Dining Guide 2015: Our 119 Favorite Places to Eat and Drink

Photo by Kyu Han

This year we're spotlighting 119 of the best restaurants and bars our city has to offer, though that still feels like just a drop in the bucket when Seattle continues to open more and more incredible food establishments. Our list, curated by myself and my trusted contributors, covers 15 categories, including New Pacific Northwest, Italian, Mexican, bars, bakeries, and more. Not every place we love can fit into these pages, so some of our longstanding favorites like Tilth, Mamnoon, and Joule, had to make way this year for newcomers. That’s the hardest part of putting this thing together. The easiest part, of course, is the actual eating and drinking. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. —Nicole Sprinkle, Food & Drink Editor


Ba Bar
Brother/sister powerhouse Eric and Sophie Banh bring dishes from their childhood in Vietnam to this Central District restaurant. Except, lucky us, the Banhs use grass-fed beef from Painted Hills to add richness to their stocks. Ba Bar serves exceptional meals of mung-bean dumplings, lemongrass beef vermicelli, and oxtail pho, paired alongside original cocktails that cleanse the heat. Ba Bar also boasts a phenomenal pastry program, which peddles macarons, pineapple upside-down cake, and puff pastries starting at 7 a.m. There’s espresso, too. 550 12th Ave., 328-2030, babarseattle.com MEGAN HILL

Hokkaido Santouka
Since this chain from Tokyo hit Bellevue last year, the lines continue as people flock to get their famous tonkotsu-style ramen, the broth of which is made from simmering pork bones for 20 hours and has, besides noodles, tender, fatty chunks of pork cheek floating in it. Other soup bases are on the menu as well, including shio (salt), miso (fermented bean paste) and shouyu (soy sauce). Is it worth the wait? Indeed. 103 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue, 425-462-0141 santouka-usa.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Huong Binh
There may be more upscale spots in Seattle for Vietnamese food, but my favorite remains Huong Binh. This 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 măng vit: duck and bamboo noodle soup. 1207 S. Jackson St., 720-4907 JAY FRIEDMAN

Kaisho chef Kalen Schramke takes inspiration from his travels through Asia at this former Boom Noodle spot on Capitol Hill. Dishes are street food-influenced, but decidedly modern and aimed at an American palate. The menu rotates seasonally—and with Schramke’s creative whims—with recent standouts including the delectably saucy barbecue pork buns and coconut chili sticky wings guaranteed to have you licking your fingers. 1121 E. Pike St., 701-9130, kaishorestaurant.com MEGAN HILL

Kau Kau
I keep promising myself I’ll try one of the other 9,467 restaurants in the ID someday—especially since Kau Kau has gotten a lot of love in these pages over the years—but what keeps me coming back is the barbecued pork. With melty fat here and chewy caramelized crust there, each bite is like a little apotheosis of pigness. As part of the $5.90 one-plate lunch special, there’s no menu item in town, I imagine, with a more favorable price-to-lusciousness ratio. And the room’s divey charms are considerable; even though it’s been open just “over 30 years,” it feels like one of the city’s dwindling number of pre-’60s relics. I just bet Elvis dropped in here after he reunited Sue-Lin with her uncle in It Happened at the World’s Fair. 656 S. King St., 682-4006, kaukaubbq.com GAVIN BORCHERT

Kimchi Bistro
This small but cozy Korean restaurant is a gem tucked away next to a smoke shop in the Broadway Alley building on Capitol Hill. While the place is not one for frills, the quality of its food speaks for itself. I usually get the ddukbokki, a sweet and spicy rice stir-fried dumpling appetizer. The authentic and delicious stews and soups are served still bubbling in their stone bowls. If that’s not your thing, there’s always the barbecue plates. 219 Broadway E. #7, 323-4472 BIANCA SEWAKE

Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot
Little Sheep is a multi-country chain (with hundreds of locations in China) that’s opened in both Seattle and Bellevue. Bring a group to take advantage of the varied trays of ingredients that come as part of the all-you-can-eat hot-pot dinner. With guidance from the servers, it’s an interactive experience; you cook at your table, dropping items into bubbling broth, then dipping the cooked food in various sauces. I especially like the lamb dumplings and the “thick” noodles, though there are dozens upon dozens of other ingredients from which to choose. 609 S. Weller St., 623-6700; 1411 156th Ave. N.E., 425-653-1625, Bellevue, littlesheephotpot.com JAY FRIEDMAN

The prices for Maneki’s authentic and delicious Japanese food are surprisingly reasonable. The catch? Chances of getting a table on a Friday night are slim. Maneki offers a wide variety, from noodles to sukiyaki to sushi to rice dishes and more. Sushi choices include exotic things like sea urchin. Hopefully you’ll have saved room for dessert, because their fried tempura ice cream is a sweet ending to any meal. 304 Sixth Ave. S., 622-2631, manekirestaurant.com BIANCA SEWAKE

Ma'ono Fried Chicken and Whiskey
This sleek West Seattle establishment is informed by chef Mark Fuller’s Hawaiian heritage, but not bound by it. Hence its signature fried chicken: fried twice for extra crispiness and so popular that you’d better order in advance lest the kitchen run out. It’s the Asian-oriented sides that really make this an unusual experience, though. Where else would you get fried chicken with kimchi? You’d also do well to order sesame roasted carrots, their flavor deepened by coriander and yogurt. Do not leave without ordering the banana cream pie, which uses chocolate “nibs” to take this standby to a whole new level. 4437 California Ave. S.W., 935-1075, maonospringhillnorthwest.com NINA SHAPIRO

Miyabi 45th
Japanese-born Mutsuko Soma knows her way around a noodle. Soma crafts top-notch, traditional soba at her Wallingford restaurant, where bowls come with such treats as marinated egg, Manila clams, and soy-aged bonito dipping sauce. Soma also offers a captivating assortment of appetizers and “small but good” plates that show her creativity. 2208 N. 45th St., 632-4545, miyabi45th.com MEGAN HILL

Onibaba Ramen (at Miyabi 45th)
In addition to being a soba-making star, Mutsuko Soma may very well be serving the best ramen in town as part of her weekly Onibaba Ramen pop-up at Miyabi 45th: noodles not cooked too soft, chashu that’s flavorful and fatty, eggs with runny yolks, and soup that’s still hot—plus plentiful. Onibaba’s Wednesday-only lunch is currently cycling shio, miso, shoyu, and curry ramen, but more varieties may be on the way. 2208 N. 45th St., 632-4545, miyabi45th.com JAY FRIEDMAN

Photo by Morgen Schuler
If the concept of a global street-food restaurant sounds overly trendy, rest assured that this one lives up to the hype. Its small interior holds three communal tables and a few seats at a back bar, and the cratelike shelves that make up the main wall—garnished with papier-mâché dragons, cans of Thai fruits and other exotic foodstuffs, bottles of cheap foreign beers, and tattered Lonely Planet guides—give off an Asian food-stall vibe. The menu truly takes you around the world, with plenty of stops in Asia via plates like a Japanese yakitori chicken thigh—grilled, bone-in with sweet Kewpie mayo, thin strips of nori, and julienned pickled ginger; Korean jumbo chicken wings in spicy gojujang (a Korean fermented soybean, red chili, and rice sauce); and Malaysian prawn laksa noodle soup with an East Indian twist, to name just a few. But you’ll also be treated to delectable versions of South African Bunny Chow, Trinidadian goat, and Romanian mititei. The use of authentic, harder-to-source herbs and spices up the ante at this Capitol Hill newcomer. 1519 14th Ave., 257-0312, nueseattle.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Pestle Rock Isan Thai Cuisine
This place will forever spoil you for the ubiquitous ho-hum Thai restaurants that are the norm both in Seattle and nationwide. The main differentiator here is the quality ingredients: All the meats are from the very best local farms, the vegetables fresh and never overcooked. They also offer interesting curries, like one made with wild boar and a not-so-common salmon curry. You’ll even find frog legs here. Another thing that sets them apart is their unapologetic super-spicy versions of dishes—at your request. 2305 N.W. Market St., 466-6671, pestlerock.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Qin is the recently renamed Biang: the onomatopoeic sound you’ll hear behind the curtain in the kitchen as the chef thwacks dough against the counter to stretch for noodles. These wide noodles make it worth the drive to Edmonds, with the oil-seared preparation the best way to show off their delightful spring and chew. If you can gather a group, I recommend trying them layered at the bottom of the big platter of chicken known as dapanji. 22315 WA-99, Edmonds, 425-776-7847 JAY FRIEDMAN

