Food & Culture
Where Seattle Chefs Dine Out
In the midst of a restaurant renaissance, we tap Seattle's culinary rock stars for the best food and drinks in the city
By Chelsea Lin and Jessica Yadegaran, with additional reporting by Rebecca Ratterman December 12, 2016
We are in the midst of a restaurant renaissance, led by what is perhaps the most talented and diverse crop of chefs Seattle has ever seen. Whether born and bred in the Pacific Northwest or transplanted from bigger (and flashier) cities, these visionaries are fueling a food scene that is, in a word, unique—where dive-bar tacos and high-end omakase are given equal gravitas, where plant-based menus are beginning to rival those at our best steak houses, and where pop-ups pull international flavors onto the city’s plate. And so, who better to tap for the best food and drinks in the city than these culinary rock stars, who continue to influence the way we eat while pushing Seattle into the national spotlight? Michelin, it might be time for that visit.
Monica Dimas (pictured above)
Chef and owner of Milkwood & Co., a group of casual food spots inside bars (Neon Taco, Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches, Tortas Condesa)
Where is your favorite place to shop for groceries? Big John’s PFI (SoDo, 1001 Sixth Ave. S; 206.682.2022; bigjohnspfi.com) for dry goods—the best selection of dry goods and cheese. PCC (multiple locations; pccnaturalmarkets.com) for produce, because they have the best-quality produce. There isn’t a local (Capitol Hill) grocer that has either of those. Central Co-op (Capitol Hill, 1600 E Madison; 206.329.1545; centralcoop.coop) comes close for dry goods and wine.
Where is your favorite place to drink after a shift? Chungee’s [Drink ’n Eat] (Capitol Hill, 1830 12th Ave.; 206.323.1673). They have that silly Yum Yum chicken that I like, it’s on my way home, and Kevin, the bartender, is the best. Or Bait Shop (Capitol Hill, 606 Broadway E; 206.420.8742; baitshopseattle.com)—one of the few places that has food available later, and they have solid tequilas.
Where is your favorite place to eat noodles? Szechuan Noodle Bowl (Chinatown/International District, 420 Eighth Ave. S; 206.623.4198). Handmade noodles and the best green onion pancake in the city. I’m sad this place wasn’t one of my go-to places sooner. At Ba Bar (Capitol Hill, 550 12th Ave.; 206.328.2030; babarseattle.com), I substitute the egg noodles for the rice noodles in the pho ga and I’m in heaven.
Where is your favorite place to take your parents? Stateside (Capitol Hill, 300 E Pike St.; 206.557.7273; statesideseattle.com). My mom likes the fresh ingredients, depth of flavor and a menu that is easy to understand. My mom doesn’t drink much, and they make good mocktails.
Where is your favorite place to get dessert? Single Shot (Capitol Hill, 611 Summit Ave. E; 206.420.2238; singleshotseattle.com). Best cremeux in the city (when they have it).
Image by: Hayley Young
Ethan and Angela Stowell’s date night pick? Shiro Kashiba’s Sushi Kashiba, in Pike Place Market
Owner of Italian/Northwest-inspired Ethan Stowell Restaurants (Tavolàta, How to Cook a Wolf, Staple and Fancy, Anchovies and Olives, Bramling Cross, Ballard Pizza Company and many more)
Where is your favorite place to order delivery or takeout? Pestle Rock (Ballard, 2305 NW Market St.; 206.466.6671; pestlerock.com), so good.
Where is your favorite place to take your kids? [His own restaurant] Frelard Pizza Company (Fremont, 4010 Leary Way NW; 206.946.9966; ballardpizzacompany.com/bpc-frelard), because of the kid pit.
Where is your favorite place to go on a date? Sushi Kashiba (downtown, 86 Pine St., No. 1; 206.441.8844; sushikashiba.com). It’s our favorite restaurant, and we’ve got kids, so we don’t get to go out super often.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten all year? Omakase at Kashiba, probably the uni cone.
What dining trend are you currently really into? Which do you wish would disappear? Call me dated, but I still like sharing small plates. [I don’t appreciate] food costing an arm and a leg, but that’s the nature of the city we live in.
Are there any restaurants expected to open that you’re really excited about? All of them, I love checking out new spots.
