Selling fish and chips by the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks
for 48 years, this Seattle institution transcends its rather kitschy exterior - it is called the Totem House
, after all - and serves up some fine fast food. True cod, filleted and dipped by hand in housemade batter, fries up flaky and tender inside a shell of crisp, slightly peppery batter. Fries here are skin-on, not too salty, and enticingly crisp on the outside. Orders come with a side of addictive, dill-y, tartar. The kids' meal
includes one piece of fish or chicken, fries, and a small soft drink. When we balked at the soda, the woman behind the counter immediately offered milk as a substitute, at no extra charge. The mood here at lunchtime is friendly and bustling
. Everyone was happy to see a toddler stroll in, and patrons, mostly guys in work boots and jeans at that time of day, conspired to keep her distracted while we waited for our made-to-order food. High chairs
are available - but sticky - and picnic tables on the deck outside expand the somewhat cramped indoor seating. Ample parking is available in the lot adjacent to the restaurant.