Monday, November 29, 2010

This and that

Flying Pie Pizza in the Briarwood area of Renton has lost their lease and is out of business. Their Issaquah location remains open. It was pretty good pizza and a pleasant place. And I never got a chance to take them up on their " challenge" of eating an entire extra large multi topping pizza within sixty minutes. No one ever succeeded, despite the promise of free food. I would've done it, I really would. I have those talents.

Lakeside Bistro on Rainier Avenue just across from the Renton airport has a new menu and a new happy hour menu. I just love the place. Mostly because they're quirky and happily embrace that. Too many restaurants are trying to be like other successful restaurants, and what ends up happening is that restaurants look alike and serve the same food as each other. Not Lakeside Bistro. They don't care what's trendy, they serve what's good. Marilyn Monroe on the wall. Old jazz on the stereo. And what a crazy, delightful mix! Sure, they're Vietnamese and serve Pho and lemon grass Chicken and wok seared noodles. But the happy hour menu also has chicken hoagies and fries, burgers and fries, and Kansas City style BBQ ribs.
And the " Moonlight Skewers" seriously rock! There's no place quite like Lakeside Bistro.

Angelo's on NE 4th in Renton Highlands continues to dispense far better than average pizza, pasta, and salads. The place gets crowded, but they run the place so efficiently. It's really a pleasure to go into a place where the owners and staff really know what they're doing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And yet one more reason why Renton is cool:

Renton is blessed with some pretty good Mexican restaurants, ranging from stalwarts like La Hacienda to the taco trucks behind McLendons and behind the AMPM on Rainier, to chains like Torero's. We also had a branch of Taqueria Guaymas until fairly recently. But don't cry for me, Tacos Guaymas! In it's former location, at 530 Rainer Ave S. ( same complex as Baskin Robbins, Radio Shack, etc) is Habanero's Taqueria and Grill, and boy howdy! is it good!
First of all, how can you not like a place that features tongue ( lengua) as an entree? Even if you don't like or won't eat tongue, you gotta admit it's a good sign, right?
They've got all the usuals: Tacos, burritos, carne asada, nachos, and fajitas, but they kick it up a notch, and not just in spiciness.
Seafood fajitas are supposed to have shrimp, scallops, clams, and muscles ( that's what the menu says), but in reality, it also has octopus.
Dude! Octopus fajitas! What are you waiting for?
They've got a Facebook page, especially good if you understand Spanish. I understand enough to understand that they now serve beer, a good accompaniment to those chips with salsa ( on the hot side) and perfect guacamole.
530 Rainer Ave S.
Renton 98057

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ever eat anything that's just SO good?

I've mentioned in the past that I thought that Angelo's at 3809 NE 4th ST was Renton's best pizza.
What I didn't mention is just how good it is. Besides friendly service. reasonable prices, and huge portions, they have one pizza in particular that's just a thing of beauty. It's the Eva's Special. Has red sauce and mozzarella, but also has feta, pesto, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, chicken, and onion. The flavors meld together perfectly. The nice folks at Angelo's are very accommodating, so they'll happily substitute something or omit the chicken, etc.
The other pizzas there are good, and the pastas, mostiaccoli, ravioli, lasagne, etc are also good, as is the Greek salad, but that Eva's Special!! Man! Oh Man! It's one of the Seattle area's great pizzas, great enough to bring tears to one's eyes.
3809 NE 4th St
Renton 425-228-7415

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mom & Pop International Groceries

Mom & Pop International Groceries recently opened at 357 Rainier Avenue N, across from the Renton airport, and just a block or so north of the AM-PM at the corner of Airport Way and Rainier, and it's a fun little store.
It's not a large space, but there's fun stuff to be had there. I ended up buying frozen garlic naan, chocolate, sauerkraut, feta cheese, and French butter, and that's fairly representative of what can be had there. They have Mexican items, Filipino items, Samoan items, Thai, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Polish, African...
Nice looking sausages in the freezer, frozen taro leaves, and really good prices on extra virgin olive oil.
All in all, prices are really low there. They even beat the DK Market on some items, and DK is cheap!
It's a friendly place, and you can even get a half gallon of milk there. Milk might be the only item there not imported.
It's yet one more interesting and fun businesses in our midst.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stix-N-Stones can't spell, but they sure can cook.

Stix-N-Stones recently opened in the former Fin N Bone at 317 Main Avenue S. in beautiful downtown Renton.
Fin N Bone had good food but didn't offer a lot of options for folks unwilling to spend the big bucks. Stix-N-Stones is different that way. They do have the upscale options such as Steak Oscar, Halibut, Wild King salmon, prawns scampi, etc.
But they also have lower priced items: Entree salads like Dungeness Crab Louie, Cobb, and Maytag Blue Cheese, and burgers, wraps, and sandwiches. The "Pittsburger" is an especially awesome burger with grilled onions, mushrooms, bacon, and provolone.
Monday nights they feature an all you can eat non menu item specials for 10.95.
I took advantage of this last night and had the chicken parmesan, which was great. It had a parmesan crust, pan fried, and topped with mozzarella, and served with an absolutely yummy pasta side with a home made marinara with olives, onions, and peppers.
I exercised great restraint and only had two servings.
They serve breakfast on weekends and in the lounge on Friday and Saturday nights. Haven't tried breakfast there, but prices are low and the menu looks good.
So far, I'm impressed. I'll be back.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Like Beer

As Freidrich Nietzsche said, or was it Tom T Hall " I like beer. It makes me a jolly good fellow."

Renton is blessed by an abundance of places to have a good microbrew. Just to name a few, A Terrible Beauty, The Red House, Whistle Stop Ale House, River Rock Grill, and my current fave, The Dog and Pony. The Dog and Pony, at 351 Park Avenue N. has 30 something beers on tap. They also have great food, reasonably priced, and a funny menu ( funny HaHa not funny strange). It's a friendly place. They show movies outside on their patio Saturday nights in the summer, and it's not unusual to see well behaved dogs at their masters feet on the patio, looking just a little pissed that their people are eating pulled pork or a Kobe burger while they've just finished their Kenl Ration kibbles. On busy nights service can be a little slow, but the servers there work hard and are unfailingly pleasant. The menu is pretty diverse. You can get carnitas and you can get Greek salad and you can get Mac and cheese. I've yet to have something there I didn't like.
Every other Wednesday is brewer's night, where a rep from a brewery gives away things like t shirts and beer mugs, swag.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Comings and Goings

Herfy's on Sunset in the Renton Highlands is now gone. It wasn't the original Herfy's but it wasn't too bad. Santa Fe Mexican grill will be opening in their spot.

In downtown Renton, Burger Town has opened to good reviews, and indeed the burgers are awesome. They also have wraps, including a really good balsamic chicken wrap.

Daphne's, Renton's only Greek restaurant, of the fast food variety, is out of business.
Too bad. The food was pretty good, the prices were low, and I'll miss them

In the space that was Fin N' Bones is now Stix N' Stones. I guess they saved money on letters?
Haven't tried them yet, but intend to soon

In the Uwajimaya's Renton Village, I've eaten a few times at the Lemon Grass Vietnamese restaurant, and it's awesome. It's directly behind Applebees. Next door to it is Genki Sushi, which I haven't tried but hear great things about. I'll get there.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Where are your " go to" places?

I'm not talking about the "best" restaurants. I'm talking about the inexpensive, not bad, close and convenient places that you find yourself in fairly regularly.
For me, it's " #1 Pho and Thai" which is located in the " Safeway" shopping center in downtown Renton on the S 2nd St side..
It's not great. But it's pretty good, the service is quick, the prices are low.
Sure, if I had more money to spend on dining out I'd find myself at the Red House and the Lakeside Bistro more frequently, but alas, poor pauper that I am, I get to those places less frequently than I'd like.
So where are your " go to" places, close, cheap, convenient, and pretty good?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

And yet more pizza

I'll admit it. I could eat pizza on a daily basis. It's truly something I really love, and something I have very little control over when it's in front of me. Which leads me to:
Flying Pie Pizza
12642 164th Ave SE
Renton 425-228-8012

They have a challenge. If you eat their mega combo pizza, the large one, in it's entirety, in under 60 minutes, it's free. It's been attempted numerous times, but nobody has ever succeeded. Could I pull it off? I think I could. I have that rare talent. I once ate an entire 16 inch pizza with multiple toppings in four minutes and thirty seconds, and it would give me and Flying Pie free publicity.
And the pizza there isn't bad at all. You get to choose from four different crusts, ranging from extra thin to extra thick. It's not my favorite pizza in Renton, and the salad bar is downright insipid. But it's clearly much better than average pizza, the place is fun, a nice place to hang out in.
So, should I accept the challenge? Will it kill me?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

