Readers' Picks


Best Happy Hour

It's always 5 o'clock at MCCORMICK & SCHMICK'S—except, of course, from 3 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight, when fancy snacks like oyster shooters, bay shrimp cocktail, and New York–style "counter burgers" (with fries!) cost a mere $1.95. 1103 First Ave., 206-623-5150; 1200 Westlake Ave. N., 206-270-9052; 722 Fourth Ave., 206-682-3900;

Best Specialty Cocktail

Fans of the MOJITO CAFE know that the bar's namesake drink—a simple, refreshing mix of rum, lime juice, sugar, mint, and soda water—isn't just good: It's the best in town. Authentically Cuban, the restaurant has you salsa dancing on Thursdays and romancing to live music on Sundays, sipping its specialty all the while. 181 Western Ave. W., 206-217-1180,

Best 'Dive' Bar

You can't beat the NITE LITE LOUNGE for scoping out some of Seattle's more interesting (and usually intoxicated) people. The drinks are strong, the jukebox is almost always playing rock and roll, and the greasy fries and funky decor are all you could hope for in a late-night drinking destination. 1926 Second Ave., 206-443-0899.

Best Upscale Bar

Every season, TINI BIGGS trots out a new fleet of flavored martinis for the press. Food writers sip each drink and record their impressions; the scorecards help determine which flavors end up on the menu. Yet for all its seriousness about the martini, Tini's is still down to earth enough that you can chat with the bartender about whatever sporting event is on ESPN3. 100 Denny Way, 206-284-0931.

Best Bartender

Attention to detail comes in handy when making martinis, and luckily AARON MARSHALL AT TINI BIGGS has both the talent and dedication to make every martini remarkable. Though he's only been at the bar for around a year, he already has a reputation for multitasking (lighting cigarettes, shaking drinks, and chatting—all at once!), and for good old-fashioned charm. 100 Denny Way, 206-284-0931.

Best Washington Red Wine

Weekly readers prove their wine smarts by choosing COLUMBIA CREST TWO VINES MERLOT-CABERNET BLEND, which certainly deserves special praise in its $8–$9 price class. The cab-merlot blend usually includes a hefty slug of cabernet franc for added richness, and it consistently scores high among wine critics for its unusual combination of quality and value.

Best Washington White Wine

With every sip of sweet, soft CHATEAU STE. MICHELLE DRY WHITE RIESLING, your spirit and enthusiasm rise—and you get slightly closer to dancing on a table. Should you run out, you can always switch to Columbia Winery's riesling, your second choice.

Best Local Microbrew

Blondes have more fun, especially in the summer. Now, thanks to an extension of the REDHOOK BLONDE ALE season, you can enjoy this light, foamy beverage all year long. Mac & Jack's Amber Ale ran a close second.

Best Independent Coffeehouse

Your favorite caffeine fix, CAFFE LADRO, has outposts all over Seattle that offer organic, Fair Trade–certified coffee, plus homemade baked goods and desserts. What's more, each shop has a distinctive ambience, from richly colored walls in Queen Anne to chunky, relaxing chairs on Capitol Hill. Various locations,

Best Local Chef

Just a year ago, TOM DOUGLAS introduced Lola, a Greek-themed addition to a local empire that includes the Palace Kitchen, Etta's Seafood, and the Dahlia Lounge. Since 1989, Douglas has been artfully blending regional and world cuisines, to the delight of sophisticated palates around the Sound.

Best New Restaurant

Many Seattle restaurants are newer to the scene than this artful Central District sandwich and coffee shop, but perhaps CAFÉ STELLINA's ever-changing menu keeps the restaurant feeling fresh. A close second goes to Ballard's Volterra: truly new and truly special. 2000 E. Union St., 206-322-2688.

Best Splurge

Think $7 is a tad steep for fries? Clearly, you've never tasted the truffle fries at CANLIS. Light, crunchy, shoestring-thin, highly aromatic, and thoroughly delicious, they're the tip of the pricey iceberg at this local landmark, where the total bill might convince you to take out a second mortgage. Luckily, even after 53 years, the food still lives up to its cost. 2576 Aurora Ave. N., 206-283-3313,

Best Outdoor Cafe

In addition to serving refreshing fare like scallop ceviche and crab cakes with cranberry slaw, AGUA VERDE's kayak rentals make it a natural choice for outdoor dining. Tied with Agua Verde is RAY'S CAFÉ, where executive chef Charles Ramseyer produces mesmerizing fish dishes (like blackened red rockfish on corn polenta with Creole sauce and julienne vegetables) within leaping distance of the water. Agua Verde, 1303 N.E. Boat St., 206-545-8570, Ray's Cafe, 6049 Seaview Ave. N.W., 206-782-0094,

Best Service at a Restaurant

We always like to feel like we belong, like we're wanted—especially when we go out to eat. At CAFÉ STELLINA, the neighborhood vibe means service is casual, friendly (but not cloying), and personalized. Second place goes to Canlis, where casual is swapped out for formal. 2000 E. Union St., 206-322-2688.

