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Review: Booty's Street Food

Ian McNulty goes global at a Bywater hot spot

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Owners Kevin Farrell and Nick Vivion and chef Greg Fonseca serve a wide array of dishes at Booty's Street Food. - PHOTO BY CHERYL GERBER
  • Photo by Cheryl Gerber
  • Owners Kevin Farrell and Nick Vivion and chef Greg Fonseca serve a wide array of dishes at Booty's Street Food.

If you've ever looked over vacation photos and found more shots of food than scenic vistas or even your travel companions, you'll probably recognize the organizing principle for Booty's Street Food.

  Booty's is a small, intricately designed Bywater restaurant with a menu built on cheap eats from around the world. These aren't the grand dishes of a national cuisine, but rather the easy snacks and comfort food staples of street vendors, market stalls and taverns, and some hail from rather exotic travel destinations.

  Throw a few darts at this wide-ranging menu and you hit Salvadoran pupusas, Korean beef bulgogi in lettuce cups or a glass of zobo, a sweet, thick, refreshing Nigerian iced tea made here with chrysanthemum and strawberry. Add a craft cocktail list, a communal table, edgy art installations in the restrooms, a saloonlike decor of pressed tin ceilings and low-watt Edison bulbs and the general buzz that attends hip Bywater spots these days, and you have a restaurant in step with the vogue of going out for dining experiences rather than just dinner.

  Recent Seattle transplants Nick Vivion and Kevin Farrell opened Booty's late last year, with chef Greg Fonseca running the kitchen. The name refers to a website the owners operate, though they also tie it to a foodie notion of "pirate's booty." Most dishes are under $10 and they're small, because the point here is to try different foods across the spectrum.

  Coconut cream cools spicy chunks of curried mirliton inside a fried lentil flour shell; crisp dessert crepes are filled with Nutella; and the grill adds char marks and smoky flavor to long bars of firm, mild Brazilian cheese. The menu also includes golden domes of fried yuca stuffed with pork (the Puerto Rican mofongo), a loaded banh mi sandwich and Belgian fries with chimichurri or saffron alioli. That diversity speaks to the appeal of Booty's.

  The flip side, however, is that a kitchen of such breadth sometimes shows limited depth, as was revealed by the bland broth of a ramen soup. And sometimes the street food theme and related props get in the way of the reality of seated meals. Jabbing a toothpick-sized fork into a paper cone of shrimp and shredded green mango only makes sense if you're actually eating in the street.

  Still, another plus for Booty's is how many different roles it serves. It's a good spot for easy bar noshes or a laid-back date night, and brunch features more globetrotting flavors — try Thai-style pancakes with coconut or Korean ones with kimchi and minced pork belly. On weekday mornings, Booty's functions as a coffee shop with baked goods from nearby Shake Sugary, showing at least one example of street food from right down the street.

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