Welcome back to Alternative Dining, a monthly column by Jen Chiu that explores the unconventional dining and drinking scene in Seattle, whether that be pop-up, food truck, gastro-brewpub or underground dinner party. Got a suggestion? Leave it in the comments or send it to the tipline.
[Photos: S. Pratt]
Entering a gas station in Lynwood and expecting to eat delicious food is like renting an apartment across from Harborview's trauma center and expecting a quiet Friday night. Thankfully, no one told Michael Laroche or Nathan Thomas. For you old timers, Laroche was the chef at Fremont's much missed Longshoreman's Daughter, and more recently, worked at Poppy and Dot's Delicatessen. After sampling the menu, it's a safe bet their three month old Piggyback Deli will soon have the name recognition and respect of its Seattle brethren.
Once inside, Piggyback is more like Piggyfront. The butcher case is the first thing you see, and a picnic table has usurped the section most gas stations reserve for food products no one should ever put in their body.
Laroche and Thomas added more seats after opening because to their surprise, people wanted to tear into their sandwiches and stay awhile. With steak perfectly cooked to order, and everything except the bread and cheese made in house, it's easy to see why. There are twelve sandwiches including a BLT, porchetta, steak and cheese, reuben, spicy pork, chicken salad, meatloaf, and two vegetarian options. And that's not even the best part.
Piggyback Deli is the optimal go-to spot for securing all of your tailgating and barbecue needs. Grab a couple of sausages (chorizo, sweet Italian, and merguez to name a few) while filling up your growler a couple feet away (this station doesn't pump gas, they pump beer!). Piggyback's housemade Manny's brats aren't just brats dipped in some Manny's beer. The recipe includes the perfect amount of spicy kick and is paired perfectly with Dijon mustard that is also made in the deli.
One added bonus of the seemingly odd location: order a sandwich and the "Dirty Fries" topped with gravy made from the leftover butcher cuts, then head two blocks over for some shopping at ReclinerLand, Homer Simpson-style.
Laroche feels a special affinity with other businesses that are located in unusual locations, "I love seeing creative cooks take over once fast food and dive-y places. Being a cook with limited financial means, I would often be envious when seeing businesses with full kitchens unused." Laroche even once had an idea of starting a dining group that would take over kitchens in dive bars during off-hours and call it the Seattle Fine Diving Society.