For the vaunted suburban Snackdown crown, Bothell, Kenmore and Kirkland today meet Bainbridge, Bremerton and Vashon in a tense showdown. Have an opinion? Take it to the polls! Voting closes Thursday at 11:59 p.m.
*See Also Seattle Weekly's Snackdown Returns
Erika Hobart swears by Bothell, Kenmore and Kirkland.
Many Seattleites balk at the idea of crossing the bridge for a good meal. But, contrary to their stubborn beliefs, the Eastside offers options as capable of pleasing a hipster's palate as it does a Microsoft-employed yuppies.
In Kirkland, there is of course, the renowned Café Juanita, where Chef Holly Smith cooks dishes like braised rabbit and goat cheese gnocchi inspired by the rustic fare of the Northern Italian countryside. If cheap and tasty is more your style, Santorini Greek Grill slings awesome gyros and souvlaki made from family recipes. The tiny cash-only eatery is so dearly loved that its regulars forgive the owner for closing the doors and going home to Greece every year for two months, running back full-speed as soon as he returns.
Meanwhile, if you equate quantity with quality, Brown Bag Café serves enormous portions of comfort food made from scratch. If you can finish a meal here, it's likely you need to check into Overeaters Anonymous. Over in Kenmore, Uma Thai and Acapulco Fresh Mexican Grill offer authentic but inexpensive dining experiences. And in Bothell, you can enjoy the sweetest, most butterlicious (it needs to be in the dictionary) scallops at Northwest seafood restaurant Russell's. Or, if you're feeling nostalgic, hit up the Ranch Drive In for a damn good ranch bacon cheeseburger and root beer out of a Styrofoam cup - see? Who says they can't hang on the Eastside?
And Hanna Raskin says the ferry trio is responsible for the best food beyond Seattle.
As cruise directors know, a boat voyage can sharpen the appetite. But the outstanding restaurants that await beyond the ferry terminals on Bainbridge, Vashon and Bremerton are so good that they could thrive on the mainland (which is a fancy way of saying that Seattle wouldn't mind if the restaurants listed here opened in-city locations.)
Vashon has always been a food community, but it's long been hard for visitors to appreciate it. Since the island's rich with farmed fruits, vegetables and meats and foraged berries, mushrooms and sea creatures, the best dinners have always been served in private homes. But non-Vashonites can now appreciate the island's bounty without filling their tote bags at the excellent Saturday farmers' market, thanks to a recent surge of quality restaurants. La Boucherie, the sit-down offshoot of Sea Breeze Farm, serves extraordinary charcuterie in a wonderfully romantic dining room attached to a butcher shop. It's nearly impossible to score a reservation at the new May Kitchen + Bar, but its curries are so good that diners shouldn't mind eating at 4:30 p.m. Zamorana, which earned accolades for its tacos and tortas while operating as a truck, recently opened a permanent location, and Zombiez has lately won over burger fans.
Music editor Chris Kornelis, a Bremerton resident, swears by Hi-Lo's 15th Street Cafe and Toro Lounge, a satisfyingly trendy tapas bar serving lamb sliders and grilled pear salads. Toro also offers a smart line-up of cocktails in a town that's better known for the ales poured at Silver City Brewing Co.'s newest taproom and Der Blokken in Manette. While Manette is rapidly turning hip, Bremerton is still a reliable source of old-school sweets, including the pink champagne cake at McGavin's and the cream pies at the Airport Diner, also renowned for its fish and chips.
Over in Bainbridge, a farm-to-table philosophy reigns at the acclaimed Hitchcock, where the name-your-price, chef's choice menu is one of the best and most affordable ways to experience high-end cooking in the county. Since island jaunts are synonymous with picnics, Bainbridge has also cultivated a few great bakeries and sandwich shops, including Blackbird and Fork & Spoon. But the island's defining dining experience right now is a meal at Greg Atkinson's lovely Marche, where the vegetables are prepared with grace and skill, followed by dessert across the lane at the always terrific Mora Iced Creamery and a ferry ride home.