Contigo Seattle

Modern Mexican cuisine on the move

You've heard about the "food on the move" phenomenon: full-service food trucks that mobilize to key locations daily, often with new menus. Contigo Seattle certainly falls in the mobile food truck category, but it's not your average street food experience. This modern Mexican food truck offers four outrageously delicious menu items at six different locations, six days a week. On Saturdays, Contigo is available for private events and catering. 

The first notable feature of Contigo's cuisine is their entirely gluten-free menu. Their savory tacos, gorditas, soup and fresh salad will accommodate most dietary needs without any sapidity compromises. Apart from their gluten-free menu, Contigo's portion sizes are perfect for a light lunch, rich with select ingredients and flavor.

Their four taco varieties are between $2.50 and $3, featuring flavors like chicken mole, mushroom, carnitas rojas and short rib. As a vegetarian diner, the spiced mushrooms and poblano cream were a pleasant combination in a soft shell taco. My dining Seattleite coworker, who considers himself a mole connoisseur, claimed the black mole in the chicken taco to be the "best mole in Seattle."

Find Contigo on a street near you in Seattle, six days a week.

Warm and fresh, Contigo's $2 gorditas are heaven during a lunch break. The sweet potato & pecan variety provides the perfect savory and sweet flavor when combined with queso fresco and the gordita's soft exterior. If the sweet potato gordita is any indication of their other varieties, street food enthusiasts should be eager to try their pork migaja, tres quesos and spicy greens & caramelized onion gorditas too. 

Contigo's $4 arugula salad with chipotle vinaigrette is a cool, complementary finish to the warm, savory quality of their tacos and gorditas. Abundant with jicama, dried mango, pumpkin seeds and queso cotija, the baby arugula and spicy chipotle dressing complete the salad in a pleasant manner. Rumor has it Contigo offers specialty desserts on occasion, too!

Find Contigo on a street corner near you in Seattle. They're parked in South Lake Union on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at the Pi Building on Tuesday, at Fifth and Union on Thursday and in West Seattle on Sunday. The next time you see their black, graphic truck, walk up and enjoy a taco or two. ¡Buen provecho!

Pike Place destination: Matt's in the Market

Excellent happy hour at renowned market gem

If you're looking for a charming happy hour destination in the Pike Place Market, off the beaten tourist path, look no further than Matt's in the Market. Established in 1996, the quaint restaurant is a jewel in the market, with a view of the iconic Pike Place Market sign, unmatched ambiance and delicious libation and nibble pairings.

Arriving at 5:30 p.m. for happy hour at their bar appeared to be the perfect time because their eight bar stools filled up quickly thereafter. The light wood bar, candlelight and knowledgeable bartender induced select appetizer and wine choices for two diners. 

Intimate, French-inspired ambiance for diners

Our initial glasses of happy hour red wine paired well with spiced nuts and olives of all shapes and sizes. The first glass and bites were followed by a second glass with soft cheese variety similar to Brie, currant jam and small, buttered toast. Because it was happy hour, we accompanied merguez sausage and boudin noir charcuterie cuts, artisan baked bread and Plugrá salted butter with a third glass of wine. Go happy or go home, right?

Citrus, herb and seafood aromas teased our appetites as the conversation and wine flowed, no doubt products of Matt's specialty seafood stew and lamb rack. Although we didn't remain for dinner, if Matt's happy hour is any indication of their dinner menu, yours truly will surely return in the near future to indulge this interest. Try Matt's in ihe Market for lunch, happy hour and dinner, Monday through Saturday. 


Spur Gastropub: The culinary spur of Belltown

Seattle Restaurant Week participant

The last day of fall Seattle Restaurant Week marks another successful celebration of Seattle's extensive cuisine scene, featured at more than 150 local restaurants with a three-course set menu for $28. What's not to love?

Spur Gastropub in Belltown deserves a special mention for romantic ambiance, exquisite dishes and strong cocktails. A rainy Monday evening hosted a small, intimate crowd in dim candlelight with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly playing silently behind the bar. A large screen displayed projected black and white images of iconic Seattle landmarks in another time.

The meal commenced with a brown butter sunchoke soup with fresh caraway creme and sweet currants and a mustard leaf salad with aged cheddar, candied pecans and oaked apple cider vinegar dressing. The combination of the bright, liquefied artichokes with the thick cream and squishy currants was magic in a bowl while the sugared nuts, savory cheese and apple cider dressing provided a pleasant contrast to the warm, creamy soup. 

