Last week, my friend Jen and I embarked on a mini food tour of Seattle. Just our favorite spots, or ones we needed to try. Paseo Caribbean Restaurant falls into the favorite spot category, a.k.a. one of the few restaurants I can’t live without. I need Paseo like I need to breathe. And you do too.
This unassuming little shop with no signage out front lies in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. There’s always a line out the door, unless you hit them up at at a rare lull. A second location in Ballard is rumored to be less crowded, but it’s farther out of the way for little ‘ol me.
If the line down the block doesn’t clue you in, the stickers on the door certainly let you know that this place has been discovered.
But it’s not all hype in a hand basket (yes, I’m making up phrases now, because it’s tuesday and I have honey in my hair…don’t ask). Whatever wait you have to endure, cash you need to procure from an atm (no plastic accepted here), or crowds of hungry Emerald City folk you have to elbow through, it’s all worth it in the end.
So, what exactly will you get in the end? What are you and scores of other Seattlites making this journey for?
This. A Cuban Roast. Tender roasted pork on a toasted Macrina roll slathered in garlic mayo, cilantro, crispy romaine, jalapeños and sauteed onions.
Not to mention the garlicy, buttery piece of corn that comes alongside.
This sandwich must contain a small amount of crack/cocaine because I keep going back for it again and again like some kind of junkie. Maybe that’s their secret. It’s Like Water for Chocolate meets a Cuban sandwich shop.
And oh, the corn. The CORN! There must be about 10 cloves of minced garlic and a pound of butter slathering each piece. I save mine for last. And then I tell myself that it’s okay that I just ate a foot-long pork sandwich because now I’m eating my vegetables. My slathered-in-butter vegetables.
The other thing I love about this restaurant, and yet another reason why I keep coming back, is that they’re exceedingly nice. Except for this sign. Which I need to tack up on my house.
Okay, they don’t look particularly nice here either. But they are—I promise. After I snapped this photo this lady smiled and laughed at me. Which is what people normally do when I’m taking pictures in their restaurants. Either that or look at me like I’m two tacos short of a combination plate.
But here’s the thing about niceness: I feel that sometimes when Seattle restaurants get as much positive press as this place has, they get a little snarky attitude. A little holier-than-thou. But not here. At Paseo, they’re here to feed you with a smile that will be contagious.
I had to post this photo because this guy looks like he’s running to squelch the fire a-brewin in the back. When in reality, he’s just rushing to get an order ready and smiling/laughing-at-me lady is manning the saute pan full of delicious fire-tinged onions. Paseo folk, as a breed, are not afraid of fire.
I mean, really? It’s so freaking delicious that it shouldn’t even be allowed.
I should also mention that they’ve got a full menu to sample for those of you who aren’t pork eatin’ types. And another tip from me to you: sometimes in the evening they run out of bread (usually after 5pm-ish), in which case I default to the West Caribbean Bowl or the Cuban Roast Plate. Go there for a lunch or early dinner if you want to score one of these delicious sammies. And they’re closed mondays. Which is why I didn’t post this yesterday.
Happy tuesday! I’m off to wash my hair…