Nothing like a slow news Friday to do some self-interest blogging*. If you’re looking for a good and somewhat unique dining experience to pull you into the South end, I recommend St. Dames, a vegetarian place one block north of Columbia City Station.

I’m by no means a vegetarian, nor do I know much about other vegetarian places, but this place is pretty creative about tasty meat substitutes. If you’re reluctant to accept food criticism from a transit pundit, and you should be, here’s The Stranger‘s pretty good review. If you’d like to cancel out the health benefits of vegetarian cuisine, there’s also a full bar.

They’re open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and have an interesting brunch menu on weekends starting at 9am. I’ve tried both and have been impressed.

* My self-interest is in plugging a good restaurant in my neighborhood, so that I continue to have good restaurants in my neighborhood.

36 Replies to “Light Rail Excuse of the Week”

  1. I am vegetarian, but I haven’t heard of this place. I’ll check it out. My current favourite veg place in Seattle is Highline on Broadway.

    1. The truly knock-your-socks-off vegetarian places in Seattle don’t have quite as easy transit access.

      Carmelita (Greenwood):
      Food = A+
      Route 5 in the evening = C

      Cafe Flora (Madison Valley):
      Food = B+/A-
      Routes 11 or 8 in the evening = D

      Highline-esque comfort food vegan bars in Georgetown:
      Transit in the evening = F

      1. They really need to introduce a turnback route on the 8 for the E-W segment and run that part every 15 minutes into the evening. I’m truly underwhelmed by Capitol Hill bus service in the evening.

      2. Until a couple years ago, there was no 15-minute service on the 8 any time of day, and all evening service turned back at 15th. When they first added rush-hour 15-minute trips, about half of them turned back at 15th too.

        So the service expansion has been a mixed blessing: slightly more frequency, but infinitely less reliability if you need to catch it from Capitol Hill and you’re a million miles from either terminus.

        Really long bus routes only work when they are:
        – as straight as possible
        – part of a gridded network
        – so frequent that getting off-schedule isn’t such a big deal
        (Chicago, for example, has all of the above. Route 8 has none.)

        On the other hand, the 15th turnbacks were useless for catching a transfer on 23rd or getting to or from Madison Valley.

      3. Barman, if you like Cafe Flora, you need to try Carmelita. Same basic idea — locally-sourced vegetarian haute cuisine — and similar prices, but stepped up a couple of notches in creativity and deliciousness! (I’ve eaten in 5-star vegetarian restaurants in Chicago and New York that cost twice as much as Carmelita and weren’t half as good.)

        Go between 5:00 and 7:00 — their happy-hour food is a stunningly good value and the transit to Greenwood is much better in the early evening than late.

      4. …And at the risk of reverting to my “nabob of negativity” reputation:

        If you live on Capitol Hill, Barman (which I suspect you might), and you “forgot about Café Flora” — which is one mile away — there is no other way to interpret that other than a reminder of just how life-limiting Metro Transit can be.

  2. I like the idea of cancelling out the health benefits of vegetarian food with copious amounts of beer!


  3. Thanks for the review. Personally grateful to LINK for new personal favorite:

    The Station Cafe
    2533 16th Ave S (1/2 block north of Beacon Hill Station
    (206) 453-4892

    Excellent espresso (Herkimer), Mexican hot chocolate, pastries, home-made chicken tamales Thurs thru Sun. Beer & wine license, sangria, mimosas. Great neighborhood scene. Wi-Fi. Also written up in ATU Local 587 News Review.


    Mon-Wed 7 am – 7 pm
    Thu-Fri 7 am – 11 pm
    Sat 8 am – 11 pm
    Sun 8 am – 6 pm

    Yesterday noticed another new cafe going in directly across MLK from St. Dames. Othello Street Station surrounded by great eating places, Vietnamese, Somali, Mexican. Great Mexican lunch counter and carry-out in an old white bus across parking lot on Othello.

    Another bus-based cafe five minute walk north of Rainier Beach Station.

    And this is all just the beginning. Looking forward to more restaurant reviews in STB- for me, places like these are one of the things transit is for.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Just showed Luis your comment. He says it was really busy this weekend and I said this comment might have spurred some traffic.

  4. I’m not a vegetarian and I can vouch for the “Portobello Cheese Stake Sandwich”. It’s 100% as delicious as any meat based sandwich. Overall it’s great food and a great atmosphere.

