MLK Jr. Way South is home to some of Seattle’s best independently-owned ethnic eateries. Hankering for some Ethiopian Derek Yebeg Tibs, Mexico City style Tacos Veracruz, Lao Papaya Salad, or Vietnamese Claypot? MLK has it all. For two weeks every spring, Plate of Nations inspires foodies and urban adventurers to sample $15 and $25 sharable authentic international menus offered by restaurants in the heart of the Rainier Valley – one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the country.
Plate of Nations, signature event of the MLK Business Association, was designed to collectively promote independently-owned restaurants in the MLK community. Immigrants from around the world have settled in the Rainier Valley and started businesses including restaurants that provide cultural favorites for ethnic communities looking for a taste of home. Those restaurant owners are excited to welcome other customers to their traditions.
“We had many return Plate of Nations customers during and after the event – people that may not have given us a try otherwise,” said Ana Martinez, owner of Huarachitos. “Plate of Nations gets people to walk in our door and it is our responsibility to get them to come back.”
Plate of Nations is the brainchild of Asari Mohamath, a Cham Muslim refugee from Vietnam and former owner of Salima restaurant, who wanted to develop a unified marketing event to highlight the unique and authentic cuisines offered by MLK restaurants. Julie Pham, former MLKBA Board Chair, said, “We were brainstorming new ideas for promoting the business district and everyone got excited about a food event, because food brings people together.”
The event has grown every year as word about Plate of Nations has spread.
“We get so many new customers during the event not just because our food is so good,” said The Original Philly’s owner Guy Thomas, “but also because it is fun to participate in Plate of Nations.”
Venues are easily accessible by light rail from downtown or the #8 bus from Capitol Hill.
The MLK Business Association (MLKBA) is a non-profit organization established in 2008 to serve the businesses along Martin Luther King Jr. Way South. Its vision is to “build a strong, vibrant, and culturally diverse business community that is a destination second to none in the Pacific Northwest.”