Where Seattle Chefs Dine Out

14 Seattle chefs dish on where they love to drink and dine on their days off
FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

They know food—and they don’t need to impress on their nights off—which means chefs have the skinny on the best drinks and dining in town.

1. Dana Tough

Chef and co-owner, Spur (Belltown, 113 Blanchard St.; 206.728.6706; spurseattle.com), Tavern Law (Capitol Hill, 1406 12th Ave.; 206.322.9734; tavernlaw.com) and The Old Sage (Capitol Hill, 1410 12th Ave.; 206.557.7430; theoldsageseattle.com)

Tough (second from right) with friends (including Spur co-owner Brian McCracken, second from left) at Old Village Korean Bistro

Where do you dine on your day off?

Korean barbecue, like at Old Village Korean Bistro on Aurora (Shoreline, 15200 Aurora Ave. N; 206.365.6679; oldvillagekoreanbbq.com). I like the interactivity of cooking your own food at the table; it gives everyone a reason to stay off their f***ing phones and talk to each other.  

What is your favorite place for lunch?
Shanghai Garden (Chinatown–International District, 524 Sixth Ave. S; 206.625.1688; theshanghaigarden.com) for spicy pickled cucumbers, spicy marinated beef tendon and fried brown rice. When the fried rice comes, I mix the beef tendon into it, and it melts like a sauce. Stupid good! The pickles are there to cut the mouth-coating goodness.

Where is the best ethnic food in town?
Kimchi Bistro (Capitol Hill, 219 Broadway E, No. 7; 206.323.4472) serves a seafood Korean pancake that is unlike any other, anywhere.

What’s your favorite destination restaurant in the Northwest?
Restaurant Beck in Depoe Bay, Oregon (Depoe Bay, Oregon, 2345 U.S. Hwy. 101; 541.765.3220; restaurantbeck.com). [Chef] Justin [Wills] forages for his menu every day and meets up with fisherman to get fish right off the boat. It’s also so gorgeous there.

2. Maria Hines

Chef and owner, Tilth (Wallingford, 1411 N 45th St.; 206.633.0801), Golden Beetle (Ballard, 1744 NW Market St.; 206.706.2977), Agrodolce (Fremont, 709 N 35th St.; 206.547.9707; mariahinesrestaurants.com)

Hines at Uneeda Burger

What is your favorite lunch break?

The spicy Sonora burger at Uneeda Burger (Fremont, 4302 Fremont Ave. N; 206.547.2600; uneedaburger.com).

What is your off-shift drink and where do you go for it?
Whisky sour at The Old Sage (Capitol Hill, 1410 12th Ave.; 206.557.7430; theoldsageseattle.com).

What is your go-to junk food?
Movie popcorn. Salty, buttery, crunchy goodness. It’s a veggie, right?

What was the last dish that blew you away?
Centrifuged pea soup at Intellectual Ventures’ Modernist Cuisine Cooking Lab (Bellevue, 1555 132nd Ave. NE; 425.467.2300; modernistcuisine.com; not open to the public).

3. Manny Arce

Chef, Poquitos (Capitol Hill, 1000 E Pike St.; 206.453.4216; vivapoquitos.com)

Arce indulges in chicken livers at Radiator Whiskey

What is your favorite place for lunch?
Samurai Noodle (Capitol Hill, 412 Broadway E; 206. 323.7991; samurainoodle.com) for the tonkatsu ramen with double pork and firm noodles.

What is your favorite place for dinner?

Stoneburner (Ballard, 5214 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.695.2051; stoneburnerseattle.com). Jason [Stoneburner] and I have been longtime friends; he was the first real chef I worked with, and I love his style of food. I always enjoy seeing what he’s coming up with. I usually will order a special pasta or salad (he makes really unique and thoughtful salads). [This summer,] I had heirloom tomato salad with crunchy buckwheat, celery heart and basil.

Where are the best late-night eats? What do you order?
Ba Bar (Capitol Hill, 550 12th Ave.; 206.328.2030; babarseattle.com). I usually get pho tái oxtail or the spicy pork belly or rotisserie chicken.

What is your go-to food truck?
Thai-U-Up (thaiuup.com) for their cashew chicken and pad thai. These guys do really good food, more than you would expect from a truck. It’s one of my favorite places to eat.

