Best of Seattle: Food & Drink

Featured
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Annie Johnson may have chosen a male-dominated hobby to pursue, but the decorated homebrewer has no problem going up against the guys. And winning. more...

Jason Stoneburner is a few minutes late for our phone call. When I finally get him, he is breathless and apologetic. He was on the roof of Bastille tending to his beehive during the recent July heat wave. more...

Single Spirit Bars As you might have noticed, single-spirit bars have become quite the cottage industry in Seattle. From relatively humble beginnings with a couple of whiskey-focused bars, we’ve reached a state where bars devoted to spirits as obscure as mezcal and aquavit are part of the local scene. more...



Guest Bests
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Irbille Donia has a lot going on. Locally, the cook and entrepreneur is known as part of the Seattle Kraken Congee pop-up and the Lahi Filipino pop-up, in addition to his job as line cook at Aragona. more...

Kathleen Flinn is a Seattle-based author of several food memoirs, including the just-published Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love From an American Midwest Family.She’s also the source of many-a recipe through her website cookfearless.com. more...



Staff Picks
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Dining

Best Use of Beets

Throw a stone and you’ll hit a beet salad in a Seattle restaurant. Surely there’s a more innovative way to use this colorful and flavorful root vegetable? The answer is yes at Porkchop & Co. in Ballard. more...

Best Fried Item
I’d do almost anything to get my hands on good tonkatsu (a breaded, deep-fried pork cutlet), and you can literally do that at Katsu Burger in Georgetown. Oh, they’re frying up beef, chicken, and even tofu there, but best is the pork, which stays remarkably juicy inside a panko exterior. more...

Best Food Intersection
The southeast corner alone makes 12th and Jackson in Little Saigon the best, as it has perhaps the area’s top strip mall for food. Pho So 1 has some of Seattle’s best pho. more...

Best Asian Noodles
Biang! (their exclamation point) might be my current pick for top dining destination in the area, largely due to one dish: the Hot Oil Seared Biang Biang noodles. You can get them topped with spicy cumin beef, chopped pork sauce, pulled stewed pork, or tomato and egg, but oil-seared shows off the wide, chewy, and tender flour noodles best. more...

Best Use of Dim Sum Baskets
I’m not thrilled about the quality of Chinese dim sum in Seattle, but I do like the concept of carts and steamer baskets, which involves waiting for the waitress? great reveal of what’s inside. And what’s inside the baskets at Northgate’s Isla Manila is quite delicious. more...

Best Ramen
There’s a big ramen boom in the area, with the best being the newest: Hokkaido Ramen Santouka. This was a known entity, as Santouka, based in Japan, has expanded to a number of other Asian countries and now the U.S. and Canada—though Bellevue is the first stand-alone location in America. more...

Best Piece of Sushi
Seattle’s a good city for sushi. Of all the fine sushi restaurants, Kisaku, in Tangletown, is one of my favorites. more...

Best Japanese “Ippins”
Sushi Kappo Tamura is one of Seattle’s finest sushi restaurants, but it’s also my favorite place for ippins—small plates, both hot and cold, that I typically eat before ordering sushi. SKT’s quality comes partly from its rooftop garden, which supplies greens for small salad plates (like mustard greens with Washington albacore tuna) and vegetables for dishes like tempura. more...

Best Falafel
My favorite falafel isn’t from a hole-in-the-wall Greek joint, but from Maria Hines’ Golden Beetle in Ballard. Instead of making it with chickpeas (the most common way), she uses fava beans, which may have something to do with the lighter consistency of her brightly-flavored Herbed Falafel. more...

Best Offal Dish
Bellevue’s Bamboo Garden offers a regular menu for the timid, but I recommend taking a look at the “Walk on the Wild Side” menu. Here you’ll find adventurous dishes like swimming fire fish, pork-tongue slices, and sour & spicy jellyfish. more...

