Two Dagos from Texas

2600 First Ave (Belltown), 441-7714. Mon 3 pm-midnight, Tues-Fri 11 am-2 am, Sat 5 pm-2 am, Sun 3 pm-midnight. $$

Things at Two Dagos seem to mimic the enormous girth of the Lone Star State. The menu boasts 14 pages of choices (portions tend to be expansive), from Tex-Mex to Italian to you-name-it. For more variety, simply graze through a couple of their generous appetizers: The Mud Bugs special ($7.25) is a messy, hands-on delight -- a plateful of crawfish swimming in a Cajun wine sauce, simple and not too spicy. Equally satisfying are the Grilled Korean Spare Ribs ($8.75), short-cut racks of juicy, marinated beef ribs grilled with a roasted garlic sauce and served with a side of cool marinated cucumber slices that sneak up on you with a spicy finish. But beware! With so many ample and enticing dishes, regular visits to this informal restaurant (with a full bar!) might result in one other Texas-sized item: your ass. SCOTT McGEATH


Foody Goody Chinese Buffet

601 S Grady Way (Renton), 425-227-8898. Lunch Mon-Fri 11 am-3 pm ($6.49/$3.99 ages 4-10); brunch Sat-Sun 11 am-3 pm ($7.99/$4.99); dinner Mon-Thurs 4-9 pm ($8.99/$5.99), Fri-Sat 3:30-10 pm ($11.99/$5.99), Sun 3:30-9 pm ($11.99/$5.99). $

Weirdness abounds at Foody Goody, Renton's Chinese buffet (like the Santa-theme fabric on the dining room chairs). But oddities aside, the attentive service, a massive array of fresh and carefully prepared foods, and a wildly diverse clientele all make for a curious and edifying meal. We were stunned by the eggplant with spicy garlic sauce, a sweet dish with an almost unfathomable degree of velvety smoothness. Whole talapia (a very underestimated fish) in a brown mushroom sauce also has a smooth texture, but with a mild flavor. Skip the too-dry lemon chicken and go for the generous pieces of BBQ thighs, which taste fresh and carry a moist confidence, as does the BBQ duck. Even the teriyaki is worth noting, with its deep ginger character and soft, supple body. Combine all this with large piles of ripe, fresh fruit and cut vegetables, desserts, and kid-friendly food (mini-pizzas, mac & cheese, Jell-O), and you'll see why eating at Foody Goody feels like attending a large family picnic. JIM ANDERSON


Khana Himalayan Lounge

703 North 34th St (Fremont), 632-6685. Mon-Thurs 11:30 am-9:30 pm, Fri 11:30 am-11 pm, Sat 5-11 pm, closed Sun. $$

Leave your vague visions of mysterious mountain-climbing food, burning incense, and ancient tapestries behind. Instead, you'll find a hip, urban interpretation of the cuisines of Nepal, India, and Tibet. Entrées include Tandoori Chicken ($10.95), alongside perfectly done basmati rice and fresh curried green beans. Rubbed with spices and roasted in a tandoor oven, the moist chicken literally glows with a bright neon redness. On the customized entrée list, diners can choose from the rice meals or the bread meals, both served with pickled vegetables and a choice of meat or vegetables. Lamb with Yogurt ($10.50) and mustard greens also makes a superbly filling meal, but strict vegetarians can enjoy Samosas ($3.50), veggie Momo ($5, a Tibetan version of the pot sticker), or even Pappadam, the crunchy, lentil-flour flat bread served with feisty chutney and tamarind that is brought immediately to your table. JIM ANDERSON


The Asteroid Cafe

1605 N 45th St (Wallingford), 547-2514. Open daily: lunch 10 am-3 pm, dinner 5-10 pm (Sat-Sun till 11 pm). $$

The Asteroid Cafe would like to dispel the rumor that they are merely a coffeehouse. This small storefront in Wallingford is a full-fledged, authentic Italian restaurant focusing on southern, central, and northern Italy, where owner Marlin Hathaway has spent much of his time. The Asteroid is small, and you might feel crowded if you're in a romantic mood, but the food, beginning with a stunning, complimentary bruschetta, will make up for any lack of privacy. The pastas are a work of art, and the portions are immense, but you will keep eating. A few unusual dishes, like the Wild Boar ($15.95), have developed a following, and the daily dinner specials often feature unique seafood entrées. Hathaway is also proud of his wine list, which spans several regions of Italy but concentrates on Tuscan reds. MEGAN HAAS


Ray's Boathouse Cafe

6049 Seaview NW (Ballard) 789-3770. Sun-Thurs 11:30 am-9:30 pm, Fri-Sat 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 is the view -- an uninterrupted swatch of Puget Sound from Discovery Park to the Olympic range. Eating on the deck around sunset, I was so enthralled with the scenery that I barely noticed my food. When I paid attention, though, the food quality was decent. The clam chowder ($3.99) was perfunctory, but the crab cakes with Dungeness crab and rock shrimp ($12.99) showed much more inventiveness. As for entrées, the top sirloin steak ($13.99) was not that great, but my date's grilled Alaskan King Salmon with Wild Mushrooms, Hazelnut, and Blackberry Purée ($14.99) was excellent. NATHAN THORNBURGH


Debby's at the Drift on Inn Roadhouse

16708 Aurora Ave N (Shoreline), 546-4144. Open daily, 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 here on Aurora Avenue. High rollers: The ATM is on the left when you walk in the door. MEGAN HAAS

Price Scale (per entrée)

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

Support The Stranger