Food & Culture

Hotel Theodore’s Chic New Restaurant Walks the Line Between Old and New Seattle

Rider combines a love of fire and sea

By Chelsea Lin May 18, 2018


This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Seattle Magazine.

This article appears in print in the May 2018 issue. Click here to subscribe.

With Seattle rapidly growing and increasingly diversifying, it’s more and more difficult for a restaurant to create a concept—or a menu—that pleases everyone. But Rider, open since November in the ground floor of the trendy new Hotel Theodore, is trying, by walking the line between forest and ocean, predictable and surprising, old Seattle and new. It’s equal parts dark, broody bar and bright, contemporary dining room. (Imagine a marriage of The Whale Wins and Miller’s Guild.)

“With Seattle being home to so many cultures and influences, we wanted to have that come through in small ways in the menu,” says chef David Nichols, most recently executive chef at Euro drinking establishment Queen Anne Beerhall, who launched Rider with industry vet Jonathan Fleming (formerly of Ciudad and Bar Sajor). “This city has seen an influx of people moving here—[we wanted to pair] local Pacific Northwest ingredients with bold flavors that our guests can enjoy.”

Those bold flavors show up in the likes of preserved lemon and harissa to make an otherwise unsurprising tuna tartare ($17) exceptional and as kimchi to brighten Brussels sprouts ($10). But because this is a place of dichotomy, there are also seafood platters (starting at $40) featuring an assortment of spot prawns, oysters, crabs and the like served either raw or only just cooked. The other big menu influence here is an obvious one from the moment you walk in: The open kitchen houses an Argentine-style top-feeding wood grill so massive that its majestic fire catches every eye in the house. It warms the room, both figuratively and literally, provides an all-day fireplace scent and serves as a primal cooking source for dishes like whole Idaho trout ($34). As you can tell, the menu is expansive, the result of having a whopping 860 square feet of kitchen space to cook in.

Come during happy hour and sit in the bar for pub burgers ($9) and oysters ($1.50 each at 3 p.m., $2 at 4 p.m. and $2.50 at 5 p.m.). Beware the cocktail prices, though—I couldn’t resist the old fashioned made with local barrel-aged bourbon from 2Bar Spirits, but it was $17 ($20, really, after tax and included service charge). That’s something old Seattle still has a hard time swallowing.

Must Try: On one visit this winter, crispy sunchokes ($10) were deliciously flavored with fish sauce and garlic, and served with wriggly bonito flakes on top. This spring, look for them paired with something pickled and lighter.

RiderDowntown 619 Pine St.; 206.859.4242.

Join The Must List

Sign up and get Seattle's best events delivered to your inbox every week.

Follow Us

Five Things You Need to Eat in September

Five Things You Need to Eat in September

A grilled cheese smash burger? Katsu spam masubi? Creative mash-ups born from the delicious idea of two-in-one

A lot of good things come from saying, “Why not do both?” When both options are coveted, marrying the two hardly feels like a compromise at all. The food scene is working hard to make our tough choices easier, particularly as we head into autumnal months when cravings turn to comfort foods, but stomach space…

Big Mario's Reopens Northlake After Seven-Month Closure

Big Mario’s Reopens Northlake After Seven-Month Closure

Big Mario’s reopens venerable pizza spot in time for Husky opener

The Northlake Tavern & Pizza House lives on. Big Mario’s has reopened the popular destination near the University of Washington campus as Big Mario’s Northlake Tavern. The 65-year-old pizza joint closed in January after the previous owner retired. Big Mario’s said at the time that the closure would last only two months, but the full-blown…

Five Things You Need to Eat in August

Five Things You Need to Eat in August

Ube pancakes, egg cream, and blistered tomato memories

Food has the wonderful effect of capturing a time and place. Many dishes in this city bring memories into the present, celebrate history, and preserve the abundance of our current season. What is old can be made anew. And in this bustling city where creativity, change, and traditions intersect, we can return to many familiar…

A Pandan Treat

A Pandan Treat

How a Vietnamese coffee shop became one of the city's best under-the-radar waffle spots

Whether it’s a hot puff of steam pushing through a tightly packed mound of grounds, or beans whirring in a grinder perfuming the air with their bitter oils, in almost every coffee shop on the planet there’s only one scent that dominates: coffee. So, it can be a little surprising to walk inside Phin Vietnamese…