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Best of Olympia 2012 Food & Drink: Adesso, Ranch House BBQ, The Mark, 1230 Room and more ...

Weekly Volcano staff names the best food and drink in Thurston County

CALIFORNIA TACOS: Do you prefer the soft chicken tacos or bean and rice bowls? Photo credit: Patrick Snapp

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The entire Best of Olympia 2012 issue is in the Guides section at



At Adesso, using seasonal offerings is important. The paella sees a rotating cast of characters in its proteins; clams, mussels, de-shelled prawns, bay scallops, calamari rings and whole small squid. Any number of these seafood treats may team with large pieces of white chicken breast and chunky slices of fennel-spiked sausage in this memorable dish. Flavors put up a good fight for singular attention, but all combined create creamy, dreamy taste bud satisfaction. Saffron-broth-soaked rice abounds with al dente bell pepper, zucchini, onion and carrots. For best results, pair the paella with wine selected by owner and chef Rudy Viggiano in the restaurant's casual, warm environment. - Jennifer Johnson

[Adesso, 109 Legion Ave. SW, Olympia, 360.705.2529,]


Ranch House BBQ

Cornbread served with a meal that includes things like smoked meats, barbecue sauce, baked beans and potato salad just makes it all better. Like mama's kiss on a scraped knee or an extra scoop of ice cream in your sundae, there's no scientific explanation behind why your day gets brighter after a meal featuring Ranch House BBQ's cornbread, it just does. At Ranch House, the Southern food accompaniment is served as a muffin with a generous dollop of sweet honey butter. The moist muffin falls apart and is easily eaten with a fork-full of Pitmaster Amy Anderson's award winning meat. - JJ

[Ranch House BBQ, 10841 Kennedy Creek Rd SW, Olympia, 360.866.8704,]


The Mark

Becoming a certified organic restaurant in the state of Washington is no easy feat. Chef and owner Lisa Owen at The Mark saw to it that her swanky restaurant on Columbia Street received just such certification in 2009 - moving The Mark into a class shared by few others. Described as "traditional rustic Italian" cuisine, dishes at The Mark contain mostly organic vegetables and hormone-free, free-range proteins Owen gets meats and produce from area farms whenever possible, decreasing the carbon footprint her restaurant (and you, the dining patron) leave. Add all of this to scratch cocktails, a stellar wine list, comfortable décor, and relevant, not just seasonal, use of ingredients, and you start to see why The Mark is one of Oly's favorites. - JJ

[The Mark, 407 Columbia St. SW, Olympia, 360.754.4414,]


South Pacific Restaurant

Yeah, yeah. We're all sick of hearing the term "cougar."  Outside of that dreadful Courtney Cox sitcom, the over-40-women-looking-to-score-some-young-tail scene doesn't exist. Except one spot. South Pacific on Capitol Boulevard in Tumwater serves up more than Asian fusion fried food and live music every weekend night. It also features some of the finest looking older ladies (and men, actually) in the area. It's hard to say why, but gym-toned abs and fake blonde hair flocks to the club in droves. - Weekly Volcano

[South Pacific Restaurant, 3507 Capitol Blvd. SW, Tumwater, 360.352.0701]


Narai Asian Cuisine

There's an interesting combination of vegetable, jasmine rice, fruit and nut (and meat if so desired) in the pineapple fried rice at Narai Asian Cuisine. The generous portion is enough to feed two adults or one very hungry Crossfit enthusiast. Sweet pineapple chunks are stir fried with savory garlic and curry sauce, fresh tomato chunks and white onion. Fragrant cilantro and basil kick up the olfactory experience. Squeeze lime juice from accompanying wedges to add a serious citrus boost.  For this texture freak, the ingredients that put Narai's pineapple fried rice over the top are the crisp pieces of cucumber and awesome crunch of buttery cashews. - JJ

[Narai Asian Cuisine, 320 Fourth Ave. E, Olympia, 360.754.1332]


1230 Room

Party time is officially 12:30 a.m. It's late enough in the night to have weeded out all the hangers on; all the "I got to get up and work tomorrow" people.  By 12:30 a.m. it's a party crew. The drinks flow, the talk is loud, and the dance floor gets movin'. The new 1230 Room in Olympia shares more than a name with the 12:30 time on the clock. It's also the aura.  The place is dark. Red couches scatter the floor. Girls drop low on the dance floor. The clock might show 10:45 p.m., but it's 12:30 all the time. - WV

[1230 Room, 111 Washington St. NE, Olympia]