Seven Stars Pepper Szechwan
Located on the second floor of an unassuming building in Little Saigon, this Chinese eatery is the place to go if you want authentic, spicy Szechuan-style cuisine. Long adored by chefs and food-industry folks, the place is known for serving everything from bizarre preparations of offal to the best hand-shaved dan dan noodles in town. The word must be out among the in-crowd, as the last time I ate here I saw visiting celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson dining at a corner table.1207 S. Jackson St., 568-6446, sevenstarspepper.com JASON PRICE

Take a load off after a workday and socialize with friends over Shibumi’s many izakaya (think Japanese tapas), like the melt-in-your-mouth pork belly. Pair it with a drink from their impressive sake, beer, and spirits menu. While the smaller plates and recent addition of sushi shine, the noodles are worth trying. A lot of attention to detail goes into crafting the food and the dining experience, especially the noodles, which is why they open only at dinner: The entire day is spent cooking the broth for them. That, plus hearty portions, makes the slightly high cost so worth it. 1222A E. Pine St., 397-4552, shibumiseattle.com BIANCA SEWAKE

663 Bistro
You know you’re in the right place for Chinese food when you show up for dinner at 6:30 on a weekday and it’s packed with Chinese people. 663 Bistro is also a renowned favorite of Tom Douglas, and serves a diverse array of classics from roast pork and duck (hanging in the window) to Americanized dishes such as General Tso’s chicken—a staggering 380 different items in all! My favorite: the best damned salt-and-pepper chicken wings you can find in the ID. 663 S. Weller St., 667-8760, 663bistro.com JASON PRICE

Photo courtesy of Stateside
A welcome addition to the Pike/Pine corridor, Stateside refers to chef/co-owner Eric Johnson’s move to the U.S. from overseas, where he spent nearly a decade working in restaurants. It’s also a chance to up the Vietnamese-cuisine game here in Seattle. Set aglow with pretty wallpaper, twinkling candles, and industrial-chic accents, Stateside’s ambience is equaled by a menu that fills a void in the city’s Asian repertoire: soups besides pho; soy-glazed short ribs; curried pumpkin; and cha ca la vong (moist fish with noodles, seasoned with turmeric, dill and fish sauce)—every dish balanced perfectly with fresh herbs. Stateside recently added lunch, which is fantastic news for those who have trouble (i.e., just about everyone) getting in without a reservation. Need more incentive? They offer umbrella cocktails served in coconuts. Game over. 300 E. Pike St., 557-7273, statesideseattle.com JULIEN PERRY

Tray Kitchen
Whether or not you care to wait for servers to bring trays of various dishes on their “dim sum” menu for you to see before ordering, there’s no denying that this Northwest/Pacific/Korean fusion restaurant knows how to make your taste buds pop. From the fiery, complex blast of their KFC (Korean fried chicken) wings to the quietly assertive bite of their butter-poached shrimp and broccoli with fish sauce and a Thai chili vinaigrette, the small plates on both their rotating dim sum menu and their standard a la carte menu are almost all winners at this minimalist space in “Frelard.” Their weekend brunch—focused on congee and savory items like kimchi pancakes—is not to be missed. 4012 Leary Way N.W., 557-7059, traykitchen.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Rachael Yang and Seif Chirchi (Revel and Joule) can’t be stopped: This time around, instead of a “regular” restaurant, they’ve opened a multifunctional space that gives you four entry points into their signature Korean-inspired food: a noodle bar, a cook-it-yourself barbecue spot, a cocktail bar, and a parfait window that serves custards layered with American and Korean ingredients. When GQ food writer Alan Richman recently came to town, the only Seattle restaurant he wrote about was this one! 500 E. Pike St., 457-4622, troveseattle.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Photo by Tiffany Ran


Casual in setting yet full of quality, Kisaku in Tangletown is the quintessential neighborhood sushi restaurant. Prices are reasonable, making it a popular destination for both lunch and dinner. You can get all the 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 my personal favorite: hotate kombu jime (kelp-marinated scallop—ask for it, and chef Nakano will probably know I sent you!). 2101 N. 55th St., 545-9050, kisaku.com JAY FRIEDMAN

Dedication and education are two words that best describe Mashiko, a cozy sushi restaurant in West Seattle. Mashiko’s mission is sustainability, so don’t expect to find bluefin tuna or eel here. Instead, open your mind to other possibilities (like rainbow trout), and in addition to traditional nigiri, you might get introduced to some inventive ingredient combinations. (For example, I fondly remember geoduck and scallop ceviche with Asian pear.) There’s also an extensive izakaya-like menu, with dishes like the utsunomiya gyoza well worth a try. 4725 California Ave. S.W., 935-4339 mashiko.com JAY FRIEDMAN

Sushi Kappo Tamura
When Taichi Kitamura succeeded in his quest to Beat Bobby Flay and said he wanted to show that he’s more than a sushi chef, that wasn’t news to many of us in Seattle. At Sushi Kappo Tamura in Eastlake, be sure to check out the fine selection of ippin ryori (small plates), like mustard greens and Washington albacore tuna with almond-wasabi sauce, salads made with greens from the restaurant’s garden, and braised wagyu beef shoulder with maitake mushrooms. 2968 Eastlake Ave. E., 547-0937, sushikappotamura.com JAY FRIEDMAN


Big Chickie
Located in the burgeoning neighborhood of Hillman City on Rainier Avenue, Big Chickie brings pollo a la brasa to Seattle in a big way. This Peruvian-inspired restaurant (located in the former Rudy’s Service Station) serves delicious rotisserie chicken with all the fixings, including plantain chips and black-bean dip, chili-glazed carrots, and lime-glazed sweet potatoes. There’s covered, heated outdoor seating for the family to sit and enjoy a chicken or two as well as beer and wine for the grown-ups—all very affordable. 5520 Rainier Ave. S., 946-1519, bigchickie.com JASON PRICE

This newcomer to Capitol Hill brings Durango-style tacos and antojitos (small plates) from chef Gabriel Chavez, who moved on from Wallingford’s Cantinetta. You won’t be flipping through pages and pages of options here, but what is offered is outstanding. Tacos include shredded beef short ribs and braised pork shoulder, which pair excellently with small plates like the pork cheeks smothered in mole or pork-belly chicharrons. 1734 12th Ave., 695-2588, chavezseattle.com MEGAN HILL

El Paisano Rosticeria y Cocina
If you intimate that you are in the know about hidden gems in this town, then you need to add El Paisano to your list. Located on an unassuming block in White Center, this family-owned restaurant is all about traditional Mexican food and slow-roasted meats. For $7.99, you can score a half-chicken entrée with sides or barbacoa-marinated beef for lunch. And don’t plan on doing anything after your meal; it’s a sleeping pill in a good way. Also check out the butcher shop a few doors down for everything from lengua to cabesa. 9615 15th Ave. S.W., 763-0368, facebook.com/rosticeriaelpaisano JASON PRICE

The dishes at Fogón are inspired by the owners’ home state of Michoacán. The food isn’t groundbreaking, but straightforward Mexican comfort food done right, with friendly service to boot. The fairly lengthy menu includes everything from top-notch tamales to tacos, tortas, enchiladas, burritos, and large plates. Corn tortillas come out warm, handmade right in the dining room. There’s a long list of mostly tequila-based cocktails, too, to wash it all down. 600 E. Pine St., 320-7777, fogonseattle.com MEGAN HILL

Fonda La Catrina
It can be difficult to find excellent Mexican food in a restaurant setting in Seattle, as all the best places seem to be in trucks or repurposed buses. However, Fonda La Catrina in Georgetown has become a destination for those seeking authentic, traditional preparations in a lovely space. With a full bar, a large dining space, and an open back patio, Fonda serves grass-fed, antibiotic- and hormone free meats in all its creatively prepared dishes. Come for a drink, stay for the food. 5905 Airport Way S., 767-2787, fondalacatrina.com JASON PRICE