Best Food-Truck Item
Seattle Biscuit Company’s Ché Biscuit, a big brick of a biscuit sandwich, marries the creators’ Southern roots with Northwest locavorism. A biscuit with just the right density cradles a fluffy egg, strips of bacon, Beecher’s cheese, a slab of honey ham with bits of caramelization, pickles, sweet-onion mustard, and globs of apple butter. more...

Best Pasta Dish
Spinasse’s handmade pasta has achieved a level of perfection that is elusive outside of Italy. The ravioli di agnello is one of their best dishes, with thin, delicate pillows encasing just three ingredients: lamb, mint, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. more...

Best Happy-Hour Menu
Shanik may be one of Seattle’s best-kept happy-hour secrets. The restaurant offers 20 percent off the bar menu, with miniature versions of the restaurant’s best dishes, like lentil and potato pakoras with sweet date chutney, spicy pura (mini-Indian crepes), and the famous spice-encrusted lamb popsicle. more...

Best Place for the Meat-and-Potatoes Eater
Aside from a few iterations of kale on the menu, Manhattan is solidly meat and potatoes, with a soul food/Southern twist. Cheeseburgers, filet mignon, lobster tail, and crab cakes dominate the menu, complemented with sides like mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. more...

Best Dish Involving Oysters
Xinh Dwelley has gained notoriety for her Vietnamese-tinged seafood recipes at her Shelton restaurant, Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House. Thanks to Taylor Shellfish, you don’t have to travel outside Seattle to taste her delicious food. more...

Best Dish Involving Salmon
I’ve touted it before, but I have yet to find a challenger to the sockeye salmon crostini at Spur Gastropub. For $4 each, an ultra-fresh slab of salmon is layed with mascarpone, capers, and pickled shallot. more...

Best Restaurant Worth Traveling To
Let’s just put it out there: We’d all go to The Willows Inn if we could get a reservation and afford it. Alternatively, there’s Doe Bay Café. more...

Best Place for a First Date
Award-winning interiors aside, Westward is a fun, casual new seafood restaurant and oyster bar with a fantastic outdoor seating area where you can get cozy with (provided) blankets next to a big gas firepit. Toast oysters and watch the sunset behind the city skyline. more...

Best Place for an Anniversary
Canon has perfected its dark, dramatic interior—including a bathroom cozier than my own home’s—that will enhance the mood of any special occasion, from secret meetings to romantic anniversaries. For the latter, Canon’s encyclopedic liquor library means you’ll probably be able to find a spirit aged as long as you and your significant other have been together. more...

Best Place to Break Up With Someone
Safeco Field’s Ethan Stowell-inspired grub hub has one thing going for it: exits. You can disappear in a throng of Mariner fans faster than your new ex can say “Who’s going to pay the tab?” But don’t leave before you scarf down some not-so-typical ballpark food, like Parisian crepes and frites with garlic dipping sauce. more...

Best Gluten-Free Dish
If there’s a better biscuit name than Butter Hole, I don’t know what it is. Honest Biscuit’s gluten-free offering is as rich and flaky as its gluten-generous flour counterparts, and are available fresh and frozen. more...

Best Post-Pot-Buzz Snack
It’s like a Malaysian street-food burrito: Kedai Makan’s roti filled with lamb, spices, mint, and pickled red onions, with a spicy dhal to dip into. While you’re there, take advantage of one of their daily specials, like black-pepper chili ribs (usually on Sundays) or the Ramly Burger, wrapped in an egg and topped with sweet chili slaw (usually available late-night on Fridays and Saturdays). more...

Best Late-Night Dining
This one has to go to Brimmer & Heeltap, a restaurant that actually creates a bona fide “late night” weekend menu, on which one of the choices is “Our Family Meal”—i.e., you eat whatever the staff cooked for themselves that night. more...

Best Pickled Item
The pickle plate at Bar Sajor is anything but mere bread and butter. It currently includes kohlrabi, asparagus, pak choy, pink radish, and sea beans, and showcases three styles of pickling: fermented pickles, vinegar pickles, and nukazuka Japanese-style pickles. more...

