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For the best Caribbean sandwiches in Seattle, eat at Bongos

Adiós Paseo’s, Bongos Caribbean Cafe has a sandwich worthy of a cult following

Bongos offers sandwiches and Caribbean plates that are hefty and tangy. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Bongos offers sandwiches and Caribbean plates that are hefty and tangy. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Enough whining about Paseo’s. For me, Paseo’s was never a religious experience like so many others claimed when the doors abruptly closed. It’s time for you to move on to my favorite Hot Spot, a hidden spot that offers Caribbean sandwiches and plates that I think are BETTER than Paseo’s. Yes, I said it.

My critique of Paseo’s is that its sandwiches were too wet and messy, with the ingredients often sliding out of the bun and landing on the saturated paper before you caught them in your mouth. The problem – you couldn’t enjoy the combination of flavors with each bite. It just wasn’t worth the long wait that took up half of your lunch hour before you’d even placed an order. The media craze when Paseo’s closed was over the top with television coverage, numerous newspaper stories and blogs describing eaters coveted the restaurant and mourning its closure.

Even before Paseo’s closed in Fremont and Ballard neighborhoods about a month ago, I had found my favorite hot spot this summer called Bongos, at 6501 Aurora Ave. N., Seattle.

Bongos is a causal joint full of character and color. The restaurant is actually a food truck connected to a building right off Aurora Avenue, across from Green Lake. Step inside for a sandwich and be surrounded by bright colors or sit outside on patio chairs in the sand once summer returns.

I ordered the 1 a.m. sandwich, that costs $8, and plunged into the large saba roll with citrus braised pork, ham, swiss cheese, cucumbers, cilantro and stone mustard aioli. The sandwich is loaded with flavor, tender pork and the crunch of cucumber.

But if you want to order the total package, I recommend the BART, which is technically not on the menu. It’s a combination of the Desi and the 1 a.m. sandwiches. It’s named after Bart, a pastor who orders the combination of two sandwiches during his weekly visit to the restaurant. Each bite has a hefty amount of pork and ham with pickled jalapenos and banana peppers that are tamed by cucumbers and carmelized onions.
Quench your thirst with a bottle of pop, beer or cider and then let the owner tell you about his world travels.
I recommend maduros, ripened sweet black plantains, as a side if you have a large appetite. The staff is friendly and helpful.

Open for lunch and dinner everyday except Mondays.

Paseo’s is set to reopen soon with a new owner, but I say forget about it and embrace Bongos. Compare them and tell me your favorite.
Bongos on Urbanspoon