If you think that SeaTac dining is limited to late-night bars and fast food for travelers on layovers, think again. SeaTac is brimming with dining options both old and new.

SeaTac dining hot spots showcased

By Deanna Duff

If you think that SeaTac dining is limited to late-night bars and fast food for travelers on layovers, think again. SeaTac is brimming with dining options both old and new.

On Sept. 27, Seattle Southside sponsored a daylong restaurant tour showcasing SeaTac's diverse, culinary hot spots.

Seattle Southside, a visitor services and tourism organization jointly sponsored by the cities of Tukwila, SeaTac, Kent and Des Moines, hosted the SeaTac FAM event (Familiarization Tour). It was the second outing following a successful Des Moines event earlier this year.

"We want people to know that there are plenty of dining options in SeaTac and they are diverse and delicious for any budget or palate," says Ashley Comar, Seattle Southside's marketing communications manager.

Within its modest 10 square-mile area, the city of SeaTac boasts 24 full-service restaurants (not including the airport). The area is currently experiencing a bit of a boom thanks to revitalization efforts and easier access due to the light rail.

"We (Southside Seattle) are asked all the time, 'Where is good to eat?' and it can be kind of a loaded question. To really make a qualified recommendation, you have to know a bit of everything," says Meilee Anderson, Seattle Southside's business development manager.

Participants on the FAM tour included representatives from local businesses, hotel concierges Port of Seattle volunteers and a variety of community members. From early morning to late afternoon, they visited eight restaurants spanning the length of SeaTac and sampling the diverse offerings.

"We chose to feature restaurants that reflected the range of prices and options available in the area," says Anderson.

The first stop, SeaTac's legendary The Pancake Chef, 15215 Military Rd. S., is not only a local mainstay, but also one of the oldest breakfast spots in the region. Opened in 1959, it existed long before SeaTac was even a city.

"We wanted to keep the 1950s look," says Loren Sisley, the owner of The Pancake Chef since 1974. The family-friendly restaurant is part of the fabric of the area with a cadre of loyal customers. In addition to their signature German pancakes and homemade muffins, fresh-squeezed orange juice is a specialty. A large, electric orange juicer sits in the middle of the restaurant.

"We go through about 14 cases of oranges a week," says Sisley, estimating the amount to be around 1,700 oranges.

Now celebrating its 32-year anniversary 13 Coins, 18000 International Blvd. S., is another restaurant that embodies the longstanding traditions of SeaTac.

"Many of our customers are friends at this point," says Kassadra McGregor, executive chef. "We know each other by our first names."

13 Coins completed a renovation in April 2010, but is intent on maintaining what made them successful - open 24 hours, 365 days a week, 192 menu items and pride in being part of the Puget Sound community.

"We've raised it to another level during the past two or three years," says Al Moscatel, part owner of 13 Coins. "We're getting back to the original roots."

Moscatel is deeply rooted in the Northwest and locally renowned for his high school and University of Washington basketball careers. Those ties are evident through regular promotions and discounts for U.W. fans -- and, to be fair, Washington State and Seattle University, too.

The old adage of "make new friends, but keep the old" is well applied to SeaTac. In addition to culinary cornerstones such as The Pancake Chef and 13 Coins, there has been a recent influx of new eateries.

Mango Thai Cuisine and Bar, 18613 International Blvd. S., opened this past summer and is located in the new WallyPark complex next to Sea-Tac Airport's entrance. Pack Suchoknand co-owns Mango with his daughter, NatiraSuchoknand.

Suchoknand picked the area because it seemed like a burgeoning business district. He has since learned that the area was not always as desirable, but is currently on the upswing thanks to new establishments such as his own.

"People are really happy that we're here," Suchoknand says. "We really care about our food."

Likewise, Copperleaf Restaurant at Cedarbrook Lodge, 18525 36th Ave. S., has quickly become a star of SeaTac's dining community. Opened in 2010, the restaurant is headed by Executive Chef Mark Bodinet, formerly of the famed French Laundry in California's Napa Valley.

Copperleaf and Cedarbrook have consistently received national recognition for being one of the best places to stay and eat in the nation. Situated on 18 acres of restored wetlands, it is peaceful and never betrays the hubbub of International Boulevard, which is only blocks away. An on-site chef's garden provides fresh herbs and in-season vegetables. Almost all other ingredients are sourced within 150-200 miles to guarantee freshness and to support local growers. The food is refined, yet accessible, and unfailingly delicious.

"We are creating a new paradigm of hospitality that is devoted to sustainable practices," says Roy Breiman, culinary director.

In addition to polished dining options, Copperleaf regularly sponsors culinary events such as Fridays on the Farm, a weekly opportunity to sample local farm products prepared by Chef Bodinet, and seasonal events such as the recent Heirloom Tomato Fair and Lamb Jam Tour.

"I love that they are making farmers into rock stars," says Anderson of Seattle Southside. For more information on SeaTac's dining options or restaurants in Des Moines and Tukwila, visit SeattleSouthside.com.


Source: http://www.highlinetimes.com/2011/10/11/news/seatac-dining-hot-spots-showcased