Photo by Joshua Huston
In an easy-to-miss location just off Lake City Way sits a bright-yellow stucco building whose Venezuelan and Eritrean owners serve some of the best South American and Caribbean food you’ll find in Seattle. Besides the addictive soupy black beans and rice, I’m in love with their fish cooked in a banana leaf and flavored with cinnamon and other spices. No matter what you get, ask for a side of their spicy, garlicky, mayo-like “Mojito” sauce. Kids will love the drums and other musical instruments that are there for them to enjoy, as well as the best chicken tenders they’ll ever have. 7545 Lake City Way N.E., 525-3162, mojitoseattle.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Neon Taco
Perhaps the smartest pop-up to hit Seattle, Neon Taco stands as a fluorescent bar-food savior in the form of a take-out window inside Capitol Hill’s Nacho Borracho. Chef Monica Dimas, late of Ethan Stowell Restaurants, cranks out thoughtful snacks: tacos, flautas, nachos, and other street food driven by her penchant for good Mexican cuisine. Soft pork rind, brisket, and lengua (tongue) are just some of the fillings and toppings Dimas rolls with, in addition to the tortillas she takes great pride in, comparing their necessity to really good sandwich bread. Whereas bar food is often an afterthought, Dimas brings dynamic and tasty treats to the mix, which allows Nacho Borracho’s owners to focus on their drink program and alleviates stress for customers who just want to order some food already! 209 Broadway E., 466-2434, neontacoseattle.com JULIEN PERRY

There’s nothing kitsch about this upscale Mexican restaurant on Capitol Hill. Poquitos is both elegant and festive, with romantic lighting, decorative tiles brought from Mexico and a big patio made for summer margaritas. The classics are executed well here with an extensive range of ingredients. You can have yam tacos, chicken-mole enchiladas, or an exquisite and unusually refined tamale filled with crimini mushrooms and butternut-squash purée. Specialties include turkey mole, corn sliced off the cob, and toasted grasshoppers with chili-lime salt, making this a great place for both those seeking comfort food and the more adventurous set. 1000 E. Pike St., 453-4216, vivapoquitos.com NINA SHAPIRO

The Saint
No longer is tequila the main attraction at The Saint—though don’t get us wrong, this is still the place to be for that, too. However, Álvaro Candela is here now, delivering the tacos he made famous through Sitka and Spruce’s Monday taco nights. His corn tortillas come topped with spit-roasted pork, garlic-fried trout, grilled steak, or grilled cactus, among other excellent options. You can’t go wrong. 1416 E. Olive Way, 323-9922, thesaintsocialclub.com MEGAN HILL

Tacos Chukis
Tucked away upstairs in the Broadway Alley building, this taco joint is beloved by all who have stumbled upon it—or gotten lost on the way here. You can mix and match from a menu of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas as your tastes and appetite desire. Tacos are teensy but deliver big flavor, with toppings like pork adobada topped with grilled pineapple, the restaurant’s eponymous taco. The nopal asado is the house specialty: A grilled cactus leaf is a vehicle for carne asada, guacamole, and green salsa. 219 Broadway E., 328-4447, facebook.com/TacosChukis MEGAN HILL

Taqueria Costa Alegre
If you’ve ever driven south on Rainier Avenue past Columbia City, you have likely seen the “taco bus” sitting in the Saar’s Marketplace parking lot in Rainier Beach—packed to the gills with hungry diners. Complete with interior booths to avoid the rain, this refurbished King County metro bus is the place for some of the best tacos in town. Run by a husband/wife team, you simply cannot find better renditions of Mexican street food in Seattle. Just ask any of your Mexican friends—they’ve likely been here and will recommend it. Oh, and they use lard, just as you should when making tasty Mexican food. 9000 Rainier Ave. S.,
725-0300 JASON PRICE

Photo courtesy Poquitos

Tacos Guaymas
It feels like a traditional Southern California–style taqueria: bright orange and green tables, yellow tile counters, and tortilla chips resting above the fryer. Soccer plays on the sole TV, Spanish music blasts from the back. With locations all around Seattle, T.G. may be the city’s least-known—but best—chain of Mexican restaurants. My girlfriend judges taquerias by their burritos, and I judge them by their rice and beans. The veggie burritos here overflow with sour cream, guacamole, pinto beans, and Mexican rice inside a warm flour tortilla; the just-touched-with-sweetness veggie tamale is packed with kale and quinoa. But hearty and spicy beef and pork tacos are on point too. 1622 S.W. Roxbury St., 767-4026, taqueriaguaymas.com JACOB UITTI

Taqueria La Fondita #2
It’s easy to understand why many consider this White Center taco truck the best in the entire area. The lengua (tongue) and tripa (tripe) tacos are terrific, but don’t overlook fish as an option, as it’s fried perfectly. Prices are reasonable, with the “special burrito” a screaming deal at $2 for a mini-version to diversify your meal. When you’re ready to explore more of the menu, ask anyone in the friendly and eclectic crowd for recommendations. Bonus: A roasted corn stand shares the lot. 9811 15th Ave. S.W., 551-0529


Café Juanita
Chef Holly Smith won a James Beard Award in 2008 as the Best Chef in the Northwest for good reason—the food at Café Juanita, prepared with meticulous care and detail, is nearly unparalleled in our town. The classic Northern Italian cuisine uses the best local organic ingredients. It’s so crazy good that I’ve actually reordered a pasta course for dessert. While the Café Juanita digs get a makeover, they’re temporarily making a home in the former Lark space via a pop-up. cafejuanita.com JASON PRICE

Cascina Spinasse
With news of Jason Stratton’s recent departure still fresh in our minds, we wonder what is to come at this Capitol Hill classic. Fear not: Executive chef Stuart Lane is now at the helm (he’d been the chef de cuisine for two years). Classics such as the tajarin with butter and sage—so good you’ll want to cry—will likely always be on the menu. And Lane has a creative streak that extends beyond pasta, as demonstrated by his fondness for rabbit, goat, and offal. One of the best Italian places in Seattle, it’s a can’t-miss spot for great food and that perfect romantic evening. 1531 14th Ave., 251-7673, spinasse.com JASON PRICE

Il Corvo
Mike Easton’s Italian eatery, a culinary destination for both locals and tourists, is where you should come if you want to experience what it really feels like to have lunch in Italy. Open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the restaurant serves only three different pastas daily, supplemented by a selection of simple antipasti and salumi. With lines commonly leading out the door, you know you’ve found something worth waiting for. Remember the rules: Place your order at the counter; find an empty seat; and bus your own table. Simple, right? More good news: Easton is now hosting a Saturday-night dinner every other week. 217 James St., 538-0999, ilcorvopasta.com JASON PRICE

Staple & Fancy
Is it your birthday? Anniversary? Order the $50-a-person “fancy” tasting menu and sit back. A cascade of dishes—all of them surprises—will appear before you. The experience is an event and the food reliably excellent, showcasing serial restauranteur Ethan Stowell’s flair for incorporating Northwestern ingredients into Italian fare. If it’s not a special occasion, that’s OK too. Located in Ballard, the brick-walled Staple & Fancy feels like a homey neighborhood place. And you can order what you like off the a la carte menu—a plate of homemade gnocchi, perhaps, or, if you’re feeling flush, scallops—always a winner at a Stowell joint. 4739 Ballard Ave. N.W., 789-1200, ethanstowellrestaurants.com NINA SHAPIRO

Photo courtesy Ethan Stowell Restaurants


Bar del Corso
It’s time to put an end to the question, “Where can I get the best pizza in Seattle?” The answer: Bar del Corso on Beacon Hill. Chef/owner Jerry Corso, a Poulsbo native, honed his skills in Italy and D.C. before settling down back here, and boy, are we lucky. The massive, custom-built domed pizza oven produces the most beautiful chewy crust you’ve ever tasted. But don’t stop there or you’ll miss some terrific dishes, such as the tonno del Chianti—olive-oil-braised pork shoulder so good you’ll want to rub your face in it. 3057 Beacon Ave. S., 395-2069, bardelcorso.com JASON PRICE

