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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




Best breakfast sandwich combines basil, avocado and egg

Basil Avocado Breakfast Sandwich

Basil and avocado add a twist to an egg breakfast sandwich. This is an easy recipe, perfect for one person.

Wondering what to do with that fresh basil from the garden or the bunch you picked up from the farmer’s market? Some think of using basil for Italian dishes like pesto and caprese, which is great, but there are so many other ways to use basil. When I think of basil, I think of breakfast. I created this breakfast sandwich because it’s easy to make and perfect for one person. And if you have a morning visitor, it’s just as simple to make two of them.

I combined basil from my garden with one of my favorite foods – avocado. As a single gal, I usually have two avocados on hand. I recommend you buy one that’s soft and ripe and another that’s very firm. That way, every couple of days you’ll have an avocado to play with in the kitchen. I justify my love of the avocado with the fact that it is a heart-healthy food with monounsaturated fat and potassium. Now if only we could grow avocados in the Pacific Northwest.

I know you’ll find this breakfast sandwich rich and satisfying. For me, it was the perfect weekend breakfast on my warm, sunny porch.

Hot in the Kitchen

Basil Avocado Egg Breakfast Sandwich

Add basil to egg as it is frying in the pan.

1 tablespoon chopped basil

Half of ripe avocado mashed

1 English muffin (two slices)

1 egg

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

As you fry an egg in coconut oil, sprinkle chopped basil on top. Add salt and pepper. As egg is cooking ‘sunny side up,’ toast muffin slices. Spread mayonnaise on one slice of toasted muffin. Mash slices of avocado on the other slice of muffin. Place medium cooked egg in between slices.