There’s always an element of adventure when eating at one of Matt Dillon’s eateries. Dillon, who also owns Sitka & Spruce, the Corson Building and the also new London Plane, doesn’t do “safe” or necessarily “familiar.” And so it is at Bar Sajor, where one may not quite understand what one is ordering before the dish arrives—as most of us couldn’t pick a cardoon out of a lineup and would assume chicken salad might have, you know, a salad component (here, the fine chicken is dressed and served with just a few raisins and nuts, and three endive leaves). But if you can set aside your learned expectations, there is much to be embraced at Bar Sajor; essentially, that it is a celebration of all the things you knew you loved about our local food—gorgeous Dungeness crab with house-made mayo—and the things you perhaps didn’t yet know, such as how perfect an assortment of wild mushrooms can taste with ling cod, wood sorrel and nettles. You’ll find that the poached tuna is sublime at lunch, tender, moist and served over an assortment of buttery beans (long beans, not shelled) and thickly cut bread. (Entrées run on average anywhere between $15 and $24.) This exploration of the unknown is what makes Dillon’s restaurants thrilling, and important. And if nothing else, having spent time in the glowing beauty of this room in a corner building near Occidental Park in Pioneer Square—breezy in its white paint and zinc-topped bar, and gilded art pieces by Tamara Codor offering splendid surprises in every direction—perhaps while sipping an amaro, well, it’s possible Seattle won’t feel quite as provincial afterward. Pioneer Square, 323 Occidental Ave. S; 206.682.1117; barsajor.com
The 11 Best New Restaurants in Seattle 2013
So much of a restaurant’s success depends on how it measures up to what it sets out to do. A sandwich shop that nails the simple hoagie is so much more satisfying than the precious eatery that tries to do too much and falls short. This year, we find ourselves falling in love with restaurants both upscale and humble, chic, cheerful and with a distinct point of view. You’ll find several sophisticated spots for finer dining in this year’s crop of the best along with a few modest spots serving unpretentious, delicious foods. The common thread? They’re all sure things. Say hello to our top 11. Delicious surprises await.