Restaurant Review

All this talk about legislation at the Capitol has me thinking of the fine places to eat in Olympia.  If a lobbyist is footing the bill, there are lots of places to spend serious money on a great meal.  That said, there are lots of good options for those of us paying our own way.  One favorite is Wagner’s European Bakery and Café (1013 Capitol Way S, Olympia, WA - ).  They do breakfast and lunch, and have a pretty darn impressive pastry case.  My usual scenario for visiting Olympia involves bugging some legislators, and then feeling a bit like I need to get out of all the grandeur and suits and ingratiation, and wandering the Capitol grounds, then heading the 2 blocks down the hill to Wagner’s.  If it is lunch time, I’ll get a grilled sandwich– why is cheese so much better when it is melted?  I like the Italian melt, although the grilled vegetarian was a mainstay for years.  They have decent salads, too.  But the bakery is what the place is known for.  A post-advocacy sweet always goes down well, somehow.  They do everything from simple carrot cake (which they are known for) to some impressive wedding cakes.  And tarts and donuts and pies and cookies and eclairs – I do like the eclairs.  The atmosphere is spot on – a nice, open, welcoming space, with plenty of charm.  It is also an easy spot to bring the kids – they are welcome and accommodated.  The Olympia Children’s Museum used to be like a block away, so this was always a destination not just post-lobbying, but post-play as well.  I’ve never disliked Tacoma’s Children’s Museum, but my kids never stayed engaged long there.  But the Olympia Children’s Museum is amazing – totally worth the trip; I could spend all day playing with their water table alone.  It seems like all of their exhibits appeal to lots of different ages, so you can tromp around with toddlers and 5th graders and each room has something that will engage them (and me too, thankfully).  Sadly, the Museum moved a good bit away from its original location, so it is a bit more than a walk to get from the museum to pastry nirvana.  But you could still make a stop on your way home.  Anyway, hitting Wagner’s after your Olympia work or play is done is a great way to inject some calm happiness into your afternoon.

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