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I Stuffed my Face at The Slip

TheSlip2019 (10) <--you can almost taste it!

There's just no other way to say it.  I was SO hungry.  It's seems like typically a hairy-chested man fresh off a hard day's work on a fishing boat probably orders the Cuban Burger at the new Slip, but on this day, I did. House pulled pork, burger patty, bourbon barbeque sauce, swiss cheese, candied jalapeno and pickle. Sooo not me, yet I don't even have a photo of it because I ate the entire thing before I remembered to pull my camera out. Obviously feeling spicy on this night, I ordered a hot chili margarita and lucky us- there was no ice in it.  Although I miss the froth of a nice cold-shaken drink over ice, this limey iceless delight packed a punch.  Thank goodness for 16 year old daughters with permits to drive. 

TheSlip2019 (15) <-goofers TheSlip2019 (15)

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Office Max is Packin' it Up

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The Office Max in Totem Lake is having a major clearance sale to get rid of all their merchandise before they close on April 27th. The City of Kirkland purchased it last year and will be working on a plan to re-use the building and create a Parks Maintenance Facility.  Construction should be starting around the end of May.

I just did our 'back to school' shopping in April! Seems like each item was about $1.50 on my receipt. Not a ton left but might be worth a stroll, there were still plenty of binders, posterboard, pens/pencils/highlighters and furniture when I was there today. 

Thx Monique for the tip!

IMG_4730IMG_4730 <--some aisles look like this, others like that

Put on your Shades for Aceituno's Mexican Food

AceitunoMexican  <--wow.  just wow

The old Kentucky Fried Chicken in Totem Lake on 124th Ave NE is undergoing a very bright transformation to become an Aceituno's Mexican Food.  Rumor must be out that Kirklanders like Mexican food? And gyms. Aceituno's has seven other locations in WA and appear to have a drive through and also offer catering.  A little web surfing tells me that most of their locations have about 4 out of 5 star reviews so we have that to look forward to.  Not sure when they are opening, does anyone know?

203°F Coffee Co Overdelivers

203Alen  Alen Fikic, Pres & CEO of 203

203°F ? Why 203°F, you ask? Because everything about this trendy new coffee shop is precise, and that is their optimal water temperature for brewing coffee.  203° F (located in the Village at Totem Lake) is a lifelong dream of owner Alen Fikic, who has an interesting background and keen drive for delivering an amazing product and customer experience.  Alen grew up on a farm in Bosnia, went to war and lived in concentration camps, and ended up playing professional soccer in Germany for 8 years.  When he moved to the states, his first job was rounding up the carts at Sam's Club.  Then in 1998 a friend offered him a job building espresso machines for La Morzocco, and was with Caffe Vida for a number of years after that.  He went on to become President and silent partner of Zoka Coffee

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By this point he's clearly hooked on coffee and the experience it can provide.  But he knew he could up the game.  There are lots of great coffee shops, but he saw a shortcoming in service and happens to love the hospitality side of the business.  What if he could offer great direct-trade ethically-sourced coffee along with openness, kindness, quality and ambiance?  Off he went, carefully designing and crafting everything to the exact specifications that have been swirling in his head for years to create an all-around experience.   He personally designed and crafted everything from the custom art, furniture, architecture, music, down to the custom roasted proprietary blend of Zoka Coffee they use.  Nothing was left to chance, and Alen says, "this is what people deserve."  All of his favorite things in one place.  Vanilla extract from Madagascar. The Amish in OH made the furniture by hand.  Espresso machines from the Netherlands.  Aprons from Australia.  He has carefully placed outlets for customers and the small tables are intentional to encourage community and conversation.   The vibe of 203° is minimalistic but intentional.  It feels bright, happy, clean and welcoming.  I need this guy to take his approach and help me organize my life. 

