4225 Fremont Ave N
Seattle WA 98103
Wait the Long Line for Great Caribbean Food
By: Steve G
If there was ever a "hole in the wall", Paseo is it. It's small, nondescript, and even lacks a sign to distinguish itself from the other buildings in the area. While these things make Paseo difficult to locate, the journey to find it is quite rewarding because you'll be treated to some of the best Cuban sandwiches in the Seattle area. That's as long as you get there before 6pm.
Why is six o'clock important? That's usually around the time when Paseo runs out of bread. So if you get there after 6pm, don't be surprised if they turn you away, leaving your craving of Cuban sandwiches totally unfulfilled. The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the sandwich.
Paseo is small. Anyone who's eaten there can attest to the cramped space and seating area deficiency. There are only about five tables available; good luck grabbing one of them, because they are almost always occupied. Regular patrons know the drill: you line up near the chain-linked fence and slowly make your way to the front counter. Newcomers are obvious because they're usually squinting intensely at the menu trying to figure out what to eat.
Caribbean food is the emphasis here, but most people come for the sandwiches. It's jam-packed with pulled pork, caramelized onions, garlic aioli and a variety of other fixings. Each sandwich is an intense flavor bomb waiting to send your taste buds into overdrive.
I ordered the Midnight Cuban Press ($7.95), while Grant went with the Caribbean Chicken Bowl ($10.95). We took our food to go, but it would have been nice to dine in because entrees also come with some corn on the cob.
Depending on what you order, it may take a while get your food, so be prepared for a wait. Time-intensive sandwiches like the Midnight Cuban come with a disclaimer on the menu: "allow for time". So if you're strapped for time, it's best to opt for something else on the menu. Cash on hand is the only thing to remember because Paseo doesn't accept credit or debit cards.
Overall, the long line sucks, the place is hard to find, and the food takes awhile, but once you chow down on that sandwich, there's only one thing going through your mind: Damn, that's some really good food. Good things are worth waiting for, and Paseo is definitely one of those places.
The Midnight Cuban is made with pulled pork, ham, thick pieces of grilled onion, sweet banana peppers, and a very potent garlic aioli (this had several people avoiding my breath all day). Each piece of pork was packed into the sandwich and was a pure delight to eat. The banana peppers were notable, and the caramelized onions were extremely thick and juicy with a nicely sweet note that capped off a great meal. Be sure to grab a bunch of extra napkins as the meal does get extremely messy; the bread starts to fall apart as soon as it soaks up all of the juices.
The Caribbean chicken bowl was like a spicy, authentic version of nachos with a marinated chicken thigh. The dish is made with chips, chilies, parsley, beans, sour cream, cheese, ground beef, onions, Spanish rice and a medley of spices. Often described as a popular Caribbean dish, I can understand why: It's colorful, filling, and touches on the whole range of taste buds. The chicken is quite tender and the skin is glazed in a sweet coating that is somewhat similar to teriyaki. Those who like nachos will certainly like this dish, and I highly recommended it.
If you like Paseo, you may also like: