Reporter Tan Vinh's take on a strip of Seattle's University Way, a haven for hungry college students.

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The north end of The Ave hosts one of the state’s most popular farmers markets every Saturday. It’s also one of the city’s most diverse blocks of ethnic cuisine, from Egyptian to Trinidadian, as well as your usual pho houses and all-you-can-eat lunch buffets. Sriracha hot chili sauce is the condiment of choice here.`

We aren’t talking fancy fare or farm-to-table eating. Just lots of cheap grub in large, greasy portions. The main target audience is, after all, students from the University of Washington.

Here’s a look at the upper end of The Ave, formally known as University Way Northeast, just north of 50th Street:

Numbers correspond to map

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1 U District Farmers Market, corner of University Way Northeast and Northeast 50th Street. One of the original vendors from the market’s inception in 1993, Tonnemaker Hill Farm in Royal City, grows 140 varieties of peppers.

2 Pam’s Kitchen, 5000 University Way N.E. This Trinidadian restaurant recently celebrated its fourth anniversary. Now open for lunch on Fridays and Saturdays. Sells exotic drinks such as sorrel (made from Caribbean hibiscus petals) and Mauby (from boiled tree bark). Of course, this being a college hood, there is also a spiked version of each.

3 Chili’s Deli & Mart, 5002 University Way N.E. Name doesn’t fit the business — a south Indian cuisine joint, specializing in dosa, a fermented crepe stuffed with goat or other meat.

4 Shawarma King, 5004 University Way N.E. New to the block, with a bit of Egyptian fare and Egyptian-inspired tapestries and artwork.

5 Pochi Tea Station, 5014 University Way N.E. Sells bubble tea and Japanese crepes. There are more bubble tea houses on the Ave than in the Chinatown International District.

6 Hawaii BBQ Restaurant, 5016 University Way N.E. Cash only. College students come for the huge portions of cheap, greasy, salty food, like the two heaping portions of meat that come with about two servings of fried rice topped with a fried egg for $6.95. Alka-Seltzer not included.

7 Kiku Tempura House, 5018 University Way N.E. You’re either a chicken teriyaki or a chicken katsu person. You can debate it here.

8 Pearl Bistro, 5020 University Way N.E. The latest pho and banh mi shop on the Ave. Offers what must be the worst trend in Vietnamese dining: vegan pho.

9 Mandarin Chef, 5022 University Way N.E. Former chef at Snappy Dragon runs the show here.

10 The Tandoor, 5024 University Way N.E. This is near the UW, and the key words here are “all-you-can-eat lunch buffet.” A Pizza Mart, 5026 University Way N.E. Actually, it’s more of a dive bar, with sports fans hanging out to watch football games on weekends. Surprisingly, it showcases an impressive classic cocktail list, featuring the Sidecar and Old Fashioned for $5-$7 — a good deal.

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or

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