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Hamburgers in the Pacific Northwest?

In Vancouver, the Templeton (1087 Granville Street) cannot be beat. It's a cool, narrow 30's -era diner and the food is great across the board. Get the 777 burger, with fries (and gravy). The patty itself is organic and big, sort of average really, but big points for the finer points of bun-toastedness, cheese-meltedness and overall balance of condiments.

In Portland, I have found the burger at the Doug Fir ( to be mind-blowing on 3 different occasions. With bacon and blue cheese, yep.

And in Bellingham, you gotta hit up Fiamma burger ( They are fast-food little perfect burgers, made from organic happy-cow meat.

Roadside eats off I-5 between Seattle and San Francisco?

I've done this trip a few times myself (well, I start in Vancouver) and I have a few favourites, all discovered by happy accident. The Spar in Olympia (8020 Kenton Ln Se) is downtown and not technically right off the highway, but it won't take you long to get there. Anyway, it's a big, crazy old saloon. It's been lovingly maintained and people still seem to flock there. The food is fine, definitely above average, and it's a cool place. Farther south, in Ashland OR, I recommend Creekside Pizza (92 N Main St). Particularly if you are a beer fan, since they have a great array of taps. The pizzas are big, hot, garlicky, saucy pizzas. Nice cozy vibe. Downtown again, but Ashland's not a big place. Finally, in Mount Shasta (along the most beautiful stretch of the trip, imo) I'd hit up Lily's for some soup/sandwich/salad kind of stuff (1013 Mt Shasta blvd, right in town.)

Have a fun trip!

Canteen in San Francisco – thumbs up

I just wanted to report on a great meal experience at Canteen in SF. It's a tiny spot tucked next to the lobby of a cheap hotel in a not-so-great neighbourhood. No points for great design or anything, but it's cozy and the staff are friendly and knowledgeable. The wine list is short and well-priced, with some eclectic selections. You get to choose from 4 appetizers and 4 mains. Meat, fish and vegetarian are all represented. I think there are 4 desserts too. I'm guessing they change the menu often, perhaps daily.

Anyway, I had poached squid to start, which was perfectly cooked and came on a bed of lentils. Delicious. My wife had an escarole and raw artichoke salad, Interesting textures. Generous portions. For my main coarse I had swordfish with paprika/tomato sauce smeared on top, and roasted vegetables below (including potatoes and cipollini onions). Great! My wife had a roasted mushroom vegetarian main. It was rich and meaty tasting. Dessert was a vanilla soufflé.

We like restaurants that are unpretentious but have great food, and we'll definitely return to Canteen in the future. Every city (every block!) deserves a spot like this.