SUSHI KisakuKisaku in Tangletown is the perfect neighborhood sushi restaurant, high in



Kisaku in Tangletown is the perfect neighborhood sushi restaurant, high in quality and reasonable in pricing. Order omakase (translation: “leave it to you”), and chef Ryuichi Nakano will wow you with a fresh assortment of fish. Adventurous? Be sure to request shirako (cod sperm, with a creamy, custardy texture), amaebi (eat the sweet shrimp raw, and then the head and shell fried), and my personal favorite: hotate kombu jime (kelp-marinated scallop—ask for it, and Nakano will probably know I sent you!). Kisaku is also a popular destination for lunch.

2101 N 55th St., 545-9050, JAY FRIEDMAN

Sushi Kappo Tamura

Sushi Kappo Tamura in Eastlake is at once upscale and yet casual. You can get a table, or instead sit at the counter—the place I prefer to sit at a sushi restaurant—where Taichi Kitamura holds court. Be sure to check out the fine selection of ippin ryori (small plates). In this interesting part of the menu, you might find mustard greens and Washington albacore tuna with almond wasabi sauce, salads made with greens from the restaurant’s garden, and braised Wagyu beef shoulder with maitake mushrooms. After some ippins, go on and enjoy Kitamura’s outstanding sushi.

2968 Eastlake Ave E., 547-0937,, JAY FRIEDMAN


At first glance, that platter of sushi that Hajime Sato serves you at Mashiko in West Seattle looks like any other. But take a closer look. And listen to the man as he explains what you’re eating. While you won’t find bluefin tuna or unagi (eel) here (Mashiko’s mission is sustainability), you will find fish that’s a little different, often local, and still delicious. At some sushi places, I just want to eat nigiri (raw fish with rice); at Mashiko, it’s interesting to see what ingredient combinations Sato will serve you. Order omakase (the chef’s choice) and you might get geoduck and scallop ceviche with Asian pear, shirako with cucumbers, and white king salmon tartare topped with a quail egg. 4725 California Ave SW, 935-4339, JAY FRIEDMAN


For the most traditional sushi in town, Shiro’s has been the longstanding mecca. The restaurant is named after sushi chef Shiro Kashiba, who studied with culinary masters in Tokyo before moving to Seattle in 1967 and eventually opening his namesake restaurant in 1994. Sure, there may be rolls and tempura at Shiro’s, but the way to go is omakase (chef’s choice). Upon doing so, you’ll be treated to an array of sushi and traditional dishes subject to the Northwest’s seasonal bounty, which may include a buttery broiled black cod, briney uni with assorted sashimi, or deep fried soft shell crab. Delicate flavors and respect for ingredients remains a key focus at Shiro’s and, with so many sushi restaurants in town, it never hurts to stick to the time-tested. 2401 2nd Ave., 443-9844, TIFFANY RAN

Nijo Sushi Bar & Grill

Many people know Nijo for its excellent sushi. Fewer know that this sophisticated, downtown spot also has arguably the best happy hour in town, one in which you can get not only affordable sushi but an array of other tantalizing, Japanese­inspired dishes that you may come to love even more. Because happy hour stretches until 7 p.m., it’s easy to make a dinner of it, especially given the fulsome and varied small plates on the menu. Be sure to try the unusual octopus and potato dumplings, the exquisitely tender beef skewers and the

eggrolls, filled with plump chunks of avocados. Most dishes are under $6, as are the cocktails,

that run towards the tropical with infusions of mango, coconut and passion fruit. Budget $50 for

two and you’ll have a feast. 83 Spring St., 340­8880, NINA SHAPIRO


Serious Pie

In the entire Tom Douglas empire, the busy crowd-pleaser called Serious Pie may be his best restaurant, perhaps due to its specificity. There are a variety of the signature hand-shaped, oblong pizzas available; top recommendation is the pie with soft-cooked free-range eggs, smoked prosciutto (or sometimes guanciale), pecorino sardo, and arugula. Serious Pie is an especially attractive option for downtown happy hour, with mini-pizzas priced at just $6 and selected glasses of wine or pints of beer only $5. A handful of starters and sweets can help round at the meal. 316 Virginia St., 838-7388, JAY FRIEDMAN

World Pizza

No one had heard of World Pizza when I suggested it for a recent lunch with my co-workers. And yes, some were skeptical about it being “all vegetarian.” But I knew one bite is all it would take—and I was right. To sum up how awesome World Pizza is, here’s what you need to know: the location is warm and inviting, the service is gracious, and the pizza is the cat’s meow. You must try the house special, the roasted red potato-garlic-rosemary-gorgonzola pie. Or anything with Field Roast pepperoni. With a mouthful of ‘za, my colleague, Seattle Weekly reporter Ellis Conklin, said it best: “This isn’t, just, like, good vegetarian pizza. This is, like, really good pizza.” 672 S King St., 682-4161, GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

Bar Cotto

Ethan Stowell’s salumeria is heavy into cured meat, but the long list of Italian-style pizzas shines brightly. Dough is fermented for four days before being stretched into thin rounds topped with the likes of anchovies, buffalo mozzarella, and fennel frond pesto. The best pizzas here are completed with slivers of the silky, delicate artisanal cured meats Bar Cotto hangs its hat on, like salami, guanciale, and prosciutto. 1546 15th Ave, 838-8081,



