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Seattle Culinary Finds That Won't Break the Bank



Trying to pin down words like frugal, value and deal can be exasperating; everyone carries different ideas and expectations for cost-saving techniques. One person's "bargain" may be be an unrealistic splurge for another diner. For 10Best, the range is broad. We include impossibly cheap eateries with amazing menus and dedicated followings, but we also share finer establishments that offer perks like impressive happy hours or affordable prix-fixe menus. If you're looking for Best Value restaurants in Seattle, let us introduce you to a few of our favorites, starting with Salumi and Dick's Drive-In. They're low in expenditures and high in appeal. Who says that a delicious meal has to become a multi-hour ordeal? Other options offer generous portions of delicious food, meaning you can easily split with a dining companion and leave satisfied, or you can take half of your food with you for your next meal. Seattle is home to a bounty of talented chefs who take their ingredients and their craft very seriously, and they also value making their food accessible to as wide an audience as possible. 


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Bookstore Bar
Photo courtesy of Bookstore Bar


At the Alexis Hotel, just off downtown's Madison Street and close to Pioneer Square, the cozy yet hip Bookstore Bar & Cafe stocks its shelves with impressive reading material and an extensive stash of Scotches, bourbons and whiskies. Executive Chef Eric Rivera sends out delectable, locally-fueled dishes. "It's an exploration of the whole flavor spectrum, where you can go from sweet to savory to sour in one bite," he explains. "We have all these great local ingredients at our disposal, and we'll be highlighting flavors of the Pacific Northwest, but in a way that will feel fresh and new to locals and visitors alike." Highlights range from weekday breakfast spreads and weekend brunch to a coveted happy hour (daily from 3n.to 5 p.m.). For great-value options, try the 'Local' 9-course dinner offered every Friday (nine courses for less than $100), as well as The Chef Incubator Series, which takes place once a month, features up-and-coming culinary talents and costs only $38 per person.

Recommended for Best Value because: At the Alexis Hotel's Bookstore Bar & Cafe, enjoy a cozy setting and delicious food, including great-value options like the monthly "Chef Incubator Series" dinners.

Corinne's expert tip: Happy hour (daily from 3 to 5 p.m.) features delicious bites like beef jerky chips, savory pancakes, vegetable tempura and "Craboyaki." In some cases, the dining experience here becomes interactive as chefs prepare and serve courses tableside, which Executive Chef Eric Rivera describes as a chance for guests to see "sleight of hand magic" first-hand.

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Pagliacci Pizza
Photo courtesy of Pagliacci Pizza


Sometimes, when the mood strikes, nothing else will do. If you have a strong urge for great pizza, head to one of 24 Pagliacci's locations, where you can walk up to the counter and order a pie topped with everything from sun-dried tomatoes to goat cheese and roasted garlic. With more than 30 toppings to choose from, the pizza menu is sure to have something you'll love, whether you're a vegetarian, an omnivore or simply an eater with quirky tastes. In addition to great pies, the impressively extensive menu features fresh salads and calzones. Leave room for the locally made gelato! The eatery deliveries to some locations, too. Make orders online at order.pagliacci.com.

Recommended for Best Value because: Pizzeria Pagliacci means large, delicious pies to be picked up or delivered to some locations.Try the salad, calzones and gelato too!

Corinne's expert tip: Look out for seasonal offerings that can include unique combos like bacon and leek. Make orders online at order.pagliacci.com.

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Red Mill Burgers
Photo courtesy of Red Mill Burgers


When the original Red Mill closed in 1967 after 30 years of great diner fare and ice cream, Seattle was left with but a few places to get really good burgers, crispy onion rings or butterscotch malts. Fortunately, John and Babe Shepherd saw this need and opened this Interbay gem in 1994. It was an immediate success. In fact, so popular is this burger joint that the lunch line tends to stretch outside, and the likes of Al Bundy and Darth Vader (actors Ed O'Neil and James Earl Jones, respectively) have been seen enjoying a burger or two here. A word to the wise: the Red Mill is not cell phone tolerant, so make sure your ringer is off. An additional location is at Phinney Ridge. A sister restaurant, Red Mill Totem House, has now found a home in Ballard, across the locks.

