Thousands of Seattleites missed Paseo (4225 Fremont Ave N, 545-7440) for the two months that it was closed, but absolutely nobody missed the line. Dozens of people stretched out Paseo's door in a chilly, unrelenting mist last Saturday around noon; at first the line was a quarter block, then a half block, and then it wrapped around the corner and out of sight. Most people were dressed in Seahawks gear, giving the experience a mildly unsettling quality of uniformity; there's nothing quite like waiting in line with people wearing matching uniforms to amp up your dystopian anxiety levels by a few notches. The line was egregiously over-documented, with selfies and shots taken from across the street and lovingly Instagrammed photos of sandwiches posted by people leaving the restaurant. All these thousands of photos were presumably dumped onto social media, where they accrued a few generous likes before fading into digital oblivion.
"It's like the old days," a man cheerfully told his son as they got in line. After a few minutes, the man updated his opinion: "Wow. This is a long line." Finally, about 25 minutes later, he pushed out a terse judgment: "This is ridiculous." One woman kept hissing "Oh my gosh" at random intervals with such venom that it was only possible to translate "Oh my gosh" as "I would gladly murder everyone in this line with my bare hands if it meant I could get my goddamned sandwich in a timely manner." Both people remained in line anyway.
Under the new ownership of local restaurateur Ryan Santwire, the Paseo experience is almost exactly as you remember it. The differences in the storefront are minor, but gesture toward improvement, like the second cash register with the ability to process credit and debit cards. Even with that significant update, you'll likely be waiting at least a half hour in line for your food. (Once you place your order, your meal will likely take less than 10 minutes to be served.)
But the important question: How does it taste? Back in November, when Paseo closed, I wrote in The Stranger, "You will never get to eat their signature pork sandwich ever again." I'm happy to report that I was wrong. The Caribbean roast sandwich ($9.75, notably misspelled on the receipt as "Carribean") is basically the same. Is it sweeter, somehow, the meat slightly less citrusy? Maybe, or maybe it's just your memory playing tricks on you. Probably the most important part is that Paseo's luscious thick strips of caramelized onions, the unheralded superstar of their sandwiches, are certainly just as good as they ever were. The beans and rice ($3 and $1.50, respectively, for six-ounce side dishes) align perfectly with my previous experiences. So, a few quibbles aside, it's true: Paseo has risen from the dead. Hallelujah! The line forms to the left.