The bright pink building doesn’t look like much. It’s a bit ramshackle with an untended parking strip. There’s a large tagged commercial freight container sitting behind it and it’s surrounded by a parking lot that’s partially paved but mostly gravel and dirt. But the line stretching across the front of the building might make you look twice and think that there’s more to the story than meets the eye. And you’d be right.
Paseo, the beloved Fremont institution serving Cuban sandwiches and meals opened a second location in Ballard or, more specifically, on Seaview Avenue along Shilshole Bay a few months ago. This was my first trip to the new spot. Since it was a holiday weekend I thought I’d time my lunch visit after core hours and I’m glad I did! When I arrived about 2:00pm I joined the queue of more than a dozen people patiently waiting to place their order.
The menu is the same here as in Fremont and there are two large menu boards posted on the side of the building so you can make your decision while you wait. The line moved at a irregular pace. Sometimes stopping for a few minutes but mostly moving forward in fits and jags. When I got to the front of the line the reason for the pauses became apparent. The guy taking orders was also bagging and handing out the completed orders, as well as running back and forth to the stock room to grab napkins or utensils or whatever they were running short of at the moment. He actually did a good job of keeping all the balls in the air and keeping the line flowing.
There are a few stools along the front counter and a picnic table off to the side of the building but, as with the Fremont location, taking your food to go is the best option. After receiving my order I walked north and grabbed a bench in the marina. Sitting in the sun with my Roast Cuban sandwich, watching boat owners loading their boats for the weekend and sipping a warm diet coke (apparently not enough time to chill properly at the pace they were handing them out) was a satisfying way to spend a holiday afternoon.
My sandwich could hardly be eaten as a sandwich as stuffed as it was with chunks of slow-roasted, marinated pork, super-sweet caramelized onions, jalapenos, lettuce, cilantro and their special seasoned sauce. This is definitely not a first date place! I think these sandwiches define the word messy. But they are worth every napkin you’ll use while eating them. As with the Fremont location they occasionally run out of items. While I was placing my order I heard them trying to decide if they were going to run out of rolls for the sandwiches. In past visits to the Fremont location I’ve had that happen and had to "settle" for one of the really good meals they also serve. Don’t know if they made it through the day or not. I was just happy that they had enough to fill my order.
6226 Seaview Ave NW