Near the tracks of Auburn's train terminal, The Station Bistro feeds the soul and appetite with hearty, homey meals that capture the brawny spirit of bygone conductors and brakemen. Four-egg omelets, piled-high burgers, lemon-kissed Alaskan cod, and juicy steaks alongside scoops of garlic mashed potatoes stand ready to sate hunger no matter the time of day. Leafy palms and potted trees shade diners at red-clad tables, and a mural depicting an 18th-century locomotive harks back to a time when engineers kept trains humming by feeding engines shovelfuls of Reubens.
At Iron Horse Casino, chips clack down on the green felt tables as joyful tension builds over big poker hands and the adrenaline-infused table games unfolding throughout the casino. The onsite restaurant keeps bellies fed with a hearty menu of American fare, serving up breakfast meals all day long. Patrons can cure parched throats hoarse from cheering over a big win with cocktails, beer, and wine, and live entertainers may or may not infuse their routines with subliminal messages on how to always win at roulette.
Chicago Willy’s dishes up crowd favorites such as Chicago-style hot dogs, fries, shakes, salads, and specialty burgers responsible for nabbing the eatery a nomination for King5.com’s 2010 Best Burger in Western Washington award. Chow down on the blue cheese burger caped in bacon, red onion mayo, and blue cheese crumbles ($5.69). Handmade onion rings ($2.79) buffer burgers and make elegant last-minute jewelry when a business lunch turns out to be a date. Diners can fork up a green salad crowned with grilled chicken ($5.29) or sink teeth into a classic Chicago dog, rendered Windy, with toppings such as mustard, onion, celery salt, hot peppers, and sweet relish ($3.39). Saccharine straw-fodder such as a peanut-butter malt ($3.99) provides a vital post-meal cool down. As they sip and munch, patrons bask in Chicago Willy’s laid-back atmosphere encompassed by murals of tropical cartoons, big-screen TVs, and a strict observance of the afternoon nap.
In 1988, Auntie Anne's founders Anne and Jonas Beiler purchased a Pennsylvania farmers'-market stand, where they experimented with dough until they created a pretzel that seemed to strike the perfect chord with their customers. Today, at their more than 1,150 locations worldwide, the pretzel makers still hand roll the original recipe but have added to the menu with inventive options, such as the pepperoni pretzel and eight signature dipping sauces. The team constantly explores new uses for the pretzel dough, such as wrapping it around hot dogs, slicing it into bite-size nuggets, or using it to build historically accurate Austrian villages. To transform the snack into a meal, they accompany it with specialty drinks, including frozen-lemonade desserts.
When not twisting dough, Auntie Anne's team partners with the national charitable organization Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which raises funds to fight childhood cancer. Auntie Anne's also reaches out to the community through fundraising opportunities.
A backlit sign inside Trotters Family Restaurant depicts glowing images of ice cream scooped into ornamental glass dishes and decorated with chocolate syrup and cherries. Although the sign and the eatery's 1950s-style decor suggest an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor, not everything that comes from the kitchen is a dessert.
In the mornings, cooks griddle omelets with ingredients such as bay shrimp or italian sausage. Later in the day, they simmer made-from-scratch soups, charbroil new york strip steaks, and grill burgers made from beef, salmon, or veggies. With a spacious and welcoming ambiance, Trotters Family Restaurant is well suited for large groups such as sports teams or rogue conga lines wandering through town.
Pasta pomodoro, mushroom and swiss burgers, chicken tikka masala—the menu at Islander's Restaurant & Bar plays tribute to cuisines across the globe. At two locations, diners can enjoy island-inspired creations, such as hawaiian grinders layered with canadian bacon and pineapple, alongside Italian feasts of more than a dozen kinds of pastas and create-your-own pizzas. Chefs at the Auburn location master the cuisine of South Asia, infusing aromatic Indian spices into biryani, chicken curry, and vegetarian saag paneer. Weekend mornings bring breakfast to both locations—chefs drown biscuits and chicken-fried steak in country-sausage gravy and stack buttermilk pancakes into realistic depictions of the Roman Coliseum.