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IT’S WHAT’S FOR DINNER
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FLAGSHIP PHILOSOPHY Local brewers’ first beers. Page 7 THIS WITH THAT Less-traditional food-and-drink pairings. Page 10 DINING OUT OF THE BOX Buy dinner from your neighbor. Page 12 VEGETABLES: THEY’RE WHAT’S FOR DINNER Rethink meatless meals. Page 15 FAST FOODIE The farm-to-table movement trickles down. Page 21 OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS This year’s 70 must-tries. Page 26
NEIGHBORHOOD INDEX NORTHERN SUBURBS Katsu Burger Qin NORTH OF 50TH (Phinney, Ravenna, Green Lake, Greenwood, Lake City) Brimmer and Heeltap Café Munir Delancey Jebena Kisaku Little Ting’s Dumplings Mojito Salare LAURELHURST Saint Helens Cafe FREMONT/WALLINGFORD Le Petit Cochon Stoneburner Westward BALLARD Bitterroot Bourbon & Bones Drunky’s Two Shoe BBQ Gracia San Fermo Señor Moose CAPITOL HILL Altura Big Mario’s Chavez Dino’s Tomato Pie Ernest Loves Agnes 4 SEATTLE WEEKLY • VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016
Kedai Makan Mamnoon Nue Omega Ouzeri Spinasse Stateside Suika Tacos Chukis Tavolata MADISON VALLEY/ MADRONA/LESCHI Fat’s Chicken and Waffles Meet the Moon Vendemmia QUEEN ANNE Big Mario’s Boat Street Kitchen LloydMartin Lake Union Canlis Serafina Sushi Kappo Tamura Downtown/Belltown The Carlile Room Le Caviste Il Corvo Heartwood Provisions Lark Matt’s in the Market Le Pichet Sushi Kashiba Tavolata PIONEER SQUARE The London Plane Nirmal’s
INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT The Boiling Point Dong Thap Huong Binh Lionhead Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot Ton Kiang Barbeque Noodle House SOUTH OF DOWNTOWN (Georgetown, Beacon Hill) Ciudad Fonda La Catrina Jack’s BBQ Katsu Burger Sisters and Brothers Vientiane Asian Grocery Store WEST SEATTLE Ma ‘Ono Fried Chicken & Whisky Mashiko WHITE CENTER Bok a Bok EASTERN SUBURBS Hokkaido Ramen Santouka Katsu Burger Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot Miah’s Kitchen SOUTHERN SUBURBS Juba DELIVERY ONLY Windy City Pie
Dearest Diners: n the past, the publication of the Voracious Dining Guide has coincided with spring and all its trappings. But this year we’ve rearranged our publication calendar and, as a result, shifted the context of this annual edition. The weather has begun to shift from sunny and warm to cloudy and brisk and our appetites— at least mine anyway—are affected by these seasonal changes. As we move away from the lightness of seafood and the bright flavors of berries and peaches and squash, we get a little hungrier and our bodies start to crave heartier fare. The deluge of pumpkinflavored everything descends upon us. And while it’s always been fun to produce a guide in the spring, there’s something about that soul-satisfying desire for sustenance in October and beyond that make writing about food this time of year particularly enjoyable. As usual, we bring you our favorite restaurants—which only gets harder each year as the city rapidly grows, along with the appetites of its residents. The pace with which new places are opening is downright staggering, and it means that we have to hyper-focus this section in order to make it fit! Unfortunately, that means we can’t always write about all of our favorites; this year, for instance, I had to drop Poppy and The Whale Wins from our list (to make room from some newer ventures from those chef/owners in some cases), even though we still adore them. And this year, for the first time since I’ve helmed Voracious, we’ve added Canlis back to the list. It always felt too obvious to include, but with a new-ish chef on board, the restaurant is entering a new era and deserves to be recognized for its continued excellence. Also, in this issue, I’m very excited to share with you my favorite vegetable dishes around the city. While we love our meat mightily, it can’t be denied that diners are increasingly driven by healthier eating habits, and that chefs are finding ways to make vegetables more delicious than ever. In that same vein, fast food has gotten a huge makeover, both nationally and here in Seattle—and finally there are places to get tasty, convenient food that is organic, sustainable, and more globally inspired. In the feature “Fast Foodie,” I examine the trend and give you my picks for where to get the best of it. Sorry, McDonald’s! Here too are fun and helpful reads about what kind of drinks (including beer, wine, and cocktails) to pair with classic fall dishes; how a few favorite Seattle brewers dreamed up their flagship beers; and a look at a trailblazing new platform that lets you order dinner from your neighbor. Thank you for reading. Cheers, and happy eating!
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Nicole Sprinkle Restaurant Critic, Seattle Weekly
VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016 • SEATTLE WEEKLY
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here are literally hundreds of breweries in Washington (and it feels as if most of them are in Seattle). From their inception, each each brewer has had to ask itself this: What should our very first beer be? As the Pacific Northwest beer palate evolves—early on from pilsners, now to IPAs, and perhaps later to yeastier beers like kölsches and sours—the answer has changed. To see how, we asked three local breweries to share the philosophy behind their first choices. That means that when ordering one of their pints at your favorite bar or restaurant (which are increasingly moving to robust beer selections that rival wine lists, often heavily weighted toward local pours), you’ll know exactly what inspired it! Nowadays, too, most breweries have a rotating schedule of food trucks, which means you can get dinner along with one of your favorite beers. Tommy Ortega opened his Ravenna Brewing Company in April. And while IPAs remain the standard for Seattle beer drinkers, Ortega says the conversation around them has grown a touch stale. So he wants to help spark a new dialogue around more distinctive beers like his jalapeño kölsch, a light, effervescent, German-style beer, or peach hefeweizen, a wheat beer with a little spice—both of which you can sample at RBC’s Ravenna brewpub (5408 26th Ave. N.E.) while munching on their complimentary salty snacks or enjoying hearty fare onsite from food trucks that include Das Brat Wagen, 505 Chile Cart, and Chavoya’s Hot Dogs. “Everybody wants an IPA,” says Ortega. “Everybody wants their IPA to be their flagship. But for me … I went for something different.” With a new brewery, Ortega prefers to rely on the element of surprise: What is a first-time patron going to raise her eyebrows at when looking at the tap list? If “you have something random on tap,” Ortega says, ”something bizarre and interesting that they’ve never had before, that gets the gears turning in their heads. It gets them talking.” Which is exactly what happened, he says, with the patrons at RBC’s tasting room, who began chattering about the jalapeño kölsch almost automatically.
How three local brewers picked their first beers. By Jacob Uitti Photography By Daniel Berman
TOMMY ORTEGA, OWNER AND HEAD BREWER OF RAVENNA BREWING CO.
Manny Chao, co-founder of the wildly popular Georgetown Brewing, sold his first keg in 2003; it was the company’s now-famous Manny’s pale ale. At the time, Georgetown traversed a unique route, eventually helping to pave the way for hoppier beers down the road. “We looked at the market,” says Chao of the brewery’s beginnings. “A lot of our friends were coming off an amber kick, and we felt like Washington didn’t have its own pale ale—there was Sierra Nevada and Mirror Pond—but we thought if we could make a local pale ale, we could get a lot of people to support us.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 9
VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016 • SEATTLE WEEKLY
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TWO NEW BREWS TO TRY THIS SEASON Stoup’s Fresh Hop IPA A bright, smooth, citrusy concoction available in the popular Ballard taproom (1108 N.W. 52nd St., 457-5524), which offers a regular schedule of food trucks outside where you can get Beez Neez sausages and Napkin Friends latke sandwiches. You can also try it at local restaurants like Super Six, Bravehorse Tavern, and Brimmer & Heeltap. Schilling’s Chaider A funky, chai-spiced, rooibos-teaforward hard cider made from the premier Seattle cider producer, available November to January in the Fremont taproom (708 N. 34th St., 420-7088). Take it home and serve it with pork chops, roasted vegetables, or just a nice plate of cheese and charcuterie.
ADAM ROBBINGS, CO-FOUNDER AND HEAD BREWER OF REUBEN’S BREWS
Flagship Philosophy FROM PAGE 7
It was only after the popularity of Manny’s—available in nearly every Emerald City bar and restaurant—was established that Georgetown began branching out. Next came Roger’s pilsner, followed by Chopper’s red ale and the 9-Pound Hammer porter (named after the popular Georgetown eatery). Only after those beers were established did the group start in on an IPA, its floral Lucille. “My own palate was starting to change,” Chao says. “I was enjoying IPAs and there was a lot of pressure to make a really good one.” And once they did, many more breweries began brewing IPAs too—like Adam Robbings, co-founder and head brewer at Reuben’s Brews in Ballard, which began selling beer commercially in the summer of 2012 in its taproom (5010 14th Ave. N.W., 784-2859), and also provides the opportunity to chow down on offerings from food trucks that include Wet Buns and Cheese Wizards parked outside. Its Crikey IPA is one of the city’s most popular, but the traditional sunset-hued concoction was not the brewery’s first. Instead, a roasted rye (read: dark) IPA was the original pour, much different than the citrusy Crikey.
“It’s an IPA and a winter warmer wrapped into one,” says Robbings of the roasted rye. “Hoppy, but rich and dark and warming, a little rye spice, while being highly drinkable. It was an exciting challenge from a brewer’s perspective— and it was a popular first brew.” That kind of spice-forward dark beer is certain to pair well with some of fall’s go-to fare, like smoked meats and savory stews. The beer was born out of Robbings’ home brewing in his garage, and eventually won the people’s-choice award at the PNA Winter Beer Taste in 2010. When it comes to offering any given style, he says, “you still need to answer the question ‘Why you?’ Why should someone come to your brewery rather than another? You need something different as well as the balance.” n firstname.lastname@example.org
MANNY CHAO, CO-FOUNDER OF GEORGETOWN BREWING VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016 • SEATTLE WEEKLY
THIS WITH THAT Steak and cabernet are a given. But what about less-traditional fall food and drink pairings? By Zach Geballe
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here’s nothing wrong with classic food and drink pairings. In many cases, they’re favorites for a reason.Yet that doesn’t mean we don’t long for something a bit more unpredictable from time to time. For the more adventurous diners out there, here are a few unfamiliar pairings to try this season. Cheeseburger and a Rob Roy (pictured above). Sure, you can play it safe and have a beer with your burger. You can even have some red wine if you want. To my mind, though, it’s most fun to find a cocktail that can stand up to the bold flavors of a beautifully beefy mid-rare burger. Enter the Rob Roy, which is just a Manhattan made with Scotch. Personally, I like to use about a half-ounce of a smokier style (Laphroaig is a good, reasonably priced option) and then two ounces of a smoother blended Scotch (Dewar’s does the trick just fine). Some sweet vermouth and a few dashes of bitters finish the drink off. The smokiness works with the grill flavor of the burger, and the slight hint of sweetness draws out the beef ’s richness. Plus, you kind of feel like a badass when you order it. Oysters and a nitro stout. This one is courtesy of Jess White at Shaker and Spear, and it kind of made me scratch my head when she told me about it. I gave it a try, and damned if it doesn’t work! The textural contrast is what does the trick: the beer’s velvety, almost seafoam quality feels like a natural fit with something as sensuous as oysters.
