When Seattle finally scored its first location of beloved international burger chain Shake Shack (South Lake Union) in October, customers were lined up out the door and around the corner, all waiting to try the famous ShackBurger ($5.79). The smashed-patty-style burger, pressed down into the griddle for maximum browning (and thus flavor) and served on a potato bun with cheese, lettuce, tomato and “ShackSauce,” is a paragon of old-school simplicity. But the restaurant itself is not: The space is bright and modern; food orders are given via app or in-store kiosk; and alerts of completed orders arrive via text message.
Shake Shack’s burger, along with other classic burgers, inspired chef Megan Coombes (also of Altstadt) while she was designing the menu for Meg’s Hamburgers (Pioneer Square), which she opened with business partner Lex Petras in November. Meg’s, with an aesthetic distinctly different from Shake Shack’s, brings old-school burger joint vibes to both its feel and its food. The deluxe burger—analogous to the ShackBurger—comes with special sauce, ketchup, lettuce, onions and pickles ($5). When served among the broad blue booths and bright yellow tables of Meg’s, the burger seems a bit more at home here. And while there’s no reason to choose between them—smashed burgers are affordable enough to sample them all—the french fries cooked in beef fat ($3) make the case for Meg’s.
PASS THE PARMESAN: G.H. Pasta Co,'s handmade pastas draw long lines at lunchtime
In the vein of Seattle’s lunchtime line king Il Corvo, chef Brian Clevenger (of Le Messe, Vendemmia and more) opened G.H. Pasta Co. in October (Denny Triangle). Dishes like fusilli with walnut pesto, root vegetables and pecorino ($11) are slightly more complicated and expensive than the super-simple staples at Il Corvo, but G.H.’s big flavors and house-extruded pasta have bred similarly long lines stretching out the door.
That same simplicity also drives what chef Sun Hong has been doing since November at By Tae (Capitol Hill), in Chophouse Row. Each weekday, the eight seats fill and refill with diners enjoying Hong’s Japanese omakase-esque set menu ($25). Three hand rolls, handed over directly for diners to eat immediately before the nori loses its crunch, are interspersed with a few additional small dishes to offer lunch prices with dinner values.
Not so simple is the menu for Nana’s Green Tea (South Lake Union), where endless variations of lattes and ice creams are on offer. The Japanese chain arrived in Seattle in November to much excitement about its soft-serve sundaes, but for nearby workers on their lunch breaks, the real revelation came in Nana’s savory dishes, such as the rich, balanced Japanese curry over crispy karaage ($13). And the best part about Nana’s hot lunches is that they’re available as dinner, too.