Veraci Pizza is proof you don’t always need a brick-and-mortar restaurant to craft great pizza. Veraci’s Italian-style pies has a home base in Ballard but takes its show on the road to farmer’s markets, festivals and parties around town, too. Each batch of dough is prepared by hand in a mixing bowl, achieving perfect chewiness, and baked in a wood-fired oven for a light char. Local ingredients like chanterelle mushrooms, Beecher’s cheese, and Zoe’s salami further set Veraci apart. 500 NW Market St, 525-1813, MEGAN HILL


Tanglewood Supreme

Tanglewood Supreme in Magnolia is one of the top hidden gems in our local restaurant scene. Striving for sustainability, this “local seafood bistro” serves ocean treats that are fished with good practices. And while there’s a Northwest focus to the menu, there are plenty of Asian and Mediterranean influences to make the food interesting. The seven-course tasting menu is a steal at $45, while happy hour brings bargain prices. Any time you go, you can sit at the counter and watch the chefs in action. 3216 W. Wheeler St., 708-6235, JAY FRIEDMAN



Hitchcock’s Brendan McGill was voted The People’s Best New Chef in a Food & Wine magazine national contest. The restaurant is well worth the short ferry ride to Bainbridge Island from Seattle. What’s the best way to experience this eclectic restaurant? Pick a price for a tasting menu (you can order a la carte, but the tasting menu lets you name your price for a chef-determined number of courses), then sit back and enjoy all the dishes that showcase pickling, fermenting, preserving, roasting, grilling, and more. McGill always maps out an adventurous meal, with fascinating ingredient combinations and flavors from start to finish. If duck is on the menu, request it. (Hitchcock Deli, next door, is also fantastic.) 133 Winslow Way E., 201-3789, Bainbridge Island, JAY FRIEDMAN


The latest eatery from James Weimann and Deming Maclise (Bastille, Poquitos, Macleod’s, Von Trapp’s) Stoneburner fills a needed niche for fresh comfort food on Ballard Ave. The restaurant named after Bastille chef Jason Stoneburner is filled with found objects collected from globetrots and connects to the posh Hotel Ballard. But a space that could feel high-brow is cancelled out by warm lights, a reclaimed pressed tin ceiling and a menu that’s reasonably priced, equal parts veg and meat and full of flavor-forward familiar fare like handmade pasta and wood-fired pizza. 5214 Ballard Ave NW, 695-2051, SARA BILLUPS


It baffles me that LloydMartin doesn’t get mentioned more often when discussing the city’s best restaurants. Sure, it’s not in Capitol Hill or Ballard, but the food at chef Sam Crannell’s Queen Anne jewel is some of the most creative and well-executed in the city. It’s the little touches, like beautifully composed soups poured tableside and perfectly cut bread, plus an innovative bar program, that should put it on the short list for any serious Seattle diner.

1525 Queen Anne Ave N, 420-7602, www.lloydmartinseattle ZACH GEBALLE,

Art of the Table

Creativity can be a blessing and a curse in the restaurant business. Innovative food might get you noticed, but push the boundaries too far and you can leave most diners behind. Dustin Ronspies manages to tread that razor’s edge, fusing an eclectic mix of ingredients and techniques into what can only be considered Seattle cuisine. His intimate Fremont restaurant seats the lucky few who get to explore that new frontier on any given night. Lately, it’s not just locals who have taken notice, as Ronspies is one of the 2014 James Beard Award nominees for Best Northwest Chef.

1054 N 39th St., 282-0942, ZACH GEBALLE

Radiator Whiskey

Three words: Smoked pig face. That’s what Radiator Whiskey, a Pike Place Market based pub which boasts a menu of gut-warming, elevated comfort foods, is best known for. Radiator shares the same owners as its longstanding neighbor, Matt’s in the Market, but its bourbon brown walls and barrel wood accents create a rather different vibe that echoes the bold, smoky flavors of its food and drinks. If staring a pig in the face will thwart the appetite, the fried pork shank, braised beef brisket, turkey drum confit and lamb neck sloppy joes are all equally robust options. For dessert, the warm chocolate chip cookies come with what else: a shot of whiskey, many of which they have in barrels on tap. 94 Pike Street, Ste 30, 467-4268, TIFFANY RAN

La Bete

Aleks Dimitrijevic’s La Bete is as ornate and whimsical as its contemporary American menu, which is bolstered by a sophisticated weaving of European influence and, more recently, Arab flavors borrowed from its Monday night Middle Eastern pop up headed by La Bete cook, Taylor Cheney. Whether it’s kasespatzle for brunch or tabbouleh on a Monday night, dishes are served on fine china and the restaurant is adorned with vivid artwork from proprietor Dimitrijevic himself. Despite its apparent elegance, the Capitol Hill based restaurant fits right into the scene with its bar-friendly food and cocktails curated as carefully as its atmosphere. 1802 Bellevue Ave, 329 4047, TIFFANY RAN