Best Housemade Condiment
XO Sauce is a common Cantonese condiment made with dried seafood, chili peppers, garlic, and aromatics. The XO sauce at Kraken Congee, the brainchild of Shane Robinson, includes dried scallops, dried shrimp, Chinese sausage, ginger, shallots, garlic, chili flakes, and oil. more...

Best Pizza Topping
Rather than get into the heated debate over who makes the best pizza in town—especially considering it’s so subjective, based on what style you like—I decided to focus on pizza toppings intead. Just like craft cocktails, pizzas are getting increasingly signature, which means going out for a pie can be more of a dining “experience,” should you wish it. more...

Best Dining Series
In its third year, Matt in the Market’s “Planes, Trains, and Traveling Chefs” continues to bring some of the very best chefs from outside Seattle to cook a six-course dinner (with wine pairings) with Matt’s chef Shane Ryan. The format is great: Each month throughout the summer and fall, the two chefs alternate courses and team up on one. more...

Best Restaurant Artwork
When Spanish tapas restaurant Olivar was set to close earlier this year, one of the primary concerns of regulars was for the building’s murals, painted by Vladimir Shkurkin more than 80 years ago for the Loveless Building’s first restaurant, Russian Samovar. Upon Restaurant Marron’s recent opening, the local community breathed a sigh of relief to see the murals intact and in full glory. more...

Best Food Trend
Half-portions! There’s a reason the average American woman’s waist size is 37 inches (according to J. Crew), and I’m pretty sure it has to do with the whopping portions we can’t seem to break up with. more...


Retail

Best Locally Made Condiment
Renee Erickson has excelled in pickle-making, using pickled raisins, apricots, and French plums to great effect in her restaurants. You can bring all these home via her Boat Street Pickles product line, but my favorite is her pickled figs. more...

Best Pickles
Britt’s naturally fermented pickles reliably come with a delightful crunch, but the Full Sour is where Britt’s pickle genius shines brightest. The tartness is jaw-aching and bracing, but mellowed a bit by oak flavors and a hint of earthy funk. more...

Best Prepared Item From Butcher
For those who can’t slow-cook their own pig head at home, Rain Shadow Meats has the fromage de tête (head cheese) covered. And for those who won’t, Rainshadow’s head cheese will be the gateway to the off cuts. more...

Best Prepared Item From a Seafood Market
Besides obscure Japanese candies, exotic produce, and aisles and aisles of Asian sauces, snacks, and other unfamiliars, Uwajimaya is also known for its seafood counter. Though I’m typically not a fan of pre-marinated meats and seafood from groceries, I make an exception for the black cod in the kasuzuke marinade. more...

Best Beer Selection, Retail
With 1,300 bottles from more than 50 countries, West Seattle’s The Beer Junction is beer-geek heaven, including mead and cider for those who sway that way. Add a staff with impressive knowledge of their selections and special brewers’ events that build a sense of community, and this shop is head and shoulders above the rest. more...

Best Local Soda
It’s not often that a soda can rise in the ranks to be comparable in flavor and complexity to our beloved cocktails, until Anna Wallace founded Seattle Seltzer Co. and did it with a recipe for a long-forgotten celery soda. Wallace’s is lightly fizzy and rich in celery and celery-seed flavors highlighted by a splash of lime juice. more...

Best Local Cheese
All the cheeses made at Mountain Lodge Farm are named after volcanoes, including the Tipsoo, which met with such positive reception that the farm has decided to extend its season. It’s a pasteurized, semi-soft cheese made with goat and Jersey cow’s milk. more...

Best Bread
It may come as no surprise that my favorite bread heralds from Columbia City Bakery; there’s a reason why it’s a staple on most restauarant menus in Seattle. While all their loaves are generally delicious, my personal favorite is their Walnut Levain, spontaneously leavened and studded with big chunks of walnut. more...

