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Luna Park Cafe: West Seattle's Jukebox Hero

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<span class="credit">[Photo: <a href="http://suzi-pratt.com/">S. Pratt</a>]</span>
[Photo: S. Pratt]

Welcome to Beyond the Buzz, a monthly column dedicated to shining the spotlight on restaurants and bars that are still killing it long after the media buzz has worn off. If you have a nominee, please send it to the tipline.

[Photos: S. Pratt]

Built near the hallowed ground of the old Coney Island-style Luna Park amusement park and just across the West Seattle Bridge, is an oasis of burgers, fries, shakes, kitschy decor, table-side jukeboxes and a bit of old-time Seattle history. It's called Luna Park Cafe and it has been attracting diners like blue to suede shoes for decades.

When current owner John Bennett bought the building in 1988, it was to make a great space for his antique store and without much thought to Pat & Ron's Tavern — the diviest of dives and the other tenant in the building. When the bar owner decided to close up shop, the space sat open for a bit before Bennett had the bright idea to get into the food biz. He figured he knew plenty about eating and drinking, and set about renovating the bar into the airy, welcoming Café it still is today. And it's certainly safe to say that Bennett has learned a bit more about the restaurant trade in the intervening 24 years!

Bennett's other business at the time, Jukebox City, came in handy during the conversion process. Luna Park has a 1958 Seeburg jukebox against one wall and smaller, more personal boxes at the counter and in every booth, with plenty of retro music from which to choose. The decor adds to the retro feeling with its classic diner styling, and the look is completed with an eye-popping collection of Americana and memorabilia from throughout Seattle's history.

It is truly the perfect setting for the delectable, belly-filling portions of homey food that come out of the kitchen. The menu ranges from big, hangover-curing plates of breakfast to crisp and refreshing salads to juicy burgers that, thanks to a 2005 kitchen update, now come with crisp, golden fries. Or sub a salad, but let's be honest about this — what is a burger without fries?

Luna Park's most memorable offering may just be their old-fashioned and amazing milk shakes. The ever-changing menu of flavors may make it tough to decide, but once that hard work is over, the reward is a creamy, homemade, unbelievably good and impressively large shake that comes to the table filled to the rim in a glass with the frosty metal shake cup on the side for a refill.

It's hard to deny the joy of a little comfort food in a cheerful setting. And now that summer's almost here, the patio will be open for all to enjoy the weather too. Who's in?

— Darlin Gray

· Luna Park Cafe; [Official Site]
· All Beyond the Buzz Coverage [~ESEA~]

Luna Park Cafe

2918 Southwest Avalon Way, , WA 98126 (206) 935-7250 Visit Website

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