Queen City Grill

“Oh, it’s no problem. Just come in,” said the maitre d’ when I recently called the Queen City Grill about making a reservation. But I didn’t take the ready availability of tables (on a Thursday) as a warning sign, and neither should you. In fact, the Grill was warmly abuzz that evening, filled with one convivial party of a dozen and pairs of young women chatting at the bar. Comfortable and effortlessly sophisticated, it’s “a romantic restaurant for guys,” says my plus-one (emphasis his), and it’s our go-to spot for special occasions. No one does old-school, traditionalist dining better (for those not on a Canlis budget): oysters, scallops, Caesar salad; crab cakes, salmon, duck confit, steaks; bread pudding, Key lime pie, ice cream. Go ahead, chase your food trends elsewhere; what the Grill offers is a simple, classicist commitment to the basic elements that make restaurants wonderful. 2201 First Ave, 443-0975, GAVIN BORCHERT

Volunteer Park Cafe

Whether you’re perched in a window seat with a cup of coffee and gazing at the leafy North Capitol Hill street outside or crammed at a communal table for a big sandwich at lunch, Volunteer Park Cafe doesn’t disappoint. The emphasis here is on simplicity – let the local ingredients shine, and you can’t go wrong. Menu items are rustic, with sandwiches on crusty bread, housemade granola, quiches and stratas, and enormous fresh pastries and cookies. 1501 17th Ave E., 328-3155; MEGAN HILL


Set in a darling Craftsman house on Wallingford’s busy 45th Street, Tilth serves hippie fantasy food for dinner and brunch. Chef Maria Hines highlights New American cuisine with as much certified organic ingredients as she can get her hands on, in addition to wild stuff that grows in the woods. Portions are small but artfully crafted and richly flavored. The menus change each month to keep in tune with the seasons. 1411 N 45th St., 633-0801, MEGAN HILL


Huong Binh

There may be more glamorous spots in Seattle for Vietnamese food, but my favorite is Huong Binh. Located in a restaurant-filled strip mall in the Little Saigon section of Seattle’s International District, Huong Binh has a wide variety of noodle soups, rice plates, rice flour crepes, and more at reasonable prices. The grilled pork is a signature item. Weekend specials include bun măng vịt: the duck broth soup with rice noodles and bamboo—along with an overflowing plate of poached duck—that you’ll see on nearly every table.

1207 S. Jackson St., 720-4907 JAY FRIEDMAN

Bamboo Garden

The area’s finest Chinese food can be found on the Eastside, where you can find spicy Szechuan fare. Bellevue’s Bamboo Garden is the best of the bunch. There’s a regular menu for the more timid, but I recommend the “Walk on the Wild Side” menu. Here you’ll find adventurous dishes like swimming fire fish, pork tongue slices, and sour & spicy jelly fish. My favorite is the spicy cauldron called “the other parts of the pig,” with pork intestines, pig blood cubes, tofu chunks, basil and pickled cabbage in a tangy broth. If things heat up too much spice-wise, refreshing watermelon juice can come to the rescue.

202 106th Pl. NE., Bellevue, 425-688-7991, JAY FRIEDMAN


Beyond having the most fun restaurant name in Seattle, also has some of the most flavorful Thai curry the city has to offer. Never watery or mealy, Jamjuree’s massamun and yellow curries are thick, sweet, and soul rejuvenating in the same way mom’s chicken soup is. 509 15th Ave E, 323-4255, KELTON SEARS

Boiling Point

Everyone can get what they want out of the Taiwanese hot pot experience at Boiling Point, where diners get to choose their own soups and add-ons for individually portioned hot pots. With soups alone, there are many options at varying price levels: including a spicy Korean kimchee and curry fishball soup. The house special soup is a hot pot homage to stinky tofu, a fermented Taiwanese tofu that is also a popular side dish. Pick from the list of hot pot add-ons which include varying proteins and seafood, plus assorted vegetables. While heating up is the prerogative here, special attention is given to the cool down with exotic slush drinks, milk teas, and snow flake shaved ice. 1075 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, (425) 455-8375 and 610 5th Ave S, Seattle, 737-8506, TIFFANY RAN

Uway Malatang

A popular Chinese model of hot pot priced per pound finds its way to Seattle with Uway Malatang. In this somewhat hidden spot in the Pacific Rim Center building in the International District, diners can choose from assorted toppings like pork blood, tofu, seasonal greens, sliced beef and lamb, ramen noodles, and more for a Sichuanese dry pot or a bone soup hot pot. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch Chef Cheng Biao Yang hand pulling noodles in the kitchen, and take that as a sign to venture beyond hot pot. These noodles are the showstopper, outstanding in their intended rustic nature and gratifying chew. Another notable option, the hand shaven noodles, is also made in house. 900 S Jackson St. Suite 212, 467-0600, TIFFANY RAN

Din Tai Fung

Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung brought the xiao long bao (a delicate Chinese soup dumpling) to the masses and, this year, it expanded from its Bellevue location to include another in the U-District. It’s no wonder why the xiao long bao has become so ubiquitous that knowing patrons need only refer to them as XLBs. Most XLB aficionados opt for the pork and crab for traditional decadence, but look beyond the bamboo steamers and you’ll see that the sides, soups, noodles, and wontons deserve a fair shake. The house chicken noodle soup is deeply therapeutic, the pork chop fried rice is filling and satisfying, and appetizers like the seaweed and beancurd in vinegar dressing and soy noodle salad contribute crisp and clean flavors to a rich meal. Note: the Bellevue location is the first among all the chains to have a bar, so order the lychee martini to wash these baos down. 700 Bellevue Way NE #280, Bellevue, (425) 698 1095 and 2621 NE 46th, 525-0958, TIFFANY RAN

