One thing I really like about Seattle is that there are so many food choices. It can satisfy everyone, regardless of whether you’re eating on a frugal budget or you’re looking for a luxurious dining experience. This summer, we discovered a few great places in the city that serve tasty food at a valuable price. Below I listed out 5 spots that Kev and I will definitely go back next time we visit Seattle!
1. El Camión @ Ballard
On our recent trip to Seattle, we stayed at an Airbnb accommodation in Ballard, a neighborhood in the northwestern part of the city. For our first meal in this foreign land, we dined at the taco food truck in Ballard, that is located at the parking lot next to a pet store. Next to the truck were two picnic tables set up for customers to enjoy the freshly made food. As you can imagine, when it gets super busy, it can take a while to wait for a table. So most people either order takeout or eat in their own car.
They offer a variety of Mexican food here, including tacos, burritos, quesadillas and gorditas. Since they are known for their tacos, Kev and I ordered a variety of tacos to try.
We started off with fish taco, carne asada (grilled top sirloin), lengua (tongue) and adobada (marinated spicy pork). OMG they were soooooo freaking good. The portion of each taco was fairly small, but each was loaded with a generous amount of meat and topped with freshly made pico de gallo. The fish taco came with additional ingredients such as a special sauce, lime, and shredded cabbage which gave it extra crunchiness. All their meat (include fish) were exceptionally tender and tasty. They were even better than the ones we tried in Las Vegas.
On the side of the truck, you would find a salsa bar with complimentary radishes, jalapenos and many other sauces. Their tacos were already pretty flavorful, putting any other sauces would be quite redundant.
After the first round, we found ourselves only half full so we ordered 3 more tacos – adobada, cochinita pibil (seasoned pork) and cabeza (beef cheeks). Out of all that we’d tried, adobada, carne asada and fish taco were the best tasting ones. Do you want to guess how much we spent in total for all the yummy tacos we ate? USD$10.70!! (USD$1.45 for each meat taco, USD$2 per fish taco) If you’re looking for inexpensive, authentic Mexican food, this is the place to go! Expect to get your hands dirty cause you’ll be dealing with dripping juices and sauces 🙂
2. Paseo @ Ballard
Another place where you have to prepare to get messy is this secret food stand on Seaview Avenue. This pink shack is in the middle of nowhere, with no signboard to confirm its identity. But a long lineup will definitely catch your attention. What kind of food draws people here and make them willing to wait for at least 30 mins? The answer is Caribbean sandwiches!
We had never had Caribbean food so we were ready to let the tropical taste surprise us.
The Caribbean roast (USD$9.75) is their most popular sandwich. I could see why it is #1. First of all, the slow roasted pork shoulder was sooo moist and tender that it instantly fell apart in your mouth. I was especially hooked by the marinade they used to prepare the meat. Heavenly delicious! In addition, I loved the lightly toasted, crunchy baguette, which held all the ingredients firmly together. The aioli, cilantro, pickled jalapeños, romaine lettuce and caramelized onions mixed together and created outstanding flavours!
The paseo press (USD$10.50) provided stronger savory flavors with the use of succulent roasted pork, sweet banana peppers, slices of smoked ham, swiss cheese and caramelized onions. So meaty and flavorful! Impressive!!! We must say it definitely tasted better than the sandwiches we had in Vancouver 😀
Trust me, it is definitely worth the wait! Lastly, with regards to the portion size, it is more than enough for girls (I could only finish half of a sandwich), but perfect for guys.
Don’t worry about getting messy, they provide wet-nap. Worse comes to worst, you can always ask for a fork and knife 😉
3. Kedai Makan @ Capitol Hill
After our visit to Banana Leaf in Calgary, I had a sudden craving for Malaysian cuisine. Prior our trip, I was delighted to find out that there is a place in Seattle that serves authentic Malaysian food.
This hole-in-the-wall take-out only restaurant attracts customers with classic Malaysian dishes. On weekends, they offer Ramly burger and spicy pork rice as late night specials.
While waiting, the enticing smell of food from the kitchen made it even more difficult for us to suppress our hunger. As soon as our food were ready, we quickly devoured it.
Hmmm YUM! The crisp, buttery roti canai (USD$4.50) remained me of my childhood in Malaysia. I loved the bold, peppery spicy flavours of the dhal curry. The only complaint we had was that there was only one piece of roti. We wished it came with more pieces, or else we didn’t know what to do the leftover curry.
Nasi ayam (USD$10.5), known as chicken rice, was absolutely delicious! The roasted bone-in chicken remained tender, without any loss of moisture. The rice was cooked with chicken stock, stir-fried with soy sauce, then served with sliced cucumbers, cilantro and green onions. On the side, it came with chili lime sambal, soy and ginger sauces as well as a small container of chicken broth to refresh your palette. It is basically the Malaysian version of Hainanese chicken rice.
Although the roti canai is a bit pricey, nasi ayam is priced reasonably given its fairly big portion size. Satisfied with its quality, we will surely come back to try other dishes 🙂
4. Il Corvo Pasta @ Pioneer Square
Our airbnb hosts recommended this Italian restaurant to us. In their opinion, it makes the best pasta in Seattle. Undoubtedly, the pasta here is made freshly everyday. What’s interesting is that the menu varies daily. The chef will post on the blog each morning, announcing that day’s 3 choices of pasta. Everyday there’s something to look forward to 🙂
As you can imagine, it is extremely busy at lunch time. We first placed our order at the counter, then grabbed a table and bused our own table. Within minutes, our food arrived!
Let me introduce to you this heavenly goodness – squid ink percatella (USD$9). The pasta was cooked to perfect al dente, giving it a consistent, chewy texture. The delectable sauce was made with garlic infused oil and anchovy toasted bread crumbs. It was a light, simple dish, yet so satisfying.
In contrast, the pappardelle alla bolognese (USD$9) was presented with stronger flavours. Again, al dente pasta. This time with rich meat sauce and subtle spicy notes. I loved how the meat was so finely minced, creating a wonderfully smooth texture. Nom nom nom…
As for portions, it is not huge, just enough to fill me up. Unfortunately for some locals, it only opens on weekdays from 11 am-3 pm, making it difficult for them to pay a visit.
You have no idea how much I wished I would be living in Seattle so I could have these pasta everyday. Seriously, where could you find such amazing pasta for $9?
5. Hot Cake Molten Chocolate Cakery @ Ballard
Anyone up for desserts? If you’re ever in Ballard, you HAVE TO stop by this lovely place for its dark decadence molten chocolate cakes!!
It is a tiny store that is constantly filled with crowds of people to have their sweet tooth fulfilled.
Be prepared to wait for 15-20 minutes for the molten chocolate cakes to be baked. Don’t be impatient, trust me, it’s worth the wait!!
After a long wait, our hot chocolate was finally out of the oven. We had a table ready next door at a Mexican restaurant, so we packed it to go.
Oh my goodness! The dark decadence molten chocolate cake (USD$8) melted my soul. The richness of the lava cake was mind blowing. It was thick but not overwhelmingly sweet. It was paired perfectly with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, salted caramel and bits of toffee on the side.
Look at the ooey gooey center. It is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had! It has completely won my heart <3
If you’re looking for different varieties, they also serve other flavors of molten chocolate cakes, desserts and drinks. But try their dark decadence first, you’ll instantly fall in love with it.