  5. We should have more reviews like this post and Mark’s comment above. I hate how transit advocates get branded as irresponsible anti-business tax-and-spend lefties (some are, of course.) Small businesses in the city make living here possible, and I’ve managed to whittle the list of places I shop outside of the city down to one (Ikea.) I will be certain to hit up both of these places.

    1. Transit fans have also been promoting the private parking lots near Rainier Valley stations for those who “can’t ride the train because there’s no P&R”.

      1. Whilst I’m not one of those who’ve been promoting private P&Rs, I don’t disagree with the city allowing them to exist until the infill development in the RV picks up speed.

  6. Makes me think of the concept of a “Linear Shopping Mall”…each stop having various stores, food courts, or maybe a complete real sized mall, all accessible by LINK. Shoppers could spend all day traveling up and down, before returning to their cars at a terminus. Carrying bags might be an issue.

    1. Makes me think of a web of distinct neighborhoods linked by rapid transit, with streetcars and busses to fill the gaps. People could spend years commuting and traveling up and down for shopping and entertainment without ever needing to return to a car at a terminus.

  7. Wish I could endorse St. Dames. I’ve eaten there twice now, and it’s been hit or miss. Some dishes are great and others are really not good at all. It’s also a bit pricey for what it is. Saddens me, as it’s within walking distance of my house.

  8. It might be worth mentioning that St. Dames replaced another restaurant (Maki & Yaki) in the same location that went out of business last year. Times are tough for the restaurant business.

  9. Slow news day? I guess the Egyptian revolution doesn’t have a direct connection to transit. Although I don’t know how 2 million car-dependant people could all go to a square in downtown at the same time.

    1. Chad:

      Good point. Guess this kind of thing is contagious- last day or so, didn’t The Seattle Times have a full front-page spread on (I think) some amateur rap star?

      So I just typed in “Cairo Light Rail” in the Yahoo window, and got following reference:

      Paragraphs and pictures not only on rail transit in Cairo, but current use of the Tahrir Square station as a police HQ and detention centers- where pro-democracy protesters were detaining, and putting on trial before judges, Mubarak’s paid thugs.

      Oh, to live to see the day when Westlake Station becomes a major bastion for the long-dormant forces of democracy!

      Meantime, however, I think STB ought to be careful about calling readers’ attention to great places along LINK. Remember that any struggling business has to attract large numbers of normal people.

      Average transit-advocate conversation might seriously upset people just trying to enjoy their vegetarian meatloaf in earshot of violent rhetorical arguments over bus vs. rail rapid transit. Most of these poor people have never even heard of Kemper Freeman, either, let alone the dread B7 alignment!

      Why frighten them needlessly? None of these horrors will ever threaten Columbia City Station!

      Incidentally, John B, rare good point about linear urban centers. Back in the days when average urban dweller had subways and streetcars but no car, most neighborhood business did door-to-door delivery. So baggage car on LINK may not be needed. Might really be good if airlines could deliver luggage to hotels.

      Mark Dublin

      1. “Oh, to live to see the day when Westlake Station becomes a major bastion for the long-dormant forces of democracy!”

        Forgotten the WTO protests?

  10. Let me put in a plug for Thai Recipe, a small (10 tables +/-) just a few steps north of Mount Baker Station. It’s on the end of a small aging strip mall, with Domino’s Pizza at the other end.

    A great little neighborhood Thai place, with tasty food at very reasonable prices.

    1. Agreed!

      BTW, if you are a football (i.e. soccer) fan, the Ibex Cafe, just south of MBS, is the place to go for big screens and big Ethiopian platters, with non-stop Barclay’s Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Champs League, etc.

      Both Thai Recipe and Ibex are great for vegetarians.

      Only thing is, they coordinate their schedules about as well as Metro and ST do. They are both closed on Tuesdays.

      1. Oh, and the Cafe Ibex has a bar area, so if we wanted to do an all-ages meetup there, drinkers and minors alike could be accommodated. They have a back room where I can sometimes hear Ethiopian disco music (I guess that’s what it is) and see lights shining off a hanging ball. They’d probably be overjoyed to give us that space for an evening.

    2. I hit Thai recipe on the way home sometimes. It is only one light rail stop away, so I can call them as I’m walking to Beacon Hill station, and by the time I’m there, they are packaging up my order. Food is pretty good too.

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