[eat] lunch at the harbor cafe

It’s not very often that I discover something completely new in Seattle. In most cases, if I haven’t personally been there, I’ve at least heard about it. However, on Friday, I was completely shocked to find that I’ve been missing out on a pretty bomb-dot-com lunch spot in downtown Seattle.

After giving blood and going to the Central Library to write about it, I was RAVENOUS for anything- except a sandwich. I was also confined to about a three-block radius in downtown Seattle – anything between Pike and University, 4th and 6th Avenues. (“Confined” is a bit extreme – I was too lazy to go any further than that, okay?) I took to Yelp for a map of what my options might be near 5th & Union, and there, listed as result #5 was the Harbor Cafe – a casual lunch spot categorized as “Asian fusion” with a 4-star average and food under $10. It was exactly what I wanted – but how come I had never heard of it before?

I’ll tell you why: it’s because it’s located in the lobby of an office building, far enough back that you can’t smell any food wafting out of the doors. It’s located between Union and Pike on 4th Avenue, in the same building as a tiny little jewelry shop. There IS a sign out front but I’d never noticed it before because I have very little need for anything on this particular block, save for the Office Depot. I actually had to do a little Google Street-viewing to figure out exactly which building to enter.

Once I got in the building, I walked straight back to where a “Daily Specials” board was set up and several people appeared to be waiting in line. The restaurant itself is little more than a counter with a little kitchen behind it – not quite like a cafeteria as the ambiance is slightly nicer and super clean. I felt great about it and like I was discovering something totally secret. In fact, I have no idea why you’d ever know about this place unless a) you worked in the building, or b) someone like me told you about it.

To the right is the main counter and menu board with about 20-25 different options, and to the left are about 9 or 10 tables – the whole place couldn’t possibly seat more than 20 people. A SUPER friendly woman waited to take my order. She seemed to know almost every person in line and even said, “oh you must be new” to me when I placed my order. She thanked me for finding out about them and coming in, and gave me a catering menu with their website.

I chose to order Friday’s special, the Panang Chicken. It was a bit of a panic order, but I felt like if it was a “special” than they must do it pretty well. And like I said, I was so hungry that it didn’t really matter what I ordered. I was pleasantly surprised that it was only about $7.75 and that since I chose to dine-in, they would go so far as to bring it to my table.

I was even MORE surprised to find that it was totally delicious! I’m always worried about bad bites in chicken, but this dish had none! Each bite of chicken was tender and delicious and the panang sauce was really yummy and the veggies were crisp and there was the perfect amount of rice – all in all, the makings of a really solid plate of food – and boy was the price right!

This entire experience has led me to wonder what other delightful, cheap and delicious lunch options exist inside the high-rise buildings in Downtown Seattle? I highly doubt that the options will come with such great customer service but I look forward to finding out and sharing with you!

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