The soup and salad were followed by pan roasted trout, accompanied with fingerling potatoes, fennel and an olive vinaigrette and tagliatelle pasta with oyster mushrooms, pine nuts and fresh Parmesan. The thin cut of trout was doused in select spices that mingled well with the potatoes and fennel, while the oyster mushrooms, nuts and cheese were covered with an overeasy egg whose yolk broke over the pasta, giving it a bright, appealing appearance. 

The icing on the cake, or on the meal as it were, was the warm chocolate custard with caraway shortbread, frozen yogurt and huckleberries. The chocolate was rich and tantalizing, contrasting well with the shortbread, yogurt and fruit.

The meal was accompanied by two different drinks to accommodate the two diners' preferences: a glass of house cabernet sauvignon and a caipririnha, both in which were pleasant and effective. Visit Spur during their last evening of fall Seattle Restaurant Week or any evening beginning at 5 p.m. for a delicious meal in a comfortable, inviting environment. Bon appétit!


Fifth Avenue Destination: Tulio Restaurant

Distinct Italian cuisine in downtown Seattle

A warm, rich interior and savory scents invite diners into Tulio Restuarant at 1100 Fifth Avenue. You're in for a treat no matter the time of day with Chef Walter Pisano's bold and unique dishes. Try Tulio for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert, as well as business and private events. Any appetite and tastes will be satisfied and pleased with Tulio's vast menu options.

For early bird diners, try a Tulio classic of two eggs cooked any style, rosemary potatoes, and your choice of bacon, ham or sausage. A fine vegetarian option is the Frittata Omelettle, made with grilled vegetables, goat cheese, fresh herbs and tomato ragu, combined into one appeasing meal. Order a specialty coffee beverage, fresh squeezed juice or something a little stronger like a Bloody Mary or Mimosa to complement your breakfast.

​Most of the breakfast menu is available for brunch as well, but with a few additional, savory options like Ravioli smoked salmon with asparagus and lemon cream or Chicken Salad, made with organic greens, pine nuts, gorgonzola cheese and topped with panchette dressing. Brunch cocktails include a Pimms Cup, made with Pimms #1, Thomas Kemper Ginger Ale and Cucumber and a Cherry Breakfast Collins, a refreshing combination of vodka, fresh lemon juice, sour cherry preserves and soda. 

Tulio's brunch menu transitions smoothly into the lunch menu with dishes like Tomato Bread Soup, served with focaccia bread, basil and virgin olive oil, a variety of meat pizzas and calzones and other specialty options like Local Clam linguine, made with preserved lemon, chili flakes and garlic breadcrumbs. 

Dinner at Tulio can be a light variety of small bites or a three-course affair. The Sweet Potato Gnocchi with sage butter and mascarpone is a wonderful starter while the Tagliatelle with favas, leeks, chives and saffron crema is a pleasing addition. For those diners with a heartier appetite, the grilled Lamb Sirloin is an excellent choice. Served with cous cous, artichoke confit, currants, mint and Greek yogurt, this delicious dish won't disappoint. 

Tulio has menus devoted to gluten, vegan and vegetarian diners for those with dietary restrictions and preferences. Their alternative diet menu options are varied and decadent. Finish your meal with Tiramisu di Firenze, made with a Florence-style sponge cake, espresso, rum and mascarpone or seasonal Italian ice cream. Buon appetito!

Bite of Seattle: Bahn Thai Restaurant

Annual cuisine event in Seattle

Enjoy authentic Thai cuisine at Comcast's Bite of Seattle in Seattle on July 20-22, 2012. Bahn Thai Restaurant of Seattle will be serving three specialty Thai dishes.

Pad Thai: Stir fried rice noodles mixed with eggs, ground peanuts and fresh bean sprout. 

Red Curry Chicken: Red curry sauce combined with chicken, bamboo shoots, basil and coconut milk. 

Fresh Spring Rolls: Mixed veggies wrapped in spring roll wrappers. 

Fourth Avenue Destination: Sazerac Restaurant

A distinct dining establishment in downtown Seattle


If the name doesn't catch your attention, the food at Sazerac surely will. Located next to Hotel Monaco at 11101 Fourth Ave., Sazerac boasts interesting, varied menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including brunch, late night dining and gluten-free options. 

