The 20 Best Things Our Dining Critic Ate This Year

From fried chicken to falafel, these are our favorite dishes of 2017.
| Updated: November 27, 2018
Behold the divinity of Ma'ono's fried chicken sandwich.

I eat out. A lot. More than I even need to for work. When I thought about compiling this list, I originally aimed for 10 dishes, but there were just too many great meals to limit myself. Instead, I’ve pulled together the top 20 things I ate this year—from small snacks to elaborate meals to memorable desserts. (I even left off my favorite dishes that I return to year after year, plus all the great things I ate in other cities.) These bites were all new to me in 2017; I hope you get a chance to try them soon.

Duck tsukune at Kamonegi
Everyone talks about the hand-made soba at chef Mutsuko Soma’s new Fremont spot, but she’s just as deft with the tempura and sides—the duck tsukune (meatball) is unreal. 

Fried chicken sandwich at Ma’ono
It’s not an everyday kind of sandwich—though there is a walk-in Virginia Mason clinic on the other side of U Village—but the crispy, crunchy, spicy fried chicken on a Hawaiian sweet roll (plus Moscow mules on tap!) inside Rachel’s Ginger Beer changed my life, or at least my shopping habits.

Pork belly at Art of the Table
Each of the many courses I had at Art of the Table’s stunning new Fremont space justified the hefty price tag, but I particularly loved chef Dustin Ronspies’ pork belly, served with his grandma’s sauerkraut recipe. (The gnocchi was awesome, too.)

Raclette at Fire and Scrape
How have I lived this so long without experiencing the gooey deliciousness that is raclette? I ate potatoes topped with melty cheese at the Fremont farmers market, standing in the rain, and I’m counting down the days to get back there.

Huckleberry pie at White Swan Public House
Sous chef Kayla Cramer makes pies on Thursdays, which is precisely when you should go. They don’t always involve sweet-tart huckleberries, but don’t miss it when they do.

Demi-gorgonzola pizza at Windy City Pie
When Dave Lichterman invited me to hang out in the kitchen of his Interbay pizzeria and test his new Detroit-style pies… well, I couldn’t say no. Keep your eye on his specials—and when he runs this pizza topped in braised beef, gorgonzola and drizzled in demi-glace, get there a.s.a.p. We promise you won't get sucked into the Upside Down world.

BLT at Bavarian Meats
I’ve long loved the sausages at this Pike Place Market spot, but last time I got a BLT—and I’m never looking back.

Rice bowl at B-Side Foods
If I lived closer to this hipster-chic Capitol Hill café, I’d eat the rice bowl—topped in a gorgeous rainbow of virtuous fermented and pickled veggies, plus a soft egg—every day.

Don't underestimate Aviv Hummus Bar's unbelievably tasty falafel. Photo courtesy of Aviv Hummus Bar Facebook.

Falafel at Aviv Hummus Bar
The menu is short at this new Capitol Hill spot, and chickpea is king. My fave hummus variation is the half-mashed masabacha, but the real showstopper is the light-as-air falafel—easily the best in town.

Salmon and kasu “risotto” at Opus Co.
Of all the restaurants that opened in 2017, this intimate Greenwood spot is perhaps my favorite, for both the value of the Opus Feast ($50 per person!) and also the salmon with kasu (sake lees) from the production facility downstairs. 

Off-menu burger at Bateau
Such an obvious choice, I know. But I finally tried it, and damn, it’s as good as I’d hoped.

Aappam and curry at Kathakali
This Kirkland Indian joint is exactly the kind of place I love most, with unique, delicious cuisine run by a passionate, talented couple. The fiery curries are best when eaten with the spongy aappam.

Oatmeal cookie chunk ice cream from Sweet Lo’s
I’ve been following Sweet Lo since she was making custom pints and delivering them around town herself. I’m now a part of her monthly ice cream subscription, and the oatmeal cookie chunk in June was inhaled in a single sitting. (Lemon bar can be found in stores around town, and is my second favorite.)

Risotto at Copine
Everything at this Ballard restaurant is refreshingly refined, but the risotto was so surprising—simply perfect, which I’ve found is rarely true when it comes to risottos.

Northwest nachos at No Bones
There’s a lot to be suspicious about when it comes to vegan tiki, but the nachos at this kitschy Ballard spot knock it out of the park—particularly if you add the flavorful spiced jackfruit.

Don't skip Junebaby's pimento cheese. Photo by Andrea Coan.

Pimento cheese at Junebaby
I still haven’t made it in for fried chicken night, but as of now, my favorite dish at Eduoardo Jordan’s acclaimed Ravenna restaurant is the delightful pimento cheese served with pickles and saltines.

Smoked and pickled mussels at No Anchor
Great food and great beer? It doesn’t happen frequently, which is what makes this Belltown bar so special. Get the smoked and pickled mussels (“plated while listening to black metal,” according to the menu, which makes me like it more) and thank me later.

Guava cake at Cakes of Paradise
I don’t like guava or this kind of fluffy white cake, but I loved this family-run Georgetown shop’s guava cake so much I thought about it for days after.

Ube cookies from Hood Famous
I’ve written a lot about this Ballard bakery’s awesome ube cheesecake, but the ube cookies—chewy and buttery and utterly flawless—were a surprise hit that I’d eat again anytime.

Tripe and geoduck at Matt’s in the Market
This last one isn’t fair, but I need to include it anyway: Last week I attended chef Chris Cosentino’s dinner at Matt’s in the Market as part of their Planes, Trains and Traveling Chefs series, and the whole offal-heavy menu just blew my mind. His tripe and geoduck in vinaigrette reminded me you should always keep trying things, even if you think you don’t like them. 

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