Hot Mama’s Pizza
Generous slices for less than $3 are perfect after a night of hitting the bars or for grabbing a bite after a music show. Unlike at other pizza places, Hot Mama’s offerings aren’t grossly greasy, and the ingredients are fresh. It’s a tiny place, so don’t be discouraged by the lines—they go fast, and somehow there’s always a seat to grab. Cheese and pepper shakers are never more than a reach away. If your willpower lets you try just one type of pizza, the pesto is a must. 700 E. Pine St., 322-6444, hot-mamaspizza.com BIANCA SEWAKE

Neighborhood-centric Mioposto does a bang-up job with its wood-fired pizza, which comes beautifully blistered and singed just enough to deliver that charred flavor while maintaining a chewy crust. (Mercifully, Mioposto offers a gluten-free crust.) If you know what’s good for you, you’ll pair your meal with the restaurant’s housemade limoncello. Multiple locations, miopostopizza.com MEGAN HILL

I’m a bit of a broken record when it comes to pizza in Seattle. Hands down, Delancey is my favorite; their thin-crust, wood-fired pizzas allow enough grease to imbue their pies, in a more East Coast style. Their toppings, though, are seasonal and speak to the Pacific Northwest, as do their exceptional, unique salads and surprisingly elegant, delicious desserts. There’s a reason you need to get here at 4:30 on the dot, lest you wait up to an hour for a spot. 1415 N.W. 70th St., 838-1960, delanceyseattle.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Photo by Samantha Wagner
Pizzeria Gabbiano
As evidenced in my Delancey write-up above, I’m a bit of an East Coast pizza purist. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I like the Roman-style slices Mike Easton (of Il Corvo) serves in Pioneer Square. Made from a sourdough starter and whole grains, it’s fermented for a long time, resulting in a popover-like style: light, with big, airy holes. The subtly whole-wheat flavor and texture grow on you, and it’s deliciously oily. Toppings change daily and are dictated by the seasons, so get ready for summer items like squash blossoms. The downside? As at Easton’s Il Corvo, a line begins forming before noon. 240 Second Ave. S., pizzeriagabbiano.com NICOLE SPRINKLE


The BBQ Pit
For years a Central District favorite, this small place is barely known outside the neighborhood. Run by pit master Pookey (his given name is Edward Whitfield, but they probably call him that only at the DMV), the Pit accepts cash only and sometimes closes if they run out of food, or seemingly just at random. But it’s worth the occasional disappointment to eat Pookey’s brisket and ribs and pork shoulder. 2509 E. Cherry St., 724-0005 MEGAN HILL

Ballard’s Bitterroot serves enormous platters of food at moderate prices in a city where you’ll pay an arm and a leg if you’re after leftovers. More to love: Their brisket, pulled pork, and ribs are consistently among the city’s best, and their taps are always flowing with great local beer. Notable sides like the cheddar-cheese grits and cast-iron cornbread with honey butter pair well with the saucy meat. 5239 Ballard Ave. N.W., 588-1577, bitterrootbbq.com MEGAN HILL

Photo by Kyu Han
Bourbon & Bones
Owner Mike Law earned himself a mighty fine reputation for his Southern fried chicken at The Wandering Goose on Capitol Hill. That chicken is now available at his own place in Frelard, as are all kinds of North Carolina-style smoked meats (hormone- and antibiotic-free) like brisket, ribs, and pulled pork (he had a massive smoker custom-built behind the restaurant). Sides are noteworthy too, and include a vinegary slaw called chow chow, mac ’n’ cheese, and collards with ham hock. This roadside-style joint has a decidedly cool, masculine vibe (with animal skulls on the walls). Order at the counter, find a table, and sip a bourbon cocktail while you wait for the feast to begin. 4350 Leary Way N.W., 582-2241, bourbonandbones.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Well, someone finally had the cojones to bring Texas barbecue to Seattle. And Texas native Jack Timmons is the one to thank. After years working in technology, he found his calling and decided to make the jump into the smoker. The roadhouse-style restaurant on an isolated stretch of Airport Way in SoDo has already become a destination for brisket lovers. And for good reason: Their version is melt-in-your-mouth delicious. Bring a bib and some wipes, and be ready for a nice long nap afterward. 3924 Airport Way S., 467-4038 jacksbbq.com JASON PRICE

Pinky’s Kitchen
Some of Seattle’s best barbecue is handed to you through a food-truck window. While the ribs and pulled pork are spot-on at this Wallingford joint, the sauce is where it’s at, with five choices, including the phenomenal Sweet Sassy Molassy. Spring for the mac-’n’-cheese bowl, which you can get topped with a dollop of meat and sauce. It’s so good, you won’t care that you’re eating in a parking lot. 211 N.E. 45th St., 257-5483, pinkyskitchen.com MEGAN HILL

Shuga Jazz Bistro
Many people have either forgotten or never heard about Seattle’s long love affair with jazz. But walking into Shuga Jazz Bistro takes us back to the days when listening to live jazz was the thing to do. Performances on most nights from Thursday through Sunday are served with a generous helping of Kentucky-native chef Wayne Johnson’s Southern-inspired cuisine. You don’t have to travel 2,000 miles to get a taste of authentic Southern food—20 or so will do it. 317 Main Ave. S., Renton, 425-274-3074, shugajazzbistro.com JASON PRICE


The rather odd assortment of dishes served out of this truck somehow work successfully—the beer-battered cod sandwich, using sustainably caught fish from Alaska; the meatloaf sandwich on a Macrina potato roll; the fried rabbit and roasted bone marrow. They’ve made a point of keeping menu items under $10, but you’ll get your fill for that price—along with a bit of an edible adventure. Location varies, 489-8712, noshthetruck.com MEGAN HILL

Now Make Me a Sandwich
Obviously specializing in sandwiches, this food truck’s inventive mashups include the Thanksgetting, with turkey, bacon, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, and rosemary aioli, and the Ragnar’s Club, with sliced herb chicken breast, Swiss, bacon, apple jalapeño slaw, and sweet hot Beaver mustard. Sandwiches come grilled on Telera ciabatta, and are worth the challenge of eating them. Be sure to get a side of Viking Stew or home fries. Location varies, 714-5090, nowmakemeasandwich.com MEGAN HILL

Photo courtesy Off the Rez
Off the Rez
Come summer, I relish this food truck’s spot at the Thursday night Queen Anne Farmers Market, where people line up for Native-American fry bread used as a vehicle for tacos made with things like house-smoked beef with espresso barbecue sauce. There’s also something here for lovers of sweets: Get the greasy, delicious bread coated with seasonal jams. Location varies, 414-8226, offthereztruck.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max
Hawaiian celebrity chef Sam Choy rolled out his food truck a couple of years ago, and it’s been delivering solid island dishes ever since. The specialty, of course, is poke, a raw-seafood salad with your choice of salmon or tuna. Choy’s poke is featured in rice and salad bowls as well as a spinach tortilla wrap. Other Hawaiian favorites like loco moco and kalua pork are also featured. Location varies, samchoyspoke.com MEGAN HILL

Seattle Biscuit Co.
This delightful truck serves enormous biscuit sandwiches layered with seasonal ingredients sourced as locally as possible—all with a Southern twist. Each one is an indulgent combination of flavors that are surprisingly harmonious: say, sweet-onion mustard, apple butter, honey, cheese grits, and sausage gravy. Sides include hearty classics like grits and bourbon bread pudding (made with biscuits, of course). Location varies, 327-2940, seattlebiscuitcompany.com MEGAN HILL

Snout & Co.
Drawing inspiration from Cuba and the Deep South, Snout & Co. serves a solid range of menu items, including a Cuban sandwich and a South Carolina-style barbecued-pork sandwich slathered with your choice of ancho-ginger sauce or habanero honey. Do save room for the outstanding plantains, which sit in a puddle of smoked tomatillo-coconut sauce you’ll surely lap up. Location varies, 850-0941, snoutandco.com MEGAN HILL


A La Bonne Franquette
Already well-loved by Mount Bakerites, this French bistro is often invisible to those who live anywhere else, and that’s a shame. As new restaurants pop up at a dizzying pace around the city, it’s places like this charming, quaint neighborhood eatery that prove deserving of attention. While nothing on the menu is mind-blowing, it’s damn solid. Tempting specials and Flintstone-sized braised lamb shanks mingle with classics like almond-butter pan-roasted trout amandine. To boot, this petite spot perched above the city offers one of the best views of its skyline. Who knew? The locals, that’s who. 1421 31st Ave. S., 568-7715, albfseattle.com JULIEN PERRY

