Gateway to India – Tacoma, WA: Best best best home cooked Northern Indian food ever. The owner is awesome and friendly and remembers everyone, service is always excellent, and the food just blows away generic curry-shack fare. Favorite meal: Malai kofta with garlic naan and an Old Rasputin Imperial Stout.
Bamboo Garden – Seattle, WA: As a vegetarian, this is my go-to for a greasy Chinese fix. Their faux meats are the best, especially the stir fried chicken and the sausage. I would buy the stuff by the pound if that was an option. Yes, the decor is awful. Yes, sometimes it smells funny. Yes, some of the staff is a little awkward. Don’t care. I. Love. It. Favorite meal: “Chicken” corn chowder, General Tso’s “chicken”, gourmet fried rice.
Old Milwaukee – Tacoma, WA: Best breakfast ever. This place is tiny, like 7 or 8 tables, and is run by a husband and wife team. He cooks, she serves. Sometimes they bring in an extra server on the weekends. As a result, the wait for a table and wait for your food can be long. It’s worth it. All the usual breakfast stuff, with a few seasonal delicacies like giant fluffy huckleberry pancakes. Favorite meal: “Scramlette” with potatoes, onions, peppers, and cheese, lots of coffee – unless huckleberry pancakes are in season, then a hucleberry pancake with a side of eggs with cheese.
RAM Restaurant and Brewery – Tacoma, WA, and Lacey, WA: This isn’t so much a favorite as a standby. We go here when we’re too tired to decide where else to go, or when the manflesh has a beef craving. The food is solid pub fare, the beer is pretty good, and the service is usually great. Favorite meal: Veggie burger with cheddar and sauteed onions, onion rings, mug of Total Disorder Porter, carrot cake for dessert.
Harmon Brewery – Tacoma, WA: Another brewpub for when the manflesh wants a burger. Similar to RAM, but less chain-ey with an atmosphere I prefer. Favorite meal: Patty melt with the house made garbonzo bean patty, no mushrooms, onions rings, pint of the porter, or whatever dark seasonal they have on tap.
The Depot – Long Beach, WA: Some fancy New York chef decided to retire to the Washington coast and open a little restaurant to fill his time. The menu rotates seasonally, but is always excellent. Even if I’m dubious about the description in the menu, I order it anyway because I know he knows what he’s doing and it’s going to be awesome, and it always is. Portions are perfect. You can nibble your way through starters, mains, and dessert, and be just the right amount of full by the end of the meal. Favorite meal: Whatever the seasonal vegetarian option is.