Delicata squash and dry cider. When the hard-shelled squashes start rolling in, few are as prized as delicatas, Last year we actually had a shortage in Seattle! The sweet, nutty flavor they take on when roasted or sautéed is a perfect match for the tart, mild apple notes in any number of local dry ciders. Slightly sweeter styles can work as well, especially if the squash preparation has a spicy component; you’ll want the sweetness to balance that out. Roasted root veggies and roussanne. As the fall harvest rolls in and we start thinking about hunkering down at home, people forget about white wine. Well, that’s a damn shame, because it’s one of the best times for richer, more textural whites. Roussanne might not be the most acclaimed varietal out there, but it’s starting to show real promise here in Washington. It has a waxy, unctuous texture perfect for roasted root vegetables, and often a slight almond note that also complements them well.You might find a few single-varietal bottlings, though it’s often blended with the similar marsanne and also viognier. Lamb and mourvèdre. Syrah might be the more classic compliment for lamb, but I prefer its funkier cousin mourvèdre. Intense notes of black pepper on the nose are just what I want with the slight gaminess of lamb, and the rich, earthy flavors are suitable whether you’re grilling, roasting, or braising. The most important thing to keep in mind is that there are so many right answers when it comes to pairing. Don’t be afraid to try something new—and if you hit on a winner, let me know about it! n email@example.com
VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016 â€¢ SEATTLE WEEKLY
DINING OUT OF THE BOX Josephine lets you buy dinner from your neighbor. By Nicole Sprinkle
pregnant woman with pink hair walks into Joe Ray’s apartment in Columbia City. Ray has just finished cooking dinner, and as he boxes up just-out-of-the-oven spice-rubbed chicken thighs, French lentils, and a cucumber salad lightly dressed in yogurt and mint for her to take home, the two chat as if they are chummy. But they’ve actually never met before. Rather, Ray is a cook for Josephine, a California-based company that set up shop in Seattle just a few months ago. The service matches home cooks with people in their community looking for a delicious meal that’s cheaper than a restaurant. Diners simply go to the Josephine website and
search under their ZIP code, and up pops a variety of meals available that evening. If they like what they see—there’s a description of the meal, photos, and a bio of the cook, including ratings and comments from people who have tried their food— they simply place an order and pick it up during a window chosen by the cook on that same night. Currently, just over two dozen cooks are participating, including Ray. Simone Stolzoff, head of operations for Josephine, says that 95 percent of the cooks on the platform are women, 40 percent are immigrants, and 35 percent are people of color—everyone from the casual home cook to the professional caterer. Most, he says, are looking for a way to boost income, preparing home-cooked meals as
Step right up to a home-cooked meal in a home besides your own. 12 SEATTLE WEEKLY • VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016
A home cook serves her neighbor dinner out of her kitchen.
a second job, much as many Uber drivers pick up passengers to supplement their income. “It’s a lot of stay-at-home parents and immigrants looking to generate income, whether incremental or as the primary source for their families,” he says, “but who also love to cook and facilitate community.” In fact, he says that the platform’s most popular cooks are those cooking ethnic food that is reflective of their culture—those who have knowledge of a place and its cuisine. The audience is primarily parents who want to feed their kids home-cooked meals but are pressed for time, as well as older people who want to connect with their community. Community, in fact, is the backbone of the whole enterprise: the idea that you can buy a meal from a neighbor and bump into or meet other neighbors in the process. It’s far more personal than, say, grabbing carry-out, because you’re actually entering someone’s home and meeting the cook. “You’re not really buying food from strangers because you have common ground via a geographical base and a shared interest in community,” explains Stolzoff. And by encouraging its users to meet the people who cook their dinner, Josephine hopes to facilitate transparency in the whole food-supply chain. “When you meet the cook, there’s naturally more knowledge and transparency. And cooks who use Josephine are buying local and supporting local economies.” But is the food safe? Yes, says Stolzoff. As part of the rigorous onboarding, Josephine thoroughly inspects all its cooks’ homes and requires each to get a foodhandler permit. Staffers with master’s degrees in public health ensure that safety
standards are met, while others taste-test to see if the food is up to snuff and if the home cooks are capable of cooking in bulk. Ray, who has cooked professionally in restaurants, says that one of the hardest parts is not knowing how many people you’re cooking for until the day of, yet he suspects that will become less of a problem as he builds a base of loyal customers. He’s already had repeat diners, including one neighbor who took a seat on his sofa while he boxed her food. Though the cook’s home is not meant to become a hangout, Ray says he doesn’t mind when regulars chill out for a moment or two as they wait. That’s the kind of casual, inviting atmosphere Josephine is promoting. Aside from providing home cooks a place to sell their food, Stolzoff says Josephine really wants the cooks to think of themselves as owning a small business, and they are trying to empower those who might not have the business experience by offering classes and tools, like spreadsheets, to help them learn to scale and to market themselves. “A lot of them have not worked in the food industry or have been disenfranchised by the food industry,“ he says. “We want to lower that barrier.” To that end, Josephine has teamed with local partners such as Seattle Tilth and the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, which helps refugees learn to cook as a way to enter the world of commerce. But why did Josephine choose Seattle as its second market? Demand, but also because of our foodie and entrepreneurial spirit and a population open to innovation and new models. After all, Stolzoff adds, “There’s no precedent for consumer behavior of going over to a neighbor’s to pick up dinner.” n firstname.lastname@example.org
VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016 â€¢ SEATTLE WEEKLY
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egetables are the new pork belly, as evidenced by the menus at restaurants all over the city—and not just vegetarian ones. In fact, on this list of our top veggie preparations, only one vegan restaurant holds court. Finally, it seems, chefs—and diners—are realizing the infinite possibilities of cooking food grown from the soil, with results just as decadent as a juicy steak or plate of pork. In fact, on menus, vegetables now often get their own section. At Tom Douglas’ Carlile Room, for instance, “plants” comprise at least half of the menu, and are portioned as entrées. However, while the dishes on this list revolve around vegetables, it doesn’t mean they’re vegan—or even vegetarian; it’s just that the veggies take center stage, and rightfully so. Some of these are sides, some are mains, but no matter where in the meal they’re located, they’re sublimely good. NICOLE SPRINKLE
Nasi Goreng Kedai Makan
Burnt Sweet Potato With Honey &Thyme 7 Beef
While the latest from Eric Banh may be all about the grass-fed cows and the result resulting dry-aged steaks, his Burnt Sweet Potato with Honey & Thyme threatens to outdo them. The huge wood-fired grill, where oak and maple woods preside, helps ignite and flavor the meat and the vegetables alike, giving this large sweet potato—a white one—a beautiful char that’s balanced with the sweetness of honey and the herbal blast from a messy tangle of thyme that covers the starchy flesh. This is not your run-of-themill baked potato, and while it’s big enough to make a wonmeal out of, it also pairs won derfully with the signature steaks.
Serving some of the best Asian food in town—now in a brick-and-mortar sit-down restaurant rather than from a window—this Malaysian fixture is more phenomenal than ever with an expanded menu that still features nasi goreng, the classic fried-rice dish of Malaysia. There are a couple different versions of it, but you can’t go wrong with the “Kedai,” in which the rice comes in a glorious jumble of tofu, sprouts, chilies, greens, and cucumber, topped with a fried runny egg that silkily binds it all together. A blast of kecap manis—an Indonesian sweet soy sauce that gets a molasses-like syrupy goodness from palm sugar—gives this dish its distinctive flavor.
VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016 • SEATTLE WEEKLY
Jackfruit Flautas No Bones Beach Club
When this vegan tiki bar opened, I had some serious doubts. Were they really going to pull off the likes of wings and nachos without meat? The answer is yes. And while people are singing the praises of the beerbattered avocado tacos, I’m smitten with the jackfruit flautas. I love the audacity of the dish, for starters; any chef who has the guts to take on the much-misunderstood fibrousfleshed jackfruit, with its slightly musty smell and a flavor that lies somewhere between a lychee, a banana, and a pineapple—though less sweet than any of them—is a hero to me. Get it right and you’re practically a god. Here, chunks of jackfruit are marinated in a proprietary sauce that speaks of citrus. Once cooked, the chunks are placed inside a fried flauta along with fire-roasted chiles, a tangy cheese made from fermented tofu, tomatillo avocado salsa, and cashew cream. If you’ve never tried jackfruit, this is a great initiation.
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Roasted Heirloom Carrots Stoneburner
Agedashi Tofu Sushi Kashiba
Why would I discuss vegetables at what’s arguably the best sushi restaurant in the city? Two words: agedashi tofu. Take if from this tofu-weary woman who ordered it and couldn’t get enough: It’s one of the best preparations of a classic Japanese dish. Four firm but slightly pliant cubes of tofu are lightly coated in potato starch and topped with grated radish and ginger; they float in a dashi broth, a Japanese staple stock used to poach fish or add umami to any dish, made with water, dried kelp, and bonito flakes. That everso-light savory hint of the sea also comes with a subtle, dreamy sweetness thanks to an assist from mirin, making the silken tofu irresistible. After you’ve eaten the tofu, you’ll be thankful for the spoon that comes with it, so you can drink every last drop of the delicate, beautifully rendered broth.
