Virginia Inn: A come-as-you-are Tavern in a Tourtist-heavy Locale

Renovated in April, Viringia Inn's history will charm you if the the fare doesn't.<br>

Category: Eat + Drink Articles


Just knowing it was built before your grandparents were born is a big part of the appeal of Virginia Inn, a friendly, come-as-you-are corner tavern that feels like a local joint in spite of its tourist-heavy locale. Owners since 1981, Patrice Demombynes and Jim Fotheringham concluded a fastidious renovation in April, keeping original woodwork details intact and building a real kitchen (the Inn made do with an oven and hot pot for many years) to cook up the famously good gumbo ($11 at lunch, $12 at dinner), thick with pulled pieces of dark chicken meat and hunks of andouille sausage in a hearty brown gravy that hums with chile heat. The rest of chef Harrison “Rip” Ripley’s menu is typical Seattle bistro fare—grilled salmon, crab cakes, fried oysters, steak frites—but preparations are uneven and many are merely passable, including crab cakes mixed to a shredded texture with nary a hunk of crab hiding in the pricey patties ($12 for one, $20 for two at dinner). Stick to quick snacks such as the pan-fried oysters ($8), served hot and nearly raw, fantastic after a dip into the cayenne-laced remoulade. But skip the steak frites ($22), made with a fillet instead of the usual, more flavorful cuts, which was devoid of the meat ’n’ potatoes satisfaction the dish normally promises. Lunch and dinner daily. Pike Place Market, 1937 First Ave.; 206.728.1937; $$ Allison Austin Scheff

Photo by Victoria Lahti