Kitzel's Crazy-Delicious Delicatessen

OK, to be perfectly honest, you will not think you're in New York when you enter Kitzel's Crazy-Delicious Deli, Olympia's one-and-only authentic delicatessen. The staff is just too darn friendly. But a craving for genuine Jewish deli fare has up until recently meant a trip to Portland or Seattle. Now you can find it on Capitol Way, Olympia's version of Main Street. On the Kitzel's menu: brisket, borscht, blintzes (at weekend brunch) and, of course, bagels. Boiled bagels. Kitzel's is not kosher, but it is kosher style. (Which means, among other things, no mayo.) And I've heard several reports of items running out before closing, so don't dawdle if you're looking for bagels or corned beef. - MG

[Kitzel's Crazy Delicious Delicatessen, 514 Capitol Way S, Olympia, 360.357.7747,]


California Tacos on Harrison

Are street burritos a new invention? In the last five years or something? As a kid, I don't remember my dad asking me if I wanted to stop at the California Taco truck on Harrison to pick up something to eat. "Hey, son, do you want a soft chicken taco or do you prefer a bean and rice bowl?" Thank God they're new. Or else I would be a fatty.  Carne Asada burrito with black beans. Rice and bean bowl with a side of salsa. Tamales by the dozen. I feel sorry for today's kids. Fat jokes are the worst. - Brett Cihon

[California Tacos, Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia, 360.789.9305]


The Lemon Grass Restarant

What do you think of when you hear the words "hot wings?" Orange-colored, hot-sauce-coated wings, right? Me too. A trip to The Lemon Grass can erase that image from your mind, just as it did for me. The Asian-style chicken wings served at this Thai restaurant are far removed from American tailgate party style hot wings. Dunked in a batter then fried, the King's Wings are accompanied by a honey-garlic sauce that clings to the chicken well. A quick trip in the fryer leaves wings tender inside. A Ginger Lemon Drop cocktail sets off flavors beautifully. - JJ

[The Lemon Grass Restaurant, 212 Fourth Ave. W, Olympia, 360.705.1832]


Swing Wine Bar & Cafe

With a happy hour called "The Lush Rush," and staff with quirky senses of humor and vast liquor and wine knowledge, Swing Wine Bar and Café captures your attention. A creative European and Asian influenced dining menu yields bacon-wrapped oysters, wild mushroom tarts, seared barramundi fish in cardinal sauce, and fig brown sugar brie puff pastries. The killer is the chocolate cake. Baked to order, the O.M.G. Cake takes 20 minutes to arrive in all its hot, oozing, gooey glamour. A decadent scoop of Olympic Mountain vanilla salted caramel ice cream complements a topping of candied bacon. Yes, bacon. - JJ

[Swing Wine Bar, 825 Columbia St. SW, Olympia, 360.357.9461,]


Puccini's Venetian Subs

The numbers weren't many, but there were a vocal few last year who decried the absence of Puccini's Venetian Subs from last year's Best of Olympia list. They said we were wrong. They said we were dumb. They said we had no idea what we were talking about. And, after digging into a pastrami sub from Puccini's, dare we say they were 100-percent correct. While people's passions for sandwiches run deep, and naming a unanimous "Best Sandwich" in Thurston County may never be possible, there's simply no questioning the off-the-charts delectability of the subs slung out of Puccini's. If you have yet to try it you're missing out. - WV

[Puccini's Venetian Subs, 5500 Corporate Center Ln SE, Lacey, 360.413.0800]


The Brotherhood Lounge

Sure, I can get drunk in my basement any night of the week. And I do. But when I want to get drunk in style, like really hammered in a really cool enviro, I tie one on at the BroHo. For one, I'm f***ing awesome at shuffleboard. Second, I hate the man. Third, cheap beer, stiff drinks and an eclectic jukebox go a long way in my book. And since I actually wrote that book as part of an independent study contract at Evergreen it means I've spent a lot of time at the Broho and I really like it there. Most people do. Or most people I care to associate with, anyway. As long as we're publishing a Best of Olympia issue we'll be find some room to honor this quintessential Oly watering hole. - Matt Driscoll

[The Brotherhood Lounge, 119 Capitol Way N., Olympia, 360.352.4153]


Mel O'Soup

Chances are good you haven't yet heard of Mel O'Soup, the 100-percent organic creation of Mel Bilodeau, But it's worthy of a little investigation. Well-known around town for her modern dance talents, Bilodeau is now crafting soups that are free of gluten, salt, corn, soy and nightshades. She's working toward opening a cafe and her soups - garlic and greens, Bodacious Coconut Curry and sprouted black bean - will soon be available at the Olympia Food Co-op. Meanwhile, Bilodeau is offering a Community Supported Soup plan or selling individual quarts. - Molly Gilmore

[Mel O'Soup, contact Mel Bilodeau through or 360.789.2238]

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