What is your go-to guilty pleasure?
Cornflake-crusted chicken livers at Radiator Whiskey (Pike Place Market, 94 Pike St.; 206.467.4268; radiatorwhiskey.com). Fried chicken livers and hot sauce—come on!

4. Jason Franey

Chef, Canlis (Queen Anne, 2576 Aurora Ave. N; 206.283.3313; canlis.com)
[After this issue went to print, Franey moved on to Restaurant 1833 in Monterey, Calif.]

Franey’s favorite day-off escape, Pho Viet Anh

Where do you go to eat when you’re off work?
Pho Viet Anh (Queen Anne, 372 Roy St.; 206.352.1881; phovietanhseattle.com). It’s right next door to my house, and I love pho. I think it is the best classic pho in the city.

What is your go-to guilty pleasure?
Imitation crab meat. I love the texture.

What is your off-shift drink?
Manhattan with rye at Canon (Capitol Hill, 928 12th Ave.; 206.552.9755; canonseattle.com) or Rob Roy (Belltown, 2332 Second Ave.; 206.956.8423; robroyseattle.com).

What’s the worst kitchen disaster of your career?
A dishwasher knocked a fire extinguisher off the wall while I was plating an 80-person banquet. There was white powder everywhere; the kitchen looked like there was snow on the ground. I had to start over.

Where are the best late-night eats?
Jade Garden (International District, 424 Seventh Ave. S; 206.622.8181; jadegardenseattle.com), for dim sum.

5. Shaun McCrain

Former chef of Book Bindery, preparing to open his as-yet-unnamed restaurant

McCrain digs into the oysters at Taylor Shellfish

Where do you dine on your day off?
It’s a tie between Taylor Shellfish (Queen Anne, Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square; tayloroysterbars.com), Serious Pie (South Lake Union, 401 Westlake Ave. N; 206.436.0050; seriouspiewestlake.com) and Din Tai Fung (University Village and The Bellevue Collection; dintaifungusa.com). All really consistent and satisfy my cravings.

Day off dining & drinking rituals:
I have been smoking things in my smoker at home—whole chickens and the like. I like to enjoy the meal with a smoky, peaty Scotch (Laphroaig) on the rocks.

Brunch worth crossing town for:

I love Westward (Wallingford, 2501 N Northlake Way; 206.552.8215; westwardseattle.com)—great Bloody Marys, and I can make a meal out of the smoked clam dip and the fried oysters for brunch.

Most overplayed dining concept?
Casualness without professionalism; not a concept but a real mood breaker as far as going out to dine.
 
What is your off-shift drink?
A Maker’s Manhattan at the Wedgwood Broiler (Wedgwood, 8230 35th Ave. NE; 206.523.1115; wedgwoodbroiler.com). Kathy, the bartender, is awesome.

6. John Sundstrom

Chef and owner, Lark (Capitol Hill, 926 12th Ave.; after November: 952 E Seneca; 206.323.5275; larkseattle.com)

Sundstrom indulging in his guilty pleasure at Uwajimaya

Which breakfast or brunch is worth crossing town for?
Good pastries. Besalu (Ballard, 5909 24th Ave. NW; 206.789.1463; cafebesalu.com) is still one of the best. Bakery Nouveau (Capitol Hill, 137 15th Ave.; 206.858.6957; bakerynouveau.com) and Crumble & Flake (Capitol Hill, 1500 E Olive Way; 206.329.1804; crumbleandflake.com) are pretty close to home. Brunch, I’m not so into. Lines bad.

What is your favorite place for dinner?
Bar del Corso (Beacon Hill, 3057 Beacon Ave. S; 206.395.2069; bardelcorso.com). Always delicious, classic, yet creative. My whole family loves it.

What is your go-to junk food?
Uwajimaya (International District, 600 Fifth Ave. S; 206.624.6248; uwajimaya.com) rice crackers, dried squid and sometimes a chicken teriyaki sandwich.

Where do you take your kids to eat and why?
Wandering Goose (Capitol Hill, 403 15th Ave. E; 206.323.9938; thewanderinggoose.com), Rione XIII (Capitol Hill, 401 15th Ave. E; 206.838.2878; ethanstowellrestaurants.com). My son has grown up in and around restaurants. He does great and will try most things at least once. I’ve been happily surprised many times.
 
