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The SQ food review

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The SQ food review

Sean Quinn, Staff Reporter

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I consider myself a “foodie,” which is a way to describe someone with a larger-than-life passion for food and restaurant culture, without the credentials of a chef. As a foodie, I’ve made it a goal to visit new restaurants and cafes throughout the five years I’ve lived here. Believe it or not, Ellensburg has a very unique and diverse food scene, not very typical for a smaller sized town. From Mexican to Japanese food, with the occasional burger place mixed in, this college town has a lot to choose from when it comes to dining. This is a list of five food places I recommend to help you discover some hidden gems.

 

FAVORITE SIT-DOWN RESTAURANT: THE RED PICKLE

 

My favorite sit-down restaurant, right in the heart of downtown Ellensburg is The Red Pickle. Scroll through their Yelp Page and you will see it’s not just hype; The Red Pickle is a restaurant overwhelmed with five-star ratings, and for good reason. What originally started as a food truck outside of Whipsaw Brewery has become a booming, fun and inviting restaurant. There are many unique dishes at this place but I personally recommend their burgers, like the Gauchito or the Super Gaucho. Don’t forget the rosemary fries on the side. The Red Pickle is also known for their smoking mixed drinks–such as their smoked maple manhattan.When you arrive, you are almost guaranteed to be greeted by owner Mario Alfaro Lopez. His outgoing and friendly nature has paid off as it continues to bring back numerous customers like community resident Laci Harrison.

“Mario is always so personable and enthusiastically wants feedback from his customers. It’s been great to watch his business grow and expand,” Harrison said.

Alfaro Lopez has gained recognition for his efforts. He won the 2019 Excellence on Main Award, also known as the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Washington State Main Street Program.

 

FAVORITE BRUNCH: THE EARLY BIRD CAFE

At first glance, when you drive by this breakfast joint on Water Street it looks like the front porch at a local’s house. However, when you step inside you are greeted by something much more unique: a small yet warm cafe with a cashier greeting you with a smile. At this cafe, you order your food and beverage beforehand and you seat yourself. The most unique aspect to this cafe has to be the outdoor patio. It is filled to the brim with green flora surrounding large wooden picnic tables. Although, not your average breakfast place featuring pancakes or French toast, this calm spot features other tasty items like biscuits and gravy, a savory waffle and avocado toast. I personally enjoyed the scramble bowl, which was better than most omelets I’ve ever had a chance to try. On a sunny, warm summer morning, there really is no better place to sit outside and enjoy a nice brunch.

FAVORITE DESSERT PLACE: UTOPIA FROZEN YOGURT AND COFFEE HOUSE

When you first walk through the doors of Utopia Frozen Yogurt and Coffee House, one could assume it’s just a place to get a nice bowl of frozen yogurt on a hot day. However, walk a few more steps toward the back and you find out the place is also an established cafe. On one end, you get eight different frozen yogurt flavors to choose from along with over a dozen of toppings. On the other end, different small bites like breakfast sandwiches, bagels, box meals and drinks like coffee, summer drinks and even smoothies. With the frozen yogurt bowls being 47 cents per ounce, it’s considerably affordable for a nice after-dinner dessert. One frequent customer by the name of Tom Harbaugh appreciates the growth of Utopia from dessert place to full-fledged cafe.

“I’ve seen Utopia really grow with the student population in the last few years. They went from being a humble little soft serve place to a full-blown cafe. They get really creative with the food that they serve too,” Harbaugh said.

Everyone has their own individual flavors they like, but I usually go with the vanilla topped with Oreo cookies and chocolate chips. You can never have too much chocolate!

 

FAVORITE LATE NIGHT SNACK: HOT DIGGITY DOG

Parked on the corner of Third Ave. and Main Street, Hot Diggidy Dog is only open late on Friday and Saturday nights. Similar to what you’d get outside a typical American baseball stadium, these hot dogs come with different toppings. As someone who hails from Seattle, I consider the art of crafting a true Seattle Dog a special kind of talent. The right mix of cream cheese and sautéed onions determines the quality of the Seattle Dog. I get Hot Diggidy Dog’s version every time I visit here, and have always left stuffed and satisfied. Frequent customer Logan Kral had this to say about the only hot dog-specific spot in town.

“[It’s] one of the only places to grab a bite to eat after 10 p.m. in town that’s not the usual fast food. Many topping choices and a friendly staff round out this excellent option for getting your meat fix well into the night,” Kral said.

 

FAVORITE FOREIGN CUISINE: KIKU-CHAN JAPANESE RESTAURANT

When you come from the westside of the mountains like I do, you’re used to being within a short distance of a massive variety of foreign food delicacies to choose from. In Ellensburg, we are fortunate enough to have such a large number of food options to choose from that isn’t your typical burger shack or barbeque restaurant. Out of the many places I sampled, only one place stood out for its convenient proximity to CWU’s campus, as well as friendly staff and quality non-American food. That place is Kiku-Chan, which serves Japanese food, from sushi to bento boxes, to teriyaki and yakisoba. Those who are familiar with Asian restaurants in the larger cities will appreciate this smaller, more comfortable and quieter sit-down cafe. Prices vary but most entrees are around 10 bucks. Alongside the food you can also drink sake, a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage you can only realistically get at this type of a restaurant.

 

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