Try the rustic pain perdu for breakfast, their version of French toast, with spiced pecans and banana foster with a side of grapefruit, dusted with brown sugar. If you're still hungry, try a side of sliced vine ripe tomatoes with sea salt and basil or home fries to satisfy your hunger.

Their dinner menu includes items like deviled eggs with smoked ham and jalapenos, roasted organic beets with goat cheese and pistachios and unique wood fired pizzas. Their various small and big plates are perfect for a variety of preferences and appetites. The pan seared scallops with Creole clams and chorizo  are particularly savory and offered in a small or large portion.

Happy hour at Sazerac is the best time to visit because most of their regular menu items are available at a reduced price between the hours of 4-8 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Not only is their happy hour four hours long, but the discounts and portion sizes are substantial. Appetizers like nuts and olives start at $4, but diners can also enjoy items like little cheese burgers for $5 or a wood-fired Florentine pizza for $8. Drink specials are abundant, with house wine and beer starting at $4.

Save room for a piece of ooey gooey chocolate cake, topped with your choice of pouring cream or ice cream, to complete your Sazerac dining experience. 

Cinco de Mayo celebrations

Festive food and drinks on May 5

The month of May often includes more barbecues, bright dishes and festivities, beginning with Cinco de Mayo on May 5. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexican heritage and pride, but in Mexico, it's a celebration of the victory over French forces in the Battle of Puebla, which occurred on May 5, 1862.

Regardless of why it's celebrated, Cinco de Mayo usually means chips, guacamole, tacos and margaritas, accompanied by live music and festive costumes. Whether you're celebrating the holiday in a backyard with friends and family, on a deck in Seattle or on a boat in the Puget Sound, make this Cinco de Mayo a day to remember.

Head on over to Trago Cocina and Lounge at 701 Westlake Ave. N in South lake Union this Saturday for a Cinco de Mayo bash starting at 11 a.m. The venue boasts two floors, with a restaurant and bar on the ground floor and a waterfront view lounge with an open deck on the second floor. Trago will be serving drink specials and festive food all day, in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Their regular menu features tasty dishes like Mole Enchiladas, made with a chocolate and chile base, and  Pescado Tacos, made with grilled Alaska cod and romesca red pepper sauce. Be sure to try their signature margaritas in varieties like Spicy Mango and Latin Love Passion Fruit. 


What better way to celebrate the holiday than aboard a Cinco de Mayo cruise? After hitting up Trago, board a large Queen of Seattle paddle wheel boat at Lake Union for an evening of authentic Mexican food, beer, margaritas and live mariachi music this Saturday evening. The cruise will feature a fiesta feast of chips, salsa, Spanish rice, beans, taco shells and all of the fixings, including a choice of meat, guacamole, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. Dine and dance into the evening to the beat of live music aboard a Cinco de Mayo cruise.


If you're hosting a party at home, chances are you're going to prepare some festive dishes yourself. Try this guacamole recipe for a crowd-pleasing chip dip!


Fresh Guacamole:

Three avocados

Half a lemon

1 c. fresh diced tomatoes

1/2 c. chopped onion

A few spoonfuls of plain, non-fat yogurt

A few spoonfuls of goat cheese

Assorted spices (salt, pepper, chili pepper)

1/3 c. fresh chopped basil 


Slice the avocados into halves and use a spoon to scoop the contents into a large metal bowl. Add the fresh diced tomatoes, onion and basil and mix lightly with a large spoon. Maintain a fairly chunky consistency for authentic guacamole. Add the plain, non-fat yogurt, the goat cheese and spices to suit your taste. Mix lightly again. Last, squeeze the lemon over everything and mix one more time. The acidic lemon juice will help the guacamole maintain its color and enhance the flavor. Spoon the guacamole into a decorative bowl and serve with chips. You're ready to munch-and party!


Third Avenue Destination: Piroshki

A little bite of Russia in Seattle

If a sweet or savory snack is what you desire, Piroshki on Third Avenue might be just the place for you. Piroshki is Russian for small turnovers that are filled with meat, vegetable or fruit filling and then subsequently fried or baked. Offering breakfast and lunch at two locations in Seattle, Piroshki is located at 710 3rd Ave. and 1219 Madison St. 

