Beth's Cafe

7317 Aurora N (Green Lake), 782-5588. Open 24 hours. $

Beth's could easily win any local "Best Greasy Spoon" contest. This place has it all, day and night: mean omelets (six eggs/from $8.50, or 12 eggs/from $11.95); the greasiest, tastiest hash browns; a jukebox full of 45s from the '50s to the '70s; and walls papered with pictures drawn by anyone who requests paper and crayons. Everyone converges at Beth's, where the style is informal, the video games plentiful, and there's only one non-smoking table, thanks to a handy grandfather clause. During the busy graveyard shift, you'll meet truckers en route, students, drunks, hung-overs, elderly couples, and hot-to-trot young people. For those who crave music, smoking, and fine food -- all in the same room and in the dead of night -- Beth's can be a little slice of heaven. They've also got the cheapest espresso in town. MEGAN HAAS

Debby's at the Drift on Inn Roadhouse

16708 Aurora Ave N (Shoreline), 546-4144. Open 24 hours. $

Want to get out of town, where the cooking is home-style and the casino is Vegas-style? Welcome to Debby's, where you can order anything from Cobb Salad ($7.95) to Prime Rib ($11.95), disco-dance Thursday through Sunday nights, and enjoy a unique '50s interior style. The real attraction, however, is downstairs at the Drift on Inn Roadhouse. Standing like the Taj Mahal above blackjack and stud tables, across from the largest big-screen TV in the state, sits the most unbelievable bar in Seattle. Known as "The LaFayette Antique Mirror Bar," this gorgeous monstrosity -- a real must-see -- was made in 1845 in New York City for $10,000, and has been transported hither and yon before finally ending up on Aurora Avenue. High rollers: The ATM is on the left when you walk in the door. MEGAN HAAS

Hattie's Hat

5231 Ballard Ave (Ballard), 784-0175. Dinner Sun-Thurs 5-11 pm, Fri-Sat 5 pm-1 am; brunch Sat-Sun 8 am-3 pm. $$

Since last year's departure of the heralded Chef Rip, Hattie's tinkering of cooks and menus has led to uneven results. But a strong waitstaff carried them through, and things are looking up again. Noted cook/musician/actor Doug Monahan's recent arrival has added spark and FLair to a previously tired menu, now offering some dazzling specials. On a recent visit, Hattie's showcased a powerful Smoked Salmon Club sandwich ($7.95), and Monahan's boozy and clever grilling marinades are a wake-up call to a complacent menu. The vegetable-laden Grilled Cheddar Deluxe sandwich ($5.50) continues to stand for honesty and true value, while the breakfast menu is badly in need of a fruit plate. JIM ANDERSON

Lowell's Restaurant & Bar

1519 Pike Place (Pike Place Market), 622-2036. Mon-Wed 7 am-5 pm, Thurs-Sun 7 am-8 pm, bar open till 9:30 pm. $

"That man at the bar having a cocktail at 7:00 a.m. was probably hauling produce at 3:00 a.m. His day is over already," says Mark Monroe, the general manager of Lowell's, a three-story market mainstay for 50 years. Lowell's is a destination with character -- with tourists, yuppies, and the working-class Market clan that Monroe likens to a carnival family. The food is generally good, and the characters at the bar who've been warming the same stools for years will happily entertain you for free. You can go for the booze or the burgers (from $6.95), but if you want the best of Lowell's, go by yourself at dusk and order the Mussels with Garlic Bread ($10.95), sit on the first FLoor in front of the picture window, and watch the ferries trail back and forth across the Sound like wandering jewels. MEGAN HAAS

Madame K's

5327 Ballard Avenue NW (Ballard), 783-9710. Mon-Thurs 5-10 pm, Fri 5-11 pm, Sat 2-11 pm, Sun 2-9 pm. $

This narrow, hole-in-the-wall space is haphazardly decorated with kitchen and bordello paraphernalia, giving it a warm, sensuous character. All the details are here: twinkling lights, romantic melodies that drift through the air, charming waitresses, and cute wine glasses. As for the food? Weeks have gone by and I am still fantasizing about the Artie Parmie Pie (small/$12.99, large/$17.99), a rich, creamy pizza that drips garlic, artichokes, and parmesan. The Saucy Sassy Angel Hair ($7.49) is unusual and tasty, the salads are large and satisfying, and the Chocolate Chip Orgasm ($4.79) -- vanilla ice cream atop a thick pancake of cookie dough -- is pure magic. MEGAN HAAS


4225 Fremont Ave N (Fremont), 545-7447. Tues-Thurs 11:30 am-9 pm, Fri-Sat 11:30 am-10 pm; Sun noon-9 pm. $

Paseo's consistently laudable sandwiches and superb dinner entrées warrant multiple visits, and the moderate pricing makes it even easier to come back. Sandwiches ($5-$7.95) are the heart and soul of Paseo, and whether it's pork, chicken, or prawns, they all come packed with vigorous FLavor -- built out of fine bread, fat slices of grilled onions, and lots of deep-green cilantro, all sauced with a seasoned mayo. Dinners ($7-$10, also built around chicken, fish, and pork) mount the stage and present a more elegant face, and all are accompanied by gorgeous black beans, bright white rice, a seasonal vegetable, and a small salad with punchy dressing. JIM ANDERSON

"Where to Eat" Price Scale (per entrée)

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

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