Click on a category or scroll down the page to read about this year's winners for Seattle's best food and restaurants... 31. Best new restaurant>"/>
Click on a category or scroll down the page to read about this year's winners for Seattle's best food and restaurants... 31. Best new restaurant 38. Best happy-hour eats 32. Best brunch 39. Best sushi 33. Best waitstaff 40. Best vegetarian restaurant 34.a) Best restaurant for appetizers 41. Best pizza 34.b) Best food for an appetizer 42. Best grocery store 35. Best french fries 43. Best bakery 36. Best burger 44. Best Eastside eatery 37. Best dessert (Item 45, Best place to have your last meal...ever, can be found in the best of the Millennium.) 31. Best new restaurant This is always one of the most fiercely competitive categories, but the field of votes soon narrowed to three top restaurants this year. At the top of the heap was Tamara Murphy's homage to all things Mediterranean (with a smidgen of the Northwest thrown in for good measure), Brasa (2107 Third, 728-4220). With a name derived from the Portuguese word for "live coals," Brasa is what you'd call a destination eatery. Decorated with tawny wood and claret-colored walls, this place is a veritable scene out of a movie about powerful people. Lexus after Lexus pulls up to the valet every evening, carrying hopes of a magnificent take on seafood (the mussels are splendid) and meaty, tangy fare that will have you asking for another napkin. Built like a glamorous room on the Titanic or in the wine cellar of the Alhambra, Brasa's space is warm and velvety, the desserts succulent, and the scene something we all would like to imagine ourselves a part of, at least once in a while. (Yes, Mr. Skerritt, we saw you across the room. We were the ones talking about you behind our menus.) Narrowly missing out in second place is the absolutely superb Monsoon, whose deceptively simple Vietnamese preparations will send your taste buds into irrevocable spasms of delight. Third, well, is the newest Stars in the San Francisco-based constellation, serving up a galaxy of goodies over in Pacific Place. 32. Best brunch Man, were there a lot of contenders for this one—proof positive that we're spending our Sunday mornings somewhere other than church. The votes were spread out over nearly 20 competitors, with Salty's on Alki (1936 Harbor SW, 937-1600) winning by a landslide. Brunch is one of those peculiar cultural institutions that try to blend sophistication, taste, value, and style into some kind of definition of the perfect Sunday morning. It's more than breakfast, less than lunch, it's neighborhoodish, it's informal . . . although occasionally it's part of a grand celebration—which is probably why the Four Seasons finished high in the standings, at fourth. Caf順lora, the veggie venue, chewed its way to second, while brunchers selected Mae's, on Phinney Ridge, as their third-favorite spot. 33. Best waitstaff It's no wonder that the men and women of Buca di Beppo squeezed out in front in this category. My god, they have to handle parties of up to 100 hungry people—and hungry people, as we are well aware, can get downright grumpy. Add to this the pressure of a planned celebratory gathering, and the tension could get to be as bad as waiting for a plane to take off. Waitstaff need to be attentive, understanding, and, above all, happy to serve you. This national chain (with 25 restaurants across the country) boasts two local outposts: one near Seattle Center (701 Ninth N, 244-2288) and one in Lynnwood (4301 200th SW, 425-744-7272). Each branch can accommodate as many as 300 growling stomachs at a time, and if you consider how many lasagnes potentially get mixed up with the chicken cacciatores, you've got a logistical nightmare on your hands. Fortunately, Beppo is reliably grand in every way—the portions are enough for your 100 party guests (and that's just one order!); the atmosphere is like Sicilian Independence Day, full of energy and bodies and pasta with meatballs; and people know what they're getting themselves into—positively glorious mayhem! And look, the folks bringing all that marinara-laden cannelloni are actually smiling, even though you spilled your wine all over their shoes. Hey, that's all part of the fun. Barely losing out in second place is the ever-meaty El Gaucho, with Magnolia's Palisade on its heels in third. 