Maruta Shoten

1024 S Bailey St (South Seattle), 767-5002. Mon-Sat 9:30 am-6:30 pm, Sun 10 am-6 pm. $

If late-summer excursions take you south for a hike on Mt. Rainier or further afield via the airport, a stop at Maruta Shoten will get you a better box lunch than anything you'll find in Auburn or on an airplane. Maruta Shoten is a Japanese grocery in Georgetown, just off the I-5 Corson Street exit. They make up terrific bento boxes ($4.75-$4.95) with real sushi, not that pseudo-sushi sold at the supermarket. If sushi is not for you, grilled saba (mackerel), grilled salmon, traditional teriyaki, and good old-fashioned kara-age (fried chicken) are usually available as well. With a bottle of cold sake, you can have a perfect picnic in a mountain meadow--though I usually have mine in Maruta's parking lot! The sign above the refrigerated case reads "Maruta Obento," adding the honorific "O" to the word. This bento certainly deserves the honor. CHARLES ROSENBERG

Broadway New American Grill

314 Broadway E (Capitol Hill), 328-7000. Mon-Fri 9 am-1:30 am, Sat-Sun 8 am-1:30 am. $$

It's right on Broadway, the stumbling-drunk center of weekend, um, drinking, and as such the Broadway Grill qualifies as a more-than-decent place to get munchy food like mashed potatoes mixed with corn, chicken strips, dinner salads, pastas, etc. The decor is nothing nauseating--sleek and sometimes sunlit (although if you smoke you'll be relegated to the dim back section), with a very narrow sidewalk cafe section in the summer. If you're gay, sidle up to the bar: The servers are energetically dedicated to hooking you up. Every Halloween the place turns into the center of Broadway costumedom, the results of which can be seen in photos on the front wall. But watch out: There's live jazz on Mondays; it's sometimes overrun by college kids; breakfast is mediocre; and be prepared to wait! TRACI VOGEL

Jimmy's Table

2805 E Madison St (Madison Valley), 709-8324. Lunch Tues-Fri 11 am-2:30 pm; dinner Tues-Sat 5:30-10 pm. Bar open until 11 pm. $$

Madison Valley, bordered by wealthy and not-so-wealthy neighborhoods, is a gratifyingly funked-up part of town. Chef Jimmy Watkins reflects the cultural character of the nearby neighborhoods by melding ambience and culinary elements. Thus the menu offers a 12-ounce New York steak and lobster dinner ($24) alongside Seafood Pot-au-Feu ($21) in a champagne broth, while a nod to the nearby International District produces an udon noodle bowl with green curry and roasted tofu ($9) on the lunch menu. But the culinary experience at Jimmy's Table isn't about cultural juxtaposition as much as it is about fusion. As tired as the term is sometimes, the results can be sublime. Lunch is a steal, at half the price of dinner. Don't miss out on the rum chocolate cake! MEGAN HAAS

Cafe Flora

2901 E Madison (Madison Valley), 325-9100. Tues-Fri 11:30 am-10 pm; Sat-Sun brunch 9 am-2 pm, dinner 5-10 pm; closed Mondays. $$

Cafe Flora is a sometimes-disorienting blend of yuppie upscale and hippie down-home. An all-vegetarian menu creeps from the boundaries of blandness into light pastry--the Portobella Wellington in Madeira wine sauce ($16)--and pastas, like the popular lemongrass-spiced Wild Mushroom Linguine special ($15). There is a non-dairy pté platter appetizer ($8.50), and delicacies such as black-eyed pea fritters ($14.50). The breakfast menu is especially pleasing, in a brunchy, linen-tablecloth kind of way. If you can, sit in the sunroom. TRACI VOGEL

Capitol Club

414 E Pine (Capitol Hill), 325-2149. Daily 5-11 pm; bar open until 2 am. $$

Thanks to a well-realized Middle Eastern/Moroccan theme--complete with Byzantine murals on warm-colored walls, billowy curtains, velvet-pillow-and-couch seating, and ornate light fixtures--the Capitol Club has earned a decorator's reputation as Pine Street's reigning "opium den." The theme threatens to overshadow the dining experience, which is nothing short of delightful. From the first glass of wine to the main dish, the flavors here are just as sophisticated as the surroundings. Try anything from the harem of appetizers ($5-$9), and don't miss the roasted chicken ($13.50). There are almost as many options for vegetarians as there are for meat-eating diners. You'll go there for dinner, but you'll stay for the bejeweled bar scene. COURTNEY REIMER

"Where to Eat" Price Scale (per entrée)

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

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