Caffe Presse
To the uninitiated, Presse’s menu may seem pedestrian, but there’s something to be said for simply knocking simple things out of the park. The French cafe/bar combo functions as a casual dinner place and a sweet spot for happy hour with friends. The croque madame, fennel potato soup, and green salad are delightful, the steak frites divine. Luckily for Capitol Hill, it’s all served until 1:30 a.m. 1117 12th Ave., 709-7674, caffepresseseattle.com MEGAN HILL

Thierry Rautureau, aka “The Chef in the Hat,” is a Seattle culinary legend, and his latest restaurant has won accolades across the board for both its food and architectural design. Whether you’re dining on the main floor or on the balcony with its sweeping views, you have a full look at the kitchen in action from all angles. Chef Rob Sevcik has collaborated with Rautureau for years since their Rover’s days, and their modern French menu features a blend of classics with a twist and a good helping of decadence, including a beef burger on a brioche bun topped with foie gras. 600 Union St., 402-4588, thechefinthehat.com/loulay-kitchen-seattle JASON PRICE

It’s a tall order to tear yourself away from the captivating view of the Seattle waterfront in Maximilien’s dining room. But the food is truly just as enticing. Local ingredients feature heavily in this French cuisine, with elegantly plated dishes like pork tenderloin, duck-leg confit, escargot, pan-seared wild salmon, and foie gras. 81 Pike St., 682-7270, maximilienrestaurant.com MEGAN HILL

Place Pigalle
Once upon a time, this Pike Place Market hideaway was a dive bar called the Lotus Inn, popular with menfolk en route to a (now-defunct—sorry, fellas!) brothel upstairs. Still stuck in time, but more modestly, Place Pigalle is old-school dining, complete with linen tablecloths, black-and-white checkered floors, and a sweeping view of Elliott Bay that elicits a state of film-noir romance. Perched above the market right behind Don & Joe’s Meats, Place Pigalle mixes French technique with Northwest ingredients. But whether you opt for the cassoulet or the crab cakes, don’t miss out on the most popular dish: mussels swimming in celery, shallots, and balsamic vinaigrette, topped with smoked bacon, and served with a crusty baguette to sop up the juice. 81 Pike St., 624-1756, placepigalleseattle.com JULIEN PERRY


Art of the Table
There’s a reason why chef Dustin Ronspies has garnered two consecutive James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef Northwest: His food rocks. Over seven years, Ronspies has evolved from hosting a weekly Supper Club to offering one of the city’s top food destinations. His hyper-locally focused menu consists of creatively composed dishes that have the flavors to back up the beauty. Perhaps Ronspies’ philosophy as printed on the menu is the best way to describe the dining experience here: “Things You Should Do: put away your phone, eat your fish skin, slurp your broth, gnaw your bone, eat your micro-greens, lick your plate, eat your cheese rind, have a cocktail, try everything, use your fingers when applicable, hold onto your silverware, enjoy your time here.” 1054 N. 39th St., 282-0942, artofthetable.net JASON PRICE

Photo by Kyu Han

Brimmer & Heeltap
This gem of a neighborhood restaurant in a less fashionable part of Ballard is a winner not just for the small but interesting menu that often highlights Korean flavors, but for the hospitality it oozes. A broiled pork shoulder typically served with something like a watermelon-radish kimchi is one of the best staples, as is a steak tartare with daikon, sesame vinaigrette, and nori rice crackers. This is a restaurant where eating at the bar really does feel natural, as does stopping in for a post-party snack from their late-night menu. Bonus: an outdoor patio. 425 N.W. Market St., 420-2534, brimmerandheeltap.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Brunswick & Hunt
Not to be confused with Brimmer & Heeltap, this newcomer, also in Ballard, is the epitome of clubby, refined elegance thanks to beautiful landscape paintings, a gorgeous, embellished wood bar with an historic background, and deep green velvet booths. The food, like a New York strip steak au poivre on wild rice or duck cassoulet with pork three ways, deftly marries French traditional and Pacific Northwest ingredients. Vegetable dishes are well-represented too. 1480 N.W. 70th St., 946-1574, brunswickandhunt.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Corson Building
This verdant, plant-filled oasis is a sharp contrast to the industrial surroundings of Georgetown. Matt Dillon’s restaurant, housed in a 1910 building, is surrounded by raised beds and laying hens. Diners partake of an elaborate prix fixe menu for weekend dining, and can select from a handwritten a la carte menu on Thursdays and Fridays. The ingredients are meticulously sourced from the region’s best hunters, farmers, fishers, foragers, and artisans.5609 Corson Ave. S., 762-3330, thecorsonbuilding.com MEGAN HILL

John Sundstrom’s relocated Lark is airier and more romantic, with the same elegant Northwest cuisine that earned him a James Beard Award in 2003. Sundstrom specializes in transforming local, seasonal ingredients into stunning plates. Somehow he manages this with a wide range of items, including grains, pastas, an array of starters, and main dishes to suit a variety of palates. Recent standouts included gooey burrata, charred octopus, pork belly with winter root vegetables, and Theo Chocolate panna cotta with caramel and peanut brittle. 952 E. Seneca St., 323-5275, larkseattle.com MEGAN HILL

Photo by Morgen Schuler
Just off Harbor Steps sits quietly a restaurant that, for whatever reason, doesn’t get nearly the kudos it deserves. Always spot-on not only with its food and service but with its cocktail and wine program, Lecosho has become the most formidable contender for dining in downtown Seattle. It’s packed during lunch and dinner, filled mainly with expense accounts, office denizens, and romantic dinners for two. With its handsome decor, approachable style, and satisfying menu of fresh seafood, meats, sandwiches, pastas, and, hell, just about everything else, Lecosho is one of those subtle charmers diners can’t resist. 89 University St., 623-2101, lecosho.com JULIEN PERRY

Chef Sam Crannell’s intimate space in Upper Queen Anne is one of the finest examples of what you can do with the bounty of local ingredients our region provides. In fact, the menu often lists ingredients from over two dozen local farms and purveyors. Crannell is also a marvel of creativity and persistence, given that he cooks in a tiny kitchen and changes the menu daily. If you’re looking to be blown away by the power and grace of Northwestern cuisine and cookery, you’ll do no better.1525 Queen Anne Ave. N., 420-7602 lloydmartinseattle.com JASON PRICE

Le Petit Cochon
Derek Ronspies shares a name with another favorite chef on this list—Dustin Ronspies of Art of the Table—and, like his brother, he has a penchant for the adventurous (think duck wings with a fish sauce caramel, or bone-marrow chicken-fried sweetbreads.) But beyond pushing boundaries when it comes to things like offal, Ronspies has a killer grip on flavor profiles, and executes it flawlessly at this Fremont favorite. Besides serving the best pork chop in town, he also does an incredible noodle bowl (in the vein of ramen), and offers lesser-known fish, like rockfish, served whole and dressed exotically. 701 N. 36th St. #200, 829-8943, gettinpiggy.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

It’s hard to imagine a time when Poppy wouldn’t make this list. As new restaurants continue to proliferate, this glorious standby never gets lazy. Jerry Traunfeld (of The Herbfarm) brings the seasons to the signature shareable thalis in a way that few restaurants rival. His spectacular understanding of herbs permeate every bite you take at this Indian-accented Pacific Northwest spot on Capitol Hill. Spring offers the chance to sit out back surrounded by a garden full of the herbs and vegetables that make dishes like spice-crusted duck leg with rhubarb and celery, or paneer with nettles, winter greens, and apples, sing. Come for the eggplant fries with sea salt and honey alone. 622 Broadway E., 324-1108, poppyseattle.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Sitka & Spruce
Matt Dillon’s tiny spot is worth the effort of getting a seat. Night after night, Dillon’s team serves some of the city’s best upscale food, with inventive small plates that utilize the best of the season’s bounty. It doesn’t hurt that the restaurant is no longer housed in a strip mall, but in a rustic, light-filled former auto-repair shop. 1531 Melrose Ave., 324-0662, sitkaandspruce.com MEGAN HILL