Best Brunch

There's surf, there's sand, and there's seafood. What more could you ask for? Waffles and eggs, you say? Done. At SALTY'S ON ALKI BEACH, the buffet combines with exquisite scenery to create a decadent dining experience. 1936 Harbor Ave. S.W., 206-937-1600,

Best Pizza

After more than two decades, you're still relentlessly singing the praises of PAGLIACCI PIZZA's tasty creations, like the seasonal "primo" pies (a recent one featured salami from Pioneer Square's Salumi). Clearly, when it comes to pizza, you know what you like. Various locations,

Best Barbecue Chicken

According to you, the best barbecue sauce in town comes from JONES BARBEQUE in South Seattle and Bellevue. Served with crisp coleslaw and sweet baked beans, their tender chicken and exceptional service keep luring diners back. 3216 S. Hudson St., 206-725-2728; 3810 S. Ferdinand St., 206-722-4414; 2454 Occidental Ave., 206-625-1339; 15600 N.E. Eighth St. (Crossroads Mall), Bellevue, 425-746-3955.

Best Steak house

We apparently have a classy readership. Instead of naming some greasy-spoon steak house, you served up the METROPOLITAN GRILL, where famous names kick back at the bar, the atmosphere is elegant, the wine list is award-winning, and the meat cuts like butter. 820 Second Ave., 206-624-3287,

Best Gourmet Burger

The nice thing about RED MILL is that it's equally attentive to the needs of meat eaters and herbivores. Sure, you can order a double bacon deluxe with cheese, but you can also have a delicious "verde veg" burger, made with hand-peeled Anaheim peppers, jack cheese, and that mysterious Mill sauce—employees still guard the recipe like Fort Knox. 312 N. 67th St., 206-783-6362; 1613 W. Dravus St., 206-284-6363;

Best Mom-and-Pop Diner

You must really love CAFÉ STELLINA, since your votes won it three other titles (Best New Restaurant, Best Service at a Restaurant, and Best New Thing You Discovered in Seattle in the Last Year). Owners Teri Esensten and Michael Cicon are such good hosts that sometimes it feels like they're parenting the entire Central District—in a cool, hands-off kind of way, natch. 2000 E. Union St., 206-322-2688.

Best All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

At the massive weekend buffet at SALTY'S ON ALKI BEACH, you can enjoy a truly enticing array of foods. The omelet bar encourages you to realize the perfect egg concoction, while a cornucopia of fruits, meats, pastries, and breads would make even the most affluent pilgrim jealous. 1963 Harbor Ave. S.W., 206-937-1600,

Best Sandwich Shop

Ballard's OTHER COAST CAFE blew Seattle's other sandwich shops out of the water. Though Capitol Hill's Honeyhole came in second, it was no match for Other Coast's Rajun Cajun, made with Cajun-style turkey, pepper jack cheese, and spicy salsa mayo. 5315 Ballard Ave. N.W., 206-789-0936,

Best Ice-Cream Shop

Everybody gets what they want at COLD STONE CREAMERY. Ice-cream mix-ins range from cookie dough to pineapple, the selection of flavors continues to grow, and if you tip the scoopers a dollar, they'll sing you a song. Various locations,

Best Farmers Market

Once dubbed "the soul of Seattle," PIKE PLACE MARKET has nothing to offer but the best: delicious produce, fresh seafood, and beautiful flowers. (Among neighborhood markets, the University District's emerged victorious.) First Avenue and Pike Street, 206-774-5249,

Best Fish Market

Yep, PIKE PLACE MARKET again, beating out second-placed . . . Tim Eyman? Anyhow, we're glad Pike Place won; who wouldn't want to purchase their feisty fish from the freshest of all franchises to take home to their fairest, finest, and most fabulous frying pan? First Avenue and Pike Street, 206-774-5249,

Best Hands-On Cooking School

Mmmm. Just by walking into a PCC, you surround yourself with the flavorful aromas of roasted chicken, spicy noodles, and sinfully sweet pastries. And since you can learn the tricks of the culinary trade there, too, it's no marvel that the regional grocery chain is your favorite place to release your inner chef. Various locations,

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