Northwest Tofu

Seattle has what few other diverse cities do, a store for freshly made tofu. Lucky for us, Northwest Tofu also runs as a daytime restaurant, where Chinese families and knowing regulars plan ahead to get in for a weekend brunch of fresh soy milk and crullers, green onion pancakes, and steamed buns. Here one can discover the many forms and textures of tofu including chewy soy noodles, a silky tofu fa (a savory tofu flan) and the light and crisp salt and pepper tofu. Northwest Tofu’s products, its soy milk, fried tofu, and marinated tofu are made on-site and available for take-out. They also provide wholesale orders to local restaurants, so in the case that you’ve had great tofu elsewhere, might want to pay credit where it’s due. 1913 S. Jackson St., 328-8320 TIFFNAY RAN

Noodle Boat

In a town of 10,000 Thai restaurants (or so it seems), the best is actually a short drive away: Noodle Boat in Issaquah. Three reasons: (1) There are many unique dishes, (2) Prices are great, with most dishes about $10 or less, and (3) Noodle Boat doesn’t dumb down the spice levels. Pay special attention to the third, as Noodle Boat closes six weeks each winter for a family (working) vacation in Thailand to make chili paste for the restaurant. Start with Mieng Kum: roasted coconut, peanuts, red onion, Thai chili, ginger, lime, palm sugar sauce, and dried shrimp that you wrap in a cha-pu leaf. The explosion of flavors previews a menu full of fantastic food.

700 NW Gilman Blvd., Issaquah; 425-391-8096, JAY FRIEDMAN

Marination ma kai

Fans of the Marination food truck and brick­and­mortar “station” on Capitol Hill were thrilled when a second fixed location opened on Alki Beach in late 2012. The menu includes Marination’s signature, Korean­Hawaiian­influenced tacos, filled with such fare as kalbi beef, ginger miso chicken and spicy pork. The Alki location also has an expanded menu that both delves deeper into fusion cuisine­­including fish and chips with kimchi tartar­­ and offers pure Hawaiian treats like what island natives call “shave ice.” Best yet,you can enjoy this fare on Marination’s spacious patio overlooking the water, making it one of thecity’s few informal, family­friendly eateries with killer views. The water taxi from downtowntakes you right there. 1660 Harbor Ave SW, 328­TACO,­kai. Nina Shapiro


Crumble & Flake Patisserie

The lines may have let up a little at Capitol Hill’s Crumble & Flake Patisserie, but the quality remains high. That’s not surprising, given that pastry chef Neil Robertson’s background includes a stint at Canlis. This jewelbox of a place (takeout only) has showcases with crunchy kouign amman (like a croissant folded into itself), perfectly caramelized caneles, chewios (like a chewy Oreo), colorful macarons, and cream puffs that are filled to order. And don’t overlook the stellar smoked paprika and cheddar croissant, plus any other savory options. It’s no wonder that Robertson’s been nominated for a James Beard award as the country’s best pastry chef in 2014.

1500 E. Olive Way, 329-1804, JAY FRIEDMAN


A brief closure last year–during which Fuji Bakery moved the production site for its two bakeries to a new location–had loyal fans bemoaning the temporary loss of their favorite French-Japanese pastries. Since then, Fuji Bakery has reopened their Bellevue and International District locations and added another storefront to the primary production space on Elliott Avenue, where crowd favorites like the salmon brioche, mild curry bun, pear Danish, matcha azuki bread, and Fuji’s signature melon pan are made. Owner Akihiro Nakamura uses Japanese flour and cultured European butter for its pastries, creating a light, airy texture and rich, complex taste–just another reason why in a city where so many bakeries live, there remains no real substitute for this one. 1030 Elliott Ave W, 216-3616; 526 S King Street, 623-4050; 1502 145th Pl SE, Bellevue, (425) 641-4050; TIFFANY RAN

Columbia City Bakery

Walk into this light­filled bakery on a weekend morning, a line of people waiting for croissants and breads baked at dawn, the tables filled with friends talking over coffee or parents sharing treats with their kids, and it feels like you’ve found the heart and soul of the neighborhood. There’s a reason everyone flocks here. The croissants rival those you can get in Paris, the breads and rolls are sought after by restaurants around the city, and the pastries will make your eyes light up. The pear and cream cheese danish is especially good. 4865 Rainier Ave. S., 723­6023, NINA SHAPIRO

Bakery Nouveau

Bakery Nouveau calls it chocolate “bread,” but it’s so rich, dense, moist, and cake-y you’ll probably want a fork. But it’s not so sweet that you can’t justify eating it for breakfast. Win-win! The treat ($2.25 a slice, $10 a loaf) sits atop a case filled with baked goods from macarons to sandwiches, with beautifully sculpted pastries and cakes and glossy, gemlike little candies that look like pieces for a board game in a pasha’s palace. A whiteboard lists the day’s breads: olive fougasse, ciabatta, challah, and pain au levain. With its brown, cream, and russet walls, the compact Bakery Nouveau is cozy and bustling–not exactly a place to while away an afternoon, but there’s seating enough to linger, enjoy your choice(s), stare at the temptations in the case, and contemplate whether you want to indulge in something to go. 4737 California Ave. S.W, 923-0534, GAVIN BORCHERT


Milstead & Co.

