Editor’s Note: In this week’s issue, Seattle Weekly named No Anchor Bar the Best New Restaurant of 2017. But when it comes to new places to eat out, Seattle is not lacking, and we wanted to give credit where it’s due. Below are the next nine best new restaurants of 2017.
Choosing my favorite new restaurants is a kind of culinary walk down memory lane. I get to rifle through a year’s worth of weekly reviews and relive the meals that most seduced my palate. That said, it’s no easy feat, and requires me to cut out some seriously good spots in the process. Ultimately, though, whether it’s a dive dealing in fried chicken or an ultra-high-end steak house, I simply went with the very best food and the experience tied to eating it.
2. Copine Shaun McCrain, former chef at the beloved but shuttered Book Bindery, ventured out on his own—and the result is Copine: where the food is contemporary American, rife with seasonal ingredients from the Pacific Northwest, but grounded in French technique. The dishes, while painstakingly composed, never feel overtly precious, likely because they are absolutely stunning both in conception and taste. McCrain had stints with Thomas Keller at Per Se in New York and Michael Mina in San Francisco, and those influences are keenly felt here. The interior is lovely as well, elegant with Japanese-like minimalist touches of natural elements. 6460 24th Ave. N.W., copineseattle.com
3. Flint Creek Eric Donnelly (of seafood-centric Rock Creek) set his sights on meat this time around, but this is no traditional steakhouse. While Flint Creek does serve classic cuts, mostly from cows (though you can get filet mignon, a ribeye, or a rib chop), it also serves less-predictable meats—including bison, wild boar, and venison—and sources from smaller producers that don’t use antibiotics. But the kitchen doesn’t just execute a perfectly cooked piece of meat; it also creates a panoply of tastes and textures, using herbs, spices, oils, and pickled things to bring it to life. A stunning, rustic-chic interior and superlative service are the cherries on top. 8421 Greenwood Ave. N., flintcreekseattle.com
4. Tarsan I Jane In a bold move, Perfecte Rocher opened not just a restaurant focusing on a particular region of Spain (Valencia), but opted to serve constantly changing, pricey tasting menus only. That he succeeded is testament to his talents. Over multicourse meals he constantly surprises and challenges, with cerebral dishes like pastenaga (carrot three ways), which transforms the humble vegetable into a purée, a guacamole, and a confit. But then he’ll throw you for a loop and serve something charmingly rustic and hearty, like curried Beluga lentils and spinach—a kind of stew, really—with Spanish goat cheese and an egg on top, poached in its shell to give the yolk and the white a similar consistency. A gin-and-tonic cocktail menu is equally unexpected and delightful. 4012 Leary Way N.W., tarsanijane.com
5. L’Oursin Frenchman JJ Proville has created a menu here which extends far beyond the typical steak-and-moules frites, taking essential cues from the waters of the Pacific Northwest to inform French-focused cuisine. The tightly curated, boldly conceptualized menu emphasizes fruits de mer, but you’ll find more exotic items than just raw oysters, like scallops and varnish clams in a bright, acidic espelette oil studded with bits of rutabaga and cabbage or grilled Alaskan herring served in a light horseradish cream. But don’t miss one of the best chicken dishes in town—a true hallmark of a great French restaurant. The space, too, manages to give off that just-right lively French-brasserie look. 1315 E. Jefferson St., loursinseattle.com
6. Mean Sandwich It took an East Coast/West Coast hybrid to bring us the best sandwich shop in town (sorry, Paseo). The husband/wife owners met in New York while working for Momofuko, and while co-owner Kevin Pemoulie is a New Jersey native, Alex Pemoulie is from Seattle, and grew up right around the corner from their Ballard sandwich shop. In the sparse space, they serve deli classics fantastically reimagined—think thick-cut corned beef with pickled red cabbage and mustard, whch gets demonically delicious with the addition of maple syrup and mint, or a steak tartare club that recalls a BLT, with bacon, tomato, toasted bread accompanying the small jewels of beef. Understandably, lines form outside the door on weekends. 1510 N.W. Leary Way, meansandwich.com
7. Copal Matt Dillon managed to turn his beloved Bar Sajor into an equally arresting environment with stellar food in its new incarnation, which specializes in Latin American cuisine. Whether in simple street tacos or an entrée of beef with bone-marrow salsa and grilled pineapple, it’s the little touches—the pickled-cabbage topping, the unique salsas, the unusual cheeses, the margarita with just a touch of orange-blossom water—that bear the mark of Dillon and carry this restaurant soaring over others of its ilk. 323 Occidental Ave. S., copalseattle.com
8. White Swan You can’t help rooting for a restauranteur who, after presiding over just one beloved restaurant for years, finally opens a second. Such is the case at The White Swan Public House, smack on Lake Union and owned by Dan Bugge of Matt’s in the Market. White Swan’s mostly seafood menu pulls off a perfect storm of highbrow and lowbrow—and the service is personable and knowledgeable. Come for some of the freshest, most unexpected varieties of oysters (and the view, of course) and stay for Poutine o’ the Sea, a gut-busting feast of fries smothered in chunky littleneck clam chowder, bacon, and scallions, or perfectly cooked scallops with a slightly yielding center and a toasty exterior, with carrots coated in bonito shavings and mint and lime. 1001 Fairview Ave. N., whiteswanpublichouse.com
9. The Butcher’s Table The gargantuan space from Kurt Dammeier of the Sugar Mountain Group (Beecher’s, Bennett’s, Maximus/Minimus) testifies that South Lake Union has officially become a “destination” with a capital D if ever there was one. But The Butcher’s Table is a new kind of steakhouse that manages to throw off much of the usual stiltedness. Their “Mishima Reserve” beef is a hybrid of Japanese Black Wagyu bulls (bred for their extreme marbling) and American Black Angus cows, and besides the steak, what’s also distinctive and spectacular here are the unconventional appetizers and sides. Choose from a lively, casual upstairs or a sexy, dimly lit downstairs dining room. 2121 Westlake Ave., thebutcherstable.com
10. Sisters and Brothers A fried-chicken spot had to make this list given the proliferation of new restaurants specializing in it. My vote goes to this divey Georgetown spot that delivers a Nashville-style bird with a deep-red skin that comes from chili powder, cayenne, and paprika, and a Tabasco-like vinegar-based sauce. What’s particularly great about this chicken, though, is that despite the mass assault of heat, the actual meat is flavorful; the paprika and less-aggressive spices eke their way out from beneath the deeply fried, finger-staining skin. Campy landscape paintings of Washington scenery and Pabst Blue Ribbon and Miller light fixtures account for much of the decor, while tables are fashioned from vintage video games (like Ms. Pac Man). It’s Pacific Northwest kitsch, and you can’t help but kind of love it. Just like the chicken. 1128 S. Albro Pl., sistersandbrothersbar.com