Best Paté
For just $10.99 a pound, DeLaurenti’s brandied house pat é is a delicious steal. Though the recipe is “totally proprietary and totally secret,” according to cook Garrett Abel, he did divulge that it’s a mix of duck, pork, and chicken liver with sherry and a little brandy added—which really come through in the aftertaste. more...


Drinking

Best Beer Selection, Tap
The two no-frills locations of Chuck’s Hop Shop are great places to buy beer, but also happen to be excellent spots to drink a frothy pint from the tap. Chuck Shin’s Greenwood location sports 38 taps, and his new Central District spot has a cool 50, with an astounding selection of cider and beer, from sours to IPAs to ambers and more. more...

Best Beer Selection, Bottles
There’s no shortage of places to get great bottles of beer in Seattle, thankfully. What sets Uber Tavern apart is not just the depth of their selection, but its idiosyncrasy, meandering among local, American, and European beers—yet there’s always something new, interesting, and delicious to discover. more...

Best Local Brew (Tie)
What I love most about Fremont Brewing’s Universale Pale is that it finds a middle ground between beer’s two main essences, malt and hops. Floral and aromatic on the nose, sweet yet bitter on the tongue—in the end I have to agree with what Fremont Brewing itself says about it on their website: “This is beer.” more...

Best Brewery Menu
The so-called Gastropod at Epic Ales in SoDo probably won’t win any awards for decor, but what it lacks in frivolity, it makes up for in flavor. Skilled chef Travis Kukull is at the helm of a tiny kitchen, crafting inventive dishes that use ingredients in astounding ways—like the recent spruce-tip chocolate-chip ice cream and the cold watermelon soup with flashes of wasabi and chunks of pickled watermelon rind. more...

Best Craft Cocktail
The signature drink at what is perhaps Seattle’s signature craft-cocktail bar, the Canon Cocktail does two essential things right. First, it provides a delicious interplay of flavors: the sharpness of the rye whiskey, the herbaceousness of the Ramazzotti, the sweetness of the triple sec foam, and the, well, bitterness of the bitters. more...

Best Wine List, Local
Wild Ginger has a great wine list in general, but their commitment to offering Washington wines made from just about every imaginable grape is what earns them this award. From the usual suspects like cabernet sauvignon and riesling to more esoteric grapes like graciano and carmenere, you’ll find wines from our state alongside many of the finest in the world. more...

Best Wine List, Imports
David Butler’s creatively sourced French wines at Le Caviste are a must for anyone looking for an authentic experience. The list, exclusively French, features not just well-known regions like Burgundy and Bordeaux, but up-and-comers like Savoie and Jura. more...

Best Cocktail Name
The Mustache Ride, because The Walrus and the Carpenter is located in Ballard, and there are a lot of mustaches in Ballard (many of which are regularly found at Walrus). Plus, it’s a term for a relatively benign sex act, and also sort of a reference to Super Troopers. more...

Best Reinvented Classic Cocktail
Of the many classics, few get less regard than the mai tai. Viewed as a dated relic of the tiki craze, it mostly elicits confused looks from bartenders when ordered these days. more...

Best Local Red
First of all, it’s one of the few wines actually made within Seattle city limits. Second of all, it shows off one of the great vineyards in Washington: Red Willow Vineyard in the Yakima Valley. more...

Best Local White
One of the strengths of the Washington wine industry is that with so much land under cultivation, growers and winemakers have been able to experiment with a wide range of varietals. Grüner veltliner, native to Austria, is one that seems to have a bright future here. more...

Best Locally Produced Spirit
A truly tasty marriage of Scotch and bourbon, Westland Distillery’s Westland American Single Malt uses malted barley as its base, imbuing it with smoky, floral smells and a sharpness on the palate. Yet it’s aged like bourbon, mostly in new American oak casks, giving it a richness and sweetness on the finish that’s distinctly, well, American. more...

Best Second-Date Bar
A second date doesn’t always get much respect. A first date is all about making a good impression, and a third is about seeing how far things might go, but that second date? more...

