Ballard

Cafe Besalu 5909 24th Ave NW, 789-1463, $
At Besalu, ham-and-cheese and chocolate croissants, orange glazed brioche, outstanding quiche, and tender/chewy springerle cookies are all made with benevolent obsessiveness by Besalu's pastry chef/co-owner James Miller. Excellent coffee, too.

Dandelion 5809 24th Ave NW, 706-8088, $$
A delicately scaled cafe, with glowing lighting, an open kitchen, and a relaxed ease seems downright Californian. The menu is pointedly unfussy: just six or seven appetizers, a few cheese choices, and six or seven entrées, all of it bundled up with lots of farmy name-dropping (Full Circle greens, Oregon Country beef, Quillisascut cheese) to let you know that someone in the kitchen cares about how the ingredients are grown.

Hattie's Hat 5231 Ballard Ave NW, 784-0175, $$
Hattie's no longer has potroast night (rest its soul), but the buttermilk-soaked fried chicken with gravy (and choice of excellent sides) is still around. Breakfast—biscuits and gravy, huevos rancheros, good pancakes with jam—is no longer served all day and night, but is worth getting out of bed for.

India Bistro 2301 NW Market St, 783-5080, $
Consistently considered above the grade for Indian food, this Ballard bistro ranks high for its tandoori combos, curries, dahl, and masalas. Meat, seafood, and vegetarian lovers alike should all find something to fit their cravings here.

La Carta de Oaxaca 5431 Ballard Ave NW, 782-8722, $
Some black moles have a hint of char to them, to balance out the sugar and chocolate in the sauce, but La Carta's sticks to sweeter notes. It's delicious and mysterious—perfect in tamales wrapped with banana leaves.

Le Gourmand 425 NW Market Street, 784-3463, $$$
Traditional French cuisine done up with fresh Northwest produce makes for down-to-earth yet fancy food, with names that are hard to pronounce but very easy to enjoy.

People's Pub 5429 Ballard Ave NW, 783-6521, $
If you're looking for the kind of hearty fare Germans use to power through dark, cold winters, the People's Pub's Kraut-friendly menu may be just what you need. Giant Wiener schnitzel helps to soak up its many brands of beer—some of which are meals in and of themselves.

Belltown

Brasa 2107 Third Ave, 728-4220, $$$
One of the current Seattle food stars, Brasa may overwhelm average diners—the menu is far-flung and can be intimidating—but it's a surprisingly fun place to go with a group for appetizers in the bar.

Cyclops 2421 First Ave, 441-1677, $$
The often-packed Cyclops earns its popularity by serving good, imaginative food and tasty drinks.

Dahlia Lounge 2001 Fourth Ave, 682-4142, $$
Serving up favorites like salmon (of course), pork loin, and rib-eye steak (plus a few vegetarian options for good measure), Dahlia Lounge tops 'em all off with fancy purées (cipollini), confits (carrot), and emulsions (asparagus). But the real draw is dessert, featuring everything from chocolate cake or blueberry sorbet, to homemade doughnuts or poached apricots.

Five Point Cafe 415 Cedar St, 448-9993, $
Another one of Seattle's 24-hour dives, except the Five Point is actually worth going to even if it isn't the only thing open. Get the fries—some of the best in Seattle.

Flying Fish 2234 First Ave, 728-8595, $$
One of the first and still one of the best of the high-end, upscale/casual eateries in Belltown. Whole grilled fish, huge platters of well-prepared seafood, and a happening bar all make Flying Fish a must-eat spot. Pricey but justifiably so.

Marco's Supperclub 2510 First Ave, 441-7801, $$
A truly urban place—one where a lot of people share a small space and interaction is inevitable—serving truly urban food, with ethnic flourishes from all over. The gossamer fried sage leaves have become something of a legend.

