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Cheap Eats: Rainy Weekday at Bernie's Teriyaki

Chicken Teriyaki plate at Bernie's
Chicken Teriyaki plate at Bernie's
K. Robbins

To combat the biblical torrent of the last few days, we've been indulging in all sorts of rainy day comfort food. Soupy ramen, mac 'n cheese, hot toddys. When we woke today to yet another gray, blustery morning, we knew we needed to branch out. So we engaged in a quick round of food association: rain ---> Seattle ---> teriyaki.

In recent years, Seattle has become almost as well known for its ubiquitous teriyaki joints as it is for Starbucks, the Space Needle or its approximately 300 annual days of rain. 83 Seattle restaurants have "teriyaki" in their names compared to about 40 local Burger Kings, McDonalds and Wendys, according to the New York Times.

If teriyaki could provide so much comfort to waterlogged Seattleites, perhaps we could take comfort in it too. So we pulled on our wellies and headed to Bernie's Teriyaki in Echo Park.

Cheap Eats: Rainy Weekday at Bernie's Teriyaki
K. Robbins

Like many of Seattle's best teriyaki houses, Bernie's is a tiny dive of a place, with counter service and a smattering of bright red shiny tables. Everything on the menu is under six bucks, including a teriburger for $1.70 and terrific chili cheese fries for $2.50.

But you're here for the chicken teriyaki plate: two sizable pieces of bone-in chicken (one white, one dark), fresh off the grill. The meat is tender with a satisfyingly crispy skin, and the teriyaki glaze is surprisingly subtle, not too sweet, with a good hit of soy. For those who need a bit more flavor to cut through their rain-sodden taste buds, for a few cents extra you can get a side of teriyaki or a container of runny but flavorful avocado sauce to pour on top. The plate comes with a heaping portion of rice, which is helped by the drippings from the chicken, and an anemic salad, which should probably be skipped.

While it might not satisfy the most discerning teriyaki buffs, it's cheap, filling and does the job of thwarting rain fatigue. On leaving Bernie's, even as we buttoned up our mackintosh and opened our umbrella, we couldn't help but notice the picnic tables outside and the palm tree overhead. The weather will pass, and then we'll be able to once again take our teriyaki on the terrace.


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