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Friday, April 2, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Dining Deals

You don't know Monterey Jack about sandwiches till you try Smarty Pants

Special to The Seattle Times

Smarty Pants


6017 Airport Way S., Seattle; 206-762-4777

Sandwiches

$

Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Mondays-Saturdays.

Full bar / credit cards: MC, V / smoking permitted after 4 p.m. / no obstacles to access.

Rating: recommended.

The latest in a long line of Georgetown gems, Smarty Pants grants the passer-by no irresistible invitation off the sidewalk, no fanfare from the street. It's easy to drive by, in fact, unless you happen to know it's just a stone's throw south of Two Tartes, or right across Airport Way from About The Music.

But don't just drive by, not under any circumstances, because if you do you'll have to surrender your credentials as a Seattle insider — not to mention miss one of the best sandwiches in this or any city.

The place oozes urban sophistication, from its interior scheme of raw brick and saturated wall color to its plentifully stocked bar, but the real measure of its savoir faire lies in its deceptively simple menu.

Ah yes, standard appetizers, a few salads, a long list of sandwiches: I know the kind of place, you may think. Think again. Do you really know many places offering 15 variants of sandwich on grilled French or sourdough rolls, overstuffed to bursting with thin-sliced roast beef grilled with onions, peppers, Swiss cheese and horseradish? Or two kinds of melted cheese, avocado spread, red onion and tomato? Or succulent braised pork sweetened with fresh lime juice? Or barbecue-sauced sliced chicken breast with red onion, bacon and Monterey Jack?

Well, do you?

These monsters arrive in paper-lined plastic baskets with your choice of (ordinary) tortilla chips with (extraordinary) homemade pico de gallo, or good red-potato salad. Meats are all exchangeable for something reportedly delicious that the vegetarians ominously call Field Roast. Reliable rumor has it the chili (which comes in both regular and meat-free varieties) is terrific, particularly when served over corn chips to become Frito Pie, that staple of Brady Bunch-era kitchens.

What's Frito Pie doing on the menu of a joint of this quality? Same as everything else in this intelligent surprise of a place: satisfying the heck out of anyone smart enough to order it.

Check please

The Chopper salad: Greens, red cabbage, carrot, tomato, macaroni, chicken chunks, blue cheese and bacon pieces mix it up in this comfort-filled version of the chop salad, resulting in a sort of nouveau-retro cobbaroni. Swathed in blue-cheese dressing, it's satisfying as all get-out, self-assured in its unfashionable use of the most plebeian pasta and absolutely huge — enough for two and then some.

Li'l Philly sandwich: This one's made of roast beef or chicken breast, all grilled up cheesesteak-style with a mess of onions, peppers, black pepper and Swiss cheese. (The salt shaker, alas, must have been AWOL.) Negotiating this thing into your mouth adds up to a perfect mess, but you find yourself more motivated with every bite, particularly whenever you hit a vein of horseradish sauce. Very nice with the potato salad.

Gringa sandwich: "I'm a vegetarian," declared our terrific waiter, "except for the Gringa sandwich." Indeed, this sandwich could lure any good herbivore away from her Field Roast. The world's tenderest pulled pork, refreshed with lime juice, is piled five or six stories high upon a mayo-slathered grilled French roll and embellished with lettuce and tomato. Mere words can't approach the flavor feast this is. If you've had the presence of mind to order this with the tortilla chips and pico de gallo — they call it salsa here — you can decorate your sandwich with the feisty stuff and really know bliss.

Itemized bill, meal for two

The Chopper salad $7.50

Li'l Philly sandwich $7.25

Gringa sandwich $7.25

Tax $1.93

Total $23.93

Kathryn Robinson: kathrynrobinson@speakeasy.net

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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