Marrakesh Moroccan Restaurant 2334 Second Ave, 956-0500, $$
Thank goodness Moroccan food is back in Seattle—with all the traditional and slightly theatrical accompaniments: the pillows to lounge against, the minty tea poured from a great height, scented water poured over the hands. And the food is lovely: fragrant stews over couscous, a flaky, buttery chicken pie, chicken with preserved lemons. There is something inherently royal about it.

Capitol Hill

611 Supreme 611 E Pine St, 328-0292, $
The crepes are larger than the plates underneath them, a serene brown (due, in part, to the use of buckwheat flour), crispy at the edges. This is perfect food—whether wrapped around smoked salmon, sautéed mushrooms, or caramelized apples—both ephemeral and hearty at the same time.

Ballet 914 E Pike St, 328-7983, $
Under vigorous new ownership, the once-spotty Ballet has reemerged as Capitol Hill's underdog champ of routinely delicious food. Offering an array of Asian, pan-Asian, and Pacific Rim delights (including a much-celebrated pho), Ballet's key asset is shockingly fresh, expertly prepared vegetables—if you're trying to bed a vegetarian, take 'em here and you're a shoo-in.

Bimbo's Bitchin' Burrito Kitchen 506 E Pine St, 329-9978, $
Fat, tasty burritos, pretty good everything else. Sometimes crowded, which means a wait, but the Bimbo's crew is perfectly willing to come track you down in the Cha Cha when your table's ready.

Cafe Septieme 214 Broadway E, 860-8858, $
Places all over town have copied Cafe Septieme's trademark blood-red walls, but no place in the city can capture Septieme's ambience. At lunch, have the chicken club or the Septieme salad. At dinner, the schnitzel, the spaghetti carbonara, and the strip steak are all worth the calories. Breakfasts are awesome—and can take the edge off any hangover. Lattes are served in a bowl at Septieme and you're free to sit as long as you like.

Capitol Hill Cafe Internet Lounge & Eatery 216 Broadway E, 860-6858, $
Offers a wide selection of delicious sandwiches (catering to both meat-eaters and vegans), salads, and specials like homemade calzones and macaroni and cheese. Many are convinced that Capitol Hill Cafe has the best veggie burger in Seattle. Plus, it's open until midnight every night.

Deluxe Bar & Grill 625 Broadway E, 324-9697, $
A great place to duck into during a rainstorm for a bowl of soup and some cozy cocktails, or to toss back some pints before taking in some subtitled gem at the nearby Harvard Exit. Food is good, but before its froofy remodel the Deluxe had the greatest fries in the world. Sigh.

Hana 219 Broadway Ave E, 328-1187, $
Located on the lip of Broadway Alley, Hana is one of Capitol Hill's best bargains for sushi and teriyaki. Clean and casual, and usually quite crowded, it's still worth the wait.

HoneyHole 703 E Pike St, 709-1399, $
Serving the biggest and sloppiest hot sandwiches in Seattle, HoneyHole will quiet any grumbling stomach screaming for comfort food. Plus, a glorious full bar!

Jai Thai 235 Broadway Ave East, 322-5781, $
Here's good, cheap Thai food, dished up in a relatively stylish environment, complete with a full bar and comfy lounge. Jai Thai scores big with their delicious homemade noodles, featured in dishes such as the phad kee mao, a variation on pad thai with wide noodles and curry, and tremendously good with shrimp. Best of all: A late-night menu offered until 1am every night of the week.

Jamjuree 509 15th Ave E, 323-4255, $
This family-owned restaurant is a Capitol Hill favorite for seafood, curries, noodle dishes, and other Thai standards. With plenty of veggie options (they work small miracles with green beans) and street-style food, such as fish cakes and chicken satay.

Kingfish Cafe 602 19th Ave E, 320-8757, $$
From the day it opened its doors to do business, some five or so years ago, the lines into Kingfish have never diminished. People still wait, often for an hour during the weekends, to eat its fancy soul foods, and absorb its atmosphere of jazz and black American prosperity. Buttermilk fried chicken, thick and sweet collard greens, spicy and flesh-soft catfish are a few of their treasured items.