Recommended for Best Value because: Red Mill Burgers has gotten national press for its quality burgers and delectable malts. Choose from several locations, and enjoy!

Corinne's expert tip: The Travel Channel's Adam Richman and the Food Network's Guy Fieri have both stopped in to check out this local landmark, and each proclaimed Red Mill's culinary merits after indulging in its beefy delights.

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Marination Ma Kai
Photo courtesy of Marination Ma Ka/GreenRubino


In West Seattle, Marination Ma Kai brings the delectable flavors and happy vibes of Hawaii to a stunning beachside setting (near Alki). The venue's Hawaiian-Korean cuisine "melts delicate heat and the flavors of aloha together in [diners'] mouths," while the expansive patio offers to-die-for skyline and water views. As the owners put it, "it started with a truck, some exquisite marinades and a lotta love," and now, more than one million tacos and five years later, Marination has expanded to three separate venues and "one big aloha family." Loyal fans rave about the Kimchi Fried Rice Bowl, spicy pork tacos, award-winning Pork Katsu Sandwich, the boozy shave ice bowls, hibiscus-tinged cocktails, the special tangy "NUNYA" sauce and so much more. At Marination, life is good!

Recommended for Best Value because: In West Seattle, Marination Ma Kai brings the delectable (affordable!) flavors and happy vibes of Hawaii to a stunning beachside setting.

Corinne's expert tip: Also check out their popular Marination Station in Capitol Hill and follow the mobile truck online to track locations like Pioneer Square and the International District Wednesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stay tuned for more spin-off openings soon, too!

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Dick's Drive-In


Choose one of Dick's five locations and return to the days of the '50s when you drive up to this fast food establishment. Burgers, fries and shakes are ordered and eaten in the very same spot â€" your car or standing nearby among the masses of customers. Burgers are always prepared the same way (no special orders accepted), and fries are consistently hot (no kidding). Plus, prices are pleasantly affordable, and the place stays open late. Sure, this Seattle staple has been known to attract the post-bar crowd who have perhaps had a few too many potent Northwest brews, but it also serves as a quick day-time treat for everyone from young families to long-returning fans. (Dick's recently enjoyed time in the limelight in a Macklemore video.)

Recommended for Best Value because: Dick's Drive-In is a throwback to the 50s and a Seattle staple. Come for the simple, uber-casual meals of burgers, fries and delicious shakes.

Corinne's expert tip: If substitutions are your thing, this is not the place for you: no special orders accepted.

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Bimbo's Cantina


What was formerly known as Bimbo's Bitchin' Burrito Kitchen has toned down its name, gained a little more space and become a 21+ only establishment. What hasn't changed, however, are well-proportioned tacos and quesadillas, not to mention unbeatable guacamole and a famous herb-roasted chicken burrito plus, cumin-lime sour cream makes everything even tastier. The eatery also features an array of hot sauces for you burrito (from mild to smoking' hot), and the funky hangings on the wall will keep you entertained while you await your food. Add a house-made margarita or a Negra Modelo, and you've got a great meal. However, if you get a little grief from the servers, don't be put off. It's part of the restaurant's signature attitude.

Recommended for Best Value because: Bimbo's Cantina offers hearty burritos (and other treats) for a great price. Come for the funky decor and margaritas, too!

Corinne's expert tip: This spot boasts one of the best happy hour schedules in town: all day Sunday and Monday and from 4 to 8 pm other days of the week.

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Pioneer Square
Salumi


It won't take much time here in Seattle before you hear about this popular Pioneer Square outpost. For great Italian sausages, salamis, meatballs, or pork, try Salumi, whose name means "dry-cured meat" in Italian. Meats can be purchased individually as an entree or by the pound as deli take-away. If you prefer a lighter, less meat-intensive meal, order a salad, vegetable dish or one of their pastas. A comfortable interior with tin ceilings and wooden floors makes guests feel at home, as does a large communal table where guests can share conversation with their meals. Wine is available by the glass or bottle.