What is your off-shift drink?
Anything with rye: Rooty Huxtible at Bar Sue (Capitol Hill, 1407 14th Ave.; 206.328.0888; barsueseattle.com).  

Where are the best late-night eats?
Quinn’s (Capitol Hill, 1001 E Pike St.; 206.325.7711; quinnspubseattle.com) for the pretzel and pub cheese, and Kedai Makan (Capitol Hill, 1510 E Olive Way; kedaimakansea.com) for the spicy fried chicken.

7. Sam Crannell

Chef and owner, LloydMartin (Queen Anne, 1525 Queen Anne Ave. N; 206.420.7602; lloydmartinseattle.com)

Crannell at brunch at Café Campagne

Where do you dine on your day off?
I go to Fu Man Dumpling House (Greenwood, 14314 Greenwood Ave. N; 206.364.0681) for dumplings (salty goodness), and Seven Stars Pepper (International District, 1207 S Jackson St.; 206.568.6446; sevenstarspepper.com) for dan dan noodles (spicy goodness). Both are cheap and delicious.

Brunch worth crossing town for:      

Oeufs en meurette at Café Campagne (Pike Place Market, 1600 Post Alley; 206.728.2233; cafecampagne.com)—it’s my favorite French dish in Seattle.

What is your favorite place for lunch?
Japonessa (downtown, 1400 First Ave.; 206.971.7979; japonessa.com)—crazy fun interpretive sushi. I love the Super Bad Boy and the California Crunch.

What is your favorite place for dinner?
Pestle Rock (Ballard, 2305 NW Market St.; 206.466.6671; pestlerock.com). It’s close to home, and the flavors are clean and bright. I order som tum and gang gae.

Where is the best ethnic food in town?
The mole at Señor Moose (Ballard, 5242 Leary Ave. NW; 206.784.5568; senormoose.com). It reminds me of eating in Mexico; it’s the real deal!

8. Mark Fuller

Chef and owner, Ma‘ono Fried Chicken & Whisky (West Seattle, 4437 California Ave. SW; 206.935.1075; maono.springhillnorthwest.com)

Fuller dining at Palace Kitchen

What is your favorite place for dinner?

Mamnoon (Capitol Hill, 1508 Melrose Ave.; 206.906.9606; mamnoonrestaurant.com). Garrett Melkonian is arguably the best chef in the city. Every time we eat there, we leave talking about the meal all the way home: fatteh hummus, bateresh, habbar, kufteh, mahi ba narenj—and equally inspired desserts.

What is your favorite bar?
Palace Kitchen (Belltown, 2030 Fifth Ave.; 206.448.2001; tomdouglas.com). The massive horseshoe bar and the mural depicting the castle’s servants having an after-party on the royal leftovers. As intended (I believe), the Palace Kitchen has the feeling of being in a castle or a dungeon, but a fun dungeon.
 
Where do you take your kids to eat and why?
If we had kids, we would go to Burgermaster (various locations; burgermaster.biz). The Bacon Master is one of the best burgers in town and they spin shakes to order.

9. Meeru Dhalwala

Chef and owner, Shanik (South Lake Union, 500 Terry Ave. N; 206.486.6884; shanikrestaurant.com)

Dhalwala loves Hot Cakes for her chocolate fix

What is your go-to guilty pleasure?
I eat chocolate cake or some version of it about two to three times a week. My favorite is from Hot Cakes (Ballard, 5427 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.420.3431; getyourhotcakes.com), but I usually grab a slice from the Whole Foods a few blocks from Shanik—and another sweet the other days of the week. I have coffee at around 4 p.m. every day and I like to have something sweet with it and always have someone join me. It’s my social tea time. I have been doing this for 20 years, and now my daughters do it as well.  

What is the most overplayed dining concept?

The “I’m in the cool foodie know because I know which cheap ethnic hole-in-the-wall to go to” needs to slow down a bit, and the reputation of ethnic food needs to get more respect outside of being cheap and plastic. Also, because it’s “ethnic” and cheap, we don’t have the same respectful high expectations.

What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?