Jason Stoneburner has been getting vegetables right in Ballard for the past few years— and there’s a reason why the roasted heirloom carrots are a menu staple. While the seasonings are occasionally changed on these babies, which come in multi-colors from orange to purple to yellow, they always keep a zesty Middle Eastern magnificence, featuring Egyptian dukkah, a mixture (here housemade) of herbs, nuts, and spices that include cumin and sesame. A tart blast of lemon and a touch of honey bring a pitch-perfect sweet/sour profile. Order them as a starter or with a few other vegetable dishes to round out a meal.
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Roasted Acorn Squash Ernest Loves Agnes
When this Hemingwayinspired restaurant opened in the former Kingfish Café space over a year ago, people were excited about its rustic Italian pastas and pizza, but a quiet little starter packing a big punch became my favorite menu item. Half an acorn squash is roasted and served in its skin. It’s not overcooked and mushy, nor undercooked and starchy: a hard balance to achieve. That, combined with the flavors—it’s roasted in brown butter, which caramelizes and pools inside the flesh and yields just a touch of honey-like sweetness, while fried sage leaves add an intriguing herbal dimension— pushes it to excellency. The pepitas scattered on top bring a delightful salt and crunch. It’s thoroughly autumnal, thoroughly delicious.
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Eg gplant Fries Lionhead
The eggplant fries at Jerry Traunfeld’s Poppy on Capitol Hill have become a cult classic; you’re hard-pressed ever to find a table without them. Smartly, he brought them along when he opened Lionhead just down the street. But, befitting its Sichuanese menu, he adapted them into Yu Xiang Eggplant Fries. They’re still crispy on the outside with a yielding interior that allows the eggplant flavor to proliferate, but here they get the “fish fragrant” treatment—a coating of garlic, ginger, pickled chili, and black vinegar that’s a play on the Sichuan dish of braised eggplant. They’re just as addictive and popular as the ones at Poppy.
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Agnolotti Pasta Lark
I felt compelled to include at least one pasta dish here, and while there are plenty of great contenders for a vegetarianfocused one, I had to give the props to John Sundstrom at Lark. Agnolotti, that stuffed pasta that’s similar to ravioli but a bit longer and rectangular, is one of my favorites—and Sundstrom always has some version of it on his menu, typically featuring veggies.While I once raved about it served with smoked ricotta, rosemary dates, and brown butter, this pasta is equally arresting in its current incarnation with roasted carrots, peas, and more of that brown butter—its sweetness here offset with a touch of bitter honey. By the time of publication, he may very well have changed it up again! Though not an Italian restaurant, Lark offers some of the most inspired pastas in town.
Roasted Cauliflower Head The Carlile Room
In a bold move, Tom Douglas opted to make his menu at the swanky Carlile Room abundantly vegetarian. Its plants section, more than twice as long as its meats, features everything from pastas and potatoes to eggplant and cabbage—all of which get incredible global twists of flavors. But it’s his roasted cauliflower head that has perhaps become the biggest crowd-pleaser (though I also enjoyed his roasted broccoli, lightly charred and seasoned with tarragon, brown butter, and lemon and served with a side of stracciatella cheese—now gone from the menu). Chef Desi Bonow clearly is having a grand time working magic with veggies and it shows in this dish: A whole head of cauliflower is cooked in lobster-head broth and served over a Sardinian semolina pasta that is similar to Israeli couscous. He then amps up the flavors via coriander stems and seeds and chili oil. It’s such an inspired item— more out-of-the-box but no less delicious than the ubiq uitous blackened cauliflower everypopping up on menus every where. Cauliflower—it’s the new kale.
est. 1996 • fremont
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20 SEATTLE WEEKLY â€¢ VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016
FAST FOODIE As the farm-to-table movement carries on, it’s trickling down to the fast-food world in cities like Seattle, giving diners access to cheap but quality-sourced eats. By Nicole Sprinkle
n August, McDonald’s announced some big news: The fast-food giant plans to overhaul almost half its menu in light of consumer demands for healthier food. Sandwich buns will be made with sugar instead of highfructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives will be eliminated from Chicken McNuggets, pork sausage patties, and eggs, and only antibiotic-free chickens will be used. The news shouldn’t be surprising considering that the fast-food behemoth has been on a decline for the past three years, according to CNN Money, with drops as high as 30 percent in yearto-year sales and deteriorating earnings for shareholders. While several factors are behind the plunge, the biggest is customer unhappiness regarding the actual food—as admitted by the company’s CEO—with many people, particularly younger consumers, seeking alternatives like Panera and Chipotle over McDonald’s and other longstanding chains like Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. Not only are the products arguably better-tasting at these so-called “fast-casual” establishments, but they’re healthier and have fewer artificial ingredients. The farm-to-table movement has gained momentum over the past 10 years, but until recently it has been the provenance of the elite, available mainly at upscale, pricier restaurants. Now, particularly in urban areas like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, the movement’s underlying ethos has finally trickled down to convenience food. Mindful sourcing is increasingly important to diners, even when they’re just grabbing a burger and fries—and the parents who eat at the high-end restaurants want that same kind of sensibility when they take their kid out for chicken tenders. It’s a huge win: quality combined with fastfood service and prices. In New York, and now Boston, people have been going bananas for Dig Inn, a fast-food restaurant that sources nutritious ingredients from partners and farms with high-minded values, allowing diners who pay $10 to build out bowls that pile on sustainably sourced proteins that include steak, chicken, and salmon, wholesome grains like quinoa, and rotatCONTINUED ON PAGE 22
Great State Burger’s simple but stylish digs.
Besides tastier food, many of these spots also offer a more distinctive dining experience than chains like McDonald’s with trendier decor and fun additions like local beers and housemade condiments.
Fast-food efficiency at Great State Burger. VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016 • SEATTLE WEEKLY
Bok a Bok chef/owner Brian O’Connor bites into his own fried chicken.
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ing seasonal vegetables such as roasted squash and black kale, feta, and tomato salad. Indeed, I visited one of its many locations in Manhattan this summer, and was amazed by the lines out the door at lunch time. Here in Seattle, the opening of the California-based Veggie Grill a few years ago signaled the arrival of the first strictly vegan fast-food restaurant, and it too garners lines at lunch time, particularly in the South Lake Union location where hungry Amazonians seek buffalo wings and “Chickin” sandwiches made from meat substitutes such as tempeh and soy, all organic and non-GMO. But it has been in the past year that Seattle has witnessed a true sea change in better fast-food options, both in quality and variety, including Josh Henderson’s Great State Burger, where the meat comes from grass-fed cows, and Bok a Bok Fried Chicken, which sources only sustainably raised chickens for its Koreaninspired flavors. Besides tastier food, many of these spots also offer a more distinctive dining experience than chains like McDonald’s with trendier decor and fun additions that include local beers and housemade condiments.
Josh Henderson, one of Seattle’s most prolific and successful restauranteurs who, via his Huxley Wallace Collective, owns a number of tony restaurants such as Westward, Scout, and Quality Athletics, is behind Great State Burger in part because he believes that it is important for restaurant groups with big portfolios to diversify. But he’s also passionate about changing the way Americans eat, about “creating a burger we feel good feeding to our kids.” He says it only makes sense that chefs behind the farm-to-table restaurants, those who have spent their careers seeking better ingredients, would be part of this movement. “If you’re not paying attention to it now as a fast-food company, you’re going to get lapped.” But Henderson is also quick to point out that the processes that fast-food chains like McDonald’s have perfected can’t be cut out completely. “I would argue that if you want to change the fast-food game, you have to use the efficiencies that they use but slip in a grass-fed burger.” He’s speaking about things like a clamshell grill that allows a burger to be cooked in a minute and a half, a common fast-food staple. While he concedes that such equipment takes away from the romanticism
22 SEATTLE WEEKLY • VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016
of someone suffering over a grill, it’s the only way to scale. “We spent all this time modernizing our food, starting with TV dinners in the ’50s,” he says, ”so if we can reverse that process—use the same techniques but bring in better ingredients— then we can really make a difference.” While most of these upgraded fast-food restaurants exist only in urban centers where affluent people live and work— for example, Great State in South Lake Union and Laurelhurst—Henderson says he has plans to take the burger joint into the McDonald’s, or at least the In-N-Out Burger, lane, where the masses can have access to his almost entirely organic menu. “It’s the classic example of poor people getting the shaft, whether it’s credit cards or food,” he says. “We have a very strong desire to put our burgers in the mouths of people who don’t typically eat them. … That’s part of the plan, but we need to make a really good burger first. We have to work on a better bun. Even cheese has to be a quarter-inch wider. Is there one tomato or two, is the pickle on there or not? These are hard questions in the fastfood business.” And there aren’t always easy solutions. Though Henderson has purchasing leverage thanks to his large portfolio of
restaurants, he admits that it’s a challenge finding someone who can make, say, an organic hamburger bun, but who can also handle volume. Meanwhile, over in White Center, chef Brian O’Conner recently opened the wildly popular Korean fried-chicken joint Bok a Bok. It’s his first restaurant, and he lucked into a location where rent is a steal compared to, say, Capitol Hill or South Lake Union. But despite its slightly out-of-the-way neighborhood, people are coming from all over to savor his spicy fried chicken, kimchi mac ’n’ cheese, and other unique delights. Like Henderson, he’s committed to ethical sourcing, using sustainably raised chickens, making biscuits in-house, and even gathering herbs from his very own garden. The business also composts everything. Asked about the challenges of keeping prices low while serving a superior product, he says it’s all about overhead, or lack thereof. “There’s really not a front of the house, and everyone does everything. Customer service is still important, though, and we like to hire personalities.” He’s right: The bare-bones space with a handful of tables and the minimalist logo
