Thursday, November 12, 2009

- R E S T A U R A N T S -

A New York Pizza Place raises the sagging bar of pizza
by Ron Chang . . . When thinking of food in proximity to the NSCC campus, bland food courts and unimaginative food chains around Northgate Mall come to mind. However, the Greater Seattle area as a whole has no shortage of great hole-in-the-wall restaurants. These places are just not as easy to locate and discover in the Northgate area compared to other neighborhoods in our city. In each issue, I hope to showcase one restaurant that serves quality food. The single requirement I have is that the owner must have a role in preparing the food for his/her own customers.
. It seems that the more abundant a type of food is, the lower the bar is for acceptable quality. Pizza is a perfect example. After being bombarded with cheese-stuffed accessories adorned on a chewy, par-baked crust, we no longer remember what high-grade pizza is supposed to taste like. Fifteen toppings and globs of cheese have to be slathered on just to pass this mess off as an edible item worthy of our nine dollars and ninety-nine cents. In case we’re not sold, five more dollars will get us another serving of something that we don’t really want.
. What if I told you that some of Seattle’s best pizza is within 1.5 miles of our campus? A New York Pizza Place is an awesome pizzeria joint located in the Maple Leaf neighborhood. New York-style pizza is characterized by large, foldable slices that have a thin, yet firm, crust. The “quality over quantity” concept is executed with quality and quantity of cheese used on the pizzas. The dough is made in-house and results in a pizza slice that can be enjoyed by flavor, texture, and presentation. A New York Pizza Place also serves salads, calzones, and sandwiches. . An added bonus is that they will make you a fresh slice of any of their pizzas, not just the default pepperoni or cheese.
Address: 8310 5th Ave NE, Seattle WA 98115-4119
Hours of operation: Saturday-Thursday 5-9pm, Friday 5-10pm.
(Metro bus 66) Location: 5th Ave. NE and NE 83rd St.

Local Taco Del Mar has cheap, tasty Mexican casual
By Tom Smeeth . . . How about a restaurant review that is timely, practical, and can serve the fast-paced world of a community college student on the go?
. Okay, Order up. It should be an affordable, fast food type of situation - a local establishment – but also include freshly made options that can be eaten easily and quickly on site, or, packaged to take with you to, and from, school. What else? A catering option for when coordinated studies class calls for a dinner course for forty. Oh! And very important it taste good!
. Taco del Mar, with two locally owned franchises at Northgate and Roosevelt, offers up just such an establishment. TDM is nearby and their staff is friendly and flexible. They are enthusiastic to engage their customers in line with whatever priorities occupy their attention coming into the door. Gotta go quickly? Want to linger and enjoy the casual atmosphere, including the informal design? No Es Problemo.
. Inspired by the fish tacos found in funky shacks that dotted the Southern California Pacific shoreline, the food of hungry surfers, Taco Del Mar opened in 1992 on Pier 57 in Seattle's historic waterfront district. Founders and brothers, James and John Schmidt, created a name and style in their signature menu items — Fish Tacos and Mission-Style Burrito – that reflected the southern California lifestyle they enjoyed while at school at UCSD in San Diego. Taco Del Mar occupies the Mexican Fast Casual restaurant sector.
. Their food is fast, fresh, affordable and regularly they bring out a new, interesting offering, or promotion. There’s something about their food that is incredibly real, fresh, fast, flavorful and very filling. Their sauces make the meal.
. Just in time for Friday the 13th, these two TDM locations introduce a new burrito taste with what I call a fabulous Friday free food offer. This Friday only, and only at these two locations according to the Roosevelt manager, the new & fiery 'Bonfire BBQ Burrito' can be had for free when you purchase one of their Mondo Burritos. It’s basically a buy-one get one free promotion to ensure your Friday does not end without at least one thing going entirely your way.
. In a preview of the new burrito, I found the barbeque sauce, appropriately tangy, complemented by a garnish that resembles chipotle with cabbage. They combine for a perfect contrast of tastes.
. You can ask for the BBQ Burrito in taco form, as well. Which is good because their Taco Tuesday promotions have long been a favorite of mine – two tacos, with rice and beans, with beverage. Various midweek promotions allow you to experiment with their menu.
. Price – this is important for any self-respecting student on a budget and Taco Del Mar obliges with a good pricing structure. Pretty much anything substantial and delicious runs between $5 and $10. For $1.99 extra, the combination includes beverage and chips with salsa, tomatoes and onions, or a smooth cheese dip. While sour cream is a given, guacamole often costs an additional $.99, which makes sense.
. I think it’s a place with a good deal for students, with a healthy list of options - Burritos, Tacos, Quesadillas, Dinner Platters ($5 after 5 pm), Nachos, kids sizes, Baja Bowl (burrito without the tortilla). Vegetarian options are easy – vegans merely skip the cheese and sour cream options. Meat options include – seafood (hey, that’s what the Del Mar stands for!), chicken, three beef options, and pork. You may select ground beef, grilled steak, or carne disembrada – a pulled beef that is very tender and tasty.
. Absolutely consider their loyalty program, a punch card which features double-punch Mondays. This is in effect a 20 percent discount, so that if you ate a burrito every Monday, one in five would be free. Deal-io! Also, the local owner (Jeff, who in the past participated in cooperation with a North marketing communications class by donating meal coupons in a food drive raffle) has set up a Friday the 13th promotion: I call it a fabulous Friday free food deal as customers who buy a Mondo burrito get a free Bonfire BBQ Burrito. So a two-for-one deal, but for that one day only - and only at the two locations I most frequent, as they are closest to campus. The daily specials - Taco Tuesday is another of my favorites (two tacos, rice and beans, and beverage for $5.49. Other notes of interest: the personnel are friendly and flexible – check this: they actually encourage me to practice my Spanish – I feel badly for them, but goodly for myself.
. You can go to their website at, register for their club and immediately receive a one-dollar coupon to use on your next visit. Their punch card is accepted at all of their many Northwest locations, some of which are franchises, others company-owned. With headquarters in Seattle, Taco Del Mar has spread to hundreds of restaurants across the western United States and Canada, successfully.
. The 20 locations throughout the Seattle area provide consistent quality from my experience.

. Below are the two locations reviewed here.
Roosevelt - (Metro Bus Routes 66, 67, 48, 73) 1033 - 65th Avenue, Seattle WA 98105 Telephone: (206) 729-0670
Northgate Village - Seattle, WA - (Metro 16, 75, 347 &348) 830 NE Northgate Way, Seattle WA 98125 Telephone: (206) 267-6767

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