When chef/owner Miles James closed the doors of Dot’s in 2014—the result of a surprising lack of business after he’d redesigned his renowned Fremont charcuterie shop into a bistro with more seating—he thought it was done for good. “I wanted to do something else,” James says.
But sometimes, fate intervenes. James was working at Pike Place Market’s Radiator Whiskey when he overheard two customers talking about a space available downstairs. The space had lived through a number of incarnations (most recently BB Ranch Butcher), but still had the sort of old-school, 300-square-foot walk-in freezer built for a time before grocery shops and restaurants received animals broken down.
Despite some reservations, James started the process of taking over the space. Dot’s was reborn as a butcher shop with a sandwich counter—the sort of place the original Dot’s set out to be. One glass case holds fresh cuts of pork belly, bone-in rib-eyes, whole chickens, plus house-made sausages—Italian, breakfast and lamb merguez. Another glass case holds cured cuts such as bacon, pâté de campagne and head cheese.
But come lunchtime, everyone is there for the sandwiches. James has seven stools for eat-in customers and fewer sandwiches on the menu than at the Fremont spot. His rental agreement states Dot’s must first and foremost be a butcher. The menu reflects that, using whole animals. “Porchetta and meatballs and sausage take care of a pig super easily,” says James, and the cheesesteak sandwich was born because he had access to a grass-fed, 21-day-aged whole round that was going unused by a local steak house. Though a result of practicality, the sandwiches are revelatory, particularly that cheesesteak, with thin slices of tender beef slathered in a cheddar Mornay sauce—like a grown-up Cheez Whiz—and brightened by Mama Lil’s peppers.
“If this had been anything else, I wouldn’t have called it Dot’s,” says James, “...but [it’s] what the first one was supposed to be.” Here’s hoping Dot’s 2.0 is here to stay.
The porchetta sandwich
Dot’s Butcher and Deli
Pike Place Market, 94 Pike St.; 206.682.2828; dotsbutcher.com
Must order: The cheesesteak, for sure, but don’t miss the porchetta sandwich—roasted pork loin and belly between perfectly chewy ciabatta and topped with herbed aioli and tangy cabbage slaw.