2355 1/2 10th Ave E (Capitol Hill), 709-8744. Sun-Thurs 5-10 pm, Fri-Sat 5-11 pm. Full bar. $.
Like its sister restaurant, Bimbo's Bitchin' Burrito Kitchen, Spaghetti Red's is a kitschy joint offering good food for little money. The place's retro-hip atmosphere--blood-red walls, arched doorways, fountains, plastic fruit, frolicking cherubs, Frank Sinatra in the background--screams "too cool for you," but you'll forget how nerdy you are when you've got your snout in a plate of noodles. The best value is the $7.95 Mix & Match Pasta: your choice of spaghetti, capellini, linguine, penne, or bow-tie pasta with regular or fiery red sauce, pesto or roasted garlic cream sauce, or olive oil with garlic and spices. A house salad is included, which is superb in its simplicity: romaine with carrots, marinated onions, and an amazing house vinaigrette (I would kill for the recipe!). Get a friend to share Spaghetti Red's superstar dessert with you: the gargantuan Red Velvet Cake ($4.50), a deliriously rich and moist chocolate cake with bright red frosting, thanks to plenty of beet juice--way better than it sounds. MELODY MOSS
3201 Beacon Ave S (Beacon Hill), 322-9433. Mon-Fri 10 am-9 pm, Sat 9 am-9 pm, closed Sun. $.
New owner Jun Vicencio took over Inay's in February, but he's kept the emphasis on "Filipino Home Cooking" in this popular Beacon Hill joint, with food laid out cafeteria-style in a bewildering array of colors and smells. Jun is happy to give you a "tour" of the offerings and provide tastes of any dish you want to try. Inay's features cuisine from the "gourmet province" of the Philippines, Pampanga, which has a strong Spanish influence and is definitely NOT for vegetarians: Large slabs of fish, beef, chicken, and pork abound, along with a variety of meat combo dishes. Menudo ($4.25) for example (an entrée, not the Puerto Rican boy band) is a delectable stew of pork, beef liver, raisins, potatoes, and carrots in tomato sauce. The offerings change daily, and with nearly all of the entrées priced under $5, you can afford to keep coming back to try something new. You'll probably need to make a separate trip for the gut-bomb splendor of the Halo Halo dessert ($2.50)--shaved ice, tapioca, beans, Jell-O, ice cream, and various brightly colored fruits, all mixed up like a milkshake. MELODY MOSS
1118 E Pike St (Capitol Hill), 324-4019. Sun-Thurs 11:30 am-10:30 pm, Fri-Sat 11:30 am-11 pm, full bar daily till 2 am. $.
The Comet, that old Capitol Hill workhorse, has spawned a new offshoot just a block away: the Satellite Lounge. (It's a satellite of the Comet. Get it?) Though the Satellite is quickly on its way toward getting the Comet's cheerily drunken regulars, it offers everything the Comet lacks: food, hard liquor, breathable air, and clean bathrooms. Burgers and sandwiches are huge and delicious, and come with tasty varieties of potato salad, coleslaw, or slim-cut fries. A regular burger with fries will set you back just $4.50; or be more adventurous and try Amy's Friendship Sandwich (large enough to make friends with the world)--roast beef au jus on a French roll with aioli, fries, and salad ($6.50). The dinner menu emphasizes comfort food like pot pies, steak, chicken, salmon, and pasta, and all are under $10. Desserts include an excellent Raspberry Sorbet with fruit ($3) and homemade pies ($3); if you're lucky you might still be able to nab the to-die-for strawberry-rhubarb. MELODY MOSS
304 Sixth Ave S (International District), 622-2631. Daily 5:30-10:30 pm. $$
Maneki, Seattle's oldest sushi bar, serves up generous portions of the freshest sushi. It's worth stuffing yourself into the sushi bar way in the back corner just to watch the chef craft rolls and individual pieces aesthetic for both the eyes and palate to feast upon. A fluid list of weekly specials offers a range of Japanese home cooking delights (best described as snacks to sustain the body while drinking), including seasonal seafood such as live sea anemone and tempura-battered smelt. Take in the non-stop Japanese television and karaoke videos in the cocktail lounge, if you can find a stool. Filled with dedicated regulars, Maneki gurgles with boisterous sake sippers and sushi fanatics. Owner and local historian Jeanie, along with her friendly and truly helpful waitstaff, flicks from table to bar, chatting it up with customers, insuring a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. There is not a better place in the city to enjoy a favorite or try out something new. RACHEL KESSLER
Dom Polski Zaprasza (Polish Home Assoc.)
1714 18th Ave (Capitol Hill), 322-3020. Open Fri 7-11 pm ONLY! Full bar. $$
Dom Polski is not so much a restaurant as a happening. Once a week, all these friends and acquaintances gather to socialize, eat, and drink Polish beer at the most beautiful bar on Capitol Hill. Ordering the Special Polish Platter generally results in almost instantaneous service of cabbage roll (stuffed with spiced beef, smothered in delicious, um, red sauce), pierogis (Dumplings! Stuffed with meat, or potato and cheese, and the very best stuffed with sauerkraut and mushrooms), whipped potatoes with dill, and kielbasa (hallelujah!), all for the low, low price of $9.50. Beefsteak Tartar ($5.50) arrives on a paper plate. It is raw and red and beautiful. Perfectly crisped deep-brown on the outside, nice and grated-potato-melt-in-your-mouth on the inside, Potato Pancakes ($6.50) come with sour cream, and are served piping hot. My only regret was sighting a fine specimen of Ham Hocks ($9.50), rising at least ONE FOOT IN HEIGHT from its plate, after eating all the aforementioned dishes. But I believe the Breaded Pork Chops with the exquisite sauerkraut of the Polish Home ($9.50) to be well worth the wait, and I intend to order them again and again.