by Herbert David | Photo © Herbert David
Take time to get off the I-5 corridor at Olympia whether you’re going north or south. Not only is it the Washington capital, but it also has one of the best casual food scenes in the Northwest. Maybe it’s because of the free-thinking influence from Evergreen State College, but in Olympia you will find yourself eating some of the most flavorful basics from pizza to chicken pot pies, all with a delicious twist.
For breakfast visit King Solomon’s Reef in the heart of downtown at 212 4th Ave E., otherwise known as The Reef. Here they have two signature dishes. First, pressure-fried chicken atop a waffle served with either butter and syrup or gravy. Then, there is the Monte Carlo (not Cristo)—three slices of Texas toast, turkey, ham, Swiss and American cheese, dipped in egg and grilled like French toast, served with jam and cream cheese. Both are mouthwatering delights in an authentically retro diner with booths and a counter.
For a late lunch, go to Olympia’s Westside and stop at Vic’s Pizzeria at 233 Division St. NW. There are two locations, but this is the mother ship. Stand and order at the counter, a whole pizza or by the slice (I like by the slice because you can try more varieties). Can you say New York in Olympia? Well, this is the real deal. The pizza dough is made fresh daily, and their toppings are curiously creative. From the “Elvis Special” with garlic and sweet fried peppers, to the “Lovely Rita” that has sweet potato, cashews and basil pesto, your taste buds will explode with joy. And don’t forget to have a 16 oz. can of Olympia while in Rome.
To finish your food tour try Charlie’s Sports Bar & Grill at 620 E 4th Ave. You’ll walk in and find as many TVs as a Best Buy video department. Watch all your favorite teams at once. I even watched Fantasy Bass Fishing one slow night. A unique electronic sports ticker tape with scores flowing from right to left in real time sits over the bar. You’re not going to miss any action at Charlie’s. The best score is the Chicken Pot Pie. Its single crust is done to perfection and floats on top of the dish. The savory medley of herbs in this pie makes you take bite after bite. And if you are there on a Thursday night don’t miss the steak and potato special.
To learn more about visiting Olympia, go to visitolympia.com.