of a chicken writ large on the wall doesn’t take much to maintain.You order food at a window from a cashier and get a number, and it’s delivered to you on a plastic tray that you then bus yourself. It’s an important point to underscore: Even Henderson’s places, while bigger and in neighborhoods with pricier rents, have far less staff and minimal decor. It’s these cost-cutting measures that allow them to put the extra dollars into the ingredients. “As a chef, there’s a responsibility,” O’Conner says. “We have to look at where we’re getting our product from. … People are rejecting [places like McDonald’s]. In the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, we saw lots of processed foods. I’m glad to see that’s changing.” While O’Conner chose White Center because it was financially advantageous for him—“I don’t have giant backers behind me. I put my whole restaurant together for $130K”—he does see the silver lining in being able to also serve his food to the community that lives there, a less-privileged demographic than in many other places in the city. On the night I reviewed the restaurant, people from the neighborhood poured in. It was refreshing. And that’s what’s heartening about this whole trajectory: It isn’t going to happen overnight, but little by little, as more committed, compassionate chefs continue to cook food that’s wholesome, delicious, and affordable, there just may be a chance to turn the tide on how all Americans eat. McDonald’s may be changing its game, and that’s a good thing, but at the end of the day it’s the chefs in places like Seattle that truly instigated it. n email@example.com
pieces of sustainably raised chicken are fried to a perfect light-golden, flaky exterior and accented by dipping sauces that include Korean BBQ (made with a tangy fermented soybean paste) and sesame soy garlic.You can also get them on sandwiches—also with Korean flavors and fresh condiments, such as pea sprouts and green chilies. Sides include kimchi mac ’n’ cheese, biscuits with spiced honey, and sweet-potato tater tots. Also on hand: soju slushy machines, beer, and barley-roasted tea.The prices are right, with oversized sandwiches at $8 and sides for $3. 1521 S.W. 98th St., 693-2493
Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches Inside Rachel’s Ginger Beer on Capitol Hill is a tiny window from which Monica Dimas (of nearby Tortas Condesas) sells a limited menu of truly delicious Southern-inspired fried-chicken sandwiches (made from freerange birds), fried green tomatoes, hush puppies, tangy slaw, and salads—most organic, and all to be possibly washed down with a RGB cocktail.The sandwiches, heaped with exceptionally moist meat, come in four iterations, including a Chinese-themed General Tso version doused in a sweet/sour sauce and scattered with fresh daikon and cilantro.There’s the Charleston too, a vegetarian sandwich of fried green tomatoes and pimiento cheese; the tomatoes are perfectly tart and crisp and stand up to a cornmeal coating that isn’t greasy but crumbly and flaky. For the more health-conscious, there’s a wedge and a kale salad. Prices are pleasing,
with sandwiches running between $6.84 and $8.21 and sides going for $3.88 to $5.02. 1610 12th Ave., 323-577-3045
Great State Burger The menu is as simple as they come: three burgers (a single, a double, and a kid’s), all made from organically raised, grass-fed beef and served no-frills, with lettuce, tomato, American cheese, and “state sauce”—some concoction that tastes a lot like the special sauce on a Big Mac.There’s also a veggie burger made with organic grains and a seasonal vegetable patty; crinkle fries made from organic Yukon gold potatoes; and vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry shakes made with organic soft-serve ice cream from local artisan ice-cream shop Parfait. Shakes come in three sizes, including an 8-ounce, perfect for kids or anyone watching their waist.To the burgers, there’s an option to add housemade pickles or grilled or raw onions for free.The place gets a Seattle twist with local draft beers, organic black tea, and Jones sodas. 2041 Seventh Ave., 775-7880; 3600 N.E. 45th St., 775-8990
45th Stop N Shop and Poke Bar While raw fish might not sound like typical fast-food fare, this gem tucked into the back of a convenience store in Wallingford serves heaping bowls of Hawaiian poke salads for a mere $10.The fish itself—tuna, salmon, and snapper—is as fresh as what you’d get at first-rate sushi restaurants in town, glistening cubes rubbed lightly in sesame oil and a
sweet and spicy house mayo with a hint of pineapple. It’s all layered over rice and lettuce and surrounded by seaweed salad, edamame, roe, a scoop of imitation “Krab” salad, a smashed hunk of avocado, pickled ginger, and nori—a brilliant explosion of flavors. There are a few seats inside the charmless gas-station-style food-mart, but most people take it to go. 2323 N. 45th St., 708-1882
Homegrown It’s been around for a while, but Seattle’s sustainable sandwich shop is branching out to the Bay Area. Conscious sourcing is the backbone of the venture, and it even has its own Woodinville farm that provides organic produce. Likewise, Homegrown works with other small farms and producers for everything from the meat to the bread; and you’ll see familiar regional names like Beecher’s, Stumptown, and Grand Central Bakery in many of the offerings, including sandwiches, salads, and soups, which change up seasonally. All produce is organic and, whenever possible, local. Meats too are hormone-free and come from animals fed only vegetarian diets. Sandwiches range from meat lovers’ favorites like a grass-fed steak and Cheddar to a vegetarian TLT (organic tofu, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and roasted garlic aioli). A big perk: Sandwiches are available in whole and half sizes (from $4.50 to $12.30). Homegrown recently began offering all-day breakfast as well, including four breakfast sandwiches and organic oatmeal. Various locations firstname.lastname@example.org
hether emphasizing organic and sustainable fare or bringing globally inspired eats to the tray (or both), here’s the lowdown on our favorite fast-foodie spots around town.
Mamnoon Street Beloved Middle Eastern restaurant Mamnoon on Capitol Hill can be cost-prohibitive, but Mamnoon Street, its sister outpost recently opened in the Denny Triangle, serves the same bold flavors in a small space with a few tables and a takeout window at a fraction of the price.While the menu is more limited, the biggest draw is the manaeesh sandwiches, made on Lebanese flatbread and filled with yummies that include sweet and spicy ground lamb, pomegranate molasses, and herb salad.They also make a mean hummus, a superlative falafel, and shawarma. If you stay, there’s a small bar area, and seating smack in front of the kitchen, where you can watch your meal come together. Sandwiches range from $7 to $9 and meze (appetizers) are $6 to $7. 2020 Sixth Ave., 327-9121
Bok a Bok All the way out in White Center, people are flocking for lunch and dinner to a tiny Korean-inspired fast-food joint where giant
A rice bowl with kimchi at Bok a Bok. VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016 • SEATTLE WEEKLY
OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS From Altura to Vendemmia.
FRENCH Le Caviste There are two ways I know of to go to Paris. One is to save a bunch of money, buy a plane ticket, and fly there. The other is to go to Le Caviste, which has the advantage of requiring neither major savings nor jet lag. The wine list is the star of the show, featuring expertly chosen selections, most of which are available by the glass, but the imported cheeses are just as dynamic and often nearly impossible to find elsewhere. 1919 Seventh Ave., 728-2657, lacavisteseattle.com ZACH GEBALLE Le Pichet A splendid place to enjoy all three meals, Le Pichet is also my favorite spot in town to spend an hour with a book and a cheese board; nor can you go wrong with the top-flight charcuterie and paté. The narrow room, decked out with black-and-white floor tile and slate-topped tables and lined with mirrors and banquettes, seems airlifted straight from some arrondissement; like good conversation with friends, the atmosphere here both enlivens and becalms. 933 First Ave., 256-1499, lepichetseattle.com GAVIN BORCHERT
Ahi tuna at LloydMartin 24 SEATTLE WEEKLY • VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016
Saint Helens Cafe Saint Helens Cafe has a deck that backs right up to the Burke-Gilman trail in Laurelhurst and provides an excellent pit stop for cyclists to reward themselves after a long ride with a bite from the French-inspired menu. But even if you’re not wearing Spandex, this new spot is a winner, with a sharp interior characteristic of Josh Henderson and his Huxley Wallace collective. Its spin on a Niçoise salad—here with smoked black cod instead of tuna— is a menu staple for good reason. Housemade pastas with seasonal sauces and the crispy pan-roasted chicken with salsa verde and fines herbes also stack up. 3600 N.E. 45th St., 7757050, sthelenscafe.com NICOLE SPRINKLE
NEW PACIFIC NORTHWEST Boat Street Kitchen Renee Erickson has moved on from her cute little gem at the base of Queen Anne, but I haven’t. The French country aesthetic still does it for me, as do the smart takes on a host of classics: the Puy lentils remain a favorite. In an era of expansion and exploration, there’s something comforting about the classics. 3131 Western Ave., Ste. 301, 632-4602, boatstreet kitchen.com ZG Brimmer and Heeltap Neighborhood dining in Seattle has evolved dramatically, and Brimmer and Heeltap is the perfect example of how. Situated at the corner of Sixth Avenue Northwest and Northwest Market Street and mostly surrounded by houses, it delivers the kind of creative and delicious food that you used to have to travel downtown to get. The charming patio, inherited from the late Sambar, is about as good as it gets in a Seattle summer, but the smart takes on global classics are what bring me back again and again. 425 N.W. Market St., 4202534, brimmerandheeltap. com ZG Canlis As one of Seattle’s most iconic restaurants, possessing a fabulous view, it would be relatively easy for Canlis to coast on reputation alone. Yet I’m always impressed by how dedicated the entire staff is to ensuring that each meal is as exceptional as the ones that preceded it. The full-on experience is perhaps a bit overwhelming for the average Tuesday night (and frankly, so is the bill), but it remains an unparalleled outing in all ways, from the smartly updated takes on classic dishes to the vast yet playful wine list to the graceful flourishes in service that you’ll notice at first and take for granted by the end of the meal. 576 Aurora Ave. N., 283-3313, Canlis.com ZG
