I was sitting in the parking lot of a strip mall in Mountlake Terrace with a friend eating tacos, when after about 15 minutes I could no longer ignore the steady stream of people walking in and out of Double DD Meats.
“Wait, is that … hot sauce?” I asked, straining my eyes to look past the reflective glare on a half-dozen plate-glass windows that make up the storefront.
“We have to go in,” my friend replied.
Indeed, inside Double DD Meats was an entire grocery-store-length aisle of hot sauce, plus aisles filled with thousands of bottles of barbecue sauce, marinades, spice rubs, mustards and more.
“There are at least 3,000 hot sauces, but it’s been a long time since I counted,” says Kim Nygard, owner of Double DD. The day we speak she’s unloading a pallet filled with new hot sauces — $9,000 worth (and that’s wholesale pricing).
Although Double DD Meats is now a haven for heat seekers, it’s been a neighborhood meat market since 1955, first opened by John Dallas and Dan Murray (the Ds in Double DD). Nygard’s father, Les Palaniuk, got a job as a cleanup kid in 1957, eventually buying the meat market from Murray in the late ’70s after Dallas’ death.
Nygard started coming to work with her dad in 1985 as a summer job, but as soon as she graduated from high school she went full-time, six days a week, nine hours a day.
“It was so slow back then, me and my dad would get the newspaper every day at lunch and do the word search,” Nygard says.
She bought the place from her dad when he retired in 2014. Outside of two fires (the first in 1985 when the building suffered only smoke damage and the second in 1990 when the entire structure burned to the ground), she’s been cutting meat, stocking all those hot sauces and more, while growing the store in size and offerings, and now managing a staff of 45 that includes her two sons, Justin and Jeremy.
You can get just about any meat-related item at Double DD Meats; Nygard and her crew source beef from ranches in Mount Vernon and Stanwood, and carry just about any cut of pork, chicken, turkey and even wild game. They’ve got dozens of fresh and smoked sausages, a result of grinding 600 pounds of meat per week, and make meat sticks and jerky. You can also get deli meats, cheese and eggs. They sell raw pet food, take custom orders and will process wild game for local hunters.
Despite the constant bustle — Nygard’s days of doing lunchtime word searches are long gone — you feel as if you can take your time choosing your cuts. The Double DD staff takes their time with questions and asks if you’ve got a specific steak or chop in mind. It’s customer service and an attention to detail that makes you want to come back.
“We’re not a typical meat market, we’re fun. Even vegetarians will have fun,” Nygard says.
I grabbed two thick-cut New York steaks as well as a couple North Dakota links — a flavorful smoked bratwurst from a recipe that Palaniuk talked a North Dakotan into giving him years ago — plus a piece of garlic pepper beef jerky. The total for all was $25.
Double DD Meats: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 5602 232nd St. S.W., Suite #104, Mountlake Terrace; 425-778-7363; doubleddmeats.com
So, back to those tacos I was eating before Double DD Meats caught my eye. They came from Alibertos (8 a.m.-11 p.m. daily; 5602 232nd St. S.W., Suite #101, Mountlake Terrace; 425-678-1813), just two doors down from the butcher.
The shop is currently only open for takeout and features a menu that includes everything from breakfast tacos and churros to burritos, tacos and super nachos. Burritos are large and come stuffed with your preferred meat and possibly a little salsa — save for the California burrito, which adds cheese and fries. If you’re after more variety in your burrito, order a plate that comes with refried beans, rice and your choice of flour or corn tortillas, perfect for making your own. The carnitas ($11.64/plate, $9.50/burrito) is flash-fried to order on a flat-top grill, making it extra crispy and wonderful; same goes for the machaca plate ($11.29), which features tender shredded beef, scrambled with eggs, onions and tomato. The tacos come five to an order ($9.50) and, although you can mix meats, don’t miss the carnitas.
Finally, I can’t say enough good things about the food from Amorn Thai (11:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. daily; 22826 56th Ave. W., Mountlake Terrace; 425-712-9112), another Mountlake Terrace gem.
Located in a small building just a few blocks away from Double DD Meats and Alibertos, Amorn Thai is also only open for takeout. The pad see ew with chicken ($10.95) was a large portion of pan-fried noodles, chicken, broccoli and eggs with a sticky soy that was devoid of the overt sweetness you sometimes find in pad see ew. The tom kha gai ($10.95) was packed with lime and lemongrass flavor. My only regret was not ordering rice to accompany the soup.
Hands down the total stunner of my order was the crispy pork belly ($14.95). Larger slabs were flash-fried and then sliced into two-bite chunks, the crust shattered pleasantly with each bite — good on its own or dipped in the accompanying sweet chili sauce. I couldn’t resist eating a few pieces in my car on the way home — which were incredible — but the belly remained succulent and the coating crisp even after returning home. I had requested my entire order to be mild, but I wonder now if this pork belly could’ve been even better with a little chili kick? I look forward to trying it again very soon.