The Must List: Delicious Pho, Downton Abbey and Smash Putt!

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Pho at Pho Bac
Everyone already has their favorite pho spot. Our food editor Allison Austin Scheff’s heart belongs to the once purple but now red (and boat-shaped!) Pho Bac, on the corner of 14th and Jackson. It earns that distinction partly for sentimental reasons, partly because of the kitsch of the plastic flowers hanging from the rafters, and largely because the pho with round steak ($6.50/small; $7.50 large)—with a squeeze of lime, a garden’s worth of Thai basil and several slivers of jalapeño (all provided with your order).

Lunch and dinner daily. International District;1314 S Jackson St.; 206.323.4387.

The Off Hours
Thursday (1/5) — Join the relaxed, friendly scene at this quarterly reading series showcasing emerging Northwest writers and poets. We’re especially excited about this installment, since Seattle mag arts editor Brangien Davis is one of the readers and online editor Bond Huberman hosts. Blatant nepotism aside, there’s plenty of good reasons to go, including local musician/performer/writer Jose Bold (whom you may recognize from the band Awesome); plus poet/memoirist Nicole Hardy and poet James Arthur. Collectively, these folks have been published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Folio, The Seattle Times, and, of course, the Seattle Magazine Blog. Bonus: attendees are  encouraged to visit the bar before, during and after the readings to sample one of the custom cocktails, named after the readers of the night.

1/5 , 8:30 p.m. $5. Sole Repair. 1001 E Pike St. More info on Facebook.

Smash Putt 2012: Final Apocalypse!
Opens Friday (1/6) — Tickets are selling out fast for the return of this mischievously amped up version of 21+ only mini golf. It’s not clear if anyone keeps score, but the basic rules apply: navigate your ball around crazy mechanized obstacles—for example, launching your ball from a cannon—and get that sucker in the hole, whatever it takes. It's free to attend if you just want to watch from the bar. Otherwise, arrive at the time slot your ticket is scheduled for (this ensures maximum putting pleasure). Proceeds benefit local starving artists.

1/6-1/15. Times and prices vary. Advance ticket purchase recommended. 2764 6th Ave. S.  

Spring Awakening
Opens Friday (Jan 6-15) — If you regret not taking your teen to see this popular musical when it came to the Paramount a few years ago, local fringe company Balagan Theatre is here to give you another chance. Catch their production of Tony Award-winning rock musical about a group of late 19th century German students dealing with the sympathetic struggles tangled up in the sexual discovery of youth. The cast showcases many budding theatre artists from Seattle high schools and the show is directed by local theatre star, Erik Ankrim, who you’ll see later this year at 5th Avenue Theater's production of Oklahoma!

1/6-1/15, $20-$29. Times vary. Erickson Theatre, 1524 Harvard Ave. S. Tickets at


Downton Abbey: Season 2
Sunday (January 8) — If you’re looking for a reason to pay for local TV again, we’ve got it for you. It has been a cruel, hard slog since the first season of PBS’ Downton Abbey aired its season finale, which ended with a whopper of a cliffhanger as the entire ensemble cast braced at the news that England was going to war. The Great War, that is. The hit show has as its backdrop a noble country estate in the years leading up to WWI. It’s an excellently staged upstairs/downstairs drama, starring Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and other notable actors. The main characters, a mix of both aristocrats and servants, primly navigate intriguing situations of political revolution, social scandal, haunting secrets and very large, drafty rooms—all without wrinkling their fantastic wardrobe (which is bound to have as much influence on contemporary fashion as Mad Men did in its heyday). You’ll be hooked after one episode. If you need to get caught up on Episode 1, you can download it via iTunes or if you’re a Netflix-er, just stream it instantly.

1/8, 9pm. KCTS 9. Check local listings for additional showtimes.


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