Restaurant Review

When it comes to restaurants, I’m a fan of looking at the whole package.  While it is nice to find utterly amazing food, a serene setting, and sweet memories all in one package, these are few and far between (but you can find them - if you’re ever in Ashland Oregon, grab some friends, a substantial wad of dough, make some reservations, and dart a few minutes out of town to have a meal at New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro - – I still remember this one lamb dish from like 25 years ago – my wife’s aunt and I still talk about that merlot reduction sauce…).  Usually you’ll have to compromise on something.  While I do appreciate good food, it is usually the setting and the memories that draw me back to places - I’d rather not compromise on those.  One place with a good mix of all three is a little diner in West Seattle called the Luna Park café ( - 2918 SW Avalon Way, Seattle, WA  98126).  It is nearly under the West Seattle Bridge, and not a spot I probably would have stumbled across except for a roommate of my wife’s worked there in the early 90’s (I think her roommate’s family owned it or something).  Anyway, we started going there to see her friend, and have kept going over the years.  The café is a gem.  It is a classic diner, with a meld of 50’s pop nostalgia and hipster tendencies (before being a hipster place was, well, hip).  The place is decorated with memorabilia from the old amusement park on Alki beach from the 1900’s.  It has a 50’s jukebox with the original tableside wallboxes – where you can put a coin in and pick a song on the juke box from the comfort of your booth.  The food is better than you’d expect, with truly superb milkshakes.  Like, really, really good milkshakes.  Even the vegan milkshake is worth the calories.  I like their BLT, but I wander around the menu quite a bit.  Every menu option can be made a bit naughtier with some grilled onions or jalepenos or a fried egg (although I’ve never quite warmed up to the whole fried egg on a burger thing).  And Luna’s hipster edge has produced the best vegetarian and vegan menu options I’ve bumped into in a diner.  They do breakfast all day as well, but I’ve never tried it.  I typically hit Luna’s after a day in Seattle.  Often, when I’ve wandered through a museum or two, seen some friends, caught a ball game, or just been doing the downtown Seattle thing, I hit a point where I’m a bit peckish and all done with Seattle’s crowds.  If I have the car, I’ll set out south on 1st Ave or the Alaska Way Viaduct, pop onto the West Seattle Bridge, and bam, I’m out of the City and at the Luna Park Café.  Last time I was there I had a some friends from Japan on their first trip to the US (well, they’d been to Hawaii, but, like most of my Japanese friends, they consider Hawaii an extension of Japan).  After waiting in line a ridiculous time to get a coffee from the original Starbucks in the PikePlace market (apparently the line was a big part of the fun for Yoshi and Yuki), I thought they’d appreciate dinner in a diner.  I couldn’t have been more right.  It was exactly the way they thought an American diner should be.  I tried to explain that Luna’s food is rather above average, but they were too busy soaking the place in.  The wait staff at Luna Park really seem like they enjoy their work, and it gives the place a lovely glow – something worth coming back for time and time again.  Next time you’re exiting the Emerald City, you might consider a slight detour on your way home. 

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