I thought a logical companion piece to Tom Armitage's thread on overrated places would be to focus on the opposite end of the spectrum. What are the most unheralded, forgotten, overlooked restaurants that deserve much more attention. In these difficult economic climes, a little dose of well-deserved notice might really make a difference.
I'll start, then, with a few:
El Quetzal: I've never been dissapointed in this D.F. style Mexican spot on Becaon Hill. The pambazos, the tlayudas, the tortas, everything bright with flavor and in ample portions. Plus nothing there is more than $12.
Brasa: Granted, this place has an older 4-star review from the Times' critic, but I feel like I'm the only person that ever mentions it on this board lately, even for "dinner for one?" and "downtown happy hour?" type of posts. I've found its food to be really well-done Iberian-inspired fare, and you can't quibble with the HH values at the bar: $8 paella; $6 curried mussels, etc.
Cafe Mawadda: toiling in obscurity south of Hillman City, the Iraqi cook-owner of this place turns out the best falafel AND the best chai in Seattle IMO, both recipes apparently closely held secrets. The grilled meat sandwiches and platters are also very good, and there is a formidable creamy garlic dressing on the side. He also bothers to use an actual gyro spit, instead of the shameful frozen strips that are slung at most of the well-known pan-middle east budget spots in town (and even at St. Demetrios, by Zeus!) For dessert he plies a selection of phyllo-based sweets including Iraqi varieties that I've never seen elsewhere. Give him a shot!
4433 S Graham St, Seattle, WA 98118
3209 Beacon Ave S # 2, Seattle, WA 98144
2107 3rd Ave., Seattle, WA 98121