Local Food Icons
The places Seattle foodies rave about
By Jordan Pickett
Whether you want to stick to the U-District or venture deep into downtown, here’s the Seattle food icons you must visit.
Within walking distance of campus
If, while walking up the Ave, you find your path blocked by a crowd of hungry people at 11:30 a.m., you are almost definitely standing in front of Thai Tom. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant is as famous for its abrasive, no-frills service as it is for its incredible dishes — all to be had for $10 or less. The “Pad See You Again” and Thai iced coffee are absolute musts! Just remember that Thai Tom is cash only.
Ivar’s Salmon House
Why go all the way to the waterfront when you can experience this iconic Seattle seafood chain just a few minutes off campus? Ivar’s Salmon House is a great way to get a more upscale seafood dining experience without dropping too much dough. If cheap and greasy is your aesthetic, just step outside for fresh fish and chips at the service counter.
Ezell’s Famous Chicken
The fried chicken so good that Oprah had it flown to her. Opening in late 2016, the Wallingford location of this Seattle chain brought joy and warm chicken to the hearts of many UW students. A dinner combo will get you two pieces of chicken, one beautifully soft roll, and two regular side dishes all for $8.99. Do yourself a favor and order a bowl of the peach cobbler on your way out.
15 minutes or less by public transportation
Pike Place Market
Although most Seattleites will turn their nose up at the thought of pushing through throngs of tourists, this farmers’ market that opened in 1907 has enough hidden gems to fill at least half a day of fun. When you feel hungry after looking through all the flowers and handmade goods, be sure to stop by Mee Sum Pastry for a hum bao, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese for some fresh-cut cheese curds, or Le Panier for an authentic French pastry. If you desire a change of scenery after a busy day of shopping at the market, take a short walk down Elliott Ave to find Olympic Sculpture Park.
Once ranked the second-best restaurant in America by Yelp, this Caribbean sandwich shop holds a special place in the hearts of many Seattleites. Amid allegations of wage theft, Paseo closed suddenly in 2014. In 2015, Paseo was reopened with the original kitchen staff whilst the original owners of Paseo took the official recipe and opened their competing restaurant: Un Bien. The dueling restaurants offer an almost identical dining experience including the $10 Caribbean roast sandwich that put Paseo on the map, to begin with.
Tacos Chukis is the best taqueria in Seattle, hands down. This hidden gem can be hard to find, located in the back of an indoor mini-mall behind a nail salon, tattoo parlor, and a barbershop. Tacos come in five protein options at only $2.20 a pop. For $2.75, the house taco adds cheese and a grilled piece of pineapple for a surprisingly delicious package at an equally affordable price.
30 minutes or less by car
Loretta’s was just another dive bar in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood until Thrillist released their “The 100 Best Burgers in America” article in 2017. Loretta’s claimed the fourth spot on that list. The response was immediate; Loretta’s served up more than double their regular amount of those delicious $5 burgers. The long journey across the Duwamish is worth it for a trip to Loretta’s.
Big John’s PFI
Amid car dealerships, dozens of train tracks, and abandoned warehouses, Big John’s PFI is a hole-in-the-wall grocer that offers some of the best imported foods in the city. Big John’s PFI carries products from all over the European and Mediterranean regions with a focus on cheese and wines. While the storefront is Spartan with bare concrete floors and wire racks for shelving, it’s hard to not get lost in the seemingly endless selection of exotic foods and ingredients.