Your Seattle Restaurant Questions Answered: The Best Carrot Cake, Tamales and Lebanese Food

This week: Under-the-radar finds for beer, cultural cuisines and local favorites
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We need some Lebanese food from Café Munir, stat!

Every week, our readers submit their questions about eating out in Seattle on our Instagram. On Wednesdays, our food and dining editor, Chelsea Lin, answers them in our Instagram story. Below, check out her recommendations for underappreciated restaurants, unique beers and some of West Seattle's best dinner spots. She's also got the inside scoop on where to find Lebanese food, halal restaurants, taiyaki soft serve and tamales in the area — no matter your craving, we've got you covered. 

Want to ask Chelsea a question? Submit here

Reader: Best place for Bûche de Noël?
CL: Bûche de Noël is one of those desserts I would never dream of trying to make at home. I’d order one from Bakery Nouveau, where it’s an elaborate creation of mousse and sponge cake and teensy chocolate mushrooms.

Best place for holiday treats like pannetone/pies/cookies?
Gelatiamo is the place to get panettone—it’s got a super rich history there and, I think, is the best version in town. For other holiday desserts, I’d check out Deep Sea Sugar and Salt, 85 Degrees C, Coyle’s Bakeshop and Columbia City Bakery.

Where do I go to get the most unique beers? I like IPAs but I want more options.
No Anchor is the obvious choice that I’ve mentioned before for their super interesting, well-curated list of beers. But for even more variety, I’d check out Chuck’s, Growler Guys and Beer Star.

Best refined sugar and/or dairy-free desserts, other than my all-time fave Frankie & Jo’s?
There's actually an article on this in our January issue, but sneak peak: I found Pure Pies, which make vegan and gluten-free pies sweetened with agave or maple syrup. I particularly loved the tiramisu slice I tried.

Is there any place to get Dragon’s Beard candy?
I spent some time searching around for this and really couldn’t find any answers… I’d say a well-stocked Asian grocer like Uwajimaya or Asia Food Center or Ranch 99 is your best bet. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful!

Know of any halal places?
My first thought, based on the name alone, is the Halal Guys, which opened a Seattle location a while ago, but it’s very much a quick lunch type of place. Café Turko, which I mentioned a week or two ago for their great Turkish food, is also halal and comes highly recommended.

Favorite West Seattle places for dinner?
So many, and I don’t get over there to eat nearly often enough. I adore Ma’Ono, Marination Ma Kai, Mashiko, Raccolto, Buddha Ruksa and B’s Po Boy

Best place to get French onion soup?
I really like the versions at both Café Campagne and Loulay, but I’d say any of the city’s really good French restaurants will have a good bowl!

What are five places we should check out that haven’t been talked about this year?
That’s a great question. I have a long list of places I love that I think fly under the radar in an ongoing kind of way, but if we want to focus just on places that opened this year that I feel like didn’t get enough hype, I’d say Ada’s Discovery Café, Papas Hot Potatoes, Central Smoke, Plenty of Clouds, and Miri’s Snack Shack.

Where can I find the best carrot cake in Seattle?
I am such a sucker for a good carrot cake, and I love the slices available at both Bakery Nouveau and Coyle’s Bakeshop. Macrina’s is also very good, and they use a little bit of orange zest in their cream cheese frosting, which I think works really well.

Where can I find taiyaki soft serve?
So, there’s a food truck called BeanFish that does taiyaki, which are these hand-held Japanese cakes shaped like fish, for those of you that don’t know. But the only local place filling them with soft serve—which is a major trend in other cities—is a pop-up called Matcha Man. From what I can tell, he doesn’t have his next pop-up booked, but follow his Instagram account for details.

Best tamales?
Last year, a tamale shop called Los Hernandez about two and a half hours southeast of here took home a James Beard Award… and I know that’s far, but their tamales are worth it. In town, there are a few mobile tamale vendors, and I also just learned about a place called Frelard Tamales that, a little confusingly, has a Green Lake storefront, so check those out and report back.

Best Lebanese food in Seattle?
Café Munir in Ballard, hands down, and you absolutely have to go on a Sunday, when they do this incredibly affordably priced chef’s choice dinner.

What about late night pizza by the slice?
Big Mario’s is an obvious choice since it’s in all the neighborhoods where folks are out into the wee hours, but I also really love the slices from Supreme pizza in West Seattle.

Best juice bars in Seattle?
There are so many now, but I still ultimately love Juicebox in Capitol Hill. The combos of juice there feel really intentional, and the food is good, too.

Best food gifts from Seattle?
Every time I travel to visit a friend, I bring them a pound of Caffe Vita Theo blend, and it’s always really well received. Sweets, like Chukar cherries or Jonboy caramels, are great, too. I’d also go check out the Made in Washington store in Pike Place Market, which has a bunch of local edible gift ideas.

What’s the best sushi place in downtown Seattle?
Definitely Sushi Kashiba at Pike Place Market, and you can make reservations for the dining room but not the sushi bar. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of great lunch sushi options downtown… I like Kai Market in South Lake Union for a grab-and-go option, and Sushi Kudasai will do in a pinch, too.

What's a fancy but still casual Mexican place to celebrate my birthday?
I’d recommend either Chavez or Gracia, for more upscale Mexican food than perhaps your neighborhood taqueria. Both have great drinks, too, which is really important for a celebration. Happy birthday!

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