Monsoon 615 19th Ave E, 325-2111, $$$
Sparse and simple Vietnamese cuisine in the upscale Monsoon is surprisingly comfortable—and well worth the menu price. Be sure to check out the new dim sum brunch on weekends, which is dreamily delicious.

Central District

Catfish Corner 2726 E Cherry St, 323-4330, $$
Catfish encrusted with cornmeal; catfish baked and drizzled with spicy, buttery sauce; catfish, catfish, catfish. Plus, side dishes that are like school food only better: rice and beans, a curry-tinged potato salad, and sweet li'l cornmeal muffins.

Support The Stranger

Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant 1325 E Jefferson St, 860-0403, $
What distinguishes Mesob from its numerous competitors is a certain lightness it achieves in what should otherwise be very heavy meals. The meats, the bread, the stews, the African greens, even the egg, which sits at the center of a wide variety plate, do not burden the stomach, but with assistance from honey wine, seem to be absorbed with great ease and satisfaction.

Ms. Helen at Deano's Cafe and Lounge 2030 E Madison St, 322-7670, $
Ms. Helen is a one-woman show at a lunch counter inside a bar, and what a show it is. The tenderest possible oxtails, okra stew with corn and tomatoes, fried catfish with a sweet cornmeal crust, and skillet-style cornbread that is so good you'll want to howl. Service can take a while—that's a lot of work for one woman—but you won't begrudge a single second of it.

Philadelphia Fevre 2332 E Madison St, 323-1000, $
The sexy sandwiches at Philadelphia Fevre are filled with fistfuls of shaved meat and creamy melted American cheese.

Downtown/Pioneer Square

13 Coins 125 Boren Ave N, 682-2513, $-$$$
Dark, swanky, and somewhat spooky, this 24-hour dining den blends a mid-'70s bachelor-pad vibe with freakishly ambitious grill fare. But if you need a top-dollar steak-and-lobster combo at 4:30 am, this is your place.

Alibi Room 85 Pike St, 623-3180, $$
Located underneath Pike Place Market, the offhand chicness of the Alibi Room makes it a great place to hang out for drinks and board games or to have a simple, tasty dinner. Beloved by local cineastes.

Assaggio 2010 Fourth Ave, 441-1399, $$$
This is food in the tradition of tourist-friendly Italian restaurants, but no matter—some of it, such as the brodo aconetano (mussels, clams, scallops, and bay shrimp packed in a fragrant tide pool of creamy saffron broth), is very good.

Bakeman's 122 Cherry St, 622-3375, $
Bakeman's turkey sandwich is legendary, and has been around longer than most things in Seattle. You line up cafeteria-style, and you better know what you want: light or dark meat, white or wheat bread, cranberry or no. Other stuff is good; the turkey sandwich is great.

Campagne 86 Pine St, 728-2800, $$$
Unlike its casual cousin downstairs, Campagne is a full-on special-occasion restaurant serving French-style food adapted to Northwest ingredients (with the Pike Place Market right outside their door, they've got a lot to work with, after all). You can watch the staff professionally sidestep each other in the tiny box of a kitchen (their window looks out on Post Alley) as they whip up some of the finest food in the city. Don't embarrass us—dress nicely, please.

Earth & Ocean 1112 Fourth Ave, 264-6060, $$$
The Zen-inspired restaurant attached to downtown's W Hotel plays host to a widely varied menu. You'll find wild-boar sausage and oysters, mache and salmon, wild mushrooms and scallops, all mixed and matched and dished up high on tiny plates. Plus: fancy top-shelf drinks and slick desserts.

Hurricane Cafe 2230 Seventh Ave, 682-5858, $
The Hurricane Cafe (one of the city's few 24-hour joints) keeps trying to reinvent itself, seemingly fighting the fact that it always has been and always will be the smoky, noisy after-show ritual of Seattle's late-night crowd. The wait staff's generally lazy (with a few exceptions), and the food is always half-assed, but who gives a fuck? It's 4 am and you want to eat.