Andrew Milstead’s multi-roaster cafe Milstead and Co. livened up a sleepy pocket of Fremont when it opened its doors in 2011. Offerings can change several times a day, with carefully selected beans sourced from some of the most exciting roasters in Seattle and beyond. But even if you’re not interested in coffee terroir, Milstead serves consistently well-made lattes in a big, airy room that’s as well-suited for working as it is for meeting friends. 770 N 34th St, 659-4814, SARA BILLUPS

Slate Coffee Roasters

Snagging the title “America’s Best Coffeehouse” in 2013, Slate has quickly garnered the attention of coffee purists in Seattle and around the country. You won’t find flavored syrups or frozen blended drinks at Slate’s Airstream trailer or Ballard-based coffee bar. But you will find a focus on hospitality and perfectly executed pour-overs and macchiatos served by a gregarious bunch of baristas. 5416 6th Avenue NW, 240-7174,


Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Duane Sorenson expanded the reach of his Portland-based Stumptown to Seattle back in 2007. In addition to a quiet Pine St. espresso bar, Stumptown’s 12th Ave. space includes roasting operations and a room for cuppings on the bottom floor and a cafe on the main level that’s brimming with Seattle U students and neighborhood folk who know nothing beats sipping a mini growler of cold brew with milk on a sunny day. 1115 12th Ave, 323-1544, SARA BILLUPS

Tin Umbrella Coffee

Hillman City’s Tin Umbrella launched after a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2013, and since opening its doors the cafe and roaster has become a gathering space for locals badly in need of a viable independent coffee spot…and a destination for coffee geeks. The shop just south of Columbia City plans to introduce coffee bean delivery by bike in the coming months for devotees living in the area. 5600 Rainier Ave S., 743-8802, SARA BILLUPS

Victrola Coffee Roasters

Always cool without trying too hard, Victrola’s original 15th Ave. cafe is inevitably busy on the weekends and offers excellent people watching. A small but nice selection of pastries go well with your rosetta-topped latte. Beans are freshly roasted at a second Pine St. location that’s a good stopping point for Hill residents headed downtown. 411 15th Ave E, 462-6259, SARA BILLUPS


Il Corvo

Even in this era of gluten shame, few things satisfy quite the way a bowl of handmade pasta, perfectly sauced, can. Mike Easton’s food remains dedicated to excellence through simplicity, with just three pastas and a few antipasti available on any given day. Don’t let the crowds faze you, the food (and the sense of contentment) is worth the wait. 217 James St, 538-0999, ZACH GEBALLE


The effect of watching your pasta being made in front of you can’t be underestimated. Whenever I go to Spinasse, I inevitably gravitate to the bar, where I can watch the team of pasta makers mix, shape, and cut while I enjoy the fruits of their labor. With a sterling wine list centered on Nebbiolo, the gem of Piedmont, and a thoughtful, varied menu that highlights the pasta, Spinasse remains Seattle’s benchmark for fresh pasta and Northern Italian fare.

1531 14th Ave, 251-7673, ZACH GEBALLE


Agrodolce serves southern Italian fare, the brainchild of Maria Hines and executed by executive chef Jason Brzozowy. The menu pulls inspiration from the coast and the land in dishes with handmade pasta. Ingredients – like the smoked mussels, the lacinato kale, and the grass-fed lamb – are local, sustainable, and organic, as Hines is want to do. Surprisingly for an Italian restaurant, Hines and Brzozowy offer several vegan and gluten-free dishes, and manage to make them without sacrificing flavor or quality. Of late, they’re even milling their own grains in the basement–like Emmer–for freshly-made pasta. 709 N. 35th St., 547-9707,



Rob Roy

A bulwark against the ever-rising douche tide in Belltown, Rob Roy is one of the finest cocktail bars in the city. Ever since its inception, it’s managed to fuse unusual ingredients (like gunpowder) with classic techniques, all in a space that feels both welcoming (the couches are super comfy) and disorienting (hoof lamps, anyone?).

2332 2nd Ave, 956-8423, ZACH GEBALLE

Zig Zag Cafe

Bar watchers were curious to see what would happen to the Zig Zag when Murray Stetson left his long-time perch behind the bar several years ago. Would the pioneering of Seattle cocktail culture flop without his presence? Fortunately for all of us, Erik Hakkinen proved more than capable of filling those shoes. Zig Zag remains a rare cocktail lover’s dream, with an ever-evolving selection, creative specialty drinks, and bartenders willing to answer your questions, no matter how silly they seem.1501 Western Ave #202, 625-1146, ZACH GBALLE

Atlantic Crossing

The Seahawks might have rightly dominated the sports conversation in Seattle in 2013, but let’s not forget that we have a reputation to uphold as a soccer stronghold as well. With the World Cup coming in June, and the English Premier League nearing a dramatic finish, soccer bars are a must, and there’s none finer in Seattle than the Atlantic Crossing. Plenty of TVs carefully managed to provide maximum excited sets the mood, but it’s the food that sets the AC apart: creative takes on pub classics, well-executed and flying out of the kitchen even during the busiest moments. 6508 Roosevelt Way NE, 729-6266, ZACH GEBALLE,

