It's pretty much impossible to be in a bad mood at Svea (unless you forgot to bring cash). It's just so darn cute and inviting, with its small smattering of tables, counter seating, old-school cash register, and genial regulars. I didn't know whether to ask for a menu or just pinch its little Swedish cheek and give it a krona. Luckily, I did the former, and proceeded to order, what else, the open-faced meatball sandwich known as the North Park Special ($7, with mashed potatoes).
This is about as perfect a sandwich as you could hope for to counter the impending winter. The size of Rainier cherries, these beef meatballs are tender, moist nuggets of pure happiness. They are piled high on traditional Swedish limpa bread, then bathed in brown gravy. So simple, yet so completely satisfying. The hints of anise in the limpa work nicely against all that savory, as does the lingonberry jam. Though the portion is more than fair, I could have taken down a dozen more. Eat your heart out, IKEA cafeteria.