Il Bistro 93-A Pike St, 682-3049, $$
Off the cobblestones that run under Pike Place Market, Il Bistro is a nice spot for a cozy date or to get away from the bustle and savor some tippy-top-shelf scotch. Bowls of pasta and zesty cioppino are satisfying choices among other Italian fare.

Library Bistro 92 Madison St, 624-3646, $$$
The food is a miracle at this restaurant in the very nice Alexis Hotel. It's unfussy but sophisticated, with excellent ingredients.

Pink Door 1919 Post Alley, 443-3241, $$
It's good to know the restaurant's name because there's no sign outside, just the damn pink door. Inside, you can sit in the rosy dining room (where the light makes everyone look good) or out on a nice deck with a view of the water. The atmosphere is so lovely that even if the food (mostly your basic Italian, dressed up a bit for fun) misses the mark (which occasionally it does), you probably won't mind.

Salumi 309 Third Ave S, 621-8772, $
We love Salumi so much that we have a nickname for it: We call it "Hello, meat." At Armandino Batali's busy, narrow storefront/counter/tiny restaurant in Pioneer Square, you can find house-cured Italian meats all made by Batali and his talented staff—along with hot and cold sandwiches, and platters that feature cooked meats (sausages, meatballs, oxtails) as well as cured meats (various salamis, coppa, pancetta, prosciuttos, tongue, and cured lamb).

Eastlake

Pomodoro Ristorante 2366 Eastlake Ave E, 324-3160, $$
The menu is divided in two: Spanish tapas on the left and Italian pastas on the right, and my dining entourage veered toward Italy. Inspired by the restaurant's name, we started with a giant slab of beefsteak tomato dressed in balsamic vinegar and topped with a confetti of basil and fresh mozzarella—an appetizer ample enough for three to share. Gnocchi (Italian for "dumplings") are hand-rolled little footballs of boiled dough. Pomodoro's were perfect: wee, dimpled, more tender than chewy, and joined by beer-boiled fennel sausage and mushrooms in a chunky tomato sauce.

Siam on Lake Union 1880 Fairview Ave E, 323-8101, $
Same great food as the original legendary Broadway location, offered in a snazzier, more expansive setting. Plus, E-Z parking!

Fremont

Chiso 3520 Fremont Ave N, 632-3430, $$
The standard sushi options are perfect here but you should absolutely look at the specials list, where you might find little silver smelt, or monkfish liver, or aji (a kind of Spanish mackerel that's less fatty than the usual kind). Chiso is a serene urban spot hidden away in funk-land Fremont, so it's not often very crowded.

Fremont Classic Pizzeria & Trattoria 4307 Fremont Ave N, 548-9411, $
Great pizza and entrées in a cozy, friendly neighborhood space.

Fremont Dock 1102 N 34th St, 633-4300, $
The Dock is known primarily as a dive bar, so don't expect hoity-toity cuisine here. The dark, smoky Fremont fixture serves just enough grub to grease up your stomach for its drinks. A full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu offers a mix of standard diner fare, from steak and eggs to apple pie.

Kwanjai Thai 469 N 36th St, 632-3656, $$
Located in the Thai—food capital of Seattle—where Thai restaurants outnumber baby strollers almost two to one—the casual Kwanjai Thai has earned a reputation as being worth the wait. They're serious about their noodles, soups, and star-spice ratings, and many swear it's the Thai talk of the town in Fremont, which is saying a lot.

Paseo 4225 Fremont Ave N, 545-7440, $
In its essentials, Paseo's pork sandwich is like a Caribbean bahn mi: grilled pork on a sturdy roll with cilantro and lettuce, and not stingy with the mayonnaise. However, a bahn mi is a tidy little operation, and a pork sandwich from Paseo is a lovely mess, with dripping marinade and onions that have been grilled for so long that they just give up and become a sweet, mellow tangle. Other things here—like the jerk chicken—are very good, but it's the pork that you remember.