34. Best appetizer Okay, we weren't actually clear on this one: We should have specified whether we were asking about actual restaurants with the best appetizers or, as many of you extrapolated, about the types of things you like to begin your meals with. There were so many specific responses that they were almost impossible to count—almost. But we, the intrepid vote-counters, decided, in a moment of genius (or was it panic?) to list both sets of winners. First, the places: Small wonder, what with the eager patrons spilling out their doors on Western Avenue, that Wild Ginger (1400 Western, 623-4450) landed on top. I mean, c'mon, these guys have a friggin' satay bar. How do you beat that? A recent trip had us swooning over the scallops on skewers, the minuscule but flavorful Manila clams (with plenty of basil!), and the halibut cheeks. Entertained with plenty of Asian dipping sauces and pickled things artistically draped in the corners of really pretty compartmentalized plates, we went home happy. Second was the Palace Kitchen, particularly the goat-cheese fondue, and in third the Red Robin (does that mean that yicky Bloomin' Onion?). For actual dishes, you the tasters responded as follows: crab, any way you can get it (from legs, cakes, and claws to dips), wins by a mile, followed by cheese (in all its incarnations) and oysters. Some wise guys—those ballot-stuffing Cashmaniacs—had the audacity to write in "Pat Cashman's Peanut Butter Melts." Now there's a tempting starter. READERS' COMMENTS Best appetizer:
"Cunnilingus." Best burger:
"Cheeseburger." Best dessert:
"The Hooters girls!" Best Eastside eatery:
"Bill Gates' house, if you can make the guest list!" 35. Best French fries Stringy, salty, and bursting with real potato flavor, the French fries at Dick's Drive-In have been luring Seattleites and their muscle cars for generations. Many Weekly readers have obviously made the pilgrimage to the burger chain's locations at Broadway, Lower Queen Anne, N 45th Street, Holman Road, and Lake City—Dick's fries whomped the competition in a spud landslide. Voters evidently like skinny French fries served up fast, as McDonald's was the second most popular entrant among the fried-potato crowd. Seattle-founded national burger chain Red Robin (and their chunky steak fries) finished a distant third, followed by Greenwood's Red Mill Burgers, the top-finishing non-chain fry experience. 36. Best burger Here we get into religious disputes on a scale, when it comes to fervor, of the Mac-PC wars. There is no food as richly symbolic and emotionally laden as the hamburger, a form of cultural expression that is as American as Ken Griffey Jr.'s home-run swing. Seattle has some whoppers to choose from—small franchises that have eschewed the big time in favor of the big taste. Weekly readers proved their burger smarts by voting for Red Mill (312 N 67th, 783-6362; 1613 W Dravus, 284-6363) in overwhelming numbers, by giving Dick's a respectable second-place showing, and by edging Red Robin ahead of Kidd Valley, which was presumably demoted for taking a turn for the politically correct when it jettisoned its marvelous and time-honored sign. Burgers, after all, are about tradition—and these four, Kidd Valley's one lapse aside, have remained true to their roots. 37. Best dessert There were so many entries for this one that we barely had time to count the competitors, let alone the votes. Dessert, quite obviously, is something very much on the minds of our readers, with the definition of the term encompassing everything from the contents of supermarket freezer cases to burger-joint milkshakes to restaurant offerings. (And no, we're not including "the Hooters girls" in the final tally.) Top vote-getter Dilettante Chocolates (416 Broadway E, 329-6443) barely nosed out Pacific Dessert Company, with other voters selecting Dick's shakes, the Kingfish Caf駳 sweet potato pie, Red Robin's mud pie, and anything with a Ben & Jerry's label on it. 38. Best happy-hour eats The word is out: McCormick & Schmick's (1103 First, 623-5500) too-cheap-to-believe happy-hour menu cleaned house on the competition in this category. A selection of their regular fare offered for two or three bucks, the restaurant's ace happy-hour menu has made it the most popular late afternoon (4-6pm) downtown gathering place. Arrive early, though, as finding tables can be a challenge for latecomers (especially large groups). Just in case all this eating makes you thirsty, there's a full bar and a well-chosen selection of microbrews. Second place in this category went to a traditional Seattle favorite—Ray's Boathouse at Shilshole. Tied for third were Lake Union's Harborside and another downtown fave, Nikko's. Yes, Hooters got a few votes, too. 39. Best sushi Hi! Do you love sushi? It seems as though all you folks out there do, enough to vote I Love Sushi (1001 Fairview N, 625-9604; 11818 NE Eighth, Bellevue, 425-454-5706) as your favorite place to ingest raw fish and rice and wasabe. Their two prime locations make for prime customer flow; these guys have this category all rolled up. Steaming their way into second place is the beloved Belltown shrine to sushi-making, Shiro's, where Shiro has been doing his groove thing since long before we were eating solid food. Closing in on third is Broadway's most mellow sushi bar, complete with tasty specials, Aoki. Now repeat after us: "One fish, two