In my college town of Grand Forks, North Dakota, the drive-thru was king. I’m not sure if it was due to the constant negative temperatures for roughly six months a year or something else entirely, but you could get just about anything — from deli sandwiches to liquor — by going through a quick drive-thru lane. Even the grocery store had curbside pickup long before that became a COVID-era staple.
But drive-thru cannoli? This I had never had. The light-pink stand, complete with an adorable, fake chocolate-chip-sprinkled cannolo (the singular version of cannoli) out front, is Kelly Cannoli. Located on Lake City Way, Kelly Cannoli (8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; 11310 Lake City Way N.E., Seattle; 425-345-2743; kellycannoli.com) serves up coffee, a smattering of baked goods and a half-dozen flavor combinations of cannoli.
There are two sizes, a mini ($3) and regular ($5), most piped with a sweet, whipped ricotta. There’s also a mint chocolate chip, a coffee toffee and a rotating flavor of the month. Each cannolo’s tips are dipped in either crushed pistachios, mini chocolate chips, toffee, crushed cookies or a maraschino cherry, and the whole kit and caboodle is finished with a shower of powdered sugar.
I went for the flavor of the month — a simple chocolate — as well as two sweet cream ricotta-filled cannoli, one with pistachio on one end and chocolate chips on the other and the second dipped in crushed cookies. Each shell is meditatively piped to order, ensuring the shells stay crisp. Often I find cannoli shells to be soggy or even tasting too much like the oil they were fried in, but these were completely delightful. They not only held the crunch during my drive home, but hours later.
Great cannoli wasn’t the only thing I found to be completely delightful on Lake City Way over the past few weeks. It wasn’t even the only baked good! From Gruyère-topped soft pretzel buns to pickle-stuffed chicken shawarma, here are a few more spots to check out in Lake City.
8 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday; 12513 Lake City Way N.E., #H, Seattle; 206-462-1059; kaffeeklatschseattle.com
Squeezed into a strip mall, Kaffeeklatsch is a German bakery and coffee shop that’s well-known for its massive soft pretzels. You might have noshed on one in the past at a Seahawks game. I grabbed a loaf of rustic white sourdough ($7), which was perfect for morning toast, and a kaselaugenstange ($3.50), a soft, squishy pretzel roll topped with a layer of melted Gruyère cheese. I happily ate it as it was served, but think it could have been even better with a minute or two in my toaster oven to reactivate the melt factor on the cheese. The real stunner was a slice of blechkuchen ($4.52), a traditional German sheet pan cake with a soft, lightly sweetened base. There are many different varieties of blechkuchen, but the signature style at Kaffeeklatsch is topped with fruit and streusel. Mine had rhubarb and blueberries, which added a balancing tartness to the cake.
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday; 12716 Lake City Way N.E., Seattle; 206-946-6701; yuan-bao.business.site
The menu at Yuan Bao — a small shop still only open for takeout — runs the gamut from steam buns and smoothies to nabeyaki noodles and cream cake rolls. The steam buns ($1.95-$2.15 each) are smaller in size than some around the city, but there’s a perfect ratio of fluffy bun to filling. The woman who took my order said she eats two buns for breakfast each day and, after trying the green onion pork with salted egg yolk and the spicy pork, I might be inclined to follow her lead. Also, frozen steam buns are available in packs of nine with easy steaming instructions. If you’re in the mood for comforting, homestyle cooking, don’t miss the Taiwanese braised-pork-with-rice bento box ($10.99), featuring a generous portion of incredibly tender braised pork belly served atop rice with a hard-boiled egg, a few slices of pickled radish and two seasonal side dishes.
9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday; 13721 Lake City Way N.E., Seattle; 206-367-0895; manousheexpress.com
This Lebanese spot has a small covered patio out front with a few picnic tables, but it is still closed to indoor dining. It’s also cash-only, but there is an ATM on-site. I loved the bites of pickles interspersed in the tender chicken shawarma wrap ($8.95), slathered with garlic sauce and stuffed with crunchy romaine lettuce. The gyro wrap ($7.95) had plenty of red onion and parsley to cut through the richness of the gyro meat, creamy hummus, tzatziki and feta. And I’m already thinking about another zaatar and cheese mana’eesh flatbread ($6.49) the next time I’m in the area — a dimpled, fresh flatbread smeared with a substantial layer of herbaceous zaatar and crumbles of slightly tangy, salty kashkaval and akkawi cheeses.