Sun Liquor

A small, dark bar on a somewhat-forgotten corner of Capitol Hill, Sun Liquor remains my favorite spot to cozy up with a cocktail and a first date. While of course the full range of spirits from their hilltop distillery is on display, the bartenders are rarely pushy about it. The drinks can be the star of the show, or you can sip a beer and both pretend like you find Tinder silly. 607 Summit Avenue East, 860-1130, ZACH GEBALLE


If you like the foresty vibes and occasional weird 70s film projections, Redwood has you covered. More importantly, Redwood has baskets full of sweet potato fries for you to put in your face while you try to figure out what $3 pint you’re going to order next. 514 E Howell St, 329-1952 KELTON SEARS

Twilight Exit

To make a good bar, all you need is beer, hamburgers, and a jukebox. It’s outrageous how few places manage to ace all three—but Twilight Exit perfects the trifecta, and throw in an arcade room and a wonderful outdoor seating area to boot. In the heart of the Central District, you can easily spot the place by its ever-morphing, acid-influenced wall mural. Twilight Exit is the Miriam Webster definition of “chill.” All of the fun with none of the fuss. 2514 E Cherry St, 324-7462, KELTON SEARS


Cannon is the place you go with your father to discuss business and Hemingway over a glass of whiskey. Honestly though, you won’t get much talking done in between all the fawning you’re sure to do over your drinks. Cannon’s whiskey concoctions are unreasonably delicious—this is the kind of bar that puts egg whites in their whiskey sours. Don’t take my word for it though. Cannon’s daunting list of accolades places it at the top of Seattle’s most venerated bars. 928 12th Ave., 552-9755, KELTON SEARS

E. Smith Mercantile

The bar in the back of E. Smith Mercantile is no secret. There are no hidden entrances or mysterious doorbells, just a horseshoe-shaped bar tucked behind the quaint boutique opened by Kate Pool and daughters Jesse and Sara. The shop is named after Kate’s grandfather, E. Smith, and harks back to simpler days in his small mining town of Atlanta, Idaho. Its products also reflect a simpler time of artisan foods, American hand crafted products, sturdy leather bags, and vintage apparel. Tired shoppers can retire to the bar for craft cocktails and small bites in an intimate 14-seater space that feels like you’re at a cozy campfire. Drinks at E. Smith may evoke the same experience, as its cocktails often echo the flavors of a gold miner’s era — honey, vanilla, whiskey, and mesquite — the good ol’ days. 208 1st Ave S, 641-7250, TIFFANY RAN

Vif Wine & Coffee

Daytime cafe and wine bar Vif Wine & Coffee took over the former Herfy’s Burgers space to become Fremont’s gem of a breakfast spot and daytime eatery. Vif specializes in natural wines and specialty coffee, and more recently, its Pho Friday has become the neighborhood event for which to mark calendars. With wine and coffee, visitors can also snack on breakfast pastries, lunch salads, tartines made from local produce–and enjoy a day for laid back people watching. The word, “Vif” in French means bright, lively, and vivacious, which aptly describes the establishment’s selections of wines and its space where natural light pours in through every large window. 4401 Fremont Ave North, 557-7357, TIFFANY RAN



I’ve awakened many a Sunday morning haunted by Skillet’s fried chicken thigh and waffle. The union of the chicken, fried to crispy golden perfection and laid ever so gently atop the waffle (made from cornmeal, because flour is for philistines) makes for quite possibly one of the holiest brunch time unions in Seattle. If you want to journey even deeper down decadence lane, you can sub the chicken out for a slab of fatty, succulent pork belly. 1400 East Union Street, 512-2000 and NW 56th St, 512-2000, KELTON SEARS


Did you know Linda’s does brunch? Most people just go there to get sloshed once night falls, but they do indeed serve brunch if you aren’t too hung over to wake up for it. And surprise surprise, it’s damn good too. For fans of Mexican-style breakfast, Linda’s has especially got your back. Try the flautas—stuffed full of cheesy, eggy goodness wrapped up in fried tortillas. Chase it down with a pitcher of mimosas and meditate on how lucky you are to be alive with all this food in front of you. 707 E Pine St., 325-1220, KELTON SEARS


Honey Hole

Situated between a high end sex shop and a Magickal Pagan/Occult store, Honey Hole might be the best BBQ joint in town. The cozy restaurant specializes in BBQ sandwiches like The Bandit, featuring juicy, sauce-slathered brisket topped with coleslaw and melted sharp cheddar that will haunt your dreams. Plus, Honey Hole has hands down the best French fries in Seattle—thick golden straws that are always perfectly crispy and never soggy or limp. And hey! You can pick up that vibrator and spell book you’ve always wanted on your way out. 703 E. Pike St., 709-1399, KELTON SEARS

Ezell’s Chicken

World famous as Oprah Winfrey’s favorite fried chicken restaurant (a signed picture of her hangs over the register), Ezell’s preternaturally tender chicken lickin’s will comfort you in your sadness and help you achieve spiritual transcendence in your moments of joy. The dinner rolls that come with every chicken meal are made from magical sweet fairy flour that melts in your mouth. When you want some down home baked beans, mashed potatoes, no fuss fried chicken, Ezell’s is the only place to go. There’s a reason Esquire called it “The Most Life Changing Fried Chicken in America.” 501 23rd Ave., 324-4141, KELTON SEARS


