Home > Restaurants > Ballard Smoke Shop Restaurant – 8/6/11

Ballard Smoke Shop Restaurant – 8/6/11

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Location: 5439 Ballard Ave NW


Mon-Sun: 6am-2am

Nearly everyone to whom I mentioned the Ballard Smoke Shop Restaurant went on to ask where it was. Even J couldn’t remember where it was when I suggested we have breakfast there on Saturday. It seems to be perpetually overshadowed by the dive bar nature of the attached Ballard Smoke Shop Lounge.

The Ballard Smoke Shop Restaurant resides in a building from the 1920’s although the restaurant itself has only been there since the 70’s. It’s an old school Ballard holdout on the trendy north end of Ballard Ave with a blue and white Mission style façade that stands out among chic, renovated places like Bal-Mar, La Carta de Oaxca and Volterra. The Smoke Shop is a non-descript diner in the style of Vera’s but a lot quieter and, frankly, cleaner. Their menu includes the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner selections you’d find in a traditional diner, eggs and bacon, sandwiches, burgers and other sorts of comfort food. There are also a handful of Greek style items.

No matter what time of day or night, I swear I’ve never seen more than five or six people in the Ballard Smoke Shop restaurant. Mostly they appear to be older Ballardites. J and I were not sure what we’d find there when we went in for breakfast.

I’d like to note, I swear they have the slowest closing front door I have ever witnessed. I found myself oddly fascinated by it.

The Service:

Our server was extremely friendly and personable. In fact, she may be one of the friendliest servers we’ve had so far during this project. Service was quick … which may have been because there were only four other people in the place. We even became party to some Ballard gossip and drama while there.

The Drinks:

Good, diner quality coffee. The server was nice enough to brew up a new batch of decaf for me since the current pot had been sitting there for an hour.

The Food:

J ordered the Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs with hash browns, over-medium eggs and gravy. The gravy was tasty but needed a little extra salt. The eggs were well cooked and the hash browns were not greasy at all. The steak itself was pretty dang good, with a nice crunchy coating, and only need a little more seasoning to be perfect.

My breakfast choice was the Greek Omelette with green pepper, onion, tomatoes and feta, which included hash browns and toast. The hash browns had a nice exterior crust but were a little too mushy inside for my taste. The omelette was very good. Surprisingly the vegetables tasted like they’d been sautéed in a separate pan to the point of delicious, sweet caramelization. Matched with the heaps of salty feta and fluffy eggs, this turned out to be one of the better Greek omelettes I’ve had in Seattle.

The Price:

2 Cups of Coffee: 1.50 ea

Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs: 7.25

Greek Omelette: 6.95

The Verdict:

The Ballard Smoke Shop Restaurant turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It’s a lot less scary and more approachable than it looks from the outside. With one of the friendliest servers we’ve had so far in this project. A clean and bright interior decorated with photos of old Ballard. A quiet clientele. Super cheap prices for Ballard. Simple, good diner food.

Honestly, having eaten at the two other diners in Ballard that are the most similar to the Smoke Shop (Vera’s and Salmon Bay Café), I don’t understand why the Ballard Smoke Shop is usually empty on weekend mornings. The atmosphere and food are far better than the apparently more popular Vera’s.

If you’re looking for a traditional diner breakfast in Ballard, you really can’t go wrong with the Ballard Smoke Shop Restaurant. It’s been put on our personal list of weekend breakfast places now that Bad Albert’s is closed.


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