This will never, ever get old for me. After 20 years, I still get the same confident, grounded smile when I sauté onions, garlic and ginger, and I hear the sizzle of the tomatoes when I add them. It reminds me that I'm in my element in life.

What type of restaurant do you think is missing in Seattle?
A serious, chef-driven Ethiopian or Turkish restaurant.

What is your favorite destination restaurant in the Northwest?

Paley’s Place (Portland, 1204 NW 21st Ave.; 503.243.2403; paleysplace.net) or Imperial (Portland, 410 SW Broadway; 503.228.7222; imperialpdx.com). Vitaly and Kimberly Paley are old friends. The last dish we ate at Imperial was “steak and eggs,” which was braised elk tongue that was sliced, then crisped on the plancha. It was served with a duck egg yolk, just warmed through but still runny.

10. Brendan McGill  

Chef and owner, of Bainbridge’s Hitchcock (133 Winslow Way E; 206.201.3789; hitchcockrestaurant.com), Hitchcock Deli (129 Winslow Way E; 206.451.4609; hitchcockdeli.com); and Hitchcock Deli Georgetown (Georgetown, 6003 12th Ave. S; 206.582.2796)


What is your favorite bar?
Place Pigalle (Pike Place Market, 81 Pike St.; 206.624.1756; placepigalle-seattle.com). After all these years, it still feels like a well-kept secret.

Brunch worth crossing town for:

Café Presse (Capitol Hill, 1117 12th Ave.; 206.709.7674; cafepresseseattle.com), where brunch always makes me feel like I’m in Paris. Croque madame, pain au chocolat, oeufs mayonnaise, great frites.

Where is the best ethnic food in town?  
Annapurna Cafe (Capitol Hill, 1833 Broadway; 206.320.7770; annapurnacafe.com). Order the bhartha lamb (lamb braised in tandoori-roasted eggplant purée), paneer naan and those awesome mango pickles. I also love Cafe Selam (Central District, 2715 E Cherry St.; 206.328.0404; cafeselam.com). Quey wot, also a braised spiced lamb dish, on injera bread with the lentil and kallaloo sides, is outstanding, with their house-made cheese garnish.

11. Shane Ryan

Chef, Matt’s in the Market (Pike Place Market, 94 Pike St., No. 32; 206.467.7909; mattsinthemarket.com)

Ryan drinks his favorite Rainier at Little Uncle in Pioneer Square

Which breakfast or brunch is worth crossing town for?  
    
Ma‘ono Fried Chicken & Whisky (West Seattle, 4437 California Ave. SW; 206.935.1075; maono.springhillnorthwest.com) for the pupu platter.

What dish do you crave that you can’t find in the Seattle area?
I miss the street noodles from Bangkok and the momo dumplings from Bhutan.

What is your favorite place for lunch? What do you order?
Little Uncle (Pioneer Square, 88 Yesler Way; 206.223.8529; littleuncleseattle.com). I order whatever the noodle special is, lamb roti and the beef salad.

What is your off-shift drink?

The Skylark Cafe (West Seattle, 3803 Delridge Way SW; 206.935.2111; skylarkcafe.com). I get a rye on the rocks and a Rainier tall boy.

12. William Belickis

Chef and owner, MistralKitchen (South Lake Union, 2020 Westlake Ave.; 206.623.1922; mistral-kitchen.com)

Belickis at Belltown’s Green Leaf

Where do you dine on your day off?
The Belltown Green Leaf (2800 First Ave.; 206.448.3318; greenleaftaste.com), because they are open late, the service is genuine, and the food is good. I love the bánh xèo and summer rolls.

What is your go-to junk food?

I love Doritos. The combination of texture, salt and tanginess is perfect.

What’s your favorite destination restaurant in the Northwest?  

The Inn at Langley (Langley, 400 First St.; 360.221.3033; innatlangley.com) on Whidbey Island. Matt Costello prepares a terrific, soulful multicourse dinner, and the wine list is great.

What is the most overplayed dining concept?
Probably farm to table. Why should a restaurant brag about doing what they should be doing?

Where is the best ethnic food in town?
I love Buddha Ruksa (West Seattle, 3520 SW Genesee St.; 206.937.7676; buddharuksa.com). I often enjoy the
miang kham.

What is your go-to food truck?
Saffron Spice (saffronspice.weebly.com). The samosas are lovely.