Off The Rez

Did you know that you’re allowed to pile barbecue pork into elephant-ear style frybread and shove it in your face? Well, you are! It’s called an “Indian taco” and it’s just as mind-blowingly tasty as it sounds. Mark McConnell, Off The Rez’s owner, grew up eating Native American style food at family powwows in Montana, and thankfully he brings that culinary tradition to your drunk weekend outings. The food on the menu might sound a little unusual at first. Cumin crema burger? What is that? I’m not sure, but it tastes incredible, as does pretty much everything on the menu at this gem of a street food stand. Locations vary; 414-8226, KELTON SEARS


Renee Erickson’s adorable oyster food truck – converted from a vintage dairy van – shows up at spots like Hilliard’s Beer, the Queen Anne Farmer’s Market, and your buddy’s surprise party serving seafood-centric dishes. The menu is short and sweet, with the careful sourcing and attention to detail we’ve come to expect at her restaurants. Recent standouts include a smoked trout salad with lentils and creme fraiche, fried oysters with espelette aioli, and a cucumber gazpacho with crab salad. Address changes, 395-5147, MEGAN HILL


The hulking metal pig that is the Maximus/Minimus food truck is hard to miss. The tank is often downtown or at the Fremont Sunday Market, serving home-style barbeque in two styles. Choose maximus for a bolder flavor profile, minimus for something lighter and brighter. One highlight is the succulent and spicy Maximus pork sandwich, whose minimus foil is sweetened with tamarind, honey and molasses. A delightful vegetarian version is also available, as is the addition of Beecher’s Flagship cheese. Address changes, 971-4150, MEGAN HILL

El Camion

El Camion is a refreshing solution to a noticeable lack of Mexican food trucks around these parts. With locations in Ballard, SODO, and North Seattle, you can get your fix of breakfast burritos bursting with scrambled eggs, cheese, onions, black beans, pico de gallo, and either ham, chorizo, or fajita-style veggies. Later in the day, there’s an array of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and enormous tamales to choose from. Other highlights here are the gorditas, thick handmade tortillas piled with grilled onions, Cotija cheese, salsa verde, avocado and choice of meat, and the plato mole, with two generous pieces of chicken swimming in a rich mole sauce. Multiple locations and phone numbers, MEGAN HILL


Veggie Grill

Yes, I might be five pounds lighter had Veggie Grill and its now three Seattle locations not chosen my town as its new base for world domination. But you can’t very well blame me. This California- and plant-based fast food chain serves good vegan fast. And what more could a vegan (or, in my case, a vegan wannabe) desire during the lunch hour? Its savory kale caesar with grilled “Chickin’”—loaded with calories—is simply something I can’t go without on a monthly basis. 446 Terry Ave N, 623-0336; 2681 NE University Village St., 523-1961; 1427 4th Ave., 624-1332, GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

Chaco Canyon & Thrive

Chaco Canyon is hands down Seattle’s best vegan, raw-centric restaurant. While, Thrive is also popular with raw-food junkies and those with severe food allergies (its pesto stuffed mushrooms and ocean rolls are to die for), I fell in love with Chaco Canyon’s hot sandwiches and cider. One thing both cafes have in common: great juice bars. Get the Gold Rush at Thrive and the Zen Calm at Chaco Canyon. Thrive Cafe, 1026 NE 65th St, 525-0300,; Chaco Canyon, 4757 12th Ave NE, 522-6966 and 3770 SW Alaska St., 937-8732, GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

Traveler’s Thali House

Vegetarian restaurants are hard to come by on Beacon Hill, so don’t pass by Traveler’s Thali House. It accommodates vegan and vegetarian preferences graciously, and offers plenty of daily specials along with its extensive general menu. If you’re a first time diner, don’t worry about being overwhelmed with options. Just ask for the server who looks like Neil Young, and he’ll expertly steer you towards a dish you didn’t even know you wanted. Save room for dessert, too: its fabulous Indian sweets come from Renton’s equally fabulous Pabla Indian Cuisine. 2524 Beacon Ave S, 329-6260, GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT


Any restaurant that can unify omnivores and vegetarians through a dish called “Mac ‘n’ Yease” is doing something right. It’s that namesake dish—whose recipe remains highly guarded and was not included in owner Makini Howell’s recent cookbook—and others, like jerk-spiced tofu burgers, hand made pizzas, and smoky, charred vegetable sides that keeps this bustling bistro packed night after night. From Tobey Maguire to India Arie, it’s also your best bet for sighting health-conscious visiting celebrities. 1429 12th Ave, 838-5333, GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT

Sunlight Cafe

The U-District’s Sunlight Cafe, feels like the cozy, eat-in kitchen of your favorite aunt or grandma, serving up simple, hearty, comfort-style dishes. Everything’s vegetarian, so no matter what you order, you know someone’s watching out for your health, too. I like its breakfast and brunch meal the best: it’s the perfect time to bask in the sunlight that streams through its wall-sized windows and linger over a ginger-sesame tofu scramble before heading outside to start the day. 6403 Roosevelt Way NE, 522-9060, GWENDOLYN ELLIOTT


