For a variety of reasons, we end up at Seattle Center often and usually with a menagerie of kids in tow. So in theory, the food court at the Center House is ideal. Everyone can get what they want without straying too far from whatever activity we have going on. One big problem with that: The food was terrible.
I am so pleased to report that this has changed. Part of the 50th Anniversary of the 1962 World’s Fair is the redesign of the Center House, complete with a name change. It is now called the Seattle Center Armory, a reference to the original use of the building. It was built in 1939 as the home of the 146th Field Artillery before being converted to the Center House in 1962. While the name is a nod to the past, the new food vendors represent the future of “fast” food.
Over the last year, almost every restaurant has been replaced. The only ones to remain are Subway, Starbucks, Quincy’s, Seattle Fudge, and Kabab.
I actually look forward to going there now so I can try all the new places. No more settling for Subway because, while bland and predictable, at least I knew it would be edible. Or the gyro at Kabab. But because everyone else felt the same way, the line was always really long. The last time I ventured away from Subway or Kabab, I had the worst teriyaki chicken I have even had.
That's enough about the past. My all-around favorite of the new choices is MOD (made on demand) Pizza. It has a really cool ambiance and, with its indoor and outdoor seating, is one of the larger places there. They take a very interesting approach to pricing: No matter what you choose for toppings, it’s the same price: $6.88 for an 11-inch, thin crust pizza. They offer 28 fresh toppings to pick from, all on display while they assemble your pizza in front of you. Or opt for one of their 10 specialty pizzas. After a quick 2-3 minutes in the oven, your pizza is hot and ready to go.
I was there with my sister and we chose to share a Ulysses, an incredibly tasty concoction of mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, gorgonzola, garlic, fresh chopped basil, and mushrooms. The amount of each cheese was well-balanced so you tasted them all without any one (gorgonzola, I’m looking at you!) dominating. The kids had pepperoni and everyone was happy. Splitting the one pie was great for a light lunch for two but I would add a salad or go with my own pizza if I was really hungry.
They have fountain drinks, draft beer, and wine. At the checkout, I spotted a pyramid of foil wrapped thick disks. Could that be…is that…a…Ding Dong? I haven’t seen one of those in years but they sell them for $1 each. I passed this time. I’m actually worried that if I try one, it won’t live up to my memory of the rich chocolaty cake with the creamy filling, wrapped in a brittle thin layer of more chocolate. I’ll keep the memories, thank you very much.
I’ll happily try each vendor there and, for the first time, would actually go out of my way just to have the food. Check out all the new places here and click on each one for more detail. It's quite an interesting mix.
Next on my list is Skillet Counter, a new stationary location from the same folks as the Skillet Street Food truck that was so popular at the Movable Feast in Tacoma. Their entire menu sounds unique and delicious but on my radar is their take on poutain, a dish made popular in Quebec. It is French fries topped with gravy, cheddar cheese, and herbs. How could that be anything short of heavenly?
My only complaint about the new Seattle Center Armory food choices is that the prices have gone up dramatically. Kabab has raised the price of their basic gyro (same portion) from just under $5 to around $7.50. Besides MOD Pizza, I find the other prices to be on the high side. But even so, I would rather pay more for fresh and unique foods than go back to the abysmal "mall food court" that was the Seattle Center House.