River Rock Grill and Ale House

The River Rock Grill and Ale House is the bar and restaurant associated with the Maplewood Golf Course at 4050 Maple Valley Hwy in Renton.
I'm not a golfer. I've never understood the appeal of trying to knock some little ball into a hole with a stick. I'd rather garden than golf, I'd rather bowl than golf. I'd always prefer to eat than golf. Golf represents to me not the cross section of society, but the elite secret cabal who make the rules.
Thus, I stay away from golf courses and have a mistrust of the people who go there.
So I'm loathe to admit that the River Rock Grill is pretty damned good, and a good value for what you get.
They do a great clams and mussels, an extraordinary bronzed salmon, fine burgers, and delicious coconut red curry prawns. Sandwiches include guajillo chicken, which is a lime marinated chicken breast in an adobo sauce, with roasted peppers and cheese, chipotle mayo, served with really yummy sweet potato fries. They offer good deals in the bar at happy hour.
I wish I didn't like this place. Fergawdsake, it's at a golf course.
But it's really good.
River Rock Grill
4050 Maple Valley Hwy,
Renton 425-430-0311

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Vitmar European Deli

I'd driven past this store numerous times, always with the intention that one day I'd stop in. Last week it happened, and I'm happy it did. Vitmar is a Russian store. Renton also has the Russian Euroslice Deli located within the DK Market at 7th and Lind, but Vitmar has a larger selection.
It's a fun store, and they sell stuff you don't ordinarily see. Like home made pickles, and home made pickled green tomatoes, and home made pickled apples ( sorry, I don't have the guts to try that one.)
I bought a container of the pickles, and they were awesome half sours. They also sell all kinds of cakes, chocolate, and cookies. They sell rugelach, the horn shaped filled cookies which are outrageously delicious,the crust made with butter and cream cheese.
They sell sausages, jars of red cabbage, all kinds of cheese, rye bread, and a large selection of kefir.
I'll go back for pickles soon.
4033 NE Sunset blvd
(at N Union Ave)
Renton, WA 98056
(425) 255-4671

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Google wants Renton to audition

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, announced Thursday that several cities have been selected to audition to become " wired cities", and that Renton has made the cut.
Schmidt, in a Google video conference call with Mayor Law and the council, announced that the audition process will involve having council members wearing costumes of the Google mascot, the Tyranesorus Rex, and snorting the pledge of allegiance before every meeting.
Asked for his reaction, Mayor Law said " We're grateful for the opportunity to be considered, and have already ordered dinosaur suits."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This and That...

1. The Seattle Times recently reviewed the Lakeside Bistro on Rainier, giving it 1.5 stars out of 5. I've dined there a number of times, always had great service, and never had a bad meal there. 1.5 stars? Why? Maybe the place isn't "hip" enough, maybe the walls aren't painted black, maybe the portions are too large, maybe the reviewer was depressed that she couldn't review a place in Ballard. The place is insanely good, and a particularly great deal for lunch and happy hour.

2. Armando's also has good happy hour prices from 3-6, and the place is always pleasant to hang out in.

3. The Renton Reporter is sponsoring a " Renton's best 2010 contest", and the categories include real estate agent. Although Freakazoid Freddy is my blogger name, Ira Sacharoff is my real estate agent name. The perennial winner of the contest is a member of the state legislature who has been selling Real Estate since World War One.
If you're so inclined, a few votes my way couldn't hurt: The Best of Renton is near the upper right on the page.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Taqueria El Asadero

I've been intending for the longest time to go to every taqueria in Renton for the great Renton taco-off, something like the Betty Crocker bake-off, but with a little more spice.
So I went to Taqueria El Asadero yesterday with the intent of getting a couple of tacos.
Didn't happen. I saw that they had Pollo Asado on the menu, and that's one of those things that's a great indicator of how a place is overall. There are a lot of places out there that serve overcooked, dried out Pollo Asado. So I had to order that.
Dang! It was exceptional. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, eight dollars including tax. Large quantity of bone in chicken that appeared to be flattened. Nothing against teriyaki, but why would you ever get teriyaki when you could get this?
I'll have to go back for a taco.

