The shawarma

In the middle of winter most neighborhoods don’t have major activities to pull you in, but snow (which is rumored for the weekend) may shut down everything but Link. If you’re looking for something new to do as an excuse to ride Link, Bananas Grill, just north of Columbia City station, offers low-priced Mediterranean food. The ambience is fast food but it’s got a bit more of a halal focus than a typical Greek place. I’ve eaten there several times and find the Chicken Shawarma particularly tasty.

4556 MLK, about a block north of the station. Free wi-fi. Open every day.

21 Replies to “Light Rail Excuse of the Week”

  1. And while we’re on food venues, check out the just opened Deo Valenti cafe at “The Station” at Othello building across from the Othello Light Rail stop. They feature Italian Panini, Bruschetta, Gelato made on premises, Wine, Coffee and Tea. Great fast free wifi and panoramic view of the Light Rail Station.

  2. OMG yes! I had some amazing shawarma in Germany and Spain but haven’t been able to find anything anywhere close to them in the US. I’ll have to check out this place.

  3. I think Bananas Grill is Somali. Have had at least two delicious dinners there. Another Somali place I like is called “Dahabshil”, directly east across NB MLK at Othello Station. That one is interesting to me because it reminds me of some places I remember from East Africa. Excellent goat-meat curry.

    School bus in market lot at Othello is favorite Mexican diner of mine.

    Other light-rail related favorites: The Station Cafe, half block north of Beacon Hill Station on 16th, just across from El Centro. Really good espresso, and tamales Thursday thru Sunday. Same block on 15th Ave side, vegetarian Indian place called Thalia. And inside grocery store at north end of the block, unusually good Mexican food, especially chicken empanadas.

    Recalling Chicago and Detroit, this is what transit is for.

    Mark Dublin

    1. The vegetarian Indian place near Beacon Hill Station is on Beacon Ave S, not 15th. It is named Travelers Thali House, and it is indeed very good. The grocery store Mark mentions is La Bendicion if I recall correctly.

      The Station (coffee house, not train station) :) also has Mocha Mexicano, which is really, really good.

  4. Imagine one of my heroes with her big chin and her hair in a bun saying:

    “Annoy a WPC pundit!

    “Rage against the media bias!

    “Ride Link!”

    [Enuf said really. Thank you Sarah Heath for the lovely idea.]

  5. This is a great regular feature. More of this, please! Maybe even for a few bus routes…

    In fact, what if you guys hosted a wiki-type thing where people could submit stuff to do at major train stations/on major transit routes? Does such a thing exist?

  6. Checking this place out on Google Street View:,-122.294289&spn=0.001225,0.002733&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&hq=bananas+grill&hnear=Seattle,+King,+Washington&t=m&z=19&layer=c&cbll=47.5621,-122.294289&panoid=lGYBtf2Fw8JxlTp4H3Mf_Q&cbp=12,57.71,,0,7.43

    Seems like there’s a small bit of density on the opposite side of the street, but it looks for all practical purposes like a suburban office park.

    (The Google images must have been shot on two different days…initially its rainy, but when I zoom in, suddenly a burst of sunlight. Also the building isn’t there zoomed out.)

    1. The difference is that you can walk to Columbia City, a library, a supermarket, and if you want to live within walking distance, there are a lot of single-family and multifamily places to choose from, plus 10-minute light rail and a 15-minute bus (daytime & Sat). Whereas if your office park is on Northup Way or in the Gateway Corporate Center or one of the Kent office parks on West Valley Highway or 212th, there’s nothing remotely like that.

      Granted, MLK’s density there is not what it could be. The building is the size and shape of a strip mall, and the parking around it is about the same, even though it looks better than a strip mall.

    2. The land behind Bananas Grill is being redeveloped. It’s part of the Seattle Housing Authority’s New Rainier Vista redevelopment project — just like that across MLK Way with attached and detached homes and apartments that are a mix of SHA housing and individually owned housing. I think if the pictures were current, you’d see that some of the housing is completed and for sale, and some in progress.

      Right next door to Bananas is the Boys and Girls Club, which has a small parking lot in back.

  7. If you want some great vegan food, check out St. Dames across the street from Bananas Grill!

  8. Othello station good place to get Vietnamese sandwich to take to airport and bring on plane. Very inexpensive very good.

  9. I tried out Bananas on Sunday, and it was great! They asked me how I heard about them and I told them STB. They hadn’t heard that before. Anyway, they gave us free soup and free chai along with our meals and it was very good.

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