The Carlile Room Tom Douglas’ 1970’s retro lounge-style restaurant kitty-corner to the Paramount is groovy-looking, but the food is completely updated and surprisingly, perhaps, heavy on vegetables. The menu is classic Douglas, anchored by standards like prime rib and rotisserie chicken, but with a considerable chunk devoted to “Plants.” In a brilliant move, Douglas offers multiple price points for the proteins: three sizes including a “side,” a “regular,” and a “slab.” This means that one can actually enjoy filet mignon for just $17. Besides the show specials, there’s a bar menu that runs until midnight, a lunch menu, a happy-hour menu, and even a “Hunter’s Breakfast” (as in Hunter S. Thompson) for $25: prime rib and eggs, bacon, fries, toast, milk, a cream puff, half a grapefruit, and a cup of coffee. 820 Pine St, 9469720, thecarlile.com NS Heartwood Provisions Few restaurants in Seattle are better suited for those who don’t want to think too hard about their dining experience. The menu is full of delights, including a squash dish that I routinely fantasize about, but even better, there are creative and tasty cocktail pairings for each item. Those who prefer to go the wine route are in good hands as well, as the list briskly traverses the globe, scooping up highlights from just about everywhere. 1103 First Ave., 582-3505, heartwoodsea.com ZG Lark John Sundstrom’s Lark is airy and elegant, the perfect backdrop for his local/seasonal menu of beautiful, perfectly executed dishes, ranging from housemade pastas to meat entrées such as buttermilk fried quail and Wagyu hanger steak. Surprisingly—and refreshingly—the menu here is quite extensive, a trend-bucker in a restaurant landscape defined by abbreviated ones with similar requisite
voguish options. Lark, in contrast, has 18 Starters, seven Pasta, Grains, and Dumplings, 10 Mains, and seven Desserts—no small feat when you’re serving food of this caliber. A perfect choice for a celebratory meal. 952 E. Seneca St., 323-5275, larkseattle. com NS
restaurant. The vast windows give glimpses of Puget Sound and the Pike Place Market below, while the menu puts that proximity to good use with fresh and flavorful dishes that simply sing with seasonality. 94 Pike St, 467-7909, matts inthemarket.com ZG
Le Petit Cochon As a kid, I hated the phrase “In your face!” I’m still not fond of it, but I can’t think of a better way to describe the food at LPC. Unapologetically meat-focused and occasionally a bit overwhelming, it’s the kind of meal that will find you eating at least one or two parts of an animal you’d never considered. There are lots of great choices, but the rotating charcuterie board is reliably one of the best purchases you can make in Seattle. 701 N. 36th St., Suite 200, 829-8943, gettinpiggy.com ZG
Meet the Moon The latest from the Heavy restaurant group (Barrio, Purple) has one of the best locations in town, right by the waterfront in sleepy Leschi—and superb food to boot. The kitchen executes food beautifully and consistently—whether a whole trout with a light crust and flaky skin served with fries (trout frites), a roasted-cauliflower appetizer in a goldenraisin gastrique (further evidence that cauliflower is the new kale), or an albacore tuna poke starter that meets the highest sushi-restaurant standards, the pliant squares of tuna bracingly fresh and accented by an accomplished balance of serrano pepper, green onion, sesame seed, ginger, and the subtlest soy dressing. Portions are big, but servers are often willing to call in a half-order. It’s homey food, gussied up—and neighborhood denizens snatch up seats fast for dinner and weekend brunch. 120 Lakeside Ave, 707-9730, meetthe mooncafe.com NS
LloydMartin There’s underrated, and then there’s LloydMartin: home to some of the best and most creative food in Seattle, yet perpetually overlooked on best-of lists. The food that chef Sam Crannell turns out of a kitchen without a conventional stove is thoughtful, flavorful, and often astonishingly unique, and yet the menu also offers plenty of what in 2016 might pass as “comfort food.” The vibe inside is also underrated: Few Seattle restaurants are as romantic, at least to the gastronomically inclined. 525 Queen Anne Ave N., 420-7602, lloyd martinseattle.com ZG Matt’s in the Market There must be some kind of magic in this restaurant, because I’ve never seen a spot where more people drink during lunch. Cocktails, beers, and bottles of wine festoon basically every table whenever I’m there. Perhaps many of the diners are celebrating the fact that they actually found the somewhat-reclusive
RockCreek In a city defined by seafood, RockCreek is the rare restaurant that allows the fish to shine through while still doing more than just searing a scallop and calling it good. The airy dining room is fun and breezy in summer, yet also comforting in the winter. The slightly less seafood-focused brunch is fantastic as well, managing to offer high-quality dishes that are also filling: a rarity these days. 4300 Fremont Ave. N., 557-7532, rock creekseattle.com ZG
Salare Is there any hotter restaurant or chef in town than Salare and Edouardo Jordan? It seems they’ve been nominated for almost every award or featured in just about every publication. Located in unassuming but rapidly growing Ravenna, this chic restaurant offers homemade pasta (spaghetti with albacore tuna, spinach fettuccine with oxtail) as well as perfectly cooked honeycomb tripe, lamb, and black cod. This is evolved Northwest cuisine. 2404 N.E. 65th St., 556-2192, salarerestaurant.com JACOB UITTI Stoneburner There’s a reason why Ruth Reichl hit up this Ballard bastion of Pacific Northwest-inflected Mediterranean goodness when she came to town last year. Located inside the Hotel Ballard, the snazzy, bustling interior is home to Jason Stoneburner’s inspired wood-fired pizzas, housemade pastas, and delectable meats and vegetables. Many of the ingredients found on the menu derive from the restaurant’s own plot of land in nearby Redmond, and the kitchen experiments heavily with the seasonal harvest. Seating is ample, but reservations are still suggested as this hot spot fills up fast for both dinner and brunch. 5214 Ballard Ave. N.W., 695-2051, stone burnerseattle.com NS Vendemmia Chef Brian Clevenger almost fetishizes simplicity in his cooking: sometimes it seems as if he’s trying to see just how few ingredients he can use in a dish. The grilled green beans with olive oil and sea salt are the perfect testimonial to the idea that a fantastic preparation needs only well-chosen ingredients perfectly cooked. The handmade pastas are only slightly more complex, and are so texturally enjoyable that the flavor almost seems secondary . . . though they
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are delicious, of course. 1126 34th Ave., 466-2533, vendemmiaseattle.com ZG ASIAN The Boiling Point Offering perhaps the most distinctive noodle experience in Seattle, this spacious outpost in the International District (right next to Uwajimaya) serves Taiwanese-style hot pot that you cook at your table—and it’s nearly impossible to find a seat at lunchtime. (There are also locations in Redmond, Bellevue, and Edmonds.) The bubbling soups feature basic proteins that include lamb, shrimp, and beef, as well as more exotic offerings such as pork intestine and fermented (stinky) tofu, and come in seven spice levels ranging from none to flaming. Add to them an array of ingredients like noodles, enoki mushrooms, quail eggs, imitation crab, bok choy, and other seasonal specialties. Patrons typically wash it down with hot teas, bubble teas, or interesting juices like lemonade with basil seed. 610 Fifth Ave. S., Seattle; 1075 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue, bpgroupusa. com NS Bok a Bok Bok a Bok is bringing on the KFC big-time, but this KFC is Korean fried chicken. The small space is drawing big crowds for its golden pieces of chicken, which you can eat straight up or as part of a sandwich. Fans of crispy-crusty fried food will especially enjoy the wings, which I recommend with either Korean BBQ or four-chili hot sauce for dipping. Don’t overlook the interesting side dishes, including kimchi mac ’n’ cheese made with earshaped orecchiette instead of the usual elbows. 1521 SW 98th St., 693-2493, bokabokchicken.com JAY FRIEDMAN Dong Thap Claiming that you know the best place for Vietnamese pho in Seattle is truly a throwdown of the gauntlet. But throw
I will. While your favorite spot may in part be determined by a myriad of factors—like quality of meat, broth, size, freshness of toppings, convenience—this one, in Little Saigon, gets the win for its excellent noodles, painstakingly housemade by a husband/wife team who want to serve you the same version they make for their own kids. The result is a springier, tastier noodle that will likely make you pooh-pooh the many inferior versions out there. The other plus here: You can get your pho with two types of noodles if you’d like. Also worth trying: their bún bò Hue, a spicier soup. 303 12th Ave. S., 325-1122 NS
Katsu Burger The towering Mt. Fuji at Katsu Burger shows off beef, pork, and chicken katsu (panko-breaded, deep-fried meats), but best is the simple and satisfying Tokyo Classic (but ask them to sub out the beef cutlet for pork for a more traditional Katsu experience). With vegetable toppings plus tonkatsu sauce and mayo, the sandwich is endlessly crave-worthy. Be sure to add nori fries and a green-tea milkshake to complete your decadent East-meets-West meal. katsuburger.com. 6538 Fourth Ave. S., 762-0752, Seattle; 12700 S.E. 38th St., 425-971-7228, Bellevue; 3333 184th St. S.W., 425622-4500, Lynnwood JF
flavors and focus on herbs and seasonal ingredients, has managed to deliver a darn good Sichuan menu next door to Poppy in a modern space with just enough Asian accents. He didn’t just wing it, though; he spent time in China with Chinese cookbook writer extraordinaire Fuchsia Dunlop to help develop a menu of classics like mapo dofu (spicy tofu with ground pork), gung bao, and chicken, as well as noodle and rice dishes like dan dan mian (wheat noodles with pork and Sichuan peppercorn sauce) and some of the best braised Chinese vegetables. 618 Broadway Ave. E., 9223326, lionhead seattle.com NS
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka Rising above the rest in the Seattle-area ramen boom is this Japanese import. Serving porky bowls of tonkotsu-style ramen, Santouka manages both consistency and quality. The tsukemen (ramen with broth for dipping on the side) is a good choice,but the best bet is the signature tonkotsu shio (boiled pork-bone salt broth) ramen, at once simple and complex. Be sure to add an ajitama (a seasoned, softboiled) egg, and consider corn with butter as an additional topping. 103 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue, 425-462-0141, santouka-usa.com JF
Kedai Makan The popular Malaysian walk-up window on Capitol Hill became a brick-andmortar restaurant last year, and the dynamite menu has expanded to include even more tastebudtingling dishes in a bustling but welcoming space with black-and-white photos of Southeast Asian rural and city life and a lively separate bar area braced by beautiful carved wooden pillars. The menu features noodle and rich dishes, rotis, salads, and entrées—all exploding with flavors derived from the likes of lime leaf, burnt chilies, fish sauce, shrimp paste, toasted coconut, sambal, palm sugar, sweet basil, and more. Here too are alcoholic potions— cocktails featuring medicinal Chinese herbs like red ginseng and eucommia bark. Whether they cure the ailments they purport to is undetermined, but they certainly do go down smoothly. 1802 Bellevue Ave., 556-2560, kedai makansea.com NS
Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot There are a number of good all-you-can-eat hot -pot places in the Seattle area, but no one does it like Little Sheep. With guidance from the servers, it’s an interactive experience as you cook at your table, dropping items into the bubbling broth and then dipping the cooked food in various sauces. I especially like the lamb dumplings and the “thick” noodles.