Taqueria El Asadero
314 Park Avenue N.
Renton, WA 98057

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Some brutal statistics

The plan was to go out for happy hour at Blossom Asian Bistro yesterday afternoon. But there were two signs that indicated otherwise. One was that the place was closed for the holidays. Which holidays, Christmas through President's Day?
The other sign was from the Liquor Control Board, stating that the liquor license was suspended for not having adequate lighting to check ID.
Anyway, it doesn't look too promising, but I hope Blossom reopens.
Needless to say, it's a tough industry even in the best of economic times.
Renton Hipster has been around since late 2005. Since then, approximately 63 restaurants have been reviewed. ( Hey, it's hard to count that high.)
Of those 63, 36 still exist.
In the year 2009 alone, 15 restaurants were mentioned. Of those 15, only 10 still exist.
Despite all that, new restaurants reopen, with owners confident that they won't become another statistic, and I hope they're right. I enjoy dining out, and I think that a variety of decent restaurants makes a community a much better place.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A few pizza places

I've been overdoing it a bit lately on pizza. Within the last couple of weeks I've been to four different Renton pizza places. This review does not include those places I haven't been to very recently, so it does not include some worthy competitors like Flying Pie, or Armandos, or Amante, or the Rock.
But it does include Pizza Man, 1222 Bronson Way 425-430-0066.
Pizza Man only has one or two tables, so I assume most people get the pizza to take out or be delivered. But we ate it in, and I recommend that. It's an above average quality pizza place, run by a friendly Bulgarian guy with a sense of humor. After he revealed he was Bulgarian, and I mentioned that the Amante chain was also Bulgarian owned, he said he thought there was still a few Italians left in the pizza business.
The Gourmet Vegetarian pizza was especially good.

Another worthy pizzeria is Jay Berry's Cafe, at 16341 Renton-Issaquah Rd, 425-271-1817.
Jay Berry's has a much larger menu than just pizza, and includes pasta, burgers, entree salads, and weekend breakfasts. Lunch specials include two large pizza slices with two toppings and a hefty side sald for 7.25. The pizza is a style I'd characterize as Greek American, though I don't think the owner is Greek. It's a nice crunchy crust, slightly thick, with not a lot of sauce, and a ton of melted cheesy goodness. It's not "my style" of pizza, but I appreciate it for what it is, and enjoyed the place a lot. Salad dressings include a great home made honey lemon. Friendly and fun place to hang out in.

I fairly recently reviewed the happy hour at Vinces. They have a Renton location at 2815 Sunset Blvd NE, 425-226-8180. Vince's is a small chain, and the original branch still exists just north of Renton in Seattle's Rainier Beach area. Vince's in Rainier Beach has been around since the 1950's. Vince's continues to bake far better than average pizza. The crust is especially good, as are the prices.

Last but not least, I can't forget about Angelo's, at 3809 NE 4th ST, 425-228-7415.
There are a couple of pizzas I like better in Seattle, but Angelo's is seriously awesome pizza. Just the right mix of puffy, crusty, bready, but fairly thin crust, with an assertive, delicious sauce.They're not afraid of garlic here. This is " my kind" of pizza, but it's also the kind of place where I have absolutely no willpower. It's a good thing I don't live nearby, I'd weigh 500 pounds.
Great, friendly service. Red plastic checkerboard tablecloths, and good Greek salad.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Best Happy Hour Food

I just came back from Vince's Pizza in Rainer Beach. It's got to have one of the best happy hour food deals in the Seattle area. You have to dine in the lounge to get the happy hour deal, but dang! Huge antipasto for 2.99. Large plates of pasta for 2.99. Microbrew or import beer for 2.50. 8 inch pizza with pepperoni, sausage, or mushroom for 2.99, all available from 4-6 PM weekdays.
Vince's may be Seattle's oldest pizzeria, having started at this location in 1957. It's also much better than average pizza. The same owners own Pulicinella Pizza on Rainier Avenue, their " authentic" Neapolitan pizza joint. I've eaten there. I like it.
But for my money, I prefer the crust at Vince's ( does that make me a non cultured slob?), and the prices. I've been to Blossom Asian Bistro for happy hour, as well as the Lakeside Bistro, and like them both. Anywhere else I should go?
8824 Renton Ave S.
Seattle, WA 98178 206-722-2116

Monday, January 11, 2010

What? Soda isn't healthy?

I admit it. I have a thing for diet soda. At home, it's usually Diet Rite from a can, and in restaurants it's often Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi from the fountain.
I'm under no illusions. I realize that after going for a buffet meal and downing ten thousand calories, the Diet Coke will not magically dissolve away all those calories.
Still, if you can't count on a chemical laden soda to be safe and healthy, what can you consume?
Alfalfa sprouts were implicated in an e coli episode, and so were organic fruit juices.
But soda?...Yes.
A recent study in Virginia found that 48% of the soda dispensed from fountains contained fecal bacteria.
I haven't stopped drinking fountain soda since I read the study. Bad habits die hard, and it's awfully hard to turn down a free refill of a fecal bacteria laden soda.