Butcher Shop Cafe in Kenmore: Now Taking Requests

Leslie Kelly

My beater Honda really should be adorned with a bumper sticker that reads: “I Brake For BBQ!”

After having lunch with a friend at Bastyr’s beautiful campus in Kenmore – a super yummy kale and fruit salad and some of the best tofu I’ve ever put in my mouth (thanks to chef Jim Watkins!) – I pulled out onto Juanita Drive and spied a contraption churning out smoke at the nearby Butcher Shop Café (Kenmore, 15022 Juanita Drive N.E., 425.485.1400; Facebook page).

I quickly turned into the parking and went inside after huffing a few sniffs of the magical smoke coming from that hot box.

What’s cooking? I asked the guy at the counter. Bacon?


Eric Conner's freshly smoked pork bellyTurns out owner Eric Conner was smoking pork belly. It wasn’t cured, so it technically wasn’t bacon, but he sold me a hunk of it and I took it home and fried it up in a pan and, hot dog! That was some good pig (pictured here, before putting the final sizzle on it).

Have high hopes for the housemade sausage I bought there, too.

This spot is a real hole-in-the-wall hybrid, with a nicely stocked case of some quality meat – yes, he stocks foie and duck confit and bulk Nueske’s bacon.

On the café side, there’s a lineup of burgers made with Oregon Country Beef ground daily, a steak sandwich, the daily dog special and pulled pork shoulder, served Carolina style. Not much in the way of seating, but they seem to do a bang-up to-go trade.

Conner also takes special requests for the smoker. “Give me a little notice and I can do anything,” he said. (Call him at 206.229.2090.)

Next time I’m up Kenmore way, I’m definitely going to do a progressive take-out feast, stopping first to load up on the awesome salad bar at Bastyr’s stellar cafeteria (open to the public!) and then something smoky over at The Butcher Shop Café.