On the quiet, Monday-night streets of Puyallup, no one inside Ricky J’s Restaurant and Lounge seems to care that it’s a school night. The lights in the warm pub burn brightly, as local musicians jaunt onto the stage to enthusiastic applause. Servers raise their voices to be heard over the twang of guitar and the terrified screams of the drums, taking orders for pizzas and pitchers of beer. Between decimating plates of nachos or cheering at the end of the band’s set, guests engage in a little friendly competition at the pool tables. This is the scene of the pub’s open mic night—the first of many weekly events on a schedule flush with karaoke, bingo, and trivia.
As guests squabble over trivia answers or dance to DJ-spun tunes in the dining room, chefs are bustling through the kitchen. They top freshly made burgers with grill-blacked bacon and juicy pineapple slices, and dress pizzas with homemade sauce and creative toppings such as barbeque pulled pork and tortilla strips. The chefs are creative even with their side dishes, frying onion rings in homemade beer batter and painting portraits of tater tots dressed as Napoleon. In the mornings, the chefs turn their attention to breakfast items, including cheesy omelets, overstuffed burritos, and pancakes with banana, strawberry, and whipped cream.
At Flat Iron Grill, executive chef Jeff Olsen puts an international twist on traditional steak-house staples made with locally sourced organic ingredients. Small doses of chorizo, chimichurri, or chili-spiked truffle sauce lend distinctive Latin and South American flavors to the menu?s grilled steaks, black cod, and clam pappardelle. To accompany the rustically roasted entrees, the bartenders pour tipples from their selection of more than 180 whiskeys, which include rich bourbons, smoky scotches, and locally distilled creations.
Echoing the menu?s rustic elegance, the Western-themed dining room surrounds guests in warm-colored walls and metal work from Gagnon Welding. A spotlighted longhorn skull hangs on a terra-cotta red wall alongside local artists' black-and-white photographs of Washington landscapes. Patrons can also dine on an outdoor patio shaded by light-tan umbrellas and clouds lassoed into place by helpful cowboys.
“Only the best pastrami and corned beef are used here,” raved Frommer’s, a publication that’s been known to get around just a bit. But Roxy’s Diner doesn’t just stock quality meats—it also knows what to do with them. In the tradition of New York Jewish delis, cooks pile hot, tender slices of pastrami on light rye bread and top it off with deli mustard. The tradition continues in the classic reuben, a bulging feast of corned beef, homemade sauerkraut, melted swiss, and Thousand Island dressing. Diners can upgrade their sandwiches to New York size, which is big enough to clog a subway station. Add a pickle and a steaming bowl of matzo ball soup, and you have a meal that’s as comforting as it is delicious. Though Roxy’s robust sandwiches may physically tower over the breakfast dishes, the morning fare is equally as enticing. The challah french toast features two hefty slices of egg bread soaked in vanilla custard and cooked to a golden brown. The pastrami hash is a perfect middle ground between breakfast and lunch. And the cheese blintzes feature sweet farmer’s cheeses stuffed inside thin crepes and served with strawberry fruit sauce.
A review in the Stranger called The 5 Point Caf? ?inarguably one of Seattle?s?indeed, the world?s?best dive bars.? The Seattle Times aptly described the eatery as ?a rare blend of homespun and depraved,? a reputation it's honed since 1929. Founder C. Preston Smith cashed in at the end of Prohibition, but it was his son Dick who cemented 5 Point?s notoriety with various stunts. He installed a periscope in the men?s room that still stands today, looking out at the Space Needle, and he had bikini-clad waitresses on roller skates plug expired meters around the neighborhood, leaving friendly notes behind.
The 24-hour eatery serves breakfast all day and night to pair with stiff drinks and frothy beers poured along the bar. Hearty plates arrive loaded with eggs benedict, huevos rancheros, and housemade spicy black beans or 1/3-pound burgers made from natural Oregon ground beef. Deep-fried jalapeno mac 'n' cheese balls lead off meals of open-faced turkey sandwiches or tofu scrambles that feature housemade curry.
Where to Sit: The newer Ballard location boasts expanded counter seating along a 40-foot bar (cutting down on notoriously long wait times), as well as an outdoor patio.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Capitol Hill location: Thumb through the tomes at The Elliott Bay Book Company (1521 10th Avenue), an independent shop with a 40-year history.
Ballard location: Pick up some new or used vinyl at Sonic Boom Records (2209 NW Market Street).
Man v. Food host Adam Richman has conquered his fair share of eating challenges. But when it came time to face the famous 12-egg omelet at Beth's Cafe, the show’s host discovered too late that he had bitten off more than he could chew. Stopping mere bites from the finish line, Richman had to admit defeat. If he ever gets his appetite back, he might fare better with one of Beth's regular omelets, made with a relatively modest six eggs. Beth's Cafe is used to hosting guests who like to press their luck. Back in 1954, the business opened as a gambling parlor, but owners Beth and Harold Eisenstadt hit their first jackpot when they ditched the betting machines and began serving breakfast 24 hours a day. Since then, Beth's Cafe has enjoyed a slow and steady rise to fame. Breakfast is still served all day, but there are now chili-topped burgers and slices of Beth's epic chocolate cake to further complicate your decision. As far as decorations go, Beth's most famous designers are the people who eat there. Guests are provided with paper and crayons while they wait for their food, and the resulting doodles are gathered and hung on the walls until New Year’s Day, when the staff votes on the top 10. The winners remain in the dining room permanently, but the runners-up aren't hastily discarded; instead, the staff stores them in a "super secret vault" dusted with pancake batter to give away the fingerprints of would-be thieves.