This beauty of a restaurant on Ballard Avenue inside the Hotel Ballard brings a deft Mediterranean touch to Pacific Northwest food in a polished, high-energy space. From excellent wood-fired pizzas with toppings like chanterelles and potato and housemade pasta like bucatini carbonara (lamb bacon, Parmesan, cipollini onions, and egg yolk) to entrées such as grilled bavette steak and brick-pressed chicken, I’ve never had a dud. It’s worth noting that many of the ingredients are grown at the restaurant’s own plot in Redmond. Choose a seat at the large, circular bar area; overlooking the kitchen; or in the large dining area surrounded by a wall of wine bottles. No matter where you pick, service is always on-point and friendly. 5214 Ballard Ave. N.W., 695-2051, stoneburnerseattle.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Terra Plata
Though the buzz around Tamara Murphy’s restaurant has died down, she and her team are still serving excellent food that shifts and sways on a daily basis. Murphy’s “earth to plate” concept means that no meal here is ever the same as the last. When the weather allows, she’s able to source a few items from her rooftop garden, which is a lovely place to dine and watch Capitol Hill go by. 1501 Melrose Ave., 325-1501, facebook.comterraplata.com MEGAN HILL

Photo by Tiffany Ran
The Whale Wins
Renee Erickson’s Fremont restaurant is style with substance. When you walk in, you’re greeted by stacks of giant meringues and baked goods, as well as the white-marble décor that dominates. It’s elegant yet cozy in a way that makes you want to sit back, sip a glass of Champagne, and stay for a while. And while the name may be nautically themed, the food here is focused more on seasonal vegetables and wood-fired preparations of meat such as roast marrow bones and cÔte de boeuf. That’s not to say you can’t get some of Erickson’s signature sea-creature-themed dishes and pickled goods. They’re here too! 3506 Stone Way N., 632-9425, thewhalewins.com MEGAN HILL


Pike Street Fish Fry
Pike Street Fish Fry keeps it simple, with their counter-service spot sandwiched between Moe Bar and Neumos on Capitol Hill. Fish and chips is a simple concept, but surprisingly hard to master; here, with sustainable fish as the starting point, the batter is addictive and the fish is never soggy. Good luck choosing just one of the handful of housemade sauces, including lemon aioli and chili mayo. 925 E. Pike St., 329-7453, pikestfishfry.com MEGAN HILL

Photo by Suzi-Pratt.com

Another chef who’s garnered two consecutive James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef Northwest is Eric Donnelly of RockCreek in Upper Fremont. He specializes in using bycatch and unusual seafood on his menu while eschewing the more traditional Seattle standards such as salmon and halibut—you typically won’t find them on the menu here. The large, open space is reminiscent of a mountain lodge, and the outside patio with heated tables provides a refined setting for dining on sea creatures. East Coasters take note—this is one of the only places you can get fresh bluefish on the Left Coast.4300 Fremont Ave. N., 557-7532, rockcreekseattle.com JASON PRICE

Tanglewood Supreme
It’s worth the trek to Magnolia for Tanglewood Supreme’s seafood. The neighborhood spot, tucked in an alley, has managed to stay largely under the radar despite producing consistently outstanding food. Fresh seafood is transformed into well composed dishes of albacore tataki, prawn masala, and curried clams and udon. Be sure to leave room for dessert. 3216 W. Wheeler St., 708-6235.
tanglewoodsupreme.com MEGAN HILL

Taylor Shellfish
Taylor Shellfish has done Seattle a favor in proliferating its successful oyster-bar model at three locations. At each, you can sample fresh, raw oysters under the guidance of an expert, who will unpretentiously explain things like merroir (how the particular body of water an oyster comes from affects its taste), tumbling, and wine pairings. If you didn’t love all things bivalve when you came in, you’ll certainly leave with a newfound fascination. Multiple locations and phone numbers, tayloroysterbars.com MEGAN HILL

Photo courtesy RockCreek

This quintessential Seattle restaurant, serving Mediterranean-style seafood, is quite possibly the best seat in the city come spring and summer. With a perfect spot right on Lake Union, diners flock to the picnic tables or the Adirondack chairs to enjoy oysters, sardines, and smoked Manila clam dip and watch the sailboats glide along. Inside, the chic nautical theme punctuated with fabulous frivolity (read: zany references to The Life Aquatic) is just as charming. While seafood dishes like wood-oven-roasted rainbow trout served with rhubarb, browned butter, almonds, and basil are a good reason to come here, don’t discount non-marine options, like their braised lamb shoulder with an herb-and-onion salad, sultanas, and tzatziki sauce. 2501 N. Northlake Way, 522-8215, westwardseattle.com NICOLE SPRINKLE


Chef Nick Coffey stretches his skills about as far as this 800-square-foot space on north Capitol Hill will allow. During the day, Barjot is a neighborhood coffee shop with espresso and breakfast assortments. At night the lights dim, and Coffey rolls out elegant but unpretentious dishes based on his obsessions with seasonal ingredients and pickling. In between, Coffey’s housemade corned beef sandwiches—with his own sauerkraut—are a midday highlight. 711 Bellevue Ave. E., 457-5424, barjotseattle.com MEGAN HILL

Damn the Weather
Cocktails are the main reason to come to this Pioneer Square hot spot that serves things like Japanese shochu and Dutch gin, among other interesting liquors. Try a Calvados cocktail like the Yellow Daze, which uses gin to draw out the natural apple flavors in the fruit brandy. The food isn’t shoddy either, and serves to soak up all the alcohol. The Caesar Salad sandwich is memorable served with their incredible fries, as is the tuna merguez sausage and the sea-urchin omelette. Doors open at 4, and the crowd pours in. 116 First Ave. S., damntheweather.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Photo by Morgen Schuler

This ironic play on the gastropub concept is the brainchild of chef Travis Kukull and Epic Ales brewer Cody Morris. The no-nonsense SoDo spot serves creative plates using a wide range of ingredients at varying price levels. Diners knit together a meal, and the plates come whenever the microscopic kitchen finishes preparing them. Eating here is a delightful and ever-changing adventure, especially when you add Morris’ latest concoctions. 3201 First Ave. S., 403-1228, gastropodsodo.com MEGAN HILL

Good Bar
A noticeable but successful departure from their Marination enterprise, Pioneer Square’s Good Bar is the latest project from Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison, housed in the gorgeously refinished former Japanese Commercial Bank building. Cocktails are the highlight here, with scores of originals that go down dangerously easy. The drinks pair well with plates like the sloppy Joe (see our sandwich feature, page 15), fingerling potatoes, and—a nod to the nearby ballparks—boiled peanuts. 240 Second Ave. S., 624-2337, goodbarseattle.com MEGAN HILL

Le Caviste
It’s classy and a bit refined (by Seattle standards), but bourgy it’s not. There’s attention to decor details such as chandeliers, candles, and handwritten chalkboards with the names of fancy-sounding French wine and cheese varietals. Add the fact that they also refer to mushrooms as champignons, and Le Caviste can easily be confused for fine dining in this city. Truth be told, it’s simply a really nice, comfortable stop in downtown Seattle—a place to grab a lovely, affordable glass of thoughtfully chosen wine (longtime Le Gourmand sommelier David Butler is the owner) and a charcuterie board to beat all others, in addition to specialty plates for larger appetites. 1919 Seventh Ave., 728-2657, lecavisteseattle.com JULIEN PERRY

Single Shot
A true neighborhood restaurant, this modest, 40-ish-seat saloon on the west slope of Capitol Hill is refined yet very approachable. It’s a living juxtaposition of new and old, housed in a decades-old former photo gallery and adorned with fashionable trimmings and a menu that will always keep you guessing. A nod to the huge shotgun that hangs above its bar, Single Shot is led by former Crush chef James Sherrill, whose artfulness shows in dishes like black rice porridge with crispy pork belly, mussels, and uni, and baked pasta gratin with curry goat and melted leeks. The place reflects owner Ruadhri (Rory) McCormick’s growing brand (he also owns Re:public): polished, clean, and sexy, with a hint of stately. 611 Summit Ave. E., 420-2238, singleshotseattle.com JULIEN PERRY