13. Zoi Antonitsas

Chef, Westward (Wallingford, 2501 N Northlake Way; 206.552.8215; westwardseattle.com)

Antonitsas at Sushi Kappo Tamura

Where do you dine on your day off?
Tacos el Asadero, the taco bus on Rainier (4200 S Othello St.; 206.760.9903), the best tacos in town! And La Medusa (Columbia City, 4857 Rainier Ave. S; 206.723.2192; lamedusarestaurant.com)—charcuterie, pasta, wonderful wines, my perfect neighborhood joint.

What is your favorite place for dinner?
Sushi Kappo Tamura (Eastlake, 2968 Eastlake Ave. E; 206.547.0937; sushikappotamura.com). Anything—but any time they have geoduck, uni, smelt, mackerel, spot prawns, local albacore. Love the mustard greens and albacore tuna with almond sauce. Also, if they are fortunate enough to have a hairy crab—get it! Also, The Walrus and the Carpenter (Ballard, 4743 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.395.9227; thewalrusbar.com)—love everything about this restaurant. Oysters are a for-sure, plus tartar and anything else that they may be whipping up.

What was the last dish that blew you away?
Smelt nigiri and uni handrail with rooftop shiso and cucumber at Sushi Kappo Tamura, simply perfect.

What is your go-to guilty pleasure?
Ezell’s Famous Chicken (Rainier Valley, 4436 Rainier Ave. S; 206.686.3772; ezellschicken.com) fried chicken and okra…and the chicken soft tacos and Mexi-fries at Taco Time (shhhhhh!).

What is your off-shift drink?
Glenlivet on the rocks, splash of water at Lottie’s Lounge (Columbia City, 4900 Rainier Ave. S; 206.725.0519; lottieslounge.com). Nocino old fashioned or Negroni Swizzle at Liberty (Capitol Hill, 517 15th Ave. E; 206.323.9898; libertybars.com).

14. Taichi Kitamura

Chef and co-owner, Sushi Kappo Tamura (Eastlake, 2968 Eastlake Ave. E; 206.547.0937; sushikappotamura.com)

Kitamura and his 2-year-old daughter love Tandoozy’s Indian Food

Where do you dine on your day off?
4649 [now Yoroshiku] (Wallingford, 1913 N 45th St.; 206.547.4649; yoroshikuseattle.com). They have the best ramen and chicken karaage on this side of the lake. I bring my 2-year-old daughter.

What is your off-shift drink?
Grey Goose and soda with a dash of cranberry at Ravish (Eastlake, 2956 Eastlake Ave. E; 206.913.2497; ravishoneastlake.com).

Which breakfast or brunch is worth crossing town for?
The Oak Table Cafe in Kingston (Kingston, 11171 NE Hwy. 104; 360.881.0554; oaktablecafe.com). Their sourdough pancake is to die for.

What is your favorite place for dinner?
Sand Point Grill (Sand Point, 5412 Sand Point Way NE; 206.729.1303; sandpointgrill.com). The mussels and clams are delicious; so is the burger.

Where is the best ethnic food in town?
Filipino dim sum at Isla Manila Bar and Grill (Northgate, 11740 15th Ave. NE; 206.365.2500; Facebook, “Isla Manila”) in Northgate. I love the pinakbet: it’s bitter melon, squash and eggplant cooked in shrimp paste and coconut milk.

What is your go-to food truck?
I like the Indian food truck Tandoozy (tandoozy.com) at the University District Farmers Market. I love how they make it fresh and light. My 2-year-old loves it, too.

Where are the best late-night eats?
Purple Dot Cafe (International District, 515 Maynard Ave. S; 206.622.0288) for steak and gravy with rice.

What is your favorite place for lunch?
Mike’s Noodle House (International District, 418 Maynard Ave. S; 206.389.7099). I order sui kau and wonton noodle.

What was the last dish that blew you away?
Lemon ice cream at Parfait (Ballard, 2034 NW 56th St.; 206.258.3066; parfait-icecream.com).

What’s your favorite destination restaurant in the Northwest?
Shanghai River in Richmond, British Columbia (7831 Westminster Hwy.; 604.233.8885). We simply don’t have a Chinese restaurant like that in Seattle.