A self-described example of the American dream, Jose “Pepe" Ramos came to the United States and through hard work achieved great professional success. He left his home in central Mexico back in 1973, shortly after the death of his father, in search of financial support for his mothers and brothers. He didn’t speak any English, but within two years ascended from dishwasher to cook to chef and, finally, to restaurateur, opening a small 24-seat eatery, Azteca Mexican Restaurant, in Burien.
Some four decades later—with help from his three brothers and his mother, Camerina—Jose is now at the helm of a 35-restaurant franchise, with locations sprinkled from the Pacific Northwest to Florida. Decadent Mexican feasts—such as enchiladas verdes, shrimp fajitas, and carne asada—are the bread and butter of his success, thanks to Camerina’s family recipes. Yet, the Ramos family doesn’t hesitate to introduce new-to-the-family favorites either; for instance, they marinate and bake seasoned lamb shanks to create Borrego Azteca, and conjure bowls of molcajete from sautéed chicken and beef. Best of all, the Ramos relieve thirsty gullets with signature margaritas muddled together from housemade citrus juices and the sap of fresh-squeezed tequila trees.
Shari Courtier and Scott Carpenter run Three Tree Wellness Center, a place that is part spa, part classroom, and part bodywork-supplies store. The staff nurtures mind, body, and spirit with spa services such as massages, which can incorporate reiki energy work, and mud wraps, which draw toxins from the skin while equipping it to someday sprout an apple tree. Art-therapy classes put students in touch with their inner power animal, and continuing-education classes keep massage therapists abreast of body mechanics and best practices. The retail portion of the center, SNL Supplies, hawks wares such as essential oils, shower gels, and candles.
Forget lengthy lists of hard-to-pronounce preservatives?each batch of Empire Ice Cream starts with a base that contains just four ingredients: eggs, evaporated cane juice, and cream and milk from Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy. From there, the ice cream makers simply fold in extra ingredients to make various flavors, relying on local providers like Hayton Farms, who supply the berries for the shop's raspberry and strawberry ice creams, or Stumptown Coffee, who delivers the ground espresso beans for Empire's coffee-flavored ice cream. There's even a unique bacon-flavored ice cream made with real pieces of local, natural bacon, as well as a s'mores ice cream loaded with house-made marshmallows and real vine-ripened graham crackers. Brownies and cinnamon rolls from Eat Local are also available in the shop, and sometimes make their way into decadent sundaes.
Eat Local’s chefs create locally-sourced meals from scratch, and teach cooking students how to do the same. Every item on the menu is handmade using Northwest grass-fed meats, free-range chickens, and organic or sustainably-grown local produce. The staff places food items in biodegradable packaging or reusable glass containers, and, for cooked meals, freezes them to maintain flavor and quality. Eat Local Frozen Meals can be bought in-store or packed in dry ice and shipped to individual doorsteps or rabbit holes. Those jonesing to make their own edibles can enroll in classes that guide the creation of pasta, pies, and even marshmallows.
Since its founding in 1998, The Australian Pie Company has equipped Seattle eaters with Australian products and piping-hot pastry pies stuffed with hearty ingredients. 2, 5, and 9 inch pies satisfies hungers and occasions of all sizes, with many beef and chicken varieties, some with vegetables others with cheese inside each pie. The Australian Pie Company also stocks its shelves with national products such as Vegemite, Arnott's biscuits, and Billy Tea, valuable when channeling one?s muse to pen a spec script for a Crocodile Dundee sequel. The pie company caters parties and anti-cake conventions with 2-inch pies by the dozen).