Date Night #14: Low-Key Outing Yields Pleasant Surprises

During Seattle’s busy summer tourist season, Mike has learned that I’m highly unlikely to be preparing dinner after spending much of the day in the kitchen. His options: bring it home, make it here, or take me out. Odds are he’ll choose what’s behind door #3.

Since this happens so often right now, our outings are leaning toward low-key, neighborhood spots that don’t make Trip Advisor’s Top Ten lists. So if that’s what you want, stop reading. If, however, you sometimes need a quiet evening of casual chilling, read on.

Setting off on foot, we decided to zigzag – left on 58th, right on 1st Ave NW, left on 60th, then another block to what looks like a dead end. Dare to step through a break in the guardrail and behold a unique thoroughfare. There’s sidewalk all the way, but in place of a road is a series of terraced community gardens displaying flowers, vegetables, and other well tended flora. Oh, and it’s steep enough that there are pedestrian speed bumps in the cement (to keep you from slipping in the rain and help you grip on the way up?).

A right on 3rd Ave NW, a few more blocks to 65th, and there we were – not quite Ballard, not quite Phinney Ridge – back to the little strip of commerce that we visited on Date Night #3 (The Walk Home Will Do You Good).  This, time, we wanted to poke around a handful of pubs to check out the food (and it would be rude not to check out the drink, don’t you think?).

The first place that we hadn’t yet tried was 418 Public House. From the outside, you know it’s a bar, but it’s not clear what for food it offers. I’ll tell you: surprisingly fresh, fabulous Mexican. You order at the bar from a simple menu with clear choices that include shrimp, chicken, pork, and vegetarian dishes. Mike got the mahi tacos while I went shrimp. We shared a bowl of the prawn soup from the specials board. The portions looked deceptively small – two pairs of soft, mini taco shells with the filling spooned onto the top two, and a modest side of tortilla chips with individual dish of fresh salsa. But the toppings easily filled all four mini shells and were simply delicious. We didn’t really need the soup, which came with rice, but there it was, so… My mouth is watering so much as I write this that I don’t even need to talk about the beer, although now I will – very tasty Pike Kilt Lifter for me; my cocktail-loving husband had a Manhattan.

Our original intention of hitting at least one other place was less appealing with our appetites sated, yet we wandered another block or so to The Dray. We’d heard it had a good beer selection but its food offerings were a mystery to us. It turned out to be a funny, friendly place – narrow yet comfortable, with medium-high tables in one section and cushioned lounge area in another. Very straightforward menu – beer, wine, espresso, and sandwiches. Creative sandwiches from the look of things, though, and we’ll have to go back and try them.

But it was time to tackle the hill – we were glad it was cooler than a couple of hours ago and even gladder that we turned around to walk up backwards….the sunset over the Olympic Mountains was pink and misty and picture-perfect. Unfortunately my iPhone couldn’t do it justice, so no photo for the blog.

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