Persimmon 4256 Fremont Ave N, 632-0760, $
Brunch that doesn't disappoint. With its jolly colors, beaded curtains, and sad clown paintings in the hallway, Persimmon's look is retro-cute, but not overstuffed. The same goes for the food.

Greenwood/Phinney

Burrito Loco 9211 Holman Rd NW, 783-0719, $
One of the best burrito joints in town, Burrito Loco stuffs fluffy tortillas with flavorful ingredients—including appropriately seasoned beans—then grills the folded package for some extra gusto before delivering it to your table.

Carmelita 7314 Greenwood Ave N, 706-7703, $$
Carmelita is the city's highest-minded vegetarian restaurant, with elaborate dishes that set out to make you forget the portobello-mushroom "steak" that passes for a vegetarian meal at so many restaurants.

Stumbling Goat Bistro 6722 Greenwood Ave N, 784-3535, $$
Here, a purist philosophy results in a small, restrained menu. You might think you could cook this stuff at home, but don't be misled—it is precisely this simplicity, this lack of pretension or fuss, with a careful focus on each ingredient and its true flavor, that makes the food very good. The menu changes frequently; generally there is beef, pork, chicken, one type of fresh fish, and a risotto.

International District

Malay Satay Hut 212 12th Ave S, 324-4091, $
Three cuisines fuse under the heading of Malaysian food: the intense sweetness possible in Chinese food joining the slower, more lumbering heat and weight of Indian and the brightness of Thai that we identify with cilantro and fish sauce. Here, you'll want the roti canai (soft Indian flatbread served with a potato curry), the Belachan okra (okra sautéed in pungent shrimp paste), and perhaps a whole steamed fish.

Maneki Restaurant 304 Sixth Ave S, 622-2631, $
The sushi bar is a nutty accumulation of all kinds of kitsch, both Japanese and not. Maneki is a sort of secret sushi hangout for the not-so-wealthy: good food, decent prices.

Pho Bac 1314 S Jackson St, 323-4387, $
The building that shelters Pho Bac is as famous as the little Vietnamese restaurant's bowls of angelic pho. The place is on the very edge of 14th Avenue and Jackson Street, before the streets merge and swerve into Rainer; its large windows look out onto the streets and business that make up Little Saigon; and those who walk by always see within it the shadows of numerous people working hard at emptying large bowls of good, cheap pho.

Seven Stars Pepper Szechuan Restaurant 1207 S Jackson St, Suite 211, 568-6446, $
The flavors are distinct and specific: delicately textured wontons swimming in spicy, oily sauce; fragrant cumin lamb; and delicious crispy duck. Whole crab dishes are phenomenal.

Madison Park

Crush 2319 E Madsion Park, 302-7874, $$
Crush is a sexy, sexy spot with sexy food. My wild mushroom and duck confit tart was topped with an oozing poached egg (topping things with oozing poached eggs is a trend I wildly salute), and it was stacked and smoky and offered little peppery pockets among the general greatness. A salad of grilled asparagus with goat cheese was tarted up in a pretty pile; the textures (including chips of crisped prosciutto) took to each other instinctually. The third dish—tender cauliflower-filled agnolotti ("priests' caps" of pasta; no comment) with delicate pieces of smoked sturgeon, currants, and walnuts—provoked the remark, "I never want to eat anything else ever again."

Nishino 3130 E Madison St, 322-5800, $$$
Nishino, considered one of the premier places to get sushi in a sushi-crazed town, offers its top-quality fare in lively surroundings. Open since 1995, the sushi bar is always bustling, and the room rings with exclamations of delight from ecstatic diners. The service is leisurely and friendly. Because of Nishiro's popularity, it's best to book reservations in advance. They also offer a variety of other dishes, if raw fish isn't your cup of tea.

