I just finished a nine-month evening program at UW. Every Wednesday before class, I ate at a different restaurant in the U District. Brief reviews of all of them.
Thai Tom: It's more fun watching them frantically prepare the so-so (if pleasantly spicy) Thai food than it is to eat it, but the show is probably worth at least one visit.
Thanh Vi: The pho is supposed to be good, but the vermicelli bowl was lacking in just about everything but vermicelli (for example, sauce to make the noodles taste like something).
Ugly Mug: The "California BLT" isn't anything wildly exciting (want to guess what "California" means?), but it is huge for the price. I would probably return to try one of the Asian-seeming sandwiches.
Garam Masala: Cheap Indian food as far as Seattle goes, although not a great bargain relative to the rest of the Ave. Decent, but not life-changing.
Burger Hut: The Burger Hut Special is a bit over-the-top, but I regret nothing. The window seat is a good place for people-watching.
Malabar: Gone. Chilie's was better anyway.
Ruby: Sort of an upscale version of a standard Ave restaurant. Decent curry, but LOUD thanks to all of the concrete.
BBQ Chicken: The preparation method is great, but they waste it on the cheapest, ugliest chicken they can find. I noticed a lot of Korean dishes on the menu, so I may give that a try at some point.
Shalimar: "Spicy" really means spicy here, but the spicy chicken korma's other flavors mostly disappeared under the heat (if they were there in the first place).
Northwest Fish and Chips: Succeeds at its namesake, which is important. Not all that expensive, either.
Lounjin: If you manage to show up when it's actually open, they have good ramen (curry and miso).
Samir's: Like Cedars across the street, but tastier overall.
Chili's: Pretty good South Indian food, but you'd better not expect much as far as atmosphere is concerned.
Shawarma King: Probably the best Middle Eastern place on the Ave. Yum.
Bratz: I'd already been here but cheated and visited on a day I'd left work early. Probably my favorite place in the U District, and maybe yours, too, if you like German sausage and schnitzel.
Korean Tofu House: Delicious banchan, tasty soup. Probably the best Korean option in the Ave.
Samurai Noodle: They really blew it with the service during their opening, but things are probably better now. I wasn't that impressed by the tampopo ramen's broth, but I keep seeing specials in the window that make me consider visiting again.
Jimmy John's: It's really as fast as people say, and it's certain better than Subway. That counts for something.
Tokyo Garden: It's owned by Nepalese folks, so you can order momos. I ate at Himalayan Heritage in DC a few weeks later and, well, this place isn't as good.
Utopia Cafe: Gone. Drat.
Chipotle: I have to admit that the contents of my burrito were decent...I just wish there had been a more favorable filling to tortilla ratio.
Green House: Another actual Korean restaurant. Not as good as Korean Tofu House, but cheaper.
Po Dog: The wasabi dog, fries, and Mexican Coke were at least as expensive as a similar meal at Shultzy's despite the lack of table service, homemade sausage, or even real plates and utensils. Po Dog's fries are better, though.
Hurricane Spud: Gone, apparently. Making a meal of a pornado and a corn dog was not a good idea.
Madeleine: I don't think the person who made my sandwich had ever made a sandwich before, but I have to admit that the flavors (and the use of really unhealthy Asian bread) almost made up for the sloppiness of my chile chicken sandwich.
Orange King: Not as good a burger as Burger Hut, but getting dukboki instead of fries was fun.
OK Noodle (formerly Bangkok Noodle, What the Phad, Veggie Veggie...): The bean thread noodles were tasty, and the price was reasonable. I'd go back.
Taqueria Mi Charrito: The menu suggests quality, but they don't seem to try very hard. I can't imagine the average UW student is very particular about Mexican food.
Agree? Disagree? What are your favorite places in the U District?