Hey, Bourdain! On your recent Layover in Seattle while you tried to answer the question, “Why is Seattle so awesome?” you missed a few things. I’ll just forgive the fact that you dissed on Dave Matthews THREE times, and that you cruised around town in a $100,000 Tesla. You did visit the Edgewater Hotel, Paseo, Canlis, Seatown, The Walrus and The Carpenter, and plenty of other places we’d love to write about soon.
But, as Mary and I recently realized, you don’t need to go any further than Seattle’s White Center ( just 2 miles from West Seattle’s Junction and 9 miles from SeaTac airport) to find HOME-Y comfort food breakfasts, AUTHENTIC Vietnamese food, a REAL butcher, the BEST taco truck, TASTY Barbecue, delicious SALVADOREAN tamales and papusas, and so much more!
Grunge-y. Gritty. Melting Pot. Seattle’s underbelly. Seedy. “Not so centered – not so white” reads their bumper sticker. All of this describes White Center, but Rat City (as it is know to locals) is an authentic food lover’s dream.
White Center is one of Seattle’s most culturally diverse neighborhoods (Asian/Pacific Islanders and Hispanic/Latinos making up most of the population) and what you will find tucked between the pawn shops, pool halls, tattoo parlors and “adult” stores are some amazing restaurants, bakeries and bars, serving authentically prepared food at great prices.
White Center is evolving into a new foodie hot-spot in Seattle. You would be well-advised to plan a visit soon. There is plenty of street parking, and you’ll cover most of what you want to see on 16th Avenue SW – a very walkable street.
Start your morning tour of White Center at Meander’s Kitchen (Read our Review). Chef/Owner Miranda’s cult-like following of fans gladly followed her from West Seattle to White Center last year. Now her new, larger space means no more long waits for a table (except maybe on the weekends). From freshly made beignets and biscuits, to huge plates of delicious egg scrambles and hash, each plate tasted like it was made with
After a big, wonderful breakfast at Meander’s wander along 16th Avenue SW and check out the pawn shops, Luso’s Food and Wine shop (including Portugese grocery items), and Rat City Records & Relics (lots of fun music memorabilia).
Continue walking a few more blocks North on 16th Avenue SW to check out Meat The Live Butcher. Tom Salle, a third-generation meat cutter, opened his custom butcher shop in White Center last year. This is boutique meat shop with a wide selection of butcher specialties, organic meats, and deli meats and cheeses.
Then loop back to visit one of White Center’s four Asian grocery stores. Wandering up and down the aisles will transport you to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and beyond.
Samway Oriental Foods is just a block off of 16th Avenue SW and they offered GREAT deals on fresh herbs, produce and specialty grocery items. Here you can buy a large package of Thai basil for just $1 and their selection of Southeast Asian products is extensive.
I bought a bottle of black vinegar for my Juicy Dumplings and some fish sauce. Sothary, at the counter, is very friendly and can answer any questions you may have.
After visiting Samway, be sure to stop Taqueria La Fondita #2, located just outside the store. We think La Fondita is one of the best authentic taco trucks in Seattle.
Delicious tacos, tamales, and more… and the prices are C-H-E-A-P. Try a fish taco or couple of delicious tacos de carnitas. Take them to go or stay and eat. There is a nice covered and heated area attached to the truck with picnic tables.
Note: don’t eat too much, because the next stop is:
The Salvadorean Bakery (Read our review). One of the “original” White Center foodie stops (the bakery has been in the same location for 17 years) The Salvadorean Bakery offers traditional central American specialties from cakes to cow’s feet soup.
You may find that your eyes are bigger than your stomach here, but that’s okay since they are very happy to pack most items to-go. We enjoyed a pupusa with a pork, cheese and bean filling (add an egg on top and it would make the perfect hang-over breakfast!) and an elote (sweet corn) tamale and took some chicken soup and a quesadilla for the road.
If you are still hungry after all of these stops, finish your tour with a bowl of Phó at one of the many Vietnamese noodle shops in White Center.
By now you will be completely stuffed, but there is still more to see and eat. You’ll definitely need to come back! Stay tuned for our “White Center Field Trip – Date Night” coming soon. (Maybe you’ll check with us prior to your next Seattle visit, Anthony Bourdain!)