Photo by Nicole Sprinkle

One of Seattle’s first gastropubs, Spur still more than holds up in both the drink and food departments. I always sit at the bar here, and it’s one of the few places where I’m comfortable letting the bartenders customize something for me with little guidance. Hands down, one of the best preparations of salmon in the city is their crostini with ultra-fresh slabs of smoked salmon with mascarpone, capers, and pickled shallot. Their duck-liver paté and seasonal desserts are just more reasons not to miss this Belltown beauty. 113 Blanchard St., 728-6706, spurseattle.com NICOLE SPRINKLE


Bar Ferd’nand
The cozy wine bar inside Melrose Market became even more grape-centric when it expanded into the bottle shop earlier this year, leaving Sitka & Spruce with custody of the (now cocktails-only) bar. Wine aside, this place of respite, owned by Sitka & Spruce’s Matt Dillon and longtime Seattle sommelier Marc Papineau, now lays claim to what’s arguably the best seat in all of Seattle: a back booth surrounded by bottles, chalkboard menus, wine barrels, and a handful of barstools, with just enough peek-a-boo room to see the comings and goings of the artisan market. Bonus: You can enjoy hearty snacks from Sitka with your wines. Throw in a blanket and pillow, and you may never want to leave. 1531 Melrose Ave., 623-5882, barferdinandseattle.com JULIEN PERRY

The Can Can
This subterranean nightclub beneath Pike Place Market feels like a cabaret from a bygone era. Ticketholders are served at their tables in the theater, where a five-person dance troupe performs captivating—and hilariously campy—burlesque. Everyone else can elbow their way to the small front bar, where a skylight peers up at pedestrians, harkening to a time when, in the 1890s, Seattle’s downtown streets sat much lower. 94 Pike St., 652-0832, thecancan.com MEGAN HILL

Capitol Cider
Welcome to cider heaven. With 30 frequently changing ciders (and some beers) on tap, there’s always something new to try. Head downstairs, where musicians usually pass through playing live music, or challenge friends to a game of shuffleboard. If browsing the extensive cider list puts you in a tizzy, the friendly bartenders always make great recommendations. Like what you’re drinking? Bring a growler of it home. And if you go too hard on a Friday or Saturday night, roll in the next morning and sober up with a delicious—and gluten-free—brunch. 818 E. Pike St., 397-3564, capitolcider.com BIANCA SEWAKE

E. Smith Mercantile
On the surface, this Pioneer Square destination is a small shop selling an eclectic blend of artisanal crafts, dry goods, art, and jewelry. But it’s business in the front and (intimate) party in the back, as the small, hidden bar is the place to be. Artfully crafted cocktails are served in a space that may hold no more than 20—but they are a lucky 20. It’s a lovely place to while away an afternoon sipping a glass of bourbon and romancing the rain. 208 First Ave. S., 641-7250, esmithmercantile.com JASON PRICE

Liberty manages to serve outstanding cocktails in a rare, unpretentious way. Bartenders and servers are knowledgeable but not snooty, and the menu itself is a sort of friendly booze encyclopedia, explaining things like the difference between mezcal and tequila. Opt for a Liberty original—of which there are many, based on your base liquor of choice—to wash down the specialty sushi rolls.517 15th Ave. E., 323-9898, libertybars.com MEGAN HILL

The Old Sage
What could be better for the soul than a restaurant dedicated to smoked meats and single malts? This installment of Dana Tough and Brian McCracken’s burgeoning restaurant group is a place to hide away for a bit within its rich, warm interior. Don’t think you like Scotch? Well, you need to meet barman Lee McGlothren, who says, “When someone comes in claiming to hate Scotch, 99 percent of the time I can find one they love . . . they just need the guidance.” Wise words indeed. 1410 12th Ave., 557-7430, theoldsageseattle.com JASON PRICE

Schilling Cider House
Colin Schilling—the man behind Seattle’s Schilling Cider label—curates 32 rotating taps of ciders from around the world. The Northwest is heavily represented, as are Schilling’s own creations, but there’s a healthy mix of all-around well-made beverages here. You can also choose from 200 or so bottled ciders in a large refrigerated section. 708 N. 34th St., 420-7088, schillingcider.com MEGAN HILL

Photo by Kaia D'Albora

The best thing about STOUT is that you don’t have to be a beer nerd to enjoy this beer-centric bar. The place feels cozy—you can hang your coat on one of the many wall hooks. The beers on tap are always changing, and there’s a large selection of all kinds of beers from near and far, which the knowledgeable and attentive staffers can help you navigate. They also make great-tasting bar food. 1530 11th Ave., 397-3825, stoutpubs.com BIANCA SEWAKE

Sun Liquor
Capitol Hill’s Sun Liquor comprises an intimate lounge and a larger bar/restaurant combo attached to its Pike Street distillery. Both spots have earned the brand a much-deserved reputation as one of the best places to down a cocktail in Seattle, what with their seasonal creations utilizing fresh-squeezed juices, housemade syrups and bitters, and the company’s own liquors. 607 Summit Ave. E., 860-1130; 512 E. Pike St., 720-1600, sunliquor.com MEGAN HILL

Tavern Law
When it comes to speakeasies in our fine city, I can think of very few that combine the spirit of Prohibition-era drinking with aesthetics and food as well as Tavern Law. Creatively crafted cocktails using the finest spirits are the feature here, and you can go just for them. But you’d be missing out, as the food is top notch and decadent with items such as a delectable foie gras terrine and a lush pan-seared pork belly. Hopefully Elliot Ness is turning over in his grave right about now. 1406 12th Ave., 322-9734, tavernlaw.com JASON PRICE

Vito’s maintains the air of its storied past as a watering hole for Seattle’s mayors and mobsters. Known for its flawless martinis and great jazz sans cover charge, Vito’s is deserving of its title as a Seattle institution. Owners Jeff Scott and Greg Lundgren have restored Vito’s to its 1950s heyday, complete with red vinyl booths. East Coast-style “red sauce” Italian food dominates the menu, as do an array of classic cocktails. 927 Ninth Ave., 397-4053, vitosseattle.com MEGAN HILL

Zig Zag Café
If you’re looking to drink a finely crafted cocktail by bartenders who take their craft seriously, then this is the place. I can think of no better spot to impress guests when looking for a somewhat secret hideaway to imbibe your favorite elixir. Just finding it can be a challenge, though, as is navigating the zig-zagging stairs below the Market. But once there, you’re taken back to a time when mixology was an art and not a science. Tip—ask for the Captain’s List of rare and fine spirits.1501 Western Ave. #202, 625-1146, zigzagseattle.com JASON PRICE


Bakery Nouveau
The aroma of baked goods wafting from Bakery Nouveau makes it hard to resist wandering in to see what they have; behold glorious tarts, cookies, breads, and other sweet and savory treats. Before Bakery Nouveau, I thought I loved croissants, but once I tried their almond croissant, I realized I had no idea what I’d been missing. Soft, a little chewy, and the right amount of flaky—I could eat these every day. 1435 E. John Ct., #137, 858-6957, bakerynouveau.com BIANCA SEWAKE

Crumble & Flake
Crumble & Flake may be minuscule, but it plays its size to its advantage. Pastries are created in small batches with remarkable consistency, from standard, though outstanding, items like croissants and scones and brioche cinnamon rolls to more creative undertakings like filled-to-order cream puffs and kouign-amann and weekends-only canelés. Fillings and flavors vary seasonally, so eating here is always a delightful adventure. 1500 E. Olive Way, 329-1804, crumbleandflake.com MEGAN HILL

Fuji Bakery
This one might be easy to miss, even though it’s at the corner of a fairly busy four-way stop in the ID. There are only a few tables and chairs inside this small bakery, but Fuji offers pastries, treats, and breads that are as yummy as they look, both French and Japanese-inspired.Try a crispy, flaky milk stick, a fraise (a pastry with raspberries), or a green-tea croissant. 526 S. King St., 216-3616, fujibakeryinc.com BIANCA SEWAKE

Hello Robin
These aren’t your average cookies. There are delicious go-to choices like oatmeal or chocolate chip, but there are so many other flavors, like chili pepper or curry. Zack and Molly Moon (the ice-cream couple) actually encouraged their friend Robin to open a shop for all her delicious cookies. Pair any two with Molly Moon’s ice cream, and you have an ice-cream sandwich made in dessert heaven. 522 19th Ave. E., 735-7970, hellorobincookies.com BIANCA SEWAKE

