Best Food, Bars & Restaurants

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36. Best new restaurant

Rick Dahms

Though it's said that it only takes two, you'll want to bring along a whole group to sample the

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Best Food, Bars & Restaurants

Best of Seattle, 2000

  • Best Food, Bars & Restaurants

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    36. Best new restaurant

    Rick Dahms

    Though it's said that it only takes two, you'll want to bring along a whole group to sample the tantalizing tapas at Tango (1100 Pike, 583-0382). Our readers anointed the newest jewel of the Pike/Pine corridor this year's Best New Restaurant, and we have to heartily agree. The now-beautified space formerly belonging to everybody's favorite movie house o' porn, the Apple Theater, offers a gustatory wow that will leave you panting for more. Fresh, delicate plates are loaded with flavor, and there are dozens of choices. Meat dishes and a stunning paella will satiate the pickiest eater, and the desserts—let's carry the metaphor one step further to say that they're nothing short of orgasmic. In hot pursuit of this title were the second-place and similarly named Fandango, Flying Fish chef Christine Keff's latest Belltown hot spot, and Tamara Murphy's Brasa, which won the category last year. Which means it's not actually new. People, read the question!

    37. Best nonsmoking bar

    Here's a rebellious idea for the '00s—dare to be the one who doesn't light up. For those tired of the stink, pretensions, and ersatz cosmopolitanism of the new-school smoker, the most popular spot for a nice drink is the Virginia Inn (1937 First, 728-1937). Whether enjoying an after-work merlot, dinner, or late-night beer, it's a relaxed, welcoming place that doesn't require you to take a shower to defumigate yourself the moment you get home. Inside usually features canvases by local artists; outside the seating's nice on a warm summer evening. Close behind in second was the Latona Pub, a mellow Green Lake joint known for its microbrews, burgers, and live music. In third was the Pike/Pine corridor's pleasant Rosebud Restaurant and Bar, where, again, there's no ciggie stench.

    What do you want from me, people? Advice? You can't learn anything from marginal cartoon characters! Read the text, you morons!

    38. Best burger

    Did you doubt it for a second? Yes, chalk up another round for those reliably fresh patties at Red Mill (312 N 67th, 783-6362; 1613 W Dravus, 284-6363). Despite adding a second location in Magnolia, the lines are still running out the door at the original Phinney Ridge location. Tell us, readers, is it the roasted Anaheim peppers or the hefty sides of onion rings that make this burger experience so fulfilling? (We're partial to their shakes, too.) But when that craving for ground beef hits, and hits hard, you'll find us in line behind you. Richard Spady's brainchild—a.k.a. Dick's—hung in there for second place in this contentious category. (The Specials deserve particular mention for their sauce-to-meat ratio.) Kidd Valley, awaiting its new poster babe, scrambled into third.

    39. Best pot stickers

    Rick Dahms

    Some people call them dumplings, but you'd better stick to "pot stickers" if you're on Judy Fu's turf, otherwise known as the Snappy Dragon (8917 Roosevelt Wy NE, 528-5575). Readers rallied behind the Maple Leaf institution, whose pot stickers come hot, fresh, and ready for dousing in soy sauce. Order a few, or a slew, and you're gonna rub your belly like a contented Buddha. Even better, for those who'd rather not stick it out in the consistently long waits for a table in the restaurant's cozy domicile, they do a booming takeout and delivery business. Wild Ginger and House of Hong ended up in a tie for second, and third place was rounded out by none other than Safeway's China Express. (Would you like some Presto logs with your order?)

    40. Best waitstaff

    Nothing spells "service" like a thick, juicy steak. So say our readers, whose choice of the swanky Metropolitan Grill (820 Second, 624-3287) beat out the competition. We recently went to check out this pinnacle of professionalism for ourselves, and found not only well-dressed and attentive staff, but also—are all you other restaurants out there listening?—special shelves built to hold pepper grinders, should a nearby customer request a sprinkling on his or her chowder or filet mignon. Also noteworthy was a certain corporate concern for the dining experience, as highlighted in the Comment Card that accompanies the bill: "We are committed to providing the highest quality product and service to our guests. . . . Any complaints will be addressed immediately." Hear, hear, we say! Second place belongs to Serafina, whose staff dances through the live music and entangled daters in mere seconds, entr饳 intact. Third place, a tie, went to surf 'n' turf specialists Daniel's Broiler and the pan-Asian Wild Ginger.

    41. Best restaurant table decorations

    We know about the Icon Grill's (1933 Fifth, 441-6330) glassy, antique-filled, and arty d飯r, as installed by owner/interior designer Gary Detlef. But our readers insist that the tables themselves at this "aroused Americana" eatery are worthy of a Best; they must be referring to the glass centerpieces atop the larger tables and the funky handblown glass salt cellars on every table. Art meets kitsch meets globular glass ࠬa Chihuly—it's an appetizing concept, and landed firmly in first place. Ethnic fare took second- and third-place honors, with Cucina! Cucina! beating out the three-way tie of Buca di Beppo, Bimbo's Bitchin' Burrito Kitchen, and Cyclops. (Memo to this trio: gratuitous exclamation points would've moved you into second.) We at the Weekly give extra points to those restaurants providing white butcher paper and a few scattered crayons. You know who you are.