Piroshki prides itself for excellent service and fresh, quality food after opening its doors in 1994. Customers can choose from a wide variety of meat, vegetable and fruit piroshkies, all under $5. The vegetable piroshkies include fillings like potato, mushroom, cabbage, rice, cheese, egg, broccoli, spinach, carrots and onions while the meat piroshkies include fillings like beef, ham, bacon, corned beef, chicken, sausage, smoked turkey and smoked salmon. The combinations go on and on and diners can observe piroshkies bake while they enjoy their meals. 

Complete your meal with a sweet piroshki filled with sweet cheese, sour cherry, apple, peach or walnut. Piroshki also offers catering services for private parties and events as well as an assortment of Russian pastries including cookies, cakes and pies. Their portion sizes are substantial; a couple of piroshkies will fill your void until your next meal and several piroshkies are an adequate meal, even for those with a fierce appetite. 


A Taste of the Northwest

Music, wine and a silent auction for a good cause

The seventh annual Taste of the Northwest is this Friday, April 27 at the Comcast Arena in Everett. A fundraiser for Bethany of the Northwest facilities, the event will feature samples of Northwest wine, microbrews, appetizers, live music, a silent auction and a raffle trip for two to San Francisco. The event proceeds will benefit the residents of three Bethany facilities: Bethany at Pacific, Bethany at Silver Lake and Bethany at Silver Crest, which are all located in Everett. 

The Bethany facilities provide skilled nursing care, long term accommodations, assisted living, dementia care and rehabilitation for seniors and disabled individuals in Snohomish County. Since 1931, Bethany of the Northwest has offered different degrees of supportive care and nursing services to meet the needs of elderly and disabled individuals and create a lives of independence and purpose. 

The Taste of the Northwest is the perfect opportunity to support the Bethany facilities, interact with the nursing staff, administration and residents' families, and sample different tastes of the Pacific Northwest. The event begins at 5 p.m. and concludes at 8 p.m. Taste tickets are $20 and include four drink samples of your choice. Contact Jim Stephanson for more information and tickets at 425-551-6403 or Tickets can also be purchased at the door on Friday.

Strange Seattle Bites

Take a taste on the wild side

Trying new foods can be intimidating for those with sensitive taste buds and squirmy stomachs. Although strange combinations might sound revolting, different, contrasting flavors and textures are often surprisingly pleasing. When in and around Seattle, consider these venues, dishes and drinks for a taste of something new and interesting.

Unicorn on Capitol Hill is nearly as rare as spotting a legendary horse with a horn. In addition to its vibrant, hipster appearance, the menu item names can induce a double take. Order a Magical Unicorn Burger, topped with sriracha cream cheese, cole slaw and crispy onion rings.

Bizarre, but not totally outlandish, right? Here's the kicker: all hamburgers are available deep fried. Complete your deep fried hamburger meal with a side of Unicorn Balls, fried ginger and jalapeno pork balls, and a Unicorn Jizz cocktail, a sweet concoction of mango vodka, triple sec, orange juice, sweet 'n' sour mix, grenadine and Sprite that will leave anything but an unpleasant taste in your mouth. 

Take shelter from frequent Seattle showers and cozy up at Shelter Lounge in Ballard. Their happy hour (and regular) menu feature two particular items of interest: PB&J Jalapeno Poppers and Avocado Fries. 

The poppers are stuffed with cream cheese and peanut butter and served with sweet, spicy jelly and the avocado fries are breaded, deep fried and served with your choice of sauce. Try both items for a mere $7 total during happy hour from 4-6 p.m. daily.

If a good old fashioned hot dog is what you're craving, you can find it and much, much more at Po Dogs' two locations in Capitol Hill and the University District. The classic Seattle Dog features cream cheese and scallions and is a traditional favorite for many Seattleites.

For sushi fans, try the hybrid Po Roll, made with fresh cucumber, cream cheese, crusted Panko and deep fried, served with a side of wasabi aioli. It's sushiastic! Po Dog diners can also create their own specialty dogs with toppings like macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, banana and guacamole.

If you venture out of city limits, across Lake Washington and north to Kirkland, enjoy another PB&J novelty at The Slip, a local waterfront eating establishment with homemade American fare and handcrafted cocktails.

Their GO PBJ specialty burger has been rated "evil good," served with grilled onions, pickle, chipotle raspberry jam and peanut butter. It's like the spicy, exciting version of PB&J for adults!