Photo by Morgen Schuler

Ines Patisserie
With the first bite, Ines Patisserie transports you from the constant stream of cars on Madison Street, just beyond the front door, to a French pastry shop. Gleaming rows of puff-pastry tarts, stacks of mini-cakes, and ethereal fleurs de palmiers are among the many highlights. The new shop on Capitol Hill (the business relocated from Madison Valley) also offers cooking and baking classes.1150 11th Ave., 992-5186, inespatisserie-seattle.com MEGAN HILL

Le Panier
As you walk along Pike Place, the heavenly scents from Le Panier stand out above the sensory overload. The bakery has been enchanting locals and visitors alike since 1983 with its fresh-daily offerings of croissants, baguette sandwiches, puff pastries with savory filling, macarons, and many rotating delights inflected with seasonal flavors. 1902 Pike Place, 441-3669, lepanier.com MEGAN HILL

Farmers-market favorite and much-anticipated Capitol Hill newcomer Nuflours is entirely gluten-free—and these folks are magicians. On Wednesdays, the small store sells cookies, bread, layer cakes, and even sandwiches. Each week features a different ramen, plus a handful of dairy-free options. It’s a lone bright spot for the gluten-free among us, and not in the least a sacrifice for the gluten-ful. 518 15th Ave. E., 395-4623, nuflours.com MEGAN HILL

Laura Pyles (see our dessert feature, page 7)works tirelessly at Parchment, her Sunday pop-up operated out of Ballard’s Brimmer & Heeltap, and is endlessly inventive despite her time and space limitations; her wide range of creations includes pizza bread, whoopie pies, and elaborate cakes, tarts, and cupcakes. The consistent line each week is a testament to her artistry. 425 N.W. Market St., 420-2534, facebook.com/parchmentseattle MEGAN HILL


Cafe Ibex
Seattle has upward of 30 Ethiopian restaurants, many concentrated in the Central District, like this one. While menu offerings are similar across the board at most of them, it’s the freshness and thoughtful preparations that make certain restaurants more desirable. At Cafe Ibex, everything on a combo platter is delicious—from the spicy doro wat (chicken with an egg in a spicy, dark-red/brown “Key” sauce made with onions, berbere, ginger, and black cardamom) to fresh greens with beef and yellow lentils with green beans. The owner, “Tina,” speaks English pretty well and loves to answer your questions about Ethiopian cuisine. Ask her to try the kategna: injera bread dusted with berbere and baked on the stovetop. It’s crispy, almost like a pizza, and served with a side of yogurt. 3219 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S., 721-7537 cafeibex.com NICOLE SPRINKLE

Cafe Munir
Long a favorite in Seattle’s Loyal Heights neighborhood, this is one of the only places in the city to get truly authentic Lebanese food. Chef Rajah Gargour offers diners a seasonal menu focused on local meat and produce. Bonus: There are a significant amount of vegetarian dishes. Oh, and for some reason they have over 100 whiskies on offer! If you’re one of the lucky folks who’ve been blown away by the flavors at Capitol Hill’s Mamnoon, then you must try Munir for comparison. You won’t be disappointed. 2408 N.W. 80th St., 783-4190, cafemunir.com JASON PRICE

Cafe Turko
One of the few places to find authentic Turkish food in Seattle, Fremont’s Café Turko is an immersion in Anatolian cuisine. The Gökeri family (which also owns the neighboring Istanbul Imports shop) offers an extensive menu of over 75 Turkish classics, including a dish called Süleyman the Magnificent—a mixed-grill meat plate for sultans. (How can you not want to be treated like a sultan?) Eating here is like sitting in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar while being plied with sweet tea and baklava. Bonus points for their extensive gluten-free and vegetarian options. 754 N. 34th St., 284-9954, cafe-turko.com JASON PRICE

Here’s the news: There are a significant number of excellent Ethiopian restaurants in this town. And those of you who haven’t tried any of them need to get on the bus. Jebena has consistently turned out some of the best Ethiopian cuisine in Seattle while winning awards and public accolades. Serving pillow-soft versions of injera with and without gluten, the menu includes a variety of both vegetarian and meat-based dishes. The latter include excellent versions of doro wat (stewed chicken), kitfo (raw ground beef), and qey dot (braised lamb). There can be lines out the door for dinner, so go early and often. 1510 N.E. 117th St.,365-0757, jebenacafe.com JASON PRICE

Man’oushe Express
You might think that Lake City Way offers only fast food, strip joints, and used cars, but you’d be wrong. Here you’ll find one of the city’s best hideaways for Middle Eastern food: Goodies Mediterranean Market and Man’oushe Express. Up front are a wide array of spices, packaged goods, and ingredients from the Mediterranean, while the back boasts an excellent lunch counter making fresh mana’eesh (flatbreads) in a wood-fired oven. For $4 to $6 you can get your fill for lunch from a wide variety of toppings, including ground lamb, spinach and feta, and grilled chicken. 13721 Lake City Way N.E., 362-2694 JASON PRICE


Araya’s Place
Araya’s Place is quickly expanding, having moved to a larger, nicer building in the U District and now with a new location in Madison Park. The family-run business, sweetly named after their mother, is the Northwest?s first vegan Thai restaurant—and some of the best Thai in Seattle, vegan or not. 2808 E. Madison St., 402-6634, arayasplace.com DIANA LE

Photo by Nicole Sprinkle

Cafe Flora
Cafe Flora is a vegan, eco-friendly oasis where you can eat in the beautiful garden atrium off the main dining room year-round. The vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menus change with the seasons, so you are guaranteed fresh ingredients. Staples you can expect include biscuits and gravy, sandwiches, and a huge selection of salads, pizza, and sandwiches. They also do lovely cocktails—something many people don’t think of when it comes to vegetarian restaurants. 2901 E. Madison St., 325-9100, cafeflora.com DIANA LE

A funky Internet cafe that serves 100 percent vegetarian hot dogs, everything on their menu can be made vegan upon request. Their hot dogs are international—just check out these names: Red Hot Bayou, Spudnik, Dog From Ipanema, Doggi Lama, etc. It’s also a great place to get online, strike up a conversation, and catch screenings of foreign films. 909 Pike St., 405-3647, cyber-dogs.com DIANA LE

The Highline
Few people know that this bar also serves vegan grub Sunday through Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. If you want compassionate greasy, fried vegan food, this place is the best. The first time I tried the fish and chips, I had to make sure I wasn’t actually eating fish, it was so good. They also have a bunch of sandwich options, tacos, poutine, nachos, and more. 210 Broadway E., 328-7837, highlineseattle.com DIANA LE

Pizza Pi
Even if you’ve never eaten at Pizza Pi, you’ve probably noticed the large pizza graffiti on the side of its building in the U District. It’s in its 14th year—an impressive run considering it’s the first completely vegan pizzeria in the U.S. Build your own pizza or choose from the extensive list of signature pi(e)s, which include buffalo chicken pizza, Indian curry, and the mac ’n’ yease. 5500 University Way N.E., 343-1315, pizza-pi.net DIANA LE

Plum Bistro
Plum Bistro is on the fancier, more gourmet side of the vegan spectrum while still managing to be extremely accessible. Makini Howell’s restaurant is bathed in dark, warm woods and dim, but not too dim, lighting. When it gets warmer, the front opens up, which gives you the feeling of being at a summer cookout. Dishes use higher-quality and more sophisticated ingredients, though never something you can’t pronounce or that tastes completely foreign. Not only is the food wholly vegan, it’s also 100 percent organic. The extensive lunch and dinner menus include pizza, sandwiches, burritos, and pasta. Do yourself a favor and try the mac ’n’ yease. 1429 12th Ave., 838-5333, plumbistro.com DIANA LE

Sunlight Cafe
Sunlight Cafe is the longest-standing vegetarian restaurant in Seattle. Their ingredients are natural, and save for a few, almost all of the dishes are prepared onsite. They do serve egg and dairy, but have great vegan and gluten-free options. Treat yourself to waffles, hotcakes, and French toast from their weekend brunch menu with a cup of organic coffee or espresso. 6403 Roosevelt Way N.E., 522-9060, sunlight
cafevegetarian.com DIANA LE E

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