Standard Brewing:

Justin Gerardy opened a brewery in a veritable beer desert on Jackson Street, so it’s no surprise he’s become a neighborhood superstar. Gerardy brews great beer, experimenting with different types of hops and yeasts as only a true beer nerd would. His lineup rotates, but the complex, hoppy depths of the Cascadian Dark Ale or the bright, refreshing Bee’s Wine Ginger Beer – not a beer at all, really – are go-to picks. 2504 S Jackson St., 535-1584, MEGAN HILL

Epic Ales

Brewmaster Cody Morris doesn’t shy away from the bizarre with his concoctions at Epic Ales in SODO. Mushrooms, beets, and rooibos tea have been known to make it into the brew. Morris has mastered mainstream beer like the IPA and the oatmeal stout, but pushes the envelope with an ever-changing collection of sour beers. The tiny brewery is connected to Gastropod, an also-tiny restaurant and tasting room, where Morris’s beers are paired with ingenious dishes from Chef Travis Kukull. 3201 1st Ave S, Suite 104, 351-3637,



Hilliard’s Beer is one of the cornerstones of the Ballard microbrewery scene. Their beer is extremely drinkable; Hillard’s specializes in standards like their Amber, Blonde, saison, pils, and insanely popular 12th Can pale. Those reliable brews come in tallboy cans year round; in fact, Hillaird’s was one of the first Washington breweries to opt for aluminum, which is perfect for a day at the beach or a long hike in the mountains. At the brewery you’ll find draft beer like the pre-prohibition style Chrome Satan, an Irish dry stout called Murdered Out, and several creative seasonal brews. 1550 NW 49th St., 257-4486, MEGAN HILL

Fremont Brewing Company: Fremont Brewing burst onto the scene in 2009 with extraordinary flagship pale ale and an IPA, the first signs this place was destined to become a powerhouse. The brewery has grown up, now crafting an impressive lineup of seasonal beers in addition to those two delightful originals. They also experiment frequently with a Randall, a thingamajig that imparts another flavor into beer by filtering it through an ingredient like lemon or lavender. Add points for their focus on sustainability, lowering its impact with its brewing technology and packaging. 1050 N 34th St., 420-2407; MEGAN HILL

Rooftop Brewing: Sweet little Rooftop Brewing – located in a converted garage in a North Queen Anne alley – is run by a group of former home brewers who decided to take their passion pro. These guys know what’s up. A rotating cast of delicious, small batch brews is accompanied by standards like the Makeda Coffee Porter, strangely one of the few such beers in Seattle. It is rich, roasty, and delightfully caffeinated, with coffee from Seattle’s Seven Roasters. And this past November, Rooftop’s IPA snagged first place in the 26th Annual PNA Winter Beer Taste. 6 Dravus St., 276-4091; MEGAN HILL



Following the success of his food truck Where Ya At Matt, New Orleanian Matt Lewis opened brick-and-mortar Roux in the fall. Authentic beignets piled with powdered sugar and coffee are available all day, and lunch mimics the truck’s fare, with fat po-boy sandwiches, a salty muffaletta and steaming bowls of gumbo and jambalaya. Dinner gets sexy with gussied-up versions of the stuff you’d find rural Cajuns cooking in their backyards: crispy pig ear, fried chicken gizzards, frog legs, and fried rabbit saddle. Wash it all down with a pint of smooth chicory amber, made in a partnership at Elysian Brewing. 4201 Fremont Ave N.; (206) 547-5420; MEGAN HILL

Toulouse Petit: This gift to Lower Queen Anne has found the perfect marriage between the Deep South and the Pacific Northwest, with dishes like Dungeness crab over fried green tomatoes. At lunch, an impressive list of salads, sandwiches, and entrees includes highlights like po-boys with Mama Lil’s peppers and housemade andouille sausage with red beans and rice. The restaurant’s interior, with its plaster walls, iron work, and ceramic and glass mosaic tiles contribute to a pretty darn accurate impression of New Orleans’ French Quarter. 601 Queen Anne Ave N.; (206) 432-9069;


Marcela’s Creole Cookery: Chef and New Orleans transplant Anthony McDonald cooks up an assortment of New Orleans classics, from po-boys to the traditional muffaletta sandwich, crawfish etouffee, shrimp creole, and an array of expertly-fried items like alligator, oysters, catfish, and crawfish. McDonald and his wife, Marcela Fuenzalida host crawfish boil parties on Sundays in April, May, and June at the Pioneer Square restaurant. Leave room for the bread pudding, rich with whiskey sauce, or bananas flambeau, a version of a foster that is set aflame tableside. 106 James St.; (206) 223-0042;


The New Orleans Creole Restaurant: This Pioneer Square joint rocks with live jazz, zydeco, and blues bands almost every night of the week. The music accompanies food like fried oysters, jambalaya, and stuffed flounder. The New Orleans has managed to come up with vegetarian versions of the super-meaty jambalaya and gumbo dishes – both surprisingly flavorful and holding true to the complexities of the original. Wash it down with a drink or two from a massive menu that includes New Orleans favorites like the hurricane, fruity and full of rum, and a classic mint julep. 114 First Ave. S, 622-2563,