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White Swan Public House and The 100 Pound Clam
This indoor/outdoor partnership of upscale pub and takeout window answers all of your burning Seattle restaurant recommendation issues: Where to take a visitor for seafood? Where to enjoy the sunshine on a summer afternoon? Where to take the family, a place that has the beef sandwich and French fries ($16) Aunt Marnie will want and Dad’s order of fried oyster Lyonnaise salad ($12)? White Swan’s trendy nautical blue and white decor pairs perfectly with the Lake Union view, while The 100 Pound Clam’s down-home, seafood-shack ambiance enhances the summer and saltwater flavor you can taste in every dish.
Don’t Miss: The seafood chowder ($11), only offered on the lunch menu. Not only is it the city’s best chowder, it’s destined to be a new classic. South Lake Union, 1001 Fairview Ave. N; 206.588.2680
This Ballard sandwich shop with a backyard patio may look simple, yet it’s anything but. Owned by Kevin and Alex Pemoulie, a couple of NYC Momofuku vets (one of whom is an original Seattleite) who moved west for a change of pace to accommodate their growing family, the restaurant serves just a half dozen sandwiches. Each ingredient, however, is there with a purpose, from the fried lemons on the sardine sandwich to the yuzu kosho mayo on the steak tartare club. Also, the skins & ins—baked, frozen, then fried bits of potato—may just be the city’s best treatment of a tuber.
Know Before You Go: The Pemoulies are known to throw a themed dinner party every month or so—such as April’s New Orleans po’ boy feast—so keep an eye on their Facebook page for details. Ballard, 1510 NW Leary Way; 206.789.9999
Sisters and Brothers
It opened only last year and its specialty, Nashville hot chicken, is innately tied to a city across the country, yet something about this Georgetown bar feels old-school Northwest. Perhaps it’s the local landscapes campily displayed on the wall or the devotion to Rainier and Olympia beers. Or maybe it’s the old-fashioned commitment to doing just one thing and doing it well, as with the spice-laden, thickly batter-dipped chicken ($12–$26), which is worth the trip to this tucked-away corner of Georgetown (right next to Charles Smith’s Jet City Winery). Expect to wait in line, and then order it hotter than you think you want it. Feel your face heat up in painful pleasure as you devour this dish.
Know Before You Go: They only make coffee on the weekends (how un-Seattle of them!), so caffeinate before arriving. Georgetown, 1128 S Albro Place; 206.762.3767
Photo by Andrea Coan. New Luck Toy's "General Oh Tso Good" chicken.
New Luck Toy
Inspired by precisely the kind of campy Chinese dive bar it cheekily reinvents, this 21-and-older West Seattle spot from fine-dining escapee Mark Fuller (Ma‘ono Fried Chicken and Whiskey, one of our food editor's faves) brings alcoholic slushies and “General Oh Tso Good” fried chicken ($11) to their rightful home under a ceiling of red lanterns. The honey-pecan prawns ($11) are good, but even better are the kitschy tiki glasses cradling spot-on cocktails and the skee ball machine housed in a fake pagoda.
Chef Mark Fuller’s Happy Place: Big Mario’s (multiple locations; bigmariosnypizza.com). “The ’70s vibe is cool, the staff seems genuinely happy, and the Spicoli is my favorite pie (pepperoni, fresh pineapple and jalapeños). Oh, and there’s pull tabs.” West Seattle, 5905 California Ave. SW; 206.971.0698
FlintCreek Cattle Co.
Chef Eric Donnelly and wife Christy Donnelly first paid respects to seafood at RockCreek, their Fremont restaurant, in 2013. Every local said it was the seafood restaurant they’d been waiting for. Then, last year, the couple opened FlintCreek, where they turned their attention to lean meats: lamb, bison, quail…you get the idea. Neighbors raved again. Even those turned off by the idea of game meats will find something to love—fennel-braised wild boar ($25), bone-in pork chop with red-eye gravy ($29)—in the revamped 1910 space.
Don’t Miss: The creative vegetables dishes, such as pickled veggies with blue cheese tahini—they’re as good (or better) than the meat courses. Greenwood, 8421 Greenwood Ave. N; 206.457.5656;
The freshly made pasta, seasonal ingredients and adorable aesthetics of this house turned trattoria in Ballard toe the line between authentically Italian and just a strand of spaghetti over the top. The menu, as small as the restaurant itself, features dishes such as ramp risotto ($18), tagliatelle with ragu ($24) and roasted pheasant ($29), as well as a star-turn antipasti platter ($18) that makes a picture-perfect accompaniment to a Negroni or glass of rosé on the serene side patio.
If you like San Fermo: When it comes to adorable settings and incredible Italian food, Bar del Corso (Beacon Hill, bardelcorso.com) is San Fermo’s cross-town kin. Ballard, 5341 Ballard Ave. NW; 206.342.1530
Photograph by Andrea Coan. The pasta—with white wine, sweet shallots, chopped thyme in olive oil, morel mushrooms, fresh garbanzos, chopped leeks and Hooker’s onion blossoms—is as pretty as the plating at Ballard’s San Fermo.
Chef Bruce Naftaly is the opposite of Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi”; he’s perhaps the most jovial, charming soup pusher in town. And though his Capitol Hill bistro is named after a French cooking pot (not the arguably nasty British yeast spread), its menu’s reach extends far beyond simple soups to include French classics such as pâté de campagne made in house, stuffed rabbit saddle and delicate blintzes you may recognize from Naftaly’s former long-running powerhouse, Ballard’s Le Gourmand. It’s refined French food with zero fuss—an accomplishment, to be sure.
Don’t Miss: Anything that comes with the bread baked next door at Amandine, run by Naftaly’s wife and business partner, Sara. And her desserts. Always dessert. Capitol Hill, 1424 11th Ave.; 206.755.8606
The contemporary dining room of this Ballard stunner is bathed in the sort of sophisticated neutral tones that suggest you’re in for the finest of fine dining. But, wonderfully, the service manages to be warm, welcoming and completely unpretentious, making for a unique experience that feels both ultraspecial and the kind of place you want to spend every dinner. And the food: Chef-owner Shaun McCrain (formerly of the acclaimed Book Bindery) is plating some delicious, delightful dishes worthy of the splurge, from the frequently changing risotto ($18) to Anderson Ranch rack of lamb ($38). A small selection of foods in a cold case (a few soups, a couple kinds of cookies) are available for takeout only.
If You Like Copine: Try the completely unrelated Cafe Besalu (Ballard) just down the street. A French bakery that recently changed hands, it is still turning out (arguably) the best croissants in the city. Ballard, 6460 24th Ave. NW; 206.258.2467
Photograph by Andrea Coan. JuneBaby’s shrimp with Geechie Boy yellow grits, pickled fiddlehead ferns, spinach and red sauce.
A meal at JuneBaby feels like you’re in on something special. Yes, the Dijon-colored restaurant—a second restaurant from chef Edouardo Jordan, who owns Salare just up the street—is perhaps the most buzzed-about opening of the year. But putting the “it” factor aside, JuneBaby is serving inspired, storied Southern fare that transplants from that quadrant of our country have been sorely missing here. You’ll find house-made pimento cheese and pickles, the most delightful smoked chicken with fried okra, and hoecakes. Not sure what a hoecake is? The restaurant’s website includes an extensive encyclopedia of Southern dishes and their origins.