I have a writer friend I first met at an event in April 2018. We began following each other on Instagram, and then, despite sending each other messages online every few days ever since, I never saw her in person again until last week. To be fair, a lot of things have happened since the spring of 2018. We’ve both changed jobs, I’ve had two kids, her father passed away after a long illness, there’s been a global pandemic. Oh, and she lives in West Seattle — which at times can feel like an entire world away.
It had been so long — despite our intimate-feeling online friendship — that when I reached out to her to have breakfast a few weeks ago, I was half-convinced she would say no. Luckily she didn’t, and one drizzly morning we sat at a small cafe called Arthur’s in her ‘hood. I immediately poured too much milk in my coffee and spilled the rest all over the table and we both nervously laughed.
Arthur’s was a perfect place for a casual reunion of sorts. It’s a bright, plant-filled space right on California Avenue with an all-day menu that hits on a lot of different flavor profiles, serving everything from beet hummus crostini and mussels in a white wine broth to burgers and smoked trout bowls.
She ordered the green shakshuka ($17), I got the pulled pork bowl with a fried egg ($18.50). We agreed a ricotta pancake ($4) for the table was essential.
The ricotta pancakes are indeed fluffy and light and large enough for two. You can upgrade to Vermont maple syrup for a buck, but I don’t love maple, so I happily ate that pancake with whipped butter. The pulled pork bowl comes with coconut rice, crunchy apple kimchi, pickled onion and a creamy sambal olek aioli. It hits all the notes of sour and spicy, creamy and cool. I was happy for the optional addition of a fried egg, but it was gilding the lily and not at all necessary.
For next time, I’m intrigued by the smoked trout bowl and the Aussie offerings — Vegemite as a spread for toast, the burger with fried egg and beet aioli — an homage to owner Rebecca Rice’s Australian father, who is also the restaurant’s namesake.
And here’s to hoping it won’t be another three years before I see my friend in person again. This time of year it can sometimes feel overwhelming to cram everything in around the holidays, but one late breakfast — spilled coffee and all — was restorative, and I think if there’s anyone you’re wanting to reconnect with, here’s your prompt to make plans.
Arthur’s: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday; 2311 California Ave. S.W., Seattle; 206-829-8235; arthursseattle.com
I’ve got two other tried-and-true spots where you can reconnect with a friend in West Seattle, or just grab some really good takeout.
11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 4746 California Ave. S.W., Seattle; 206-325-2335; falafelsalam.com
Chef and owner Shimi Kahn first started selling falafel at the Fremont Sunday Market in 2009, eventually adding a food truck and opening this West Seattle location in July 2017. There are a few tables inside the space, but your best bet is to pick up a wrap, rice bowl or salad and take it on your way.
The pita pockets here are like sinking your teeth into a cloud made of bread. The lamb gyro ($13), speckled with roasted peppers and cilantro, served “house” style comes with a cucumber, tomato and cabbage salad plus a drizzle of creamy, tangy tahini and fermented mango sauce. It’s wonderfully lamb-y in flavor, the meat is tender and well-spiced. However, the runaway winner here is the falafel wrap ($9.50). It has the same pillowy pita bread, and I got it “purple” style, meaning the pita pocket was also stuffed with crunchy purple coleslaw, garlic herb aioli, feta and tzatziki. The falafel is the best sort — slightly crunchy on the outside and a wonderfully smooshy, moist interior. It’s like savory spice cake in texture, and when combined with the garlicky crunch from the slaw, it makes you realize just how long it’s been since you had really good falafel.
4-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 4160 California Ave. S.W., Seattle; 206-659-0465; ittostapas.com
I’m not exaggerating when I say that everyone — from my dental hygienist to good friends — has been telling me to get to Itto’s. I was finally able to tick that box last week, landing in the moody Moroccan-inspired dining room, complete with plenty of lit candles. I was the only soul around just after 4 p.m., and I sipped a glass of wine while waiting for my takeout. If you’re lucky enough to live in West Seattle, you can get Itto’s delivered. If you’re dining in, there’s a handful of little tables and two very cozy-looking booths in the front window.
Highlights from my order included the croquettes ($7), served with a lemon garlic aioli that I would buy by the pintful if I could to dip just about anything into; the Moroccan lemon chicken ($11), with plenty of preserved lemon and green olives and served with a heap of saffron rice; and the lamb brochette ($13), three skewers of grilled lamb blasted with an herbed seasoning and served with a rich eggplant dip.
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