April 2013

Our best restaurants issue this year is a practical guide to getting the most delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner in Seattle, plus late-night noshing. 

From this Issue

What's the story behind this recent Capitol Hill project

Seattle restaurateurs, it seems, have found comfort in numbers—numbers of restaurants, that is. Tom Douglas currently employs 650 people in his 10-plus businesses across the city. Sitka & Spruce’s Matthew Dillon and his partners have taken on the Pioneer Square neighborhood, with three new businesses opening along tree-shaded Occidental Plaza.

Mise en place is the French kitchen term for all those chopped shallots, bacon bits and minced herbs a cook uses to assemble meals on the fly. These elements have traditionally been tucked away from diners’ sight.

Like a proper frame sets off a fine painting, a handmade serving bowl or rustic earthenware plate is a showcase for your dinner. Several distinctive, locally made serving pieces caught our eye this year.

Boeing-Boeing will remain forever a 1960s set piece for two reasons. First, the acrobatic machinations of the plot hinge on a printed timetable of airline schedules, whereby the main character, Bernard, juggles his painstakingly timed liaisons with three hoodwinked fiancées, all flight attendants on different airlines.

If, going in, you knew that Sam’s was named for the original Red Robin—which was first called Sam’s Tavern, then Sam’s Red Robin before the owners dropped the “Sam”—and that it is owned by the son of one of the first Red Robin franchisees, you’d likely expect a pretty impressive burger.

Among Seattle’s food set, there is much debate over which restaurants—if any—make the city’s best dim sum, bagels, pizza and ramen. And so, soon after Kukai Ramen & Izakaya, the first stateside outlet of a popular Japanese chain (“Kookai” in Japan), opened in December, the local ramen-ati lined up to judge for themselves.

I love a great meal at a great restaurant (the evidence: our Best Restaurants feature). But sometimes, what I crave for dinner is simple: very good bread, very good butter and a glass of earthy, dry red wine.

Nestled in the calm northern curve of Broadway on Capitol Hill, Bait Shop conjures a cozy lakeside lounge in the 1970s Midwest, a spot where you might grab a beer—and worms for fishing—but this update has far better offerings.

Fine artist Seth Damm ( knew he was on to something early in the creation of his Neon Zinn rope necklaces. “There’s just something about them that makes people want to touch them.” And wear them.

Since 2010, Queen Anne–based water bottle company, Miir, has built nine wells that supply clean water to some of the 1 billion people worldwide who do not have access to it.

It sounds like a classic object lesson: a successful freelance project manager who planned for others’ every contingency, but didn’t cover her own bases. That’s exactly the situation Chanel Reynolds found herself in when her husband died in a bike accident and she faced the biggest project she’d ever manage: getting her financial life in order while deep in grief.

Influences: Having grown up in a booming Aberdeen of the 1970s, when “every day was sunny” and all his girlfriends “tasted like bubble gum and vodka,” Gabe Johnson holds an almost religious reverence for “oil cans, muscle cars and slingshots,” and other blue-collar Americana from the 1940s-’70s, an era when things were made with pride.

Did you know there are countless people—right now, in your very own neighborhood—waiting to take you for a ride? What might sound sinister is actually quite the opposite, thanks to the new smartphone app SideCar (

In just one year, Seattle has crawled up 14 notches to become the nation’s 13th most bedbug-ridden city. Perhaps misnamed, bedbugs live not only between the sheets, but also in clothes, furniture, books and luggage (often their preferred method for expanding the insect empire), lying in wait until seizing the chance to chomp.

Just when you think the 43-year-old Earth Day is sputtering on the fumes of its hippie origins, something entirely new springs forth. Case in point: the new Bullitt Center, headquarters for the environmentally focused Bullitt Foundation, which opens to the public on Capitol Hill this month.

How do you convey the wide-open, magical world of fantasy stories such as The Lord of the Rings, The Princess Bride and Harry Potter in an indoor, cave-like museum space?

Past an open kitchen, where chefs roll and bake fresh flatbreads, the air scented with toasted flour, and beyond the Moorish-tiled communal table, there lies the seductive and sophisticated dining room—all charcoals and candlelight—of Mamnoon.

Deviled eggs: You’re either the type who politely lets them sit and gather film or you hover over the platter, eating them double-fisted. But can even the most ardent fan imagine a 150-page cookbook devoted entirely to deviled egg recipes?

Yes, sumac is a small tree. But that tree bears bright red berry-like fruit, which is crushed into coarse powder the color of brick. In this form, sumac is the paprika of Middle Eastern cooking.

Franz Kafka was a master at crafting absurd yet convincing scenarios (perhaps most famously in his man-turns-cockroach story, The Metamorphosis) and capturing the particularly human feeling of existential dread.

It’s been 10 years since choreographer Donald Byrd alighted in Seattle to take the helm at Spectrum Dance Theater.

Who is shaping the way we eat now? The Seattle food scene’s movers and shakers may not be who you think they are. For the second installment of the our Food Establishment list, we tracked down the newest ventures, expansions and innovations by chefs, entrepreneurs, corporate honchos and behind-the-scenes players to rank the top 50—plus a new one to watch—in terms of impact.

What do vanilla French toast, wood-fired ovens, duck confit salad and the Pike Place fish-throwing guys have in common? They all make eating in Seattle these days a special treat. To help you navigate all this bounty, our team dined day and night in the name of crafting a one-stop, round-the-clock resource for adventurous eaters. The result?

I remember the excitement of 50 years ago, when Seattle hosted a Space Age world’s fair visited by astronauts, and President John F. Kennedy boosted the budding Apollo program with the pledge to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. But we had our own high-flying heroes back then. They hadn’t gone into space or orbited Earth like astronaut John Glenn.

Babe Shepherd
owner of Red Mill

What’s your favorite drink and your favorite place to drink it?
A Manhattan. My rule: “You should never have more than one.” The biggest (12 ounces!) and the best in the city? Canlis.

The Seattle area is filled with difficult landmarks for Jenny Graham, who now lives in Spokane with her husband and two children. “I’ll drive by the corner where Gary Ridgway picked my sister up,” Graham says of her frequent trips to the Seattle area. “I’ll drive by where they found my sister’s body.

Just as interior designer Leah Steen was winding up her job of freshening up Amanda Carr’s downtown condo, she got a call. “I said, ‘What’s up?’” Steen recalls. “And Amanda said: ‘Well, I have a new project for you: a nursery.’ She told me she was pregnant. It was all very surprising.”

One does not take a trip to Haiti lightly, especially when the itinerary includes volunteering for 10 days at an orphanage. But all the bracing in the world could not prepare 28-year-old Katlin Jackson for the impact of her 2011 trip—an intensely complicated and emotional experience that moved her beyond outraged intention to direct action.

“What is creativity and how does it work?” That’s the question Ken Mitchell, a former marketing and product development guy for Fisher-Price Toys, likes to explore in his new microshop, The Aviary, which opened in the former Blackbird Candy Shoppe last November.