When people approach Paseo Caribbean sandwich shack on Fremont Avenue North, they enter a kind of olfactory fifth dimension as the heady aroma...

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When people approach Paseo Caribbean sandwich shack on Fremont Avenue North, they enter a kind of olfactory fifth dimension as the heady aroma of things roasted, grilled and sweetened in bubbling juices wafts out the doors to greet them like a snake charmer’s incense.

Hungry lunchtime patrons flock from all over Seattle and often form lines that stretch outside and down the sidewalk for the restaurant’s specialty baguette sandwich made of falling-apart pork, caramelized onions and white sauce.

Paseo is more than a lunch spot. It’s a daily happening.

Standing in line on the sidewalk one afternoon, lifelong friends and colleagues Sarah Olivas and Carrie Fevaleaki said they would normally take Paseo orders from fellow co-workers at their office by Lake Union, but this wasn’t one of those days.

“We snuck out,” a not-quite-ashamed Olivas said. The women made a dash for their car in the parking lot at work, but then hesitated.

“We thought we saw some other people cheating, too!” Fevaleaki added with a grin.

How awkward would it be for two sets of co-workers to bump into each other on a supposedly secret Paseo run?

Lucky for these two, the coast was clear at Paseo.

The thing is, Fevaleaki wasn’t even a true Paseo “believer” — to use her friend Olivas’ term — until recently. Soon she started coming once a week. It got out of hand. Relatives sometimes placed orders with her in hopes she’d bring sandwiches home after work.

Maybe it’s that alluring mélange of garlic, cumin and citrus in the pork’s marinade, but it’s not uncommon for newcomers to become instant converts.

First-timer Kathy McCormack was still 10 feet away from Paseo’s entrance when she got a whiff of the stuff cooking inside and started raving to her son, Ben McCormack, who’d invited family members to join him at the restaurant for his birthday lunch.

McCormack’s wife, Kim McCormack, gave her best intellectual take on people’s devotion to Paseo.

“It’s the environment,” she waxed. “It’s kind of this special, secret place — set off from everything, a little quaint.”

Kathy, her mother-in-law, cut to the chase:

“Oh,” she said, sniffing the air again, “it just smells so good.”