Bright Lights, Little City

Finally, a West Seattle hot spot.

West Seattle has more than its fair share of karate studios, dentist offices, beauty parlors, churches, and really awesomely weird mid-century modern apartment building architecture. What West Seattle hasn't haduntil nowis a decent place to hang out and have some drinks. Sure, there are sports bars with bad cover bands and the odd dive bar here and there; but what if you want to impress a first date, or drink something pink and fruity when your friends come to visit from the other side of town? Just off the junction, West 5 is a long-overdue meeting place for West Seattle's mid-30s social set. Stylish almost to the point of exaggeration (or maybe that's just how it seems, wedged between a boarded-up Hallmark shop and the natural pet-supply store), the just slightly upscale, old-school-cool vibe is belied by West 5's moderately priced menu. Nothing on the regular menu goes for more than 10 bucks. Even their token "spendy" entrée, a juicy and flavorful lemon chicken with couscous, is only $9.50. On the other end of the scale, the Sloppy Joe ($7.50 with coleslaw or potato salad) is heavy on red peppers and an awful lot like those Manwich sandwiches from your youthand I mean that in a good way. There are a couple of country-style sandwiches to choose from, too, and several more entrées, but the Astral mac 'n' cheese seems to be the house favorite. It's $7 for a meal or $4 for a side, and either way, it's gooey and decadentand you can almost single out all five kinds of cheese. The specials are almost always right on; the roast pork loin with polenta and mushroom gravy ($12.95) was delicious. Desserts are great, too; the Split Banana ($4.50) is a hunk of fresh banana bread topped with Husky brand vanilla ice cream, rum caramel sauce, and a big, fat, sliced-up banana. And as for fruity and pink, West 5 is as much a bar as it is a restaurant. The tall, retro-upholstered stools and big bowling-alley booths make for good late-night conversation locations, the big table in the back with the '60s-style wheeled chairs around it is perfect for a medium-sized birthday gathering, and the bartenders always seem happy (as much as bartenders ever seem happy) to mix you up one of their special drinks. If fruity and pink isn't exactly your thing, maybe West 5's Cappuccino Martini ($6.50) has your number, and if not, they're smart enough to stock a few decent, cheap beers here, too. See you there.

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