Best Cocktail Over $12
The Ciudad Vieja, Spur Gastropub’s take on a Seattle original, packs an immense amount of flavor and complexity into one $14 package. The interplay of Laird’s Applejack and aged rum is inspired, and the dry Curaçao adds a citrus zing. more...

Best Use of Ginger Beer Besides a Moscow Mule
Look, the Moscow Mule is an unrelenting juggernaut crushing all other cocktails beneath its copper wheels. I know this. more...

Best Reason to Drink Vodka
Vodka rarely gets much respect from craft cocktail bars and bartenders. At best, it’s seen as a blank canvas to which many flavors can be applied; at worst it’s just added to some sweet crap and served with a sugared rim. more...

Best Mimosas
The four booths, corner table, and long, U-shaped counter at Georgetown’s Square Knot fill up fast on weekend mornings, so there may be a wait—worth it for the old-school diner breakfasts and even more so for the mimosas. Not girly mimosas served in girly flutes, these are MANMOSAS, served in pint glasses (!) for only $7: choose from pineapple, grapefruit, pomegranate, or classic orange. more...

Best Place to Day-Drink
For most Seattleites, drinking at lunch on a weekday is still a bit taboo. Those who feel a bit more European seem to congregate at Matt’s in the Market, where you can enjoy a delicious meal, a great view, and a glass (or three) of wine without anyone batting an eye. more...

Best Outdoor Drinking
Outdoor drinking, for me, requires two elements: sunshine and tequila. Yes, you can make an argument for rum or white wine, but let’s be honest: In the heat of a Seattle summer, what you really want is a well-made margarita, some chips, and something to stare at. more...


Coffee and Confections

Best Coffee Experience
Ballard’s Slate Coffee Bar is unique: There’s no line of people at a counter contemplating a big blackboard of options, but instead table service with an explanation of a very short menu. The best way to experience Slate is to do a coffee flight. more...

Best Coffee Drink
Drinking the Café Nico at Espresso Vivace is a divine experience. The expertly made espresso, just four dainty ounces, carries an ethereal spritz of orange and vanilla syrups, and is buoyed by a splash of steamed half-and-half, topped with a shake of cinnamon, and finished with a fragrant garnish of orange peel. more...

Best Coffee Roast
After releasing Fonte Coffee’s first blend, the F1, Paul Odom and Steve Smith continued to tweak and improve upon the recipe to develop the F2. It comprises primarily beans from Brazil for a dark-chocolate foundation; roaster Steve Smith added some Guatemalan beans for acidity, Kenyan for fruit notes, and Indonesian for body and structure. more...

Best Coffee Collaboration
The next time you get coffee to go, try it frozen. Caffe Vita and popsicle-pushers Six Strawberries joined forces to create the Caffe Vita Latte Pop, putting one of Seattle’s favorite beverages on a stick. more...

Best Cupcake
Belltown’s Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co. creates a brilliant bacon ’n’ pancakes cupcake, melding sweet syrup with salty, fatty hickory bacon in the cake and sprinkling sugared bacon bits atop the maple Italian buttercream frosting. more...

Best Donut
Top Pot makes great doughnuts all around, and their cakelike Old-Fashioned line is the real deal—fried to crispy perfection and retaining their über-dense interior. Their maple Old-Fashioned is coated with a sticky mess of maple glaze, super-sweet and begging to be washed down with a latte on a rainy day. more...

Best Fro-Yo Flavor
Pistachio is like Delaware. Until someone mentions it, you forget it exists. more...

Best Ice-Cream Flavor
Molly Moon’s maple walnut is the sort of ice cream old retirees eat when they’ve run out of Werther’s Originals. Why? more...



Geek Pick
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Best Geeky Eats
Step into Lunchbox Laboratory and you’re transported to a wonderful world of geeky nostalgia—a time when burgers and shakes were the ultimate dining experience and school conversations revolved around your G.I. Joe lunchbox. But nostalgia has never tasted so good. more...

 
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