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Home to Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks, Seattle is a rapidly growing city with a diverse array of lunchtime haunts. Whether you’re just in town for a budget weekend or staying a while to nosh your way through the Emerald City’s diverse neighborhoods, there is plenty of local fare to be had for under a Hamilton.

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Pioneer Square, Seattle, cheap eats

Pioneer Square | Flickr photo by @Ming-yenHsu

Rustic sandwiches in historic Pioneer Square…
Behind the ivy-covered brick walls of a historic landmark building in Pioneer Square, Grand Central Bakery offers ready-to-order sandwiches made from local and sustainable produce—all served up on homemade hearth-baked, rustic bread. Most range between $8–$9, but adding Beeler’s Pure Pork bacon will cost a little extra. On the rare sunny day, grab a seat on their quaint cobblestone back patio.

Tasty dumplings in the International District…
Head just south of downtown to the International District, where you’ll find hole-in-the-wall noodle shops, pho joints, and family-owned restaurants inspired by worldly cuisines. To get the most bang for your buck, stop by Szechuan Noodle Bowl (420 8th Ave S). It’s not much to look at on the outside but like dumplings, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Order a $4 green onion pancake the size of your plate and spicy pork dumplings drizzled with chili oil (10 for $6.95). The shop is closed on Mondays and, as with many lunch spots in the neighborhood, is cash-only.

Pho Bac, Vietnamese, Seattle

Pho Bac | Flickr photo by @DeaShoot

Un-pho-gettable Vietnamese…
Between downtown and South Lake Union, unassuming Pho Bac (1809 Minor Ave #102) dishes out home style Vietnamese dishes in a no-frills setting. Try their $4 banh mi sandwiches or “splurge” on a large bowl of their signature pho for $8.50 that doubles as comfort food on the inevitable rainy Seattle afternoon.

Quick bites in University Village…
When you’re in need of a quick bite to eat that’s also easy on the wallet, look no further than the student section of town. In University Village, lunch spots abound for busy Huskies en route to class. Stop by Arepa Venezuelan Kitchen (1405 NE 50th St) for ooey-gooey cheesy grilled goodness for $6–$7. Try the classic pabellon with seasoned black beans, fried sweet plantains and shredded beef, or the crowd favored reina pepiada (chicken and avocado with spicy mayo).

Asian fusion in Capitol Hill…
Sometimes you find a new favorite lunch spot where you least expect it—like a Korean-Hawaiian fusion taco truck. Affectionately known as Big Blue, the Marination Station truck can be tracked on their website making its rounds or stop by the brick and mortar store in Capitol Hill (1412 Harvard Ave). Tacos are only $3 a pop and range from miso ginger chicken to kalua pork. For a steal of a deal, stop by happy hour every Monday through Friday from 2-5pm, when they serve any combo of tacos or sliders for a whopping $8.25. And don’t forget to top it all off with their top-secret blend of creamy, tangy, spicy Nunya Sauce—as in, the specific ingredients are “nunya business.”

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Pike Place Chowder, Pike Place, Seattle

Pike Place Chowder | Flickr photo by @jill

Chowda’ in Pike Place Market…
No trip to Seattle would be complete without a jaunt to Pike Place Market. For a bowl of chowder that’s as fresh as it gets, stop by Pike Place Chowder (1530 Post Alley). It’s often crowded during lunch hour, but the line moves quickly. A large (16oz) will run you just $9.95, but a oven-baked sourdough bread bowl is extra. Choose from classic clam, smoked salmon, lime & coconut, or leave it up to the chef with the Market Chowder featuring the catch of the day.

Cold cuts in Ballard…
Up north in Ballard, Other Coast Cafe (5315 Ballard Ave NW) makes a mean cold cut sandwich for $9.50. Try the Hammer with applewood smoked ham, carrot-jalapeño giardiniera, and all the fixin’s or the Mantooth with Italian meats, smoked mozz, and cherry peppers. Unlike most delis, Other Coast is vegetarian-friendly and also has several options for hungry herbivores. It also has locations in Capitol Hill and Queen Anne.

Hot tamales in Beacon Hill…
In the up-and-coming neighborhood of Beacon Hill, Cafetal Quilombo (4343 15th Ave S) serves up the city’s best tamales for only $2.50 each, tucked inside a family-owned coffee shop. Try a couple with house-made habanero or chipotle salsa for a spicy treat. A popular choice is the chicken mole tamales, but be forewarned—they serve hearty portions.

Cederberg Tea House, Seattle, South Africa

Cederberg Tea House | Flickr photo by @GaryBembridge

If South African is your cup of tea, head to Queen Anne
Stop by the Cederberg Tea House (1417 Queen Anne Ave N) for a cup of South African tea, and both sweet and savory accompaniments. Sandwiches and baked goods are all under $8, including the Chicken Curry Cranberry Walnut tea sandwiches, Puff Pastry Sausage Rolls, and Spinach and Feta Swirls.

Succumb to the late-night Seattle Dog
When you’ve stayed out past your bedtime and need something to soak up all that fun you’ve been having, look no further than the legendary Seattle Dog. When the clock strikes midnight, you’ll find carts all over downtown and Capitol Hill dishing out classic hot dogs or Polish sausages. They are often served between two halves of a toasted bun, topped with grilled onions, jalapeños, sauerkraut and a healthy squirt of mustard or Sriracha for about 5 bucks. A word to the wise: Whatever you do, DON’T ask for ketchup.

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Tagged: City

Hope Nardini

Hope Nardini

Hope Nardini

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