Lunch on the Ave
April 10, 2008 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Seattle filter: What are the best places to eat on the "ave" in the University District?

Preferably the lower part? I'm looking for any hidden gems, something that surpasses all the teriyaki, pho, and bar food offerings.

posted by macinchik to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Thai Toms. Oh my god Thai Toms.
posted by Nelsormensch at 7:43 PM on April 10, 2008

Make that Thai Tom. Silly me.
posted by Nelsormensch at 7:43 PM on April 10, 2008

aqua verde further down, by UW Medicine. It is pretty packed, but the food is great.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:45 PM on April 10, 2008

Pam's Kitchen on 50th. I know it's farther than you want to walk, but it is so worth it.
posted by calistasm at 7:54 PM on April 10, 2008

Burger and Kabob Hut on the Ave north of 41st looks like nothing special but last time I was there, they made their own veggie burgers which were completely delicious and unlike any other veggie burger I'd had on the Ave or elsewhere.
posted by jessamyn at 7:58 PM on April 10, 2008

2nding Aqua Verde. There is also an excellent falafel place just off the Ave or 42nd or 43rd Street. I don't know the name but you order from a window.
posted by easy_being_green at 8:25 PM on April 10, 2008

Thai Tom, Hillside Quickies, and Aladin Falafel were all favorites of mine.
posted by piratebowling at 8:33 PM on April 10, 2008

Thai Tom is on the north end of the ave and extremely overrated. It is middling to poor on the best of days and they about about 1 square foot of seating. Which gives the impression the place is busy as there is always a line out the door (this is no achievement when any line longer than 1 person goes out the door).

If you are on the north end of the ave Kiko's is pretty good stuff. As is Cedar's. Good Nan there.

Down on the south end Aladin's make some damn fine meat-log gyros.
posted by Riemann at 9:08 PM on April 10, 2008

Ruby, the rice bowls are to die for, coffee at Solstice never goes out of style, nthing Aladdins, don't go to Cedar's, (the owners keep all the tips, but still make the workers work for below minimum wage and fire them if they talk about it) Mama Mellina's is delicious for a splurge for great italian.
posted by nikksioux at 9:17 PM on April 10, 2008

The other day I noticed Guanaco's on about 41st and Brooklyn - Salvadoran is quite a bit different from the string of teriyaki/pho/Thai places.
posted by milkrate at 9:25 PM on April 10, 2008

I like Little Thai more than Thai Tom.

There's always Schultzy's.

There used to be a really nice sandwich shop down on the west side of the Ave between 41st and 43rd, but it's gone now and become another teriyaki place.

Agua Verde you just have to time it right. Go at 11:30 or 1 and it's nowhere near as bad as it is in the 12 o'clock hour.

Honestly, the further south you go on the Ave, the fewer options you have. And then you get to Health Sciences and it's cafeteria or Agua Verde. But...

There's the Vista Cafe in the Foege building (the southern of the two new Lego-looking buildings on 15th south of Pacific). Really nice sandwiches, and they're making the noodle salad that South Campus Center used to have, which was this weird amalgam of soba or udon and cabbage salad. With Sriracha and fried won ton strips, it was pretty good.
posted by dw at 9:50 PM on April 10, 2008

I like Schultzy's.
posted by evinrude at 10:33 PM on April 10, 2008

While I was getting my MS at the UW, I tried to eat at every place on the Ave at least once. 99% of them are all terrible. Substandard food, unclean conditions, etc. The only place I would recommend at all is Ceders, the little mediterranean place with the walk up window (not the full-blown Indian restaurant). Good gyros, and cheap.

But if there are hidden gems, they are well hidden. I've eaten at all the places suggested in this thread and none are all that great. Agua Verde is okay, but generally very busy.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:38 PM on April 10, 2008

The Henry Gallery has a good cafe. Closed on Mondays. I like it because it's on campus (where I work) but is not the HUB.

I also really like Cafe Allegro at the College Inn, on 40th and the Ave.
This is not the same as the one in the alley off like 43rd. That's just a coffee shop with a website that plays music; the restaurant is above the College Inn Pub and below the College Inn (where I have stayed, and it is awesome), and does not have a website.

Agua Verde is super awesome and delicious.

There is a Thai place just south of 43rd, by the post office, called Thai-ger Room, which I have heard is related to Thai Tom. I don't know if this is the truth. But it's pretty tasty and the food seems to be made from whole ingredients rather than generic Thai packaged/prepared pastes and sauces. Don't know if that's the truth either, but my tom kha soup has bits of chili and whatnot in it for seasoning.
I have recently found Little Thai, thanks to co-workers, and like it, as well. Their tom kha seemed fresh, had lots of good veggies in it, plus they have a punch card where you get a free meal if you get ten stamps, or whatever. (dw, we should go to lunch sometime.)

My favorite thing to eat when I am sick or cranky is the soup at Thanh Vi, which is just south of the Thai-ger Room, which is just south of the post office. They also have really excellent Vietnamese sandwiches.