Huong Binh Want to know where so many in the Vietnamese community go for favorite food from their homeland? Look no further. Huong Binh, a little restaurant in Little Saigon, serves a wide variety of noodle soups, rice plates, rice-flour crepes, and more at reasonable prices. The grilled pork is a signature item, delicious with “intricate bundles” of thin rice noodles. I also recommend checking out the weekend specials, which include pork offal congee and the popular bún mang vit: duck and bamboo noodle soup. 1207 S. Jackson St., 720-4907 JF
Lionhead When Jerry Traunfeld (Herbfarm, Poppy) announced he was opening not only a Chinese restaurant, but one that focused entirely on Sichuanese food, there was some head-scratching. But the chef, known for his subtle
26 SEATTLE WEEKLY • VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016
Stateside’s Exotic Fruit Plate
Come with a group so you can eat as much as possible from the expansive menu. littlesheephotpot. com. 609 S. Weller St., Seattle, 623-6700, and 1411 156th Ave. N.E., Bellevue, 425-653-1625 JF Little Ting’s Dumplings A doughy paradise indeed. You can get a wide variety of daily-made dumplings boiled (the best way) or pan-fried (also delicious, and delightfully plated with extra batter creating crispy “wings”). Pork and chive or pork and cabbage are the standard-bearers, though there are occasional specials like sea urchin. The friendly staff will steer you in the right direction, and also set you up with frozen dumplings to cook at home. 14411 Greenwood Ave. N., 363-3866, littletingsdumplings.com JF Ma ‘Ono Fried Chicken & Whisky This Hawaiian-influenced spot is the place to be for weekend brunch in West Seattle. It also features some of the best fried chicken in town, twice-fried and available as a half or whole bird, served with biscuits, sausage gravy, and maple syrup. In fact,
it’s so popular you need to reserve your chicken in advance. Other standouts include their manapua (steamed pork buns), saimin (a kind of Hawaiian version of ramen), and a Loco Moco, featuring cheesy grits, kokuho rose rice, ground chuck, and Portuguese sausage topped with caramelized onion gravy. Wait, it’s not over: The dish is served with a Sriracha grilled pineapple salad with cilantro, young coconut, sesame, and two fried eggs. At dinner, the chicken, noodles, and buns are also available, as is poke (Hawaiian raw fish salad). 4437 California Ave. S.W., 935-1075, maono. springhillnorthwest.com NS Nirmal’s This Pioneer Square newcomer looks a little different than your typical Indian restaurant. Located in a spacious, airy brick-walled room with lovely minimalist light fixtures, it’s more of an exercise in modern restraint. The menu, however, aims to take you all over the country—expanding beyond the more traditional Northern Indian (Punjabi) dishes. While lunch consists primarily of thalis, dinner offers
chances to try starters and entrées like a Kashmiri rack of lamb steeped in rum and seasoned with chili, garlic, and nutmeg, or Goan fish curry with fresh coconut and tamarind. 106 Occidental Ave. S., 388-2196, nirmalsseattle.com NS Nue Though not strictly Asian, this global street-foodthemed restaurant on Capitol Hill does make quite a few stops in Asia— including China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. However, besides items like the Malaysian curry laksa or the Sichuanese spicy jumbo chicken wings, you can also devour plates of South African bunny chow, Trinidadian goat curry, and Brazilian fritters made from black-eyed peas. I was skeptical that they could pull off so many kinds of cuisines, but somehow they make it work. The space, in street-food form, demands you share a large communal table, or a seat at the tiny bar in the back, surrounded by kitschy decor that includes papier-
mâché dragons, bottles of cheap foreign beers, and tattered Lonely Planet guides. Don’t leave without trying the savory-with-justa-hint-of-sweet-pineapple corn bread (it’s become a cult classic) or one of the exotic cocktails featuring ingredients like scorpion, Thai water beetle, pickled herring, and other oddities. 1519 14th Ave., 257-0312, nueseattle.com NS Qin/Miah’s Kitchen These sister restaurants are popular for their biangbiang noodles, named for the onomatopoeic sound you’ll hear as the chef thwacks dough against the counter to stretch the noodles. Springy and chewy, these Xi’an-style noodles are well worth the drive out of Seattle, and best simply seared with hot oil. (That hot also means chili hot.) There’s more to explore on the menu, including the contrasting liangpi noodles. miahskitchen.weebly.com. 22315 WA-99, Edmonds, 425-776-7847, and 2022 148th Ave. N.E., Redmond, 425-644-6090 JF
Stateside Stateside landed on so many Seattle best-restaurant lists last year for good reason—and it keeps getting better. The restaurant melds the fresh and vibrant flavors of Vietnamese cuisine with Pacific Northwest products and influence. Start with crispy duck fresh rolls, and be sure to order the cha ca la vong: black cod marinated in turmeric and galangal, with rice vermicelli and fresh herbs. Then come back for weekend brunch. 300 E. Pike St., 557-7273, statesideseattle.com JF Suika In a city that has quite a few Japanese izakayas, I find Vancouver import Suika to be the finest. The creative menu is designed to complement your beer, sake, or cocktail. Start with an uni shooter or tako wasabi, the chewy octopus providing lasting pleasure. Chicken wings and kara-age prove that fried food is great drinking food. Or go lighter with aburi saba battera (lightly seared and pressed)
or just simple but delicious sashimi. 611 E. Pine St., 7479595, suika seattle.com JF Ton Kiang Barbeque Noodle House Get past the continual thwack thwack thwack of the cleaver and you’ll find much that’s comforting about Ton Kiang. First, the restaurant uses free-range for its fantastic “salted sauce” chicken, which comes with an amazing ginger-green onion dipping sauce. Second, it tries to utilize the whole animal, so while there’s delicious roast duck that looks familiar, you can also ask for duck wings and even tongue. If you call in advance to pre-order, you can even get a whole roast pig! 668 S. Weller St., 622-3388 JF Vientiene Asian Grocery Store It looks like just a grocery store from the outside, but treasures (and tables) await inside Vientiane. The food items for sale are also the raw materials
the kitchen uses to create some interesting Thai and Lao dishes. Most notable: a selection of khao poun noodle soups in beef, chicken, and fish varieties—though I recommend the khao poun nam poan with pork intestines and more. Have them whip you up a papaya salad plus Lao sausage on the side and you’ve found a feast. 6059 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., 723-3160 JF BBQ/SOUTHERN Bitterroot Maybe the best known barbecue joint in the city, Bitterroot is a mix of clean, modern fare with the traditional sauce-on-your-face goodness of a perfect hot wing. Dubbed “Northwest barbecue,” meaning a hybrid of Texas and Kansas City flavors, the menu has a sweeter touch and uses the PNW’s indigenous applewood stock to smoke its wares, including the finger-licking-worthy smoked half chicken. 5239 Ballard Ave. N.W., 5881577, bitter rootbbq.com JU
Bourbon & Bones Specializing in Carolina barbecue (the oldest form in the country, focusing on spice rubs, vinegar-based sauces, and smoke), chef Michael Law, formerly of The Wandering Goose, brings out dishes from toothsome ribs to juicy brisket to velvety mashed potatoes. Wash them down with one of the seemingly never-ending bourbon options on the shelf and feel like Southern royalty. 4350 Leary Way N.W., 582-2241, bourbonandbones.com JU Drunky’s Two Shoe BBQ Flying in the face of the slew of hipster barbecue joints that have sprung up around the city, Drunky’s is focused on large quantities of quality barbecue, served at reasonable prices. The decor borders on outright kitsch and the service is breezy, but the brisket is tender and flavorful, the smoked chicken is dynamite, and the whiskey is cheap and plentiful. 4105 Leary Way N.W., 693-3962 ZG
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Fat’s Chicken and Waffles New Orleans fare doesn’t get much finer than at this restaurant, located in the former Jackson’s Catfish Corner space in the Central District. Shrimp and grits are perfection, painstakingly made with a shellfish broth, while the chicken, delivered alongside waffles, is juicy and well-salted inside its armor of skin. Other standouts: the mac ’n’ cheese and the fried-green-tomato and shrimp salad over greens and dressed in a fantastic remoulade. Portions are large, and scream to be washed down with the house Hurricane—a blend of three rums and passionfruit syrup that will knock you off your feet. The interior is homey, with hanging plants, macramé art, and photographs of Grandmaster Flash and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Outside, locals who mourn the loss of Jackson’s Catfish Corner will at least be pleased to see that James Crespinal’s 17-foot mural of Martin Luther King, Jr. remains. 2726 E. Cherry St., 6026863, fatschickenand waffles.com NS Jack’s BBQ Brisket. Brisket. Brisket. Yes, there are other options at Jack’s, and most of them are delicious. When it comes right down to it, though, if you don’t get as much brisket as you can reasonably stomach, you’re wasting everyone’s time. Smoked perfectly, wonderfully juicy, and treated with the kind of care that borders on reverence, it’s well worth the occasional long line to get your hands (and teeth) on. 3924 Airport Way S., 4674038, jacksbbq.com ZG Sisters and Brothers Next to the looming Jet City Winery and across from Boeing Field sits this tiny dive filled with tacky Washington landscape paintings, sports and beer ephemera, and tables that double as old-school video games like Ms. Pac Man. The menu is simple and revolves around Nashville Fried Chicken, coated in a mixture that speaks of chili powder,
cayenne, and paprika both in taste and color. No matter which heat level you order, all the way up to “insane,” the chicken is delectably moist and comes with a slice of white bread, cooling sweet bread-and-butter pickles, and a choice of a side—fries, cabbage and pepper slaw, and mac ’n’ cheese among them. Also, The New York Times just included Sisters and Brothers on a piece about Nashville fried chicken! 1128 S. Albro St., 762-3767, sistersandbrothersbar. com NS SUSHI Kisaku Newer and pricier sushi restaurants are opening in Seattle, but Kisaku in Tangletown remains a classic neighborhood spot that bustles during both lunch and dinner. You can get all the sushi standards, but among my top recommendations are shirako (cod sperm, with a creamy, custardy texture), amaebi (eat the sweet shrimp raw, then the head and shell fried), and a personal favorite, hotate kombu jime (kelp-marinated scallop). 2101 N. 55th St., 545-9050, kisaku.com JF Mashiko Ethical can be incredible. That’s what you’ll learn at Mashiko, Seattle’s first sustainable sushi bar and one of the first of its kind in the country. If you open your mind to go beyond bluefin tuna and eel, you’ll learn about local and regional seafood that’s great as nigiri or grouped with other ingredients in inventive ways. There’s also an extensive izakayalike menu, with dishes like the utsunomiya gyoza well worth a try. 4725 California Ave. S.W., 935-4339, sushi whore.com JF Sushi Kappo Tamura When Taichi Kitamura succeeded in his quest to Beat Bobby Flay and declared he was more than a sushi chef, that wasn’t news to many of us in Seattle. Still, he serves some of the best sushi in the city. But also be sure to check out the fine
