Food & Drink

More Seattle Chefs Dine Out: LA Stories, Master Cooking Classes, and Matt & Marcus Open a Grill

More stories, tips and tales from Seattle's industry insiders

By Chelsea Lin and Jessica Yadegaran with additional reporting by Rebcca Ratterman December 14, 2016


This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of Seattle magazine.

From Where Seattle Chefs Dine Out, Seattle Pastry Chefs’ Top Sweet Spots, Seattle Line Cooks’ Family Tree and Seattle’s 2016 Culinary Tastemakers, we conclude our Chefs Dine Out package with these stories, tips and tales from Seattle’s industry insiders.

Matt & Marcus Open a Grill
An unlikely bromance brings global grilled meat culture to Georgetown with Ciudad

One is a James Beard Award–winning chef behind some of Seattle’s most upscale restaurants. The other is a nightlife guru known for really good casual comfort food. Despite their different backgrounds, Matt Dillon (Sitka & Spruce, Bar Sajor, The London Plane and others) and Marcus Lalario (Li’l Woody’s, Fat’s Chicken and Waffles, and others) became fast friends when they met four years ago at Lalario’s 95 Slide, a sports bar on Capitol Hill. They bonded over their love of the Seahawks. And chicken. When Li’l Woody’s held its first Seattle Burger Month, inviting top chefs from around the Pacific Northwest to craft custom-made burgers, Dillon showed up with a burger topped with fried chicken skin, grilled radicchio and maple syrup. “We were pretty tight after that,” Lalario recalls. (Translation: A bromance was born.) The two began collaborating on a  concept based on rotisserie chicken, but that developed into something broader called Ciudad, which is the Spanish word for city. 

Open since June in Georgetown, the sky-lit, industrial-artsy Ciudad (6118 12th Ave. S; 206.717.2984;, with a massive, folkloric wall mural by Seattle-born artist Stacey Rozich, focuses on grilled meats from around the globe with spice-laced, house-made flatbread, and fresh dips and sauces. The owners do their part—Dillon consults on the menu, Lalario hosts events in the massive outdoor patio—but they insist that executive chef Nick Coffey (formerly of Cafe Barjot and Sitka & Spruce) get credit for the amazing eats coming off the charcoal grill, while general manager Jonathan Fleming keeps the place running. Fleming also manages the beverage program at Ciudad and Bar Ciudad (entrance around the corner at 1210 S Bailey St.), a beer and cocktail bar that is separated from Ciudad by Oxbow, an art gallery and event space.  

However, Dillon and Lalario do take credit for this baby: their epic rotisserie chicken (slated to appear on the menu in November), which comes in full or half bird plates (with complementing sides) from the walk-up windows at Bar Ciudad. Looks like dreams really do come true.

LA Stories
You hear about chefs coming to Seattle from New York and San Francisco all the time. But the latest crop of transplants hail from the very different (read: always sunny) City of Angels. So, why did these Los Angeles chefs trade in palm trees and tank tops for evergreens and Gore-Tex? Here’s the dish:

Perfecte Rocher
Chef/Owner, Tarsan I Jane 
Fremont, 4012 Leary Way NW

LA story: Rocher left Los Angeles, where he made a name at Smoke.Oil.Salt, earlier this year to realize his dream of independently opening a Valencian restaurant with his partner, Alia Zaine. Rocher’s mircoseasonal tasting menu features the Valencian specialties of his childhood, from brilliant short rib stews studded with blistered fava beans to herby paella with moist rabbit scattered atop caramelized socarrat (the crunchy rice layer at the bottom of the pan). Heaven.

Why he chose Seattle: “We visited five years ago, and it reminded me of San Francisco. LA is amazing, but I love all the beautiful surrounding nature [here], and just 10 minutes outside of the city, you have farmers. It looks like the Scandinavia of the United States.” 

Carolynn Spence
Executive Chef, Shaker + Spear 
Belltown, 2000 Second Ave.

LA story: It doesn’t get more LA than Chateau Marmont, the famed Hollywood hangout where Spence worked as executive chef for 10 years before bringing her refined comfort food to the restaurant at Belltown’s Palladian Hotel. Spence has spiffed up the menu with a diverse array of ocean fare (delicate crudo dishes and grilled whole-fish preparations) and evocative, comforting veggies. Spence confesses that veggies are her favorite to cook and eat, and when eating out, she orders her entrées based on the veggie accompaniments.

Why she chose Seattle: “The geography, the feel of the city. My parents visited and said it felt like Greenwich Village in the 1980s. I just love the coffee shops and venues and access to music here. LA has a music scene, too, but Seattle is more rock ’n’ roll to me.” 

Brandon D’Imperio
Chef/Owner/Farmer, Circle Rock Ranch 
Vashon Island, 23510 63rd Ave. SW

LA story: After a decade in some of LA’s most prestigious restaurants (Patina, Bastide, Citrine and The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel), this Cordon Bleu graduate longed to get out of the kitchen and be more hands-on with the land. In 2013, he moved from Topanga Canyon to this 10-acre Vashon Island ranch, on which he raises sheep, pigs, hens and turkeys. Come spring, his fruits and vegetables will be certified organic, and a forthcoming brewer’s license will enable him to turn his cider apples into cider. When he’s not farming, D’Imperio hosts intimate dinners and teaches classes, such as foraging and whole-animal butchery (with Brandon Sheard of artisan butchery Farmstead Meatsmith, also on Vashon). He hopes to open a Sicilian-style deli and co-op grocery store on the island in the spring. 

Why he chose Vashon Island: “I did research, and it seemed like my [kind of] people here. Kurt Timmermeister [of Kurtwood Farms] was one of the first people I talked to. Then I saw the property. It offered the duality of city life and country life that I needed.” 

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