I have heard good things about Pam's -- and also that it's spicy!! -- and hope to try it some day. I have not heard of this Salvadoran place and am very interested.
posted by librarina at 10:45 PM on April 10, 2008

Nthing Agua Verde, Ruby and Jimmy John's are also good.

Um, nikksioux, I'm not sure where you're getting your information about Cedars...there are no wage tiers in WA - everyone must be paid minimum wage, even restaurant workers. Owners skimming tips may be believable, but you can be sure they wouldn't get away with paying less than minimum for very long.

Anyway, the food at Cedars is great and cheap, for lunch.
posted by folara at 10:46 PM on April 10, 2008

Cedars is just off the Ave., but I remember that being the hot place to eat a few years ago. There's a Greek restaurant on the Ave close to Cedars (and that Safeway), but I can't remember the name (anyone?). Really good stuff there.
posted by zardoz at 2:05 AM on April 11, 2008

Nthing Ruby, Schultzy's, and Cedars. Also Solstice -- saw someone mention that upthread. Damn fine coffee made by damn fine people.
posted by palomar at 5:45 AM on April 11, 2008

You have to remember, of course, that the Ave dining experience is targetted to people with not a whole lot of extra money. So, uh... ambiance suffers. Cedars was great once, years ago, but they've steadily gone down in quality and service - they may not pay their servers below minimum wage, but it just doesn't seem to be a good scene anymore for some reason.

The Greek restaurant that zardoz is trying to remember the name of is Costas (4559), on and it is definitely good. They do some awesome things with even the burgers there. The salads are great too. It is one of the better non-fast places on the Ave, I think.I seem to remember Ruby (4241) being pretty good for non-fast food, too, and that's a few blocks closer. I love Thai Tom's (4543) but I have to admit it is completely tiny and possibly more popular than it should be - a pretty good alternative, with room to sit and everything, is Thaiger Room (4228). It's actually quite nice, especially for the Ave.

When it's just me, I tend to go to Nasai Teriyaki (4305) a lot - I don't know why, it's not amazing, but it's sort of like comfort food at this point. They've been there since the beginning of time, I think. But yeah, I know, it's just another teriyaki place. In the same sort of vein, Ruzhen (4523), a mongolian grill place, is pretty tasty and eventually you figure out how to assemble the perfect-for-yourself meal there, which is handy. But again, not so much with the ambiance. The Aladdin Gyro-cery (4139) has ambiance! And gyros. Tasty, inexpensive. I had to look up the name, though, it was always just "the gyro place".

As far as south-end gems, a lot of people like Schultzy's (4114), as mentioned, but I find their food kind of grease-packed. Maybe it's just my mind hooking together beer + german + american = grease and biasing me, I don't know. Orange King (1441 42nd) is a living-in-the-dorms favourite - it's actually pretty good, but it's basically a cafeteria.

If you just want coffee and a snack, try Cafe Solstice (4116, next to Schultzy's) or Espresso Roma (4201) ... or the other 900 coffee shops, of course. I like Gingko Tea (4343) but they don't have actual food there, just weird/great teas. There's also Trabant Coffee & Chai (1309 45th) which has something like 30 kinds of chai and a giant mural of Yuri Gagarin, which I approve of.

Oh yeah, which reminds me, Cafe Allegro (4002) is actually on campus. I haven't been there in a long time, but they had pretty good lunch at times. I don't know what it's like now, but you should at least investigate, since it's so close.

Whoa, this ended up being long. It was fun though. Good luck - you'll probably end up trying them all and 100 other places, if you're going to school there. :)
posted by blacklite at 6:13 AM on April 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

As far as south-end gems, a lot of people like Schultzy's (4114), as mentioned, but I find their food kind of grease-packed.

Well, just depends on what you order. There are a load of other non-sausage options, like sandwiches.

And honestly, their sausages aren't that greasy. Some of those teriyaki places are worse on grease.
posted by dw at 8:03 AM on April 11, 2008


Actually I got my information from three people who used to work there. Two of them knew each other, but the one didn't know either, and I don't see how they could have "conspired" to all come up with the same story. And yes, there are laws, that doesn't mean that some business owners don't break them.
posted by nikksioux at 8:26 AM on April 11, 2008

And I will concede that they may pay minimum wage now, but they certainly did not as recently as four years ago when these people first told me this.
posted by nikksioux at 9:31 AM on April 11, 2008

I heard the exact same stories as nikkisioux did when I lived there, but that was 5+ years ago. I hope they cleaned up their act by now.
posted by piratebowling at 12:01 PM on April 11, 2008

The ONLY time to eat at Thai Tom's is when Tom is cooking-- which is almost never anymore. What a shame--- he's an artist. The rest of the cats cooking now are cavemen with pots and pans making noises.

If you're willing to walk THREE block EAST of the Ave... you'll find ARAYA-- vegan Thai food-- and they USED to be on the Ave. for years. They have a great budget buffet... but splurg and get the TomKah soup or the Drunken Mushrooms. Ummmmm...
posted by iam2bz2p at 2:43 PM on April 11, 2008

Shalimar, just north of Bulldog News has some good indian/pakistani food, and excellent Chai. It's a little spendy these days though.
posted by Good Brain at 2:51 PM on June 17, 2008

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