    42. Best pizza

    Rick Dahms

    Now that they deliver the stuff right to your door, everyone else might as well give up on ever winning this category again. Our readers' favorite pizza, for the umpteenth straight year, is the pies made by Pagliacci (multiple locations, 726-1717 for delivery in metro Seattle). Once a slice-and-soda place on University Way, Pagliacci has added new locations and home delivery while maintaining quality control. We salute them. Second place goes to Zeek's, the only other pizza joint to ever post a win in this category. Third place goes to the gooey, overstacked, topping-rich pizzas created at North Lake Union's Northlake Tavern.

    43. Best barista banter

    Rick Dahms

    For many of us, our first human contact each morning is with a barista, whose manner is often more likely to lure us back than the taste of the sacred bean itself. And while we're deeply dubious of the efforts of corporate coffee chains to instill some personality and charm into their staff, our readers have found something to their liking in the manner in which both Starbucks (second place) and Tully's (third) encourage their baristas to engage in stimulating chat. But for banter to beat the band, you say, head to Vivace (901 E Denny Wy, 860-5869; 321 Broadway E), the Capitol Hill roasteria that operates out of two Broadway locales. We visited both Vivaces to sample the coffee and the conversation, but found that at the Broadway and Thomas window, while the trio of male baristas were decidedly cute and efficient, they were working far too hard to slow down for a chat. Meanwhile, down at Denny, the staff seemed to be adept at cracking each other up, but thanks to loud music and the drone of espresso machinery we couldn't hear a word they were saying. So if you're looking to actually understand what pleasantries are being mouthed, we recommend trying during the off-peak hours.

    44. Best burritos

    OK, it's a chain, but you have to admit you never have to walk far to find a Taco Del Mar, the hard-working burrito maker who has blanketed the greater Seattle area with some 20 outlets. Good refries, jalape�on request, and fish tacos make a trip to these burrito fanciers a memorable experience. For those more into neighborhood joints, our readers offer Gordito's Healthy Mexican Food (Greenwood) and Bimbo's Bitchin' Burrito Kitchen (Pike/Pine) as their burrito slingers of choice.

    45. Best coffee joint to bring your laptop

    Where are the cyber cafes? Where are the electrical outlets? Where, for Pete's sake, are the phone jacks? That's not what Weekly readers are looking for when it's time to sit down with a latte and a laptop. On the theory that ubiquity breeds convenience breeds "best," perhaps, we find most of our caffeine-plus-computers readers headed to Starbucks (conveniently located within 500 feet of wherever you are), to the omnipresent sign of the big green mermaid to get their twin fixes. It probably doesn't hurt that Seattle, woefully underserved by 24-hour java joints, has nonetheless one of the few 24-hour 'Bucks around nestled in the giant University Village QFC. And it has a fireplace! Right behind them, local chain alternative (is that an oxymoron?) Tully's scored second place, while Queen Anne indie Caffe Ladro weighed in at third.

    46. Best place to expect a huge tip if you're a waiter

    Ah, to shed those workaday hassles and succumb to the culinary luxuries that await you at Canlis (2576 Aurora N, 283-3313)! One Dubonnet on the rocks later and we're putty in the staff's hands—at least that's what our wise readers tell us. Well, if you're willing to fork over major cash for the pleasure of having a fabulously professional waitstaff slide fabulously prepared food your way, you know what we're talking about. To top it off—and we still don't know how they identify one Benz from the next—your chariot is idling out front the moment you (reluctantly) leave. Besides, isn't feeling like a million bucks about spending it all in one place? After all, you're paying for the service that makes you feel as important as a CEO or the new "it" girl. Pulling in for second was the Metropolitan Grill, a shoo-in for its upscale, meat-lovin' patronage; the Argentinian-style steakery-cum-celebrity haven El Gaucho ranked third.

    47. Best neighborhood Italian joint

    Rick Dahms

    Whew—this was a close one. Apparently, Wallingford has the most devoted denizens, though, because readers voted Bizzarro (759 N 80th, 545-7327s) into first place by one vote over two second-place contenders. It's easy to see why this cozy, offbeat bistro would win; they've been serving up reliable ravioli, luscious lasagna, and mouthwatering meat dishes for years. The sauces are exemplary, the service friendly, and there's furniture hanging upside-down on the ceiling. The two just-miss, tied-for-second-place joints are Machiavelli, the buzzing little Capitol Hill favorite for toothsome pasta and old-school Italian restaurant atmosphere; and Buca di Beppo, which evidently earns points for the neighborly feel inside the sprawling, lively eatery, given that few souls live in the warehouse and office complexes that surround it. Also in contention was Serafina, the fine Eastlake spot for tangy sauces and romantic d飯r. Mange!

