*See Also Seattle Weekly's Snackdown Returns
Hanna Raskin is backing Redmond and Woodinville.
When I first wrote about Woodinville, about a week after I'd moved to Seattle, I mistakenly called it a tourist town. "It's a suburb," an editor explained.
I've since ridden the bus to Woodinville, so can appreciate its suburban dimensions (it's far more bucolic when you arrive by bike.) But I still think it's deserving of visits by tourists and locals alike: The contrived concentration of wineries is incredible, and the restaurant scene is growing to match it. Drinkers who need a break from swirling and sniffing can grab a wood-fired coppa-and-arugula pizza at The Station, or cap off the day with a plateful of handmade pasta at Italianissimo. And wine isn't the only booze justifying a Woodinville trip: In addition to Redhook Brewery, a grandaddy of the micro movement, the area's also home to the precocious Woodinville Whiskey Company.
Still, Woodinville has plenty to offer teetotalers, including brunch at Barking Frog (don't miss the view from the patio) and dinner at the iconic Herbfarm, which offers Seattle's most distinctive spin on farm-to-table fancy. While the wine cellar holds 26,000 bottles, the non-alcoholic drink program - which relies heavily on the herb garden - is equally impressive.
Down the road in Redmond, the choice for upscale evenings out is Pomegranate Bistro. But the area's best homegrown restaurants specialize in cuisines from afar, including Spicy Talk Bistro, Neville's, Kanishka and Sichuanese Cuisine. Who wouldn't want to be a culinary tourist here?
And Erika Hobart is standing up for 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?