Lucas and I arrived in Seattle on a Saturday afternoon for our ten-day Washington Vacation/Food Orgy. After checking into our hotel we began walking around the city in search of a bar to grab a drink. We found our way to Pioneer Square, Seattle’s oldest neighborhood, which is full of art galleries, book stores, antique shops, restaurants and bars.
After walking up and down the street we settled on New Orleans Creole Restaurant for a drink. Two things ruled this decision:
1. I wanted to sit outside.
2. We were beyond ready for a drink and it was right there.
As we sat outside people-watching and nursing our drinks we munched on some Prawns Remoulade to tide us over until we found a place to eat dinner. It started sprinkling lightly so we went inside to finish our drinks before heading back out into the open.
We weren’t in a hurry to do anything in particular. We walked by the water, found a super-cool hat for Lucas, walked a lot more and then decided we needed to eat soon. Two hours later we felt like we would never find the perfect restaurant … but then we walked by Pan Africa Market, looking into the windows with curiosity. Smells good? Check. Guy with awesome mohawk to give the place some edge? Check. Big table full of locals? Check. About twenty steps past the restaurant we turned around and walked in the door.
My senses were immediately bombarded with intoxicating smells, African music and soft lighting. Lucas and I smiled at each other, proud of our discovery. Pan Africa is a small restaurant – with perhaps ten tables – and we found ourselves seated in the middle. We ordered a couple of glasses of wine while we perused the menu, agonizing over what to order. We eventually narrowed it down to the Tofu Wott and Chicken Piri Piri.
We waited in stifled anticipation, watching the activity in the restaurant. The large group next to us had finished their meal and I considered begging for their scraps. The guy with the mohawk was at a table with three other guys, playing a game of cards until their huge platter of food was brought out. One single lady sat near us and we watched with mild hysteria as the waiter brought a jar of hot sauce they had made specifically for her that day. Okay, mild hysteria is a major understatement. I was two seconds away from dancing on the tables!
When our food came out I was anxious to dig in. Which is a good thing because Tofu Wott is eaten with your hands, scooping it up with pieces of Injera (Ethiopian flat, sponge-like bread). The flavors were incredible, spicy and rich. I wanted to eat all of the Tofu Wott at once, but somehow managed to turn my attention to the Chicken Piri Piri. Wow! This was one of the most provocative chicken dishes I’ve tried at a restaurant. It was spicy as well, but the flavors were much lighter than the Tofu Wott. Alongside the juicy chicken was a simple salad of mixed greens with watermelon and cucumbers. It tasted refreshing and tempered the spicy flavors of the Tofu and Chicken.
I flagged down the waiter and asked for a side of Red Lentils. Best. Idea. Ever. Easily unrivaled by any I’ve eaten. Happy little endorphins started shooting out of my ears as the perfect blend of spices seduced my taste buds.
The idea of being any happier seemed ridiculous, until we were given our bill. They are giving away food here! I was in complete post-foodgasm bliss and for once it was not ruined by post-coital regret due to exorbitant prices. High five to Pan Africa!
This was one of the top five meals of my life and I would gladly fly to Seattle to eat at Pan Africa again. I saw stars people, stars.