When we walk into a diner, we’re looking for a couple of things. We need to be able to order something comforting like a tuna melt and macaroni salad or a burger and an egg cream. Slices of pie are a bonus. It’d also be nice to pile into the same big booth with our friends and complain while drinking coffee. And we want the option to get eggs at any time of the day.
While Champagne Diner in Interbay meets those requirements, they also have things that we would never expect—like organic pinot gris, a pork belly BLT, and lots of shiplap. This is a diner where you don’t have to choose between the comforting classics or some natural wine with fancy bar snacks. You can get both, and they’re both equally excellent.
For everything that‘s casual about this place, there’s something else that’s sophisticated. With your vegetable pot pie, you can drink a glass of chilled red or select a bottle of champagne from their exclusively-natural wine list. Alongside your ham omelette, you can snack on marcona almonds seasoned with chicken salt. The tuna melt isn’t made of sad white bread filled with canned fish and Kraft singles, but rather a combination of local cod, gruyere, cornichons, and aioli in between perfectly toasted sourdough—and it’s the best thing in the building. But even if you just want a burger with cheddar, special sauce, and a pile of delicious crunchy fries, you can do that, too. Whether you come with your significant other for a date at the bar or bring your child who refuses to eat anything green, everyone will find something they like here.
photo credit: Belathee Photography
Located on Elliot Avenue in the strange limbo between Downtown and Ballard, the restaurant is hard to find. But it’ll work to your advantage—it’s never crazy busy, even on a Friday night, and there’s a parking lot. You can count on a meal here being a stress-free, last-minute thing you can pull together without much thought.
What makes this least like a diner is that you could even treat it as a wine bar if you wanted to. There are reasonably-priced glasses of natural wine made from grapes grown in France and Oregon, and you can even buy a bottle at retail price and drink it here without an additional corkage fee. So, go forth and eat sunchokes with some biodynamic syrah or dive into a meatloaf dinner and guzzle a cup of milk. This the diner where you can do both.
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This combination of firm elbow noodles, shredded carrots, tangy mayo, and celery seeds is excellent, and goes with everything on the menu. Get an order for the table.
Veggie Pot Pie
The pot pie is a tasty and filling vegetarian option that we’d want to have stocked in our freezers for the entire winter. But at $15, we wish it was just a bit bigger.
Fish & Chips
Champagne Diner’s fries are fantastic. They’re crunchy and salty with fluffy insides, and the aioli that comes with them would even make an old rubber tire taste great. But the fried fish in this dish is where things fall flat - the flavor is perfect, but the batter on the cod can end up wet and soggy.
The diner burger here is kind of like what would happen if a Big Mac and a turkey club met at a sandwich conference in Cedar Rapids, had a one night stand, and conceived a child. This double cheeseburger in-between three slices of toast is that child. Order it with confidence.
The best thing here is the tuna melt, even though it’s not really a tuna melt at all. It’s cod, gruyere, cornichons, and aioli mixed together in a paste and toasted between two slices of sourdough. It’s more comforting than any grilled cheese we’ve had.
The mixture made from malted whipped cream and chocolate pudding is an iconic duo we’d eat all day - but the tough crust sadly needs a chainsaw to cut through it. If you scrape the filling out with a spoon, it’s still an A+ dessert.