Fresh, quick, delicious, and inexpensive sushi. I get the combo #2 with a Mermaid Roll, seaweed salad, and spicy miso. I’ve heard the bowls are good too, but I have hard time declining a variety pack. The sprouted rice purportedly tastes better and is packed with nutrients. Gaba also has a serious sauce bar with wasabi aioli, ginger soy sauce and the like. It feels a bit heretical to slather flavored mayo on fresh sushi, but it sure is tasty. Settle in with the latest Stranger and enjoy your lunch at the bar or upstairs in the loft.
Pizzeria Gabbiano - UPDATE: CLOSED
From the owner's of Il Corvo, comes Pizzeria Gabbiano, a lunch restaurant that serves Roman style pizza and sandwiches by the kilo. Seattleites might feel a bit uneasy cramming in at the communal tables, but after they taste the delicious flavors emerging from the oven, they'll settle in quickly. Our Roman friend Andrea gives his stamp of approval, so it must be good. Gabbiano is only open from 11:30am to 3:00pm for lunch and lines can be long, so plan accordingly.
This place feels like it was picked up and moved from the east coast on a truck with an oversized load escort. If you crave vegetables in your lunch, you should probably steer clear. The Tat'strami is a monstrosity of bread, slaw and pastrami. I’ve never tried anything else on the menu, and I never will. Go on a Friday and take the rest of the afternoon off for a nap.
Sprout serves surprisingly filling and interesting salads against a backdrop of wheatgrass planters and subway tile. Choose one of their well-researched combinations, or venture out and build your own. You can also order by calorie, which would be great if you stumble upon this place while lost and starving. When they ask for your dressing preferences, be brave and ask for heavy, rather than ordering light then asking for three top offs. The salad of the month is usually pretty good, but if you order it early in the month, your salad artist will have to double check the ingredients and slow the line down, causing you to push the 25% tip button on the Square reader out of shame. Your salad should come in at just over $10 with tax assuming you avoid the previous scenario. They also serve something called Froyo.
While not technically in Pioneer Square, this taco truck is worth the short walk into the stadium district. Located on Occidental, just across the street from the WaMu Theater and Events Center (Why is it still called that?), the nice folks at El Camión serve up tacos, tortas, tamales and burritos daily, from late morning to early afternoon. Try any item with cabeza (beef cheeks), and make sure to load up on sauce. Habanero and chipotle are superb. Like their truck in SLU, this location backs up to an empty warehouse area with nothing but the bare essentials for eating: napkins, plastic silverware, picnic tables and a Costco jug of hand sanitizer. If you stick around to enjoy your meal, you’ll get to enjoy the talking heads of the MLB and NHL networks. They seem to rotate to whichever league is off-season, maybe in an effort to encourage turnover.
Trucks in the park
If you aren’t feeling tacos, there are plenty of otros camiones in Occidental Park year round. They rotate daily, but regulars include Off the Rez, Snout & Co, Helluva Falafel, New York Style Chicken and Rice, Nosh, Bomba Fusion, and Poke to the Max. These mobile restauranteurs have staked their claim early, testing their offerings in anticipation of the thousands of new workers who will begin streaming in and out of the new Weyerhaeuser mothership next year. If you feel particularly sporty, try out a game of corn hole, ping pong or foosball provided by the Alliance for Pioneer Square. TIP - Avoid the park during July and August when it's overrun by hungry tourists trying to pretend that folk singer isn’t on stage.
- Want to try but haven’t yet - Nirmal’s (Indian)
- Too expensive for this list, but great - Casco Antiguo (Mexican)