If you could dream up the ideal corner market for your neighborhood, what would it look like? Pantry staples—some good-quality olive oil, dried beans, pints of Ben & Jerry’s, that kind of stuff—are essential. Produce is a bonus. Wine and baguettes would be lovely.
If we’re really allowed to dream, how about hot rotisserie chickens ($12.99 whole), pizzas fired to order, a full espresso bar, deli sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies and take-home slices of lasagna? Carla Leonardi, owner of Italian restaurant and Montlake institution Cafe Lago, has opened just such a magical market in the Portage Bay neighborhood, in the space that briefly housed Ericka Burke’s Canal Market. Little Lago is not a full-scale restaurant, and Leonardi is quick to clarify that it never will be. But it’s exactly the kind of place we’d all like to have within walking distance from home: somewhere to pick up a few ingredients on the way home, or sit down at the custom bar to enjoy a roasted mushroom and Taleggio pizza ($12) hot from the Wood Stone oven. You’ll be treated like a friend and neighbor because, after all, Leonardi lives in the ’hood. Portage Bay, 2919 Fuhrman Ave. E; 206.922.3324; littlelago.com