10th Avenue, the longtime home of Lost Lake Cafe, Gokan and IHOP, has received a new addition to its lineup of eateries, and not just any restaurant either. Though new to the neighborhood, Caribbean restaurant Paseo is certainly no stranger to the Seattle area, having already made a name for itself with locations in Fremont and SODO. Last year, these predecessors earned the franchise a much-coveted third place in Yelp’s Top 100 Places Eat in the United States. This accolade places it far above than any other restaurant in Seattle, with the next highest-ranking, Bakery Nouveau, only placing 41st on this list. On paper, it sounds like everyone and their dog need to give Paseo a try, which is exactly why I had to go test the validity of these claims.
Seattle University students, Kyle Woo, and Afina Lia Walton enjoying their Grilled Pork and Sautéed Prawns sandwiches.
If you had to sum up Paseo’s appeal and the reason it probably ranked so high, it would most likely be because it is different. Scanning the menu, you will primarily see sandwiches and a handful of other items like rice dishes and salad. Typical fare, you might assume, but the ingredients and preparation are certainly not something you will see elsewhere. Without a doubt, it is a unique entry in the landscape of Capitol Hill food, but that raises the question: is being unique enough to be noteworthy and can it compete with more established neighbors?
The word “paseo” is used in Spanish to mean a recreational trip or venture, something you see embodied from the moment you walk into the restaurant. It was very relaxed, with an understated aesthetic that put emphasis on the food rather than distracting decorations. That may not sound like much of a compliment, but with so many restaurants dedicated to the school of “modern chic” the more grounded design was almost a breath of fresh air. It felt like the perfect little nook to retreat to in bad weather to enjoy some food and wait for the rain to pass.
Going to Paseo takes one simple prerequisite, and that is that you throw out your preconceptions of what a sandwich should look like. I can tell you right now you that you won’t find much ham, turkey or bacon on the menu, but there will very likely be something that catches your eye. From pork loin, to shoulder, to prawns, Paseo’s sandwiches come furnished with meats you’re not likely to see at other sandwich places or least not all under the same roof. Their options are roughly an even split between cuts of pork and seafood, but there are also vegetarian options as well. As previously mentioned, the sandwiches are complemented by a small selection of other dishes, like chicken and rice or a salad, while also including sides such as beans, chips and salsa.
Another detail I noticed just from looking at the menu was the unusual amount of “sold out” stickers that occupied their columns. More than one fourth of the sandwiches weren’t available on the day that I went, which may or may not be a common occurrence. Whether this a sign of sales exceeding expectations or a lack of responsible stocking wasn’t readily apparent, but it is something to think about if you plan on going.
While its name and ambience suggest a degree of laxness, Paseo’s service is anything but that. Sandwiches are ready almost as soon as you’ve gotten water and a place to sit, which was a very pleasant surprise. The two sandwiches I tried were Fish of the Day and the restaurant’s most requested option, the Caribbean Roast. The roast was pork shoulder prepared in a slightly sweet sauce, served with jalapeños, lettuce, grilled onions and a tad bit of spicy mayo. The grilled onions in particular were a standout garnish, but overall there was too much competition between spicy, sweet and the flavor of the meat for the flavors to meld successfully. The Fish of the Day, on the other hand, used almost all of the same ingredients and was much more successful, reining back the saltiness of the fish, but not drowning it out.
Paseo is a restaurant I’d recommend to someone wanting to try something different from what they usually eat, but not someone looking for a new spot to go to regularly. Though their sandwiches are of decent size, they don’t quite fill you up enough for the $10-$12 price tag (though from a flavor/ ingredient perspective they are worth it). Conveniently located right next to Neumos, you can give them a try before a show and judge them for yourself.
Carlos may be reached at