Recommended for Best Value because: Salumi is THE spot to go for quality meats ranging from Italian sausages and salamis to meatballs and pork. Complement the meal with some wine.

Corinne's expert tip: Salumis meats are available to walk-in customers as well as online at www.salumicuredmeats.com.

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Taste of India


Featuring a vibrant, neon exterior and an intimate, welcoming interior, Taste of India offers a delightful dining experience from start to finish. The food, service and ambience make this a wonderful spot for enjoying Indian and Mediterranean dishes ranging from rich curries and creamy masalas to tasty vindaloos. Other highlights include the chicken tikka masala, spinach naan and homemade mango pistachio ice cream. Vegetarian diners enjoy dishes like the Madras chili masala with crisp-cooked squash and peppers. The large portions (easily shared) make this an affordable option, and the bottomless chai pours will leave you feeling warm, full and satisfied.

Recommended for Best Value because: Taste of India offers hearty portions perfect for sharing, and the service makes diners feel right at home.

Corinne's expert tip: The service here is spectacular; don't be surprised if your server brings you complimentary chai tea, appetizers and/or dessert!

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Belltown
Pintxo
Photo courtesy of Pintxo Seattle


Located in the heart of downtown, Pintxo (pronounced peen-cho) proves the perfect place to begin a night on the town or to spend an entire evening indulging in delicious fare in a welcoming, intimate space. (The Crocodile is located directly across the street, making this hidden gem an ideal spot for a pre-show bite and glass of housemade, fruit-infused sangria.) This modern tapas bar features Spanish-inspired plates and an amazing selection of hand-crafted specialty cocktails as well as Spanish wine, liquor, beer and cider. Working in Pintxo's food truck-sized kitchen, and without a gas grill, Chef de Cuisine David Haight and Sous Emelio Sansone magically concoct flavorful dishes that place an emphasis on the region's bounty—especially taking advantage of local seafood finds. Try tasty dishes like bacon-wrapped dates, patatas bravas, lamb kefta sliders, octopus skewers, pan-roasted pork tenderloin and house-cured King Salmon. While most food is sourced locally, some ingredients like the Spanish cheeses and Jamon Iberico de Bellota help create traditional dishes coveted for centuries by diners in Spain and Pais Vasco (Basque Country).

Recommended for Best Value because: Belltown's Pinxto features Spanish-style tapas perfect for sharing plus housemade sangria.

Corinne's expert tip: Enjoy Pinxto's brand-new lunch menu and downtown location at 2219 4th Avenue. (Bar Abajo will soon open in Pinxto's former Belltown space at 2207 2nd Avenue.)

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Ciudad Grill
Photo courtesy of Ciudad Grill


This vibrant venue celebrates community in Seattle's thriving Georgetown neighborhood, south of downtown. You'll find two spaces inside the Oxbow Building—Ciudad Grill (a happening restaurant and bar with colorful murals and soaring skylights) and neighboring Bar Ciudad, a coveted cocktail bar and rotisserie. Ciudad Grill's menu focuses on tasty meats and vegetables cooked over a charcoal grill, with sharable plates offering good value and a fun, relaxed dining environment. Standout dishes range from flatbread sandwiches, pomegranate honey chicken wings and pork belly with grilled pineapple and cabbage to grilled delights like harissa-marinated chicken and beef and lamb kofta. At the bar, order a cocktail through the windows to enjoy outdoor seating as you watch planes landing at nearby Boeing Field.

Recommended for Best Value because: Ciudad Grill celebrates community in Seattle's Georgetown neighborhood with sharable plates and delicious family-style menus.

Corinne's expert tip: Take advantage of a happening patio space as well as stellar happy hour deals Tuesdays through Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m.

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Meet Corinne Whiting

Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's...  More About Corinne

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