Voilà! 2805 E Madison St, 322-5460, $$
Despite the goofy name, Voilà!'s bistro menu isn't entirely predictable, although to be sure, one can order coq au vin, pâté, and even the occasional frog leg special. The salads, for example, are lovely, and the spicy North African merguez is really succulent and decidedly lamb-y.

Madrona/Leschi

Cafe Soleil 1400 34th Ave, 325-1126, $
Breakfast here is American, while dinner is Ethiopian by way of Madrona (with a few pasta dishes as well). The stews are delicious, with greens not cooked unto limpness but fresh and light. It's all served with the traditional sour injera bread, but you might be tempted to use a fork.

Hi-Spot Cafe 1410 34th Ave, 325-7905, $
Two words: Pint-size mimosas. So much better than those dinky champagne flutes that are gone three times before your breakfast arrives. Even the hearty toast and good-as-Grandma-makes jam is yummy, and that's not just the mimosa talking.

Queen Anne

5 Spot Cafe 1502 Queen Anne Ave N, 285-7768, $$
With its ever-evolving menu—half of which rotates every three months or so—the 5 Spot Cafe focuses on regionalism in American cuisine. Even better, the experiments are almost always yummy.

Barbacoa 2209 Queen Anne Ave N, 352-6213, $$
This upscale barbecue joint probably wouldn't pass muster with hardcore fans of Memphis-style barbecue, but for the rest of us, it's pretty damn good. Juicy, flavorful, delicious brisket and ribs, with expertly rendered side dishes.

Canlis 2576 Aurora Ave N, 283-3313, $$$
Fancy folks, businesspeople, and retirees love this atrium-like dining room that serves upscale surf-and-turf and specialties like wasyugyu tenderloin. Take your parents. Make them pay.

Mecca 526 Queen Anne Ave N, 285-9728, $
An old-timey counter-and-booth-style diner, for those times when only dependable food can hit the spot. The jukebox is a history lesson unto itself.

Tup Tim Thai 118 W Mercer St, 281-8833, $
We've never heard an ill word spoken about the comfortable yet convenient Tup Tim Thai. Maybe that's why its lunch and dinner hours are consistently bustling and its regulars refuse to eat Thai anywhere else.

Rainier Valley/Beacon Hill/ Mount Baker/Columbia City

Judkins Barbecue 2608 S Judkins St, 328-7417, $
Good, cheap barbecue in a comfortable setting.

Pho Hoa 4406 Rainier Ave S, 723-1508, $
Keeping it simple: Pho Hoa—with a sister restaurant in the International District—is a sweet Vietnamese neighborhood soup shop that's nearly always busy.

Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria 4918 Rainier Ave S, 721-3501, $
I couldn't decide between pizza or salad, and both seemed too indulgent even for rule-breaking. But that either/or decision was quickly and conveniently resolved when we ordered the Pizza Insalata alla Tutta Bella. The thin oven-baked crust is seasoned with sea salt and olive oil and then topped with a choice of salad. The combination of salad and pizza, which sounded strange at first, was perfect.

SoDo/Georgetown/South Park

Muy Macho 8515 14th Ave S, 763-7109, $
Damn good and cheap. The tacos arrive with just meat and salsa—not, thank heaven, doused in cheese. And the array of meats includes the tripe and brains and such—but for the less daring, the pork variations are amazingly good.

Smarty Pants 6017 Airport Way S, 762-4777, $
A vast array of hot, delicious sandwiches—every damn one of 'em available vegetarian-style, with homemade field roast-served up in a charmingly funky space. Beyond the sandwiches exist other delights, including Frito Pie (!) and a full bar.

Wazobia West African Cuisine 170 S Washington St, $$
Unfamiliar components like fufu and egusi melon seeds come together with chicken and spicy okra stew to create a perfect balance of flavor and texture. Also tempting is the Nigerian pepper soup, which, as the menu informs us, is "consumed in great quantities by beer and palm wine drinkers."