203°F (5) <--mgr Jaren203°F (5)
You can't help but like Alen, he's poured his heart and soul into this project and the results are evident.  His down-to-earth friendly style clearly helps him connect with customers, because as I sat drinking my delicious decaf Americano random people would approach for a handshake, a compliment or a hello.  Employees have featured recipes on the menu- Rachel's lavender has been popular- as well as seasonal drinks.  Prices are comparable to industry standards.  Sandwiches (w/halal meat) and pastries are also offered. Opening day on 3/2/19 brought in over 600 people. Whoa.  Many said the wait for their coffee was well worth it! 

With the Cinemark and a Salt & Straw coming in just across the street I have a feeling this place will be in high demand.  Don't worry, plans are already in the works for future locations of 203°F Coffee Co.  Kinda cool that kids 10 and under get free hot cocoa, there's no upcharge for extras, alternative milks (or flavors) and students get a 10% discount.  Hours (subject to change) are 6am-7pm seven days a week right now.  Check them out on Insta or FB here.

I Spy with my Little Eyes...

Bibi2019 (3)
Bibi Catering
is open in Shamiana's old spot in Houghton.  I haven't tried it yet, just popped my head in after a quick PCC run.  Looks casual with a handful of tables and a lunchtime buffet of Persian food.  The free mini cake slices and cookie samples by the register swooped in for the early win of my heart.  

Looks like Ivar's is getting going on the old Kidd Valley location- hopefully in time for summer? 

Public Service Announcement: Subway in Houghton does not have a drive-thru.  Perhaps you knew this but someone didn't.

The Best Kept Secret has moved to Mukilteo.  I wish I didn't have to drive so far for my secrets. You know I love a good secret.

Papi's Cantina Opens & Wants to Hear from You

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I met a girlfriend for happy hour at Papi's Cantina at 148 Lake St right after they opened a few weeks ago.  It was a sunny day and apparently everyone in Kirkland had received the memo because the doors were open and the place was packed with curious $5 margarita seekers.  Aesthetically, it's Milagro 2.0 (which was lots of stone and dark wood) with some colorful flags floating overhead to add a little zing. 

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I have shoes older than the adorable waitress that finally came by to squeeze in our happy hour drink order before 6pm and after much debate between the Papi's Margarita, Matcha Margarita and Spicy Cucumber Margarita, I went for the spicy.  Which arrived not-so-spicy... or cucumbery.  I sent it back and tried the Havana Margarita.  I had to keep reminding myself to drink it, which for those that know me, is unusual.  They use fresh-pressed juices and some of the mixers have to be steeped, so they are still working on perfecting their recipes and the waitstaff was quick to admit that, collect feedback and offer other suggestions.  The menu offers Latin cuisine (from scratch!) in order to offer a broader range of flavor profiles.  At first this was confusing to me when I glanced at the menu and saw items such as a burrito, paella, carne asada and then... a ribeye...and a burger?!  But don't worry, it's a Latin thing! Danny Pentin  (photo) from Papi's was filling me in on the preparation and sauces.  Some friends popped over to our table and mentioned they had tried the ribeye and said it was amazing.  My ceviche was a super generous portion and a delicious meal in itself. My friend thought her tacos were just ok.  The chips were really good but the salsa tasted like ketchup.  Perhaps this is also Latin, I wondered.  When I told Danny he said there was a day when the prep chef forgot to add the chipotle to the salsa for the evening and they didn't figure it out for hours! So, clearly still new and ironing out the kinks.

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I like that Papi's Cantina recognizes that they opened quickly- received the keys on 2/1 and opened 3/10- so they won't be perfect quite yet, but are very open to feedback and suggestions.  Danny says, "We are still discovering what this community is about.  Tell us what you want.  We would like to be the best food and service in town." Future plans include live music and salsa dancing nights outside on the patio.  They are mixing up the menu and adding daily specials too.  And of course there's the Mexican Hat Dance that plays everyday at 5pm to kickoff $5 margaritas from 5-6 o'clock. 

Hours are Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm and Fri/Sat 11am-12pm.  Summer will likely have extended hours as they get the patio going for the nicer weather.