fish, raw fish, chew fish!" 40. Best vegetarian restaurant As the veggies move forward in their ultimate plan to take over the universe, there is a sacred gathering place (no hunting allowed, for obvious reasons) at which those back molars work overtime: Caf順lora (2901 E Madison, 325-9100) wins for this category, a pleasant sanctuary from all that gore and gristle and, well, meat. Sit among the greenhouse-y decor and listen to the burble of the interior fountain as you suck down delicious dishes (like the cornmeal pancakes in pomegranate sauce on our first brunch visit—wow!) without the distraction of dead animals on your plate. Coming up in second was Carmelita, Phinney Ridge's answer to Flora, which serves up towers of beets in a rosy room full of happy folks. Bamboo Garden, a vegetarian option with an Asian focus, made it to third. 41. Best pizza They've cleaned up in this category since they were just a University Way slice-a-torium, so it's no surprise that with three restaurants and a thriving delivery business, Pagliacci (Seattle delivery, 726-1717; Eastside delivery, 425-453-1717) is still cooking up Seattle's favorite pies. With three locations (two on Madison Street, giving you a hint of where the name came from), Mad Pizza is the up-and-comer in this category, with a solid second-place finish. Third place goes to New York-style piemaker Piecora's, still a popular destination stop for Capitol Hill pizza lovers, followed closely by Zeek's Pizza, the only restaurant to ever best Pagliacci in this poll category. But that was then, and this year just notches another landslide win for Seattle's pizza kings. 42. Best grocery store Fighting to keep their favorite Wedgwood market from being transferred to a corporate competitor, the loyal customers of Matthew's Red Apple Grocery (8400 35th NE, 525-4822) came through at the ballot box, making their neighborhood grocery store the top finisher in this category. The store and the owners of the property on 35th Avenue NE are in arbitration over whether Matthew's is legally entitled to stay another five years. Area residents have rallied behind the grocery, collecting petitions with 20,000 signatures in favor of keeping Matthew's. Behemoth vittles retailer Larry's Market, the place to go to choose from three dozen kinds of mustard, was a close second. Ironically, QFC, the chain seeking to take over Matthew's, took third. In a Seattle surprise, Puget Consumers Co-op (PCC) could manage only a fourth-place tie with Safeway. 43. Best bakery Bakeries furnish one of life's guiltiest pleasures—a circumstance that accounts for the complicated relationship we have with them. We all have our own favorite bakery that is killing us sweetly. So we justify what is essentially a dysfunctional relationship by fashioning, in our minds, a romantic image of our bakery of choice. It is not a sweets dealer; it is instead a homey companion, or a purveyor of healthful "alternative" muffins and scones and cinnamon rolls, or it is "European," or "hip," or any one of hundreds of other things that excuse our indulgence in the heart-clogging and hip-enhancing. We had thought it a sure bet that this politics of identity would send Honey Bear Bakery vaulting to the top of our poll, what with its health-food pretensions and its involvement in saving Elliott Bay Book Co. from extinction. But Honey Bear finished barely behind Macrina (2408 First, 448-4032) this year, a scant plurality of our readers unswayed by urban cultural politics. Next came Essential Breads, followed closely by Grateful Bread. If nothing else, the lineup demonstrates the market power of "healthy" bakery foods, and, sadly, the demise of the doughnut. 44. Best Eastside eatery Over the years, the number of vote-getters in this category has grown right along with the Eastside, as has the sophistication and tone of the food joints in question. Seattle-centric readers would be surprised to see the number of eateries that garnered votes this year—although one, the "Microsoft cafeteria," had to be disqualified because there are nearly 20 of them. (They're also the best deal on earth, considering the company subsidy, but you do have to sell your soul to qualify for membership.) The winner, Yarrow Bay Grill (1270 Carillon Point, Kirkland, 425-889-9052), is worth a trip across the lake not only for the menu but also for the splendid, peaceful lakefront views it affords. Spazzo, Daniel's Broiler, and Dixie's BBQ followed, in a category whose competitors are sure to change dramatically year by year, either until the scheduled end of the world or until Eastside growth finally starts to subside. 45. Best place to have your last meal . . . ever See the best of the millennium. Check out more ballot winners! Read Seattlites' picks for best stores & services, city life, and arts & entertainment. Or, go to the 1999 Best of Seattle main page.