Today was one of those random day off holidays, so I figured it was a great opportunity to try a new recipe and a new restaurant; a perfect food day for me! I was going to try and get up this morning and check out a nice cafe or bakery, but that didn’t happen. One of these days it will, especially since there is coffee and cafe culture around here that I really have not taken advantage of. So instead, I decided on lunch.
There were three places I was debating. The first is Specialty’s Cafe, quite possibly my most favorite sandwich place, at this point. I haven’t gone since I was an intern downtown nearly four years ago, but it’s downtown, and I’ve been there before, and this is about new experiences. That left two places, Salumi and Paseo. I found out about both of these places from watching the Travel Channel, with Salumi appearing on No Reservations and Paseo on Chowdown Countdown. I decided on Paseo mostly because it was closer (and because I fully intend on going to the Metropolitan Market in 15 minutes to buy some Salumi Salami, thanks Marnie!).
When I looked up the address for Paseo, I noticed that there are two locations, and that I have driven by both of them many times since I’ve lived in Seattle. One is down on Shilshole, near Ray’s Boathouse and Anthony’s, and I drive past every time I go to Golden Gardens, at least a half dozen times every summer. The other is on Fremont Ave. I can’t count how many times I’ve driven and even walked past that location. When I arrived at 1:30 in the afternoon, there was a line out the door, and I wondered how I could have missed it so many times.
Paseo is a very non-descript restaurant. In fact, there isn’t even a sign. And don’t think about pulling out the credit card as Paseo is cash only. The line wasn’t exactly fast moving; it took about 20 minutes to get to the front to place my order. But, based on the reviews, I figured it would be worth the wait. When I finally got to the front, I simply defaulted to the most popular item, the #2 Cuban Roast, as simple combination of roast pork, caramelized onions, cilantro, and the Paseo sauce. As I was waiting for my sandwich, I was wondering why anyone would want to stay and eat in the small dining room. The place was packed, and I’m not one that really enjoys eating with a line of people bumping into me the entire time…
Ten minutes after I ordered, I left Paseo with sandwich in hand. I was hurrying to my car, so I could make it to my appointment on the Eastside. I had decided that I would wait until I got to the freeway before breaking into my sandwich. Before I got halfway there, I couldn’t take it anymore. The smell of the pork was just overwhelming, and so, I had to unwrap it and take a bite. The first bite was pretty good. The bread was nice and crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. The sauce was was excellent, and it had a nice hint of cilantro. But I realized I didn’t catch very much meat or onion. So, I took another bite. In the second bite the sandwich went from good to amazing. The pork was so juicy and flavorful complimented perfectly by the caramelized onions, jalepenos and a sauce with it’s hint of garlic (kind of like a garlic aioli). I quickly took two more bites, and was absolutely in heaven.
I can’t believe that I’ve lived in Seattle for 6 years, and this is my first trip to Paseo. The sandwich was absolutely perfect, and I will definitely be going back. I am already planning on doing the number 8, the Cuban pressed sandwich. This is a spot that I definitely recommend to anyone that has not been there. Just be sure to bring $10 in cash and your appetite.
And as to the question earlier as to why someone would dine in, I now get it…waiting to bite into that amazing sandwich (and I’m sure the other food) is pure torture.