You don’t have to grow up eating pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes to know that there’s something soul-warming and belly-satisfying about Southern food. And while there’s nothing wrong with a plate of locally grown kale and house-smoked salmon, sometimes even the most ardent Pacific Northwesterner needs a decent biscuit—particularly now that we can no longer get that other classic Southern dish, the wonderful red velvet cake from Kingfish Cafe (R.I.P.).
But from our classic favorites to newcomers, here’s where to find those biscuits, plus great fried chicken, excellent beans and rice, and even some of that tasty pimento cheese.
Chef Edouardo Jordan’s newly opened JuneBaby quickly drew crowds (lines formed out front immediately after it opened), many of whom were likely fans who fell in love with his cooking at Salare, up the street. This eatery is dedicated to serving the foods of Jordan’s Southern upbringing (heritage grits, hoppin’ John, burgoo stew, hummingbird cake) and to introducing a Pacific Northwest audience to the story behind the dish—and its African lineage.
Our Pick: The fried catfish and grits is damn good ($18), but the smoked half chicken ($25)—accompanied by salty, crisp fried okra—is even better.
Ravenna, 2122 NE 65th St.; 206.257.4470
Deep in the belly of a new Wallingford building, this cute café draws its influence from a variety of Gulf Coast states, particularly Louisiana—evident in the pop of New Orleans–style color. Owner Annie Koski-Karell says her husband and co-owner, David Rogers, is from Mobile, Alabama, and the menu of customizable bowls and sandwiches includes family recipes.
Our Pick: The eponymous Acadia bowl ($15), wherein a dozen perfectly cooked-to-order Cajun-seasoned shrimp sit atop a mélange of peppers, mushrooms and onions, white rice and black bean salad.
Wallingford, 1651 N 34th St.; 253.237.3480
This relatively new, casual restaurant, open for breakfast and lunch, is owned by longtime cook Hassan Chebaro, who grew up eating (and making) Southern food, with wife, Patsy Williams. The place almost gets lost in the bustle of Pike Place Market (especially with these buzzy new food options), but seek it out and you’ll find an affordably priced menu of Southern-inspired sandwiches and bowls of grits. Sit in the low seats by the window or outdoors on the sidewalk patio for maximum people-watching enjoyment.
Our Pick: Pimento cheese purists will want to go for the double grilled cheese ($8), in which slices of gooey American are complemented by the house-made spread (mayo, cheddar and roasted pimento peppers).
Pike Place Market, 1523 First Ave; 206.617.6838
Photography by Chustine Minoda. Wandering Goose’s legendary biscuit with peanut butter, bacon, banana and honey
The Wandering Goose
The larger-than-life layer cakes that anchor the pastry case of owner Heather Earnhardt’s narrow Capitol Hill breakfast-and-lunch spot are the same sort that anchored her North Carolina grandma’s table. The savory here is as good as the sweet, from the fried oyster po’ boys to the salt-sprinkled chocolate chip cookies. Go on Fridays between 5 and 9 p.m. for a family-style fried chicken feast with all the sides ($25).
Our Pick: Earnhardt’s biscuits are the very biggest and butteriest—get yours topped simply with sausage gravy ($10) or go big with peanut butter, bacon, banana and honey ($10.50) for the ultimate in salty and sweet.
Capitol Hill, 403 15th Ave. E; 206.323.9938
Matriarch Mary Elizabeth Hammond passed away at nearly 95 in March. Her portrait hangs on the wall of this beloved Madison Valley neighborhood restaurant, her watchful gaze keeping tabs on co-owners Barbara Collins and Lillian Rambus (her daughter and granddaughter) as they bake up her recipe for sweet potato pie and fry fillets of catfish. There’s lots of singing and dancing going on in the open kitchen, and that love translates directly to the wonderful home-style soul food on the menu.
Our Pick: Though the pies put this place on the map, start with a plate of fried chicken wings ($13.95), pleasingly salty and crispy on their own, but knocked out of first place by accompanying dishes of blistered mac ’n’ cheese and tender collard greens. (And there’s sweet tea, too, of course.)
Madison Park, 2909-B Madison St.; 206.474.9841