Ship Canal

It's something you don't hear too often in culinary circles: "Hey, let's go to Interbay for lunch." "Great. Then let's go to a toxic waste dump for dinner." True, Interbay—the industrialized gulf between Queen Anne and Magnolia traversed by 15th Avenue Northwest—is a landfill (now a golf course). Yet Interbay, particularly its northern environs around Fishermen's Terminal and Salmon Bay, is home to some of the most likable eateries in the city. Better yet, making a kind of half-circle from Interbay up toward Fremont and down the Ship Canal to Shilshole Bay, there's a grand arc of restaurants with watery views. Even hole-in-the-wall joints have glimpses of passing yachts. The Interbay arc de brasseries has its French flourishes—on the far shore lies the province of Ba'Lard, noted for its French toast and French fries—but, happily, at least in this review, no French restaurants. Rick Anderson Anthony's Homeport at Shilshole Bay I've long liked this Anthony's for its service, friendliness, views, and half-off lobster nights. The patio tables on a summer night are a great place to have a drink and appetizers and engage in the splendor of sunset—and imagine the distant runoff from the Cascades flowing to Puget Sound. Or so I like to think. The four-course Sunset Dinner menu from 4:30 to 6 p.m. daily includes a great ginger-sesame steak. R.A. 6135 Seaview Ave. N.W., 206-783-0780. $$ Bay Cafe The cafe no one knows about, but—as Yogi Berra sorta said—it's so crowded no one goes there anymore. And the reason? Quality breakfast, efficient servers, and splendid views of the docks at Fishermen's Terminal; the memorial to those who died at sea is just out the window. Service is typically quick, and breakfasts, served all day, arrive all hot and bothered (try the vegetarian or California omelets). There's a varied lunch menu, and seafood items are often fresh off the boat that day. Open seven days a week, but only until 2:15 p.m. R.A. 1900 W. Nickerson St., Fishermen's Terminal, 206-282-3435. $ Chinook's at Salmon Bay Of the two good restaurants anchoring each end of Interbay, this is the one I can afford. The southern one, Palisade at Elliott Bay Marina, has a terrific harbor view and the kind of quality food I can afford only if someone else is buying. At Chinook's I can have the blackened halibut taco, fishermen's cioppino, or alder-planked salmon without having to dig into my 401(k). Chinook's, part of the Anthony's chain, is a great clattering hall opening onto the creaking waterscape of Seattle's fishing fleet lashed to Fishermen's Terminal. I have yet to chowder down in the restaurant itself—being a pedestrian eater, I choose the wide-open bar featuring overhead TVs and drunken city officials with secrets to blab. R.A. 1900 W. Nickerson St., Fishermen's Terminal, 206-283-HOOK. $$ La Palma Family Mexican Restaurant Is this the friendliest, most efficient wait staff in town and the best Mexican food? Gets my nod. Sizzling platters rushed to your table at an authentic, unpretentious, and mostly undiscovered eatery. This is the place with the neon palm tree you drive by every day from Ballard to downtown, up on the northwest corner of Queen Anne just south of the Ballard Bridge on the east side of Interbay. Got that? The parking lot's on a steep grade and makes you walk funny, so go easy on the Pacifico. Lots of stairs inside and out, but worth the climb for the chicken fajitas and tortilla soup alone. Don't forget to bring some funny family photos to post on the wall near the door. R.A. 3456 15th Ave. W., 206-284-1001. $ Lockspot Cafe This is where I go on special occasions. Like Sunday morning. It's bacon and eggs and meat and potatoes, solid family fare with a view of the backs of the boys on the high stools at the bar, cheering the TV game and firing down hair of the dogs (once cured, they repair across the street to watch the final quarter at the Sloop Tavern). Besides the overflowing breakfast platters, try the crispy fish and chips. Lockspot is located at . . . wait for it . . . the entrance to the Ballard Locks. The clientele includes Ballard's blue collars and, every year for their birthdays, my mother-in-law and father-in-law. Well, they don't get out much. R.A. 3005 N.W. 54th St., 206-789-4865. $ Ponti Seafood Grill This is one of the memorable waterside diners, even if the view is only the other side of the Fremont Cut. At a linen- covered patio table along the busy canal, next to the Pont Fremont, it's easy to imagine you're in a Parisian riverside bistro but without having to contend with all those mean French people. Ponti's menu is extensive—roasted beef salad, rack of lamb—but its seafood fare regularly rates among the best around. Parmesan-crusted Alaskan halibut? Enough said. R.A. 3014 Third Ave. N., 206-284-3000. $$$ Ray's Cafe It's Ray's Boathouse, view and all, without the luxury tax. Casual and airy, the room above the Boathouse is banked by stone fireplaces for the winter and rimmed by a deck for the summer (both days of it) from which you can toss fries at seagulls who make Ichiro-like grabs. The menu includes seafood and pasta dishes along with salmon burgers and Thai mussels in red curry and coconut milk broth. Twenty microbrews on tap, or just slurp some beer-steamed Manila clams. The most expensive fare—the spicy saffron tomato cioppino—comes in under $17. R.A. 6049 Seaview Ave. N.W., 206-782-0094. $$ Salmon Bay Cafe Great ambience if you like parking lots. There's one out every window. But there's also a peekaboo vista of working boats and yachters passing on the canal. Nonetheless, the lines form—especially on the weekends—for the vittles. They come from and for the Fremont, Magnolia, and Ballard, those being some of the neighborhood- inspired omelet titles. Besides piles of eggs and meats, you get generous mounds of toast and fruit. Bypassing the eggs Benedict is treasonous. Be prepared: The dirty dishes are stacked in plain sight, and the noise level is like a quintuplets' birthday party. But that's the point. R.A. 5109 Shilshole Ave. W., 206-782-5539. $

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