If you're looking for a good meal in Georgetown, try Smarty Pants on for size

I didn't think Smarty Pants was a very likely name for a restaurant, and I had never heard of it, but the editor had. He asked me to go to Georgetown and eat lunch there.

I got there about 2 p.m. Friday, a quarter hour past the end of the lunch rush, and had the place to myself. Tina Forbes was holding forth behind the bent-L bar/counter and Barry Semple was handling kitchen duties.

The sandwich board outside the door at 6017 Airport Way S. promised "Food & Booze" and indeed, Tina worked the bar backed by a full selection of spirits, wine and bottled beer on welded steel shelves.

Smarty Pants' logo is a no-nonsense, in-your-face, young cartoon woman in twin ponytails, coveralls, work shirt and boots. One hand holds a wrench and the other is on her hip. Keeping with her young, Rosie the Riveter image, the d├ęcor is retro industrial chic with welded and bolted steel trim on the bar, nine fixed-pedestal stools with round steel tops, bare brick walls and a small industrial crane arching from the wall behind the bar to the center of the rough concrete-floored room.

A long banquette stretches across the wall opposite the bar facing eight square tables and lots of chairs.

The place, though not large, has a feeling of spaciousness, partly because the walls are mostly devoid of decoration and partly because of the high ceilings. The impression is of a machine shop that has been emptied and turned into a rather stylish (but not fancy) restaurant. That is deliberate. This place used to be a machine shop. It has been a restaurant for only a month.

The two-page menu offers hot sandwiches on one side (all but one of the nine offerings are $7.25, the other one, the BLT, is $6.75) and cold sandwiches on the other (all but two of the seven cold sandwiches are $7.25, the other two are $6.25). All sandwiches are served with a side of potato salad and a pickle spear. You can also choose a dinner salad, a cup or bowl of 5-alarm chili ("the best this side of the Duwamish") or a meal-sized portion of Frito pie.

A hot sandwich named Miss Piggy caught my eye. The description said it was "succulent pork, slow-simmered to perfection in an award-winning sauce, topped with slaw." Raised, as I was, in St. Louis, a town with some reputation for barbecue, I went for it.

"Oh, good choice," said Tina in absolute delight. "That's the best thing on the menu. It's my favorite." She added that the sauce was concocted by a friend of the owner, Tim Ptak, and had won a high place in a national barbecue sauce contest.

"If you like BLTs, ours is really great," she added.

When Miss Piggy arrived she absolutely filled the plate, with just room for a scoop of potato salad and the pickle. The bread was a large, toasted, high-quality roll and the filling overflowed it.

Tina said something else.

"Mmmph, mmp," I replied suavely. She abandoned me for duties elsewhere, leaving Miss Piggy and me alone.

Between the sauce and the red cabbage slaw, the sandwich is a mooshy, two-handed affair. It was as tasty as it was messy. I did manage to set it down occasionally to try the potato salad. This is not your runny, deli-counter potato salad. It is the real stuff, and an excellent complement to Miss Piggy. A beer is the perfect beverage with this sandwich. Five napkins later I besat my stool full, fat, dumb and happy.

Smarty Pants is open 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday. It is open to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday and until midnight on Sunday.

Barry said that Miss Piggy just happens to be the restaurant's number one seller, but the BLT is his favorite.

"It's a real meaty sandwich" he said.

Smarty Pants is named after Michelle, Tim's partner, who is, according to both Tina and Barry, a real smarty pants. But what's her last name?

"Nobody has heard her last name," Barry said.

"She's really a spy," explained Tina.

E-mail regarding this story may be sent to editor@sdistrictjournal.com

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