This story was published July 16, 2009 and is referring to the 2009 Bite of Seattle festival, not the 2013 festival. Because of technical problem, the correct publish date is not displaying properly on the story. We apologize for the error. The 2013 Bite of Seattle runs July 19-21.
You may love this weekend’s Bite of Seattle, and await and embrace its arrival every summer. But some tourists, newcomers and that uncle from Texas? Not so much. They don’t seem to grasp the concept. They don’t get the patient sampling of the city’s fare one small portion at a time.
They want a meal, not amuse-bouche, bite-size morsels.
So for them, we present the Big Bite of Seattle.
We know. This is where you scream, “This is why Americans are so bloody fat.”
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Well, we can justify the gluttony, in part, by saying that big bites are a better value in these hard economic times. So to pig out or just to contemplate — or to take those Midwest relatives who are still hungry after the other Bite — here’s our list of Big Bites, 10 homegrown dining indulgences scattered in a visitor-friendly tour of Seattle neighborhoods.
All discussion of big plates begins with this Green Lake-Aurora Avenue breakfast haunt, and not because it’s your first meal of the day. (Come to think of it, it could be your only meal of the day.)
Like Wild Ginger and Dahlia Lounge, Beth’s Café is a tourist destination, though for a different reason. Tourists and college students want to conquer the Mount Everest of breakfast: the 12-egg omelet, with toast and all-you-can-eat hash browns ($15.75). “Most fail,” said owner Chris Dalton. “It’s funny and horrific to watch them try to clear this plate.”
Actually, it’s served on a pizza pan. In case you were wondering: “It’s very rare that anyone asks for refills on the hash browns,” Dalton said.
Where: 7311 Aurora Ave N., Seattle; 206-782-5588 or www.bethscafe.com
Northlake Tavern and Pizza House
At the north end of Lake Union, one of the city’s oldest pizza joints serves up pies that weigh about 6.5 to 7 pounds. There’s no “extra cheese” option on the menu unless you want your pizza to look like an erupting volcano. Most hearty? The “Logger Special,” topped with loads of Canadian bacon, Italian beef sausage, black olives, green peppers and onions ($31.85).
This isn’t Domino’s; Northlake’s pizza takes at least 20 minutes to bake. Because it’s a tavern, no one under 21 is allowed, though anyone can order to go.
Where: 660 N.E. Northlake Way, Seattle; 206-633-5317 or www.northlaketavern.com
This Mexican stop in Greenwood brags about serving healthy food: no lard, and trans-fat-free. It boasts of offering small portions. Naturally, that explains why it features a 2-pound, gut-busting burrito, “Grande, wet.” Made with two 13-inch tortillas, this burrito on steroids is stuffed with steak, chicken, pork, shrimp, fish or tofu with black beans, rice, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and salsa, folded, then topped with enchilada sauce, melted Monterey Jack and sour cream ($9.95).
It’s about the size of a newborn baby, a Gorditos manager brags.
Where: 213 N. 85th St., Seattle; 206 706-9352 or gorditoshealthymexicanfood.com
Buenos Aires Grill
The Parrillada features six different cuts of meat served with fries and bread ($34), cooked at your table on a mini grill.
Big guys, cocky guys, Army guys have come to this downtown restaurant smirking, talking a big game about how they will devour the skirt steak, hanger steak, chicken breast, short rib, sweetbread and sausages in one sitting. But general manager Alberto Meza said he usually brings them doggy bags at the end.
Where: 220 Virginia St., Seattle; 206 441-7076 or www.buenosairescuisine.com
Newbies to this South Seattle establishment sometimes mistake the entrees for communal platters. Peek at the menu and you see why, in offerings such as a whole deep-fried tilapia with red rice, a side salad or fried plantains ($16.95), or a baked half-chicken stuffed with onions, garlic and pepper, served with eggplant, carrots, cassava and cabbage over basmati rice ($14.95). If you can’t finish, get ready to hear a booming voice over your shoulder, shouting, “That’s all you can eat?” Affable Senegalese owner and chef Jacques Sarr loves to needle patrons who can’t finish their food.
Where: 5903 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle; 206-448-5183 or www.afrikandoafrikando.com
At Poppy on Capitol Hill, chef and owner Jerry Traunfeld’s take on Indian cuisine is centered on “The Thali” ($32), a tray with 10 colorful dishes that looks almost too pretty to eat. It’s an assortment of vegetable purée, meat or fish such as cod with herbs and Indian spices and exotic combos such as Juneberry and peppercress salad or Poussin roasted in tandoor with spiced chard.
It’s meant for one, though customers like to order it as a communal plate and order a few appetizers to complete the meal. That’s a perfect excuse to order the Berkshire pork ribs with polenta from the bar menu, one of the best pork dishes in Seattle.
Where: 622 Broadway E., Seattle; 206-324-1108 or www.poppyseattle.com
Taberna del Alabardero
You aren’t meant to finish this Belltown spot’s giant paella in one sitting. As is customary in Spain, you take home the leftover saffron rice and eat it for breakfast with a fried egg.
Several variations include shrimp, chicken and chorizo combo or a mix of everything. But the most hearty is the paella with pork ribs and peppers ($22 per person).
Where: 2328 First Ave., Seattle; 206-448 8884 or www.alabardero.com/seattle
On to Ballard, where you’ll find this place with its convoluted menu. You pick a protein, a cheese, some toppings such as maple bacon or candied balsamic onions along with a sauce such as basil pesto mayo or super garlic pepper. Then pick a side such as fries, tater tots or sweet potatoes, then accompany that with bacon onion salt or Tex-Mex taco salt.
Overwhelmed? Just order one of the special burgers posted on the board. Try the “Tom Selleck Mustache Burger” with two quarter-pound patties topped with pepper jack, American cheese, bacon, roasted onion, jalapeño and garlic ketchup and mayo ($14 including fries).
Often, the fat, sauces and cheese soak up the bottom bun like a sponge. You have to loosen your belt and finish on the spot unless you want a soggy hamburger for leftovers. The extra lap around Green Lake comes later.
Where: 7302 ½ 15th Ave. N.W., Seattle; 206-706-3092 or lunchboxlaboratory.com
Waterfront Seafood Grill
At this downtown waterfront grill, where the assortment platters of seafood appetizers (“Seafood Indulgence”) and entrees (“Seafood Bacchanalia”) are huge, a dessert, the Emerald City Volcano, is one of the biggest and grandest food spectacles: a baked Alaska with a layer of sponge cake, a layer of espresso ice cream and a scoop of Grand Marnier chocolate ice cream, covered with meringue and set on fire with a cherry brandy at your table. It’s $25 (designed for two) or $45 (recommended for three to five).
Where: 2801 Alaskan Way, Seattle; 206-956-9171 or www.waterfrontpier70.com
Ivar’s Salmon House
It’s a local chain, known more for its chowder and fish and chips. But only in its north Lake Union location will you find the Tin Roof Sundae. It’s at least six scoops of vanilla ice cream, covered with chocolate sauce, sprinkled with honey-roasted peanuts, with a pizzelle waffle cookie staked in the center ($8.95).
You can’t ask for a doggie bag on this one.
Where: 401 N.E. Northlake Way, Seattle; 206-632-0767 or www.ivars.net/index.php?page=locations_salmonhouse
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or email@example.com