University District/Ravenna

Agua Verde Cafe and Paddleclub 1303 NE Boat St, 545-8570, $
If the sun is out, the water will be shimmering behind this cottage-like restaurant that, along with offering yam tacos and mango margaritas and hominy stew, also rents kayaks by the hour. The menu of simple, fresh food—tacos (meats, fish, and vegetables), empanadas, sandwiches, quesadillas, salads, nightly specials, and sublime desserts—recalls the cuisines of Baja, Oaxaca, Tampico, and salt-sprayed Mexican beach towns.

Cafe Lago 2305 24th Ave E, 329-8005, $$
A clean, bright restaurant with big windows that look out onto the leafy Montlake neighborhood. Customers cram the place for the fresh handmade pastas and delicious rustic pizzas. There may be a wait, but don't worry: There's a bar.

Calypso Caribbean Kitchen 7917 Roosevelt Way NE, 525-5118, $$
The hallmarks of Caribbean cuisine—jerk spices, rum, brown sugar, coconut, lime—permeate Calypso's menu, but the influences of other cuisines are at work here as well. The jerk dishes are very good.

College Inn Pub 4006 University Way NE, 634-2307, $
One of Seattle's best bars. Try the chili, for it is amazing.

Maple Leaf Grill 8929 Roosevelt Way NE, 523-8449, $
The kind of bar everyone wishes his or her neighborhood had, the Maple Leaf Grill is a cozy, worn-in den, perfect for folks in the area to walk to and for solo diners who crave a little background noise and people-watching with their dinner.

Wallingford/Green Lake

Bizzarro Italian Cafe 1307 N 46th St, 545-7327, $$
Occasionally verging on the cutesy, Bizzarro nevertheless manages to keep it together while seducing devoted diners with good wine, art-bedecked walls, the occasional singing waiter, and damn good food, of the traditional-yet-exciting pasta variety.

Blue Onion Bistro 5801 Roosevelt Way NE, 729-0579, $$
This former gas station has been converted into a cozy home-style bistro where just a few bucks can get you a fully satisfying bistro-style lunch of soup, salad, and a sandwich. All-American dinners get jazzed up with quality ingredients (duck breast with maple-sausage glaze, alongside fish sticks made of salmon, and mac 'n' cheese made with blue cheese) while staying in the moderate price range.

Essential Baking Company 1604 N 34th St, 545-3804, $
Delicious European sandwiches, plus amazing bread.

Eva 2227 N 56th St, 633-3538, $$
Amy McCray's menu is both worldly and grounded, with good honest cooking. She's got a nice knack for sides like chorizo-bread pudding with sherry-braised rabbit, squash spaetzle with a veal shank, and corn pudding with pork loin.

Nell's 6804 E Green Lake Way N, 524-4044, $$
Low-key, understated dishes made from seasonal local food. Sounds too good to be true, right? Philip Mihalski lets the ingredients do their own advertising, especially when he's flaunting the good stuff: porcini mushrooms, Black Mission figs, saffron, shaved black truffles, and veal sweetbreads.

West Seattle/White Center

Capers 4521 California Ave SW, 932-0371, $$
A gourmet-food-store-slash-elegant-bistro with all the makings for a sophisticated dinner, to eat in the shop or make at home.

Jade West 6032 California Ave SW, 932-9840, $
Sit down at the low counter and choose between your favorite greasy American favorites (French toast, hamburgers, etc.) and your favorite greasy Chinese favorites (fried rice and chow mein). Chef/owner Wah will customize each order for you with flair.

West 5 4539 California Ave SW, 935-1966, $
If you're looking for something heavy and comforting, some down-home cooking that could put you into a food coma, then head over to West Seattle's West 5. They serve up some impressive meatloaf and macaroni and cheese that'll get you off to a good start.