This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Century 21 Exposition, or what we locals refer to as the Seattle World's Fair. The theme of the World's Fair was imagining life in the 21st century and all that came with it, including Bubbleators, futuristic buildings, the Space Needle and the Monorail.
As we thought about the World's Fair and how far we have come in the last 50 years (still no flying cars), our stomachs started to grumble, so we figured we should grab a bite to eat at a 21st century "food fair."
First stop is the food court at the home of the Seattle World's Fair ...
Food court: The Armory (formerly known as the Center House; formerly known as the Food Circus).
Location: 305 Harrison Street, Seattle; www.seattlecenter.com.
Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sunday through Thursday); 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Friday and Saturday).
Highlights: Though the Center House is older, this food court has been around since the World's Fair. This reviewer has been going here for well over three decades, so no matter how many times the name changes, it will always be the Food Circus to me.
In the last 50 years, this food court has gone through many ups and downs, but nevertheless fond memories remain of a bucket of Steamers' clams and a caramel apple (that's a 12-year-old's stomach for you). Stores and restaurants have come and gone.
Things seem to be looking up for this food court. It has been recently remodeled and is moving toward more upscale dining. Skillet Street Food just confirmed that it will be offering its delicious food at The Armory sometime this summer. We expect to see some exciting changes for the Food Circus . . . (y)um, The Armory, in the next couple of years.
Interesting Factoid: The Center House was built in 1939 as the Armory Building, which housed the 146th Field Artillery. Our favorite fact that we learned was that in 1941 Duke Ellington played at the Center House for the University of Washington's junior prom.
Hop on the Monorail and head to our next destination ...
Food court: Westlake Center Food Court.
Location: 400 Pine Street, Seattle; www.westlakecenter.com.
Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Monday through Saturday); 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sunday).
Highlights: The Westlake Center Food Court has 20 different food options. For years, the food court at Westlake has been a guilty little pleasure for many in this office. The fare is standard food court like you would find in any mall across America; not that there is anything wrong with that.
If you are willing to throw calorie caution to the wind, we suggest you try the "Philly Steak Deluxe" at Charley's Grilled Subs - make it a combo, of course. Although the combo is close to a full day's worth of calories, it is just downright delicious. On the way out and before you slip peacefully into your food coma, we recommend a quick stop at Candy Tyme. We did throw caution to the wind after all. Healthier options are available, but they have never been tried by this reviewer.
Interesting Factoid: Westlake Center was one of the Seattle landmarks in the movie "Say Anything" (though it was referred to as Bell Square).
If you are looking for something completely different, hop a bus in the Metro tunnel and head down to the International District for our next destination ...
Food court: Uwajimaya Food Court.
Location: 600 Fifth Ave S., Seattle; www.uwajimaya.com.
Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily.
Highlights: Uwajimaya Food Court has 10 different food options. One of our favorite places is Saigon Bistro. If you have time, sit at the counter and order the pho. Service is fast and the food is good.
If you are in a hurry and need to grab a bite on the run, Saigon Bistro offers tasty, pre-made bahn mi. We also recommend Yummy House Bakery for sweet or savory treats at a great price. It has a wide variety of buns that are baked fresh daily. Try the curried beef bun or the barbecue pork bun. If you are in the mood for something sweet, we especially like the cream cheese bun.
Interesting Factoid: Uwajimaya was founded in the 1920s by Fujimatsu Moriguchi in Tacoma. The founder and his family were interned in Tule Lake Internment Camp at the beginning of World War II in 1942. Following their release, the family moved to Seattle and opened Uwajimaya in the International District.
As the Seattle World's Fair highlighted an optimistic view of the future, our next destination highlights our optimistic view of food courts to come ...
Food court: Melrose Market.
Location: 1501-1535 Melrose Ave., Seattle; www.melrosemarketseattle.com.
Hours of operation: Hours vary by restaurant.
Highlights: We are not sure if it is fair to include Melrose Market as a "food court" because it is much more like a fine-dining destination. It reminds us of the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco.
Melrose Market hosts an amazingly wide variety of food and market options in an efficient and very well-designed space. Fine dining can be found at Sitka & Spruce, as well as the relatively newly opened Terra Plata. There is also a butcher shop (Rain Shadow Meats), cheese shop (The Calf and Kid), and bar and wine shop (Bar Ferd'nand).
One of our favorite restaurants at the Melrose Market is Homegrown. It serves sustainable food and its mission focuses on both eating organic and eating local. The sustainable philosophy extends from food sourcing to the products used at Homegrown -100% compostable and recyclable.
The sandwiches are extraordinary, either small or large. The cayenne-rubbed pork loin, with a crunch of pickled red onion, was served on the best bread imaginable - dense and so fresh it was almost sweet. Available sides are the requisite large, kosher dill pickle, and sea salt and pepper potato chips.
If you are in the mood for shellfish, we recommend you go to Taylor Shellfish Farms. It has been growing shellfish in the Puget Sound for over 100 years. The shellfish is consistently the best and freshest available. The clams sit in clear tanks as clear water falls circling and bubbling around them; pick up a scoop, a container and serve yourself if you wish.
If you prefer not to become personally acquainted with your shellfish, the friendly staff will catch it for you. The clams are the perfect size (small is our preference) with a great flavor and not one errant grain of sand. And do not overlook the oysters - pan-fried in panko; excellent.
Interesting Factoid: Melrose Market used to be the home of Metro Auto Rebuild. Not sure this qualifies as interesting, but the excellent food you will find at Melrose Market makes up for it.
Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is a multiservice regional law firm with offices in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Bend. For comments on this article or to share your Dining Out recommendation with the attorneys at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, contact Jennifer Campbell at email@example.com or 206-689-3052.