    48. Best grocery store salad bar

    For its mass appeal and its proximity to just about everyone, QFC ran away with this category. We've browsed their cherry tomatoes and tossed greens, and have on occasion been tempted to load up on croutons. The superstore branches (Broadway and Pine, University Village) offer the true salad bars in this town, complete with Sneez-Guard. Larry's Market slipped into second with their gourmet spin on help-yourself veggiedom. Whole Foods marked its debut in the Best of Seattle poll by coming in third. And they even have a cheese bar, an olive bar, a juice bar, and a soup bar—all potential categories for next year.

    49. Best tofu dishes

    Oy, soy! We may be reaching here, but we suspect that the reason you vaulted Bamboo Garden (364 Roy, 282-6616) to top honors is that they disguise their bean curd in meat's clothing—i.e., the sesame "chicken" isn't chicken at all, but rather a diabolically prepared ball of tofu that tastes exactly like chicken. No fooling! Thing is, they've mastered it. Vegetarians in the know enjoy their bok choy alongside their stewed "beef," sweet-and-sour "pork," or Kung Pao "chicken." Local health-food grocer PCC fell just shy of the first-place slot to capture second, and third went to Caf順lora, home away from home for visiting vegan celebrities (Alicia Silverstone munched on a cheeseless pizza from Flora's before her appearance at the SIFF gala in May).

    50. Best place to order five-star spicy food

    When you say "five stars," Tup Tim Thai (118 W Mercer, 281-8833) apparently means it. We sincerely hope that your stomachs are up to the task, but who are we to question our readers? Siam, in both its Eastlake and Broadway incarnations, tied itself for second place in this category (has that ever happened before?), and Thai Tom landed in third. Three-star folks can only shake their heads in wonder at those brave, five-star souls who order food that clears the sinus passages, causes instant sweating, requires patrons to remove all their clothes, raises the room temperature by 20 degrees, and contributes to global warming.

    51. Best corporate cafeteria

    While many long to see Microsoft torn into five easy pieces, apparently our readers would exempt Chez Bill's scrumptious chicken-salad sandwiches (but you still can't order Office 2000 and hold the browser). No surprise there—when your workplace mess hall offers everything from smoked tofu to specialty lattes to shrimp salad, why would you go anywhere else? Throw in fancy ski-chalet architecture, outdoor seating, and Soviet-style subsidized prices (so that's why we sacrificed our firstborn children for a heavily wrapped cardboard box and a disc), and you're in tech heaven. Hell, Mr. G., forget the computer biz—you can use your business smarts to crush Orange Julius and TGI Friday's. Apparently Amazon's second-place canteen is not so free with the pop and milk. But Adobe's commissary? Well, they tied with Swedish Hospital's cafeteria for third. Better get on the stick, Adobe, before your stock takes a belly-flop in some lime Jell-O.

    52. Best bartender

    Rick Dahms

    You love Ben, we love Ben, everybody loves Ben Dougherty! Ben is funny, friendly, good-lookin', and pours a stand-up adult beverage—what more do you want in the person handing you drinks? The new bar in which Ben is a partner, Zig Zag Caf頨1501 Western on the Pike Place Hillclimb, 625-1146), is noted later as Best Place to Hide Out and Get Tanked (see Critics' Picks), and then you go and pick him as best bartender—crazy! (Though we suspect ballot-stuffing, we had nothing to do with it.) Anyhow, Ben used to tend bar at Machiavelli on Pine, and under his regime that tiny bar developed a happy, friendly, well-lubricated scene that had less to do with the great pasta on the restaurant side and more to do with Ben's fine pours and sage, bartenderly advice. With him at the helm, Machiavelli weathered the WTO as the eye of the storm; he'll keep mixing as the tear gas flies—something to bear in mind in the new millennium. Next time you're at the Zig Zag, ask him to make you his special with fresh mint. Can't quite remember what went in it, but boy is it good. Thanks, Ben.

    53. Best dot-com delivery service

    Of course it's HomeGrocer.com (soon to be absorbed into Webvan.com)—they have the best stuff, the clearest Web site, arrive obsessively on time, and employ the buffest, baddest, most bodaciously good-lookin' delivery men this side of UPS. (Tightest something-or-others in the shipping business.) In any case, don't think we don't know why you voted HomeGrocer top dog by a landslide. Albertsons.com has fine delivery men too, but apparently only 1/12 as many; its services drew third place. Perhaps you were also influenced by Albertson's weaker site and smaller selection; we don't know. We do know that Kozmo.com, they of the Starbucks lattes and videos and movie candy, whupped Albertson's handily and was inching up on HoGro to nab second place. Hmmm. Clearly you still prefer studs to Milk Duds, but thanks to Kozmo's brilliant niche exploitation, this may not last forever.

    Best of Seattle, 2000

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