selection of ippin ryori (small plates) that feature greens and more from the rooftop garden. New additions to SKT include weekend brunch and weekday lunch—as well as tonkatsu Thursdays. 2968 Eastlake Ave. E., 5470937, sushikappotamura. com JF Sushi Kashiba Loyal customers bemoaned the depart of chef Shiro from his namesake restaurant in Belltown. But the sushi master—who trained under the famous Jiro Ono of Sukiyabashi, a three-star Michelin restaurant that was the subject of the 2012 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi— has moved to a primo location in Pike Place Market’s Post Alley. Here, the venerated sushi chef and his colleagues work their magic at the bar, while customers watch surrounded by sweeping views of the Sound. If ever there is a place to go “omakase” and let the chefs choose your fish, this is it. Be sure to try the freshly killed shrimp that comes still quivering on your plate. 86 Pine St. #1, 441-8844, sushikashiba. com NS MEXICAN/ SOUTH AMERICAN Chavez “Durango”-style tacos and antojitos (small plates) make up the tightly curated menu at this stylish but understated Capitol Hill spot. Favorite tacos include the shrimp with tomato, chipotle, and onions and the braised pork shoulder with roasted poblano. Among the small plates, I’m a fan of the stuffed poblano chili with beef and nogal walnut. If you’re choosing between salsas and guacamole, I vote for the former. 1734 12th Ave., 695-2588, chavezseattle.com NS Fonda La Catrina The industrial chic says Georgetown; the vinyl tablecloths in eye-popping colors and the mural art above the bar say Mexico; and they work beautifully together at Fonda la Catrina. If you judge a
Mexican place by its chips, your search ends here; substantial and almost cracker-like, generously salty, they’re even more addictive than usual. The food’s distinctly a cut above the average, while the prices are a bit below what you might expect for Mexican of this caliber; together they equal a crowded restaurant, deservedly so, so plan ahead or prepare for a bit of a wait. It’s so worth it. 5905 Airport Way S., 767-2787, fondalacatrina.com GB Gracia One of the newest Mexican restaurants to hit Seattle, Gracia joins the parade of eateries along Ballard Avenue, offering street-size tacos and small plates in a lively, stylish space that’s low on Mexican kitsch and dominated by a large bar. The focus here is on things like housemade masa: Ground blue corn yields a dark-brown tortilla with an almost buckwheat-like flavor that is accented wonderfully in the minihuarachitos—loaded with duck carnitas, a spicy salsa roja, crema, and lettuce. The Veracruz-style ensalada de pulpa is also notable with capers, olives, and tender chunks of octopus served in a kind of pico de gallo with healthy-sized pieces of avocado. Tacos come in five variations; the beef brisket and fish are my picks. 5315 Ballard Ave. N.W., 268-0217, gracias eattle.com NS Mojito It’s not the most desirable location— just off the Lake City Way exit toward Ravenna—but the South American and Caribbean menu here is not to be missed. Among my favorites are fish cooked in a banana leaf and flavored with cinnamon and other spices and the ceviche with white fish, red onions, and white hominy over greens, served with tostones and avocados. The soupy black beans and rice that accompany many meals are great too—and, shockingly, not made with any beef or pork stock. Always try a side of the signature mojito sauce—mayo-based and
spicy and garlicky in equal measure. The small, bright space is inviting, and kids love banging away on the various musical instruments in the back. Stop by on Sundays for a traditional Colombian stew. 7545 Lake City Way N.E., 525-3162, mojitoseattle.com NS Señor Moose This old-timer off Ballard’s beaten path got a refresh last year, but it still retains its original charm, eschewing the slickness of many new spots around town in favor of brightly- colored walls and Day of the Dead ephemera. The food here is homey and solid, with brunch being perhaps the best time to visit; the menu is dominated by a huge assortment of egg dishes, include huevos con nopalitos with fresh cactus, tomato, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and three scrambled eggs, served with black beans and tortillas. They’re all here—tacos, enchiladas, tostados, mole, and more— along with starters like a refreshing jicama-and-cucumber salad with lime and chili. The margarita list is impressive, too. I can never resist the piña chilos with chili-infused tequila and fresh pineapple. 5242 Leary Ave. N.W., 784-5568 NS Tacos Chukis Why do the best taco places always seem to be in the most no-frills spot? This one is upstairs in the Broadway Alley building, with lines curling around inside. The tacos are street-size, but the flavors are big and bold. So much is good here, but the house taco, which comes with a slice of grilled pineapple and pork adobado, is always a crowd-pleaser. Despite a flurry of Mexican-restaurant openings, it’s hard to rival this one. 219 Broadway E., 328-4447, facebook.com/tacoschukis NS ITALIAN/ MEDITERRANEAN Altura Tasting menus are a tricky concept to execute, but Altura manages to uniquely combine creativity and craftsmanship. The dining experience is as much
about exploration as anything else, and it’s a treat for those with a curious mind and palate. Beverage pairings are often intriguing, even when they don’t always quite work. It’s the kind of meal you’ll think about for days after, long after you’ve returned to humbler fare. 617 Broadway E., 402-6749, altura restaurant.com ZG Ciudad This Georgetown gem is hard to categorize, but given its theme of grilled meats and flatbread, Mediterranean felt like the best label. In fact, Ciudad plays with all kinds of flavors and cooking techniques—not so surprising, perhaps, given that it’s a joint venture of Matt Dillon (Bar Sajor, The London Plane) and Marcus Lalario (Li’l Woody’s, Fat’s Chicken & Waffles). Nick Coffey (formerly of Dillon’s Sitka & Spruce) helms the kitchen, which includes a massive grill at the entrance to this old, industrial brick building, modified slightly by a quirky mural and colorful seats. The deal here is to order as many of the deep, delicious sauces as you can—from burnt honey to ramp mayo—and smear them on lamb cooked slowly over the coals, chicken cooked under a brick, and braised and grilled by-catch octopus—or onto the flatbread. It’s not just a meat-fest, though; veggies and accompaniments get that special Dillon touch, with seasonal offerings like shishito peppers, melon, and blue cheese drizzled with caramelized honey or fermented chanterelles and apricots. 118 12th Ave. S., 717-2984 NS Ernest Loves Agnes Taking over the former Kingfish Café space, the latest from the Guild Seattle group (Comet Tavern, Lost Lake Café & Lounge), with its Hemingwayinspired Cuban/Key West decor, opened to great fanfare last year. Since then it’s had some bumps (their original chef Mac Jarvis moved on), but it’s still turning out simple but delicious Italian fare as well as pizzas. Go for
the squid-ink ravioloni filled with spiced lobster mushrooms and sheep’s cheese and topped with a pistachio-parsley crumble that will make your taste buds tremble, or a simple bowl of bucatini with a sweet herbed marinara. Don’t pass up a chance to try their half-roasted acorn squash either. 600-602 19th Ave. E., 535-8723, ernest lovesagnes.com NS Il Corvo What’s left to say about Il Corvo? It remains the home of some of Seattle’s best pasta (at prices no other establishment can match) and devoted to a specific vision: You come in, pick from three or so daily offerings, maybe add some cured meats or olives, you eat, and you leave happy (so someone else can take one of the precious few seats). It’s a formula as vital and satisfying as in its Pike Place Steps days, and shows no signs of slowing down. 217 James St., 5380999, ilcorvopasta.com NS Omega Ouzeri Seattle was sorely lacking a good Greek restaurant until Omega Ouzeri opened just over a year ago. While most tend toward the dark, rustic tavern look, this Capitol Hill establishment takes you instead to the bright and sunny Greek isles with its soaring ceilings, cobalt-and-white palette, and a massive seaside mural. The food reflects a more modern sensibility as well, perhaps even more so now that award-winning chef Zoi Antonistas (formerly of Westward) has taken the helm. While you’ll find some of the usual suspects, including chicken souvlaki and Greek salad, outside-the-box items are more prevalent—think braised wild-boar ribs with Cypriot grain salad, emmer, black-eyed peas, almonds, pine nuts, and honey and hand pies with greens, feta, scallions, dill, and yogurt sauce. Also unique at Omega Ouzeri: its expansive Greek wine and spirit list, divided by region—Macedonia, Attica, Peloponnisos, and elsewhere—plus half a
dozen ouzos and cocktails using Greek liquors. 1529 14th Ave., 257-4515, omegaouzeri.com NS San Fermo This Italian newcomer takes the prize when it comes to charming digs. Located in a house that was literally moved from the International District years ago—supposedly the oldest remaining residential structure in Seattle—it resembles a white seaside cottage, complete with a front porch. Dominating the menu are classic housemade pastas that include spaghetti Bolognese and carbonara mafaldine made with chewy hunks of guanciale instead of bacon; both are solid. Starters change with the season (I loved their softshell crab in Calabrian chili and orange this summer), but you can always expect the inspired antipasto plate with items like confit duck leg, burrata, and house pickles. 5341 Ballard Ave. N.W., 342-1530, sanfermo seattle.com NS Serafina This summer, Seattle lost this restaurant’s beloved owner, Susan Kaufmann, to cancer. But the legacy she left at this Eastlake establishment, which has been the incubator for many a talented chef, lives on. Known for its loyal regulars, Serafina didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but rather perfected classic dishes, served in a quaint and welcoming space. Live music and an outdoor patio round out a perfect dining experience. 2043 Eastlake Ave. E., 323-0807, serafina seattle.com NS
Spinasse Chef Stuart Lane continues to keep Spinasse on point following the departure of Jason Stratton more than a year ago, and it remains one of Seattle’s finest Italian places. The signature tajarin (the impossibly fine pieces are hand-cut before your eyes) with butter and sage is thankfully still on the menu, and other freshly made pastas, such as lamb raviolini, sing with sauces like marinated favas and pecorino. Besides pasta, come for unique entrées such as pan-roasted rabbit meatballs with polenta and chanterelle ragù and simple but excellent vegetable treatments. The interior manages to be both rustic and pretty, making every meal there feel like a special night out. 1531 14th Ave., 251-7673, spinasse. com NS Tavolata My go-to restaurant for any celebration involving my daughter, Ethan Stowell’s Italian trattoria just keeps getting better—and now it has a new location on Capitol Hill too. I’ll always be loyal to the Belltown spot, though, with its spacious industrial interior perfectly refined by handsome lighting fixtures. It’s all about the pasta here (extruded in-house in shapes and sizes you never knew existed) with menu staples like their spicy rigatoni and spaghetti with anchovy, garlic, chili, and parmesan. But there are always new additions or specials, and of late I’m in love with their paccheri with huge gulf prawns, tomato, chili, and sofrito. The starters too are dreamy; you can never go wrong A Veracruz-style plate at Ciudad.
VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016 • SEATTLE WEEKLY
with their bruschetta with smoked fish, pickled onion, and aioli, but their burrata with compressed melon and fried shishito peppers does the trick as well. 2323 Second Ave., 501 E. Pike St., 838-8008, ethanstowellrestaurants.com NS Westward Westward has become such an institution in three short years, in part due to its high-rent location smack on Lake Union, with a pier that boaters can dock at (and slip in for oysters on the halfshell or a cocktail) and Adirondack chairs ringing fire pits—usable summer or winter. But much of its celebrity also came from the genius of former chef Zoi Antonistas, who has moved on to Omega Ouzeri. Fortunately, she taught her chefs well; the kitchen continues to churn out great Mediterraneaninflected seafood in its quirky yet dignified setting (The Life Aquatic meets Ralph Lauren). Brunch is particularly notable, with items like a Dutch baby with stone-fruit compote, pistachios, vanilla crème fraîche and grilled pork chorizo sausage with garlic, cumin, and pimento. Dinner is more about the seafood, from wood oven-roasted whole fish to grilled octopus. And of course there are the oysters, with always a great curation of local varieties. 2501 N. Northlake Way, 552-8215, westward seattle.com NS PIZZA Big Mario’s A Capitol Hill staple, Big Mario’s came to Lower Queen Anne last year, and replicates a vintage, slightly grungy New York pizza joint. The pizza too is a decent rendition of New York style: thin crust, greasy-ish, if a little too doughy. Though I’ve never been a fan of Sicilian pie, I actually love it here: The thick, square slices are quite big, with the tomato sauce pooled in the center and the edges perfectly browned. There are 17 huge pies to choose from,
ranging from $17.99 to $30 and including potato pesto, pear gorgonzola, or more traditional offerings—such as “The Macho Man” with pepperoni, salami, and sausage or “The Spicoli” (“the pizza that made us famous”) with pepperoni, fresh pineapple, and jalapeños. While families can hang out in the front, the real place to be is the dark cocktail lounge in the back, where roomy red-vinyl booths sandwich shiny wood-veneer tabletops, mirrors line the wall, and the art is limited to a neon Rainier beer sign, a framed classic poster of Farrah Fawcett, and illustrations of vintage lottery tickets. 815 Fifth Ave., 1009 E. Pike St., 922-3875, bigmariospizza.com NS Delancey It’s hard to imagine a year when Delancey wouldn’t make this list. Owners Brandon Pettit and Molly Wizenberg (of famed food blog Orangette) serve what are arguably the best pies in Seattle; the wood-fired thin-crust pizza has just the right ratio of cheese to sauce and boasts inspired seasonal toppings like Walla Walla onions and padron peppers. Further distinguishing this joint from most pizza places are the impressive seasonal salads (roasted squash and pesto) and desserts (bourbon-roasted peaches with 9 Vanilla Bean ice cream, corn-cookie crumble, and anise hyssop). Get there by 5 sharp, or expect to wait as long as an hour for a seat. 415 N.W. 70th St., 838-1960, delancey seattle.com NS
pizzas, though round pies are also available. These are the closest to the real thing (as at the original Ray’s or Grimaldi’s in New York) that I’ve found in Seattle, featuring a crust, with some black spotting on the bottom and sides, that is thin yet thick enough to fold over without cracking as you walk and eat. It’s also not gooey with cheese or overly sauced. And there’s just enough oil (read: grease) to ensure optimal flavor. The Sicilian is, of course, square, and characteristically thicker, but has that golden, almost creamy texture in the center and is extremely crispy on the sides. 1524 E. Olive Way, 403-1742, dinostomatopie.com NS Windy City Pie When I discovered David Lichterman’s deep-dish pies last fall, I went crazy for them. Lichterman is a computer programmer and a photographer who once worked for Amazon but, while dabbling in pizza-making there, hit on the perfect recipe to rep his hometown, Chicago. He quickly garnered the respect of Serious Eats’ ultimate food geek, J. Kenji López-Alt, and after that there was no looking back. So what makes his pizza so coveted? The caramelized-cheese edge and the dough—enriched, spongier, and sweet. It’s also a rather civil deepdish—not three inches thick and oozing cheese,
which makes it less greasy and allows the flavors of the sauce and the toppings, like housemade sausage, to flood your taste buds. (Delivery only.) 486-4743, windycitypie. com NS MIDDLE EASTERN/AFRICA Café Munir Serving authentic Lebanese food in a pretty, serene space bordering on romantic in Loyal Heights, Café Munir never disappoints with its delicious dips and flatbreads, grilled meats, and savory pastries that include filo cigars filled with lamb, spices, and pine nuts. They also have a huge offering of whiskeys, and make some lovely liqueurs as well. This neighborhood gem always feels like a secret you’ve just stumbled upon. 2408 N.W. 80th St., 783-4190 NS Jebena Seattle has a healthy number of Ethiopian restaurants, but none are as excellent as this one up near Northgate. If ever there was a place to try kitfo—Ethiopian raw beef seasoned with berbere and chilies—this is it. It’s as fresh and flavorful as it comes. The injera bread is also first-rate, as are traditional chicken dishes like doro wot and veggies like lentils and spinach. As with most Ethiopian places, combo plates are always a great way to go, but do ask to try the kitfo, as it’s rarely included on them. 1510
Dino’s Tomato Pie Though it’s owned by Delancey’s Brandon Petitt and Molly Wizenberg, that’s where the similarities between the two pizza places end. This paean to a 1980s New Jersey pizza joint is purposefully tacky with dark wood-paneled walls, fake flowers, fauxmarble tabletops, and awkward family photos from the era of bad perms and pastels. The focus here is on Sicilian square Sweet Ride at Big Mario’s Pizza
30 SEATTLE WEEKLY • VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016
N.E. 117th St., 365-0757, jebenacafe.com NS Juba If you’re up for the drive to SeaTac, try lunch at this Somalian restaurant that fills with Muslim cab drivers on their lunch break who often spill out of the nearby mosque for afternoon prayer. Here, platters of rice and pasta (Somalia was once a colony of Italy) come with various meats, which regulars eat with their hands. Or opt for the lamb shanks, tender and mildly flavored with the signature spices of Somali cuisine: cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, and coriander seeds. Try the beef steak, large pieces of boneless grilled skirt steak thinly cut and served with a fresh green salad, tomatoes, and a side of about 10 squares of bread similar to Indian flatbread, but a tad oilier. Don’t be surprised by the unpeeled bananas served on your plate; they’re meant to be eaten atop the food. It all gets washed down with mango juice, served for free by the pitcher. 14223 Tukwila International Blvd., Tukwila, 242-2011 NS Mamnoon Mamnoon continues to be the destination for Middle Eastern food in a fine-dining atmosphere, and now former Spinasse chef Jason Stratton is in charge. The emphasis is on Syrian cuisine, though it gives other countries their due. From the small plates
(mezze) like a knockout crispy fried cauliflower with tarator and parsley to ovencooked and grilled dishes featuring quality meats and fresh produce expertly seasoned with the spices of the Middle East, the menu never fails to impress. 1508 Melrose Ave., 906-9606, mamnoon restaurant.com NS The London Plane Matt Dillon’s larder/bakery/ boutique/floral shop/restaurant continues to charm the Pioneer Square lunch crowd with its very particular style of beautifully plated vegetable and grain dishes—mostly served at room temperature and featuring interesting (mostly Middle Eastern) flavor and textural combinations, like turnips with hazelnuts, parsley, and preserved lemon. My favorite staple: the bread and crackers, with a seasonally changing mezze of spreads like beet hummus, cashew romesco, and kale borane that are great for sharing. There’s some meat on the menu, more so at dinner, like roasted chicken and seared pork belly, but it’s the veggies and baked goods that really stand out here. Come for a delicious croissant in the morning or a glass of wine and several pretty plates in the afternoon or evening. The vibe is always elegant yet relaxed in the soaring, palate-cleansing spot. 300 and 332 Occidental Square S., 206-624-1374, thelondonplaneseattle.
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TA S T I N G & D I N I N G E V E N T FISHER PAVILION • OCTOBER 6, 2016 7-10 PM EXPERIENCE SEATTLE'S TOP CHEFS AND MIXOLOGISTS Barrio Mexican Kitchen & Bar • Bluebird Ice Cream Café Campagne • Caffe Umbria • Capitol Cider Casco Antiguo • Chambers Bay Distillery Ciudad • Collections Cafe • Dot's Butcher & Deli Eat Seattle • Heritage Distilling International Truffle Expo My Sweet Li'l Cakes • Naka • Nirmal's • Paseo Pike Place Market Foundation Pintxo • Poquitos Rhein Haus • RN74 Seattle Rusty's Famous Cheesecake SkyCity at the Needle Snouts & Co. The Carlile Room The Butcher’s Table The Helm Wet Buns + more!
VORACIOUS DINING GUIDE 2016 • SEATTLE WEEKLY
SEATTLE’S LOCAL HIDEAWAY IN THE HEART OF PIKE PLACE MARKET Three stories of water views; award-winning unique, Pacific Northwest and all-American breakfasts; fantastic infusion Bloody Mary selections; cocktails, lunches & suppers. We pickle, we braise, we pick our seafood two doors down daily − we’re fresh! Stop in to enjoy our friendly staff and service with something for everyone from open to close!
Homemade Kimchi Bloody Mary
San Juan Combo Smoked Salmon and Dungeness Crab Benedict