with the check, the food will taste even better.


Triangle Lounge
3507 Fremont Place N (Fremont), 632-0880. Sun-Thurs 11:30 am-10 pm, Fri-Sat 11:30 am-midnight; bar till 2 am. $

The Triangle Lounge is appropriately shaped like a triangle, and has triangle-shaped art on the walls. If the shape doesn't make you feel geometrically constricted, you'll have a fine time breaking up here--with one caveat: Avoid the outside patio, ringed by a sharp-edged sculptural metal fence. The menu--with a nice selection of pizzas, seafood, salads, and sandwiches--is diverse and consistently good. The spinach lasagna ($9.25, fresh and tasty) comes with a mixed greens salad (could've been better). The Middle Eastern plate ($7.95) features generous portions of hummus, baba ghanoush, feta cheese, and pita slices, good for slinging. On weekends, the Triangle can get outrageously crowded, which means the waitstaff will ignore you even if you're throwing food.


Earth & Ocean
1112 Fourth Ave, in the W Hotel (Downtown), 264-6060. Breakfast Mon-Fri 6:30-10:30 am, Sat-Sun 7:30-10:30 am; lunch Mon-Fri 11:30 am-2 pm; dinner Sun-Thurs 5-10:30 pm, Fri-Sat 5-11:30 pm. $$$

The great thing about Earth & Ocean is that you will know no one there--and if you can fight through the urge to burst into laughter at the establishment's blatant pretense, you will be rewarded with delicious and weird-as-hell dishes. "Small plates" (and they're not kidding, with bread plates that could easily be mistaken for ashtrays) definitely rule. Nutmeg-seared lamb loin ($12) is compact and delicious, with a dazzling layout and full of unusual flavor. The duck confit ($9), formed into the sporty shape of a hockey puck (good for throwing!), is stacked neatly atop a matching little disk of fingerling potato salad.


Old Village Korean Restaurant
15200 Aurora Ave N (North Seattle), 365-6679. Daily 11 am-10 pm. $

Little English is spoken at Old Village, an advantage if you're going to sling insults in that language. With rough wooden tables, this room is like an old-fashioned roadside inn beside the maniacally plundering Aurora traffic. Fresh, traditional Korean food is served with a stellar assortment of pickles and appetizers brought to the table in quantity to all customers--including kimchee, seaweed salad, pickled and sauced radish, and Korean-style potato salad, replete with needle-thin carrot slivers. The large menu features bibimbap, a lovely combo with sprouts, meat, an egg, and marinated, slivered carrots; and delicious chap chae, yam noodles with stir-fry stuff (find this item in the appetizer section of the menu). Plump, tasty dumplings are also available, with or without soup. Some dishes are bathed in a thick, intense red-pepper sauce that may shut up your date--or at least provide an excuse for the tears.

Price Scale (per entrée)

$= $10 and under; $$ = $10-$20; $$$ = $20 and up.