What do you think of the current state of the restaurant industry in Seattle? I think it’s great. We have tons of diversity and some really solid restaurants in Seattle. The only thing that gives me concern is the cost of living and doing business here. Everyone talks about how crazy expensive San Francisco has gotten and nobody in the middle class can afford to live there anymore. And how much of a shame it is. And we’re modeling our city exactly after SF, but we’re expecting a different result? What’s the definition of insanity again?
Image by: John Vicory
Heartwood Provisions chef Varin Keokitvon (holding a jackfruit), at C&T market in White Center, his favorite spot for food shopping
Chef at New American restaurant Heartwood Provisions, where each dish has a recommended drink pairing Downtown, 1103 First Ave.; 206.582.3505; heartwoodsea.com
Where is your favorite place to shop for groceries? C&T (White Center, 9841 16th Ave. SW; 206.764.1889) in White Center for a great selection of exotic fruits, Met Market (West Seattle, 2320 42nd Ave. SW; 206.937.0551; metropolitan-market.com) or the West Seattle farmers’ market.
Where is your favorite place to drink after a shift? Our cooks have become fond of The Diller Room (downtown, 1224 First Ave.; 206.467.4042; dillerroom.com), so I make it over for special occasions.
Where is your favorite place to get dessert? Husky Deli (West Seattle, 4721 California Ave. SW; 206.937.2810; huskydeli.com) for coconut ice cream.
Where is the best global food in town? Maybe the South End, or White Center for beef tongue tacos at La Fondita truck (White Center, 9811 15th Ave. SW; 206.551.0529).
Are there any restaurants expected to open that you’re really excited about? New Luck Toy [Mark Fuller’s new dive bar/Chinese restaurant] (West Seattle, 5905 California Ave. SW) in West Seattle.
Where would you like to be (professionally) in five years? Cooking something over wood fire somewhere!
Chef and owner of Kaiseki-style Japanese Resaurant Naka
Capitol Hill, 1449 E Pine St.; 206.294.5230, nakaseattle.com
Where is your favorite place to order delivery or takeout? It’s a food truck in Bellevue, but Taqueria Guadalajara (Bellevue, located in the parking lot of the Hungry Bear Market/76 gas station, 2421 148th Ave. NE) has been my favorite taco joint for years!
Where is your favorite place to eat noodles? Hokkaido Santouka Ramen (Bellevue, 103 Bellevue Way NE; 425.462.0141; santouka-usa.com). Their flavor and smell is just like the ones they have in Japan.
Where is your favorite place to take your parents? Noble Court (Bellevue, 1644 140th Ave. NE; 425.641.6011; thenoblecourt.com). It’s been the dim sum place my family’s been going to since I was in elementary school.
What do you think of the current state of the restaurant industry in Seattle? With more people coming into the city with a bigger perspective of what is out there in different parts of the world, I hope different things will be appreciated.
Photo by: John Vicory
Vendemmia chef/owner Brian Clevenger at his guilty pleasure: Menchie’s fro-yo
Chef and owner of Italian-inspired American restaurants Vendemmia (vendemmiaseattle.com) and Raccolto (raccoltoseattle.com), and East Anchor Seafood (eastanchorseafood.com) with partner Kayley Turkheimer
Where is your favorite place to dine in your own neighborhood? Ma‘ono (West Seattle, 4437 California Ave. SW; 206.935.1075; maono.springhillnorthwest.com).
Where is your favorite place to get dessert? Menchie’s (multiple locations; menchies.com). I know, I know.…
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten all year? The s’mores dessert at Goldfinch Tavern (downtown, 99 Union St.; 206.749.7070; goldfinchtavern.com). May have been last year. But that good!
What is your favorite hole-in-the-wall? Roxbury Lanes (White Center, 2823 SW Roxbury St.; 206.935.7400; roxburylanesbowl.com) for the chicken wings.
Chef of seafood restaurant Manolin
Fremont, 3621 Stone Way N; 206.294.3331; manolinseattle.com
Where is your favorite place to order delivery or takeout? 45th Stop N Shop [for the poke] (Wallingford, 2323 N 45th St.; 206.708.1882).
Where is your favorite place to take your parents? Vif [Wine/Coffee] (Fremont, 4401 Fremont Ave. N; 206.557.7357; vifseattle.com) for coffee and an awesome breakfast.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten all year? Grilled octopus, spicy potatoes and mustard greens at Hartwood in Tulum (Mexico’s Caribbean coast).
What do you think of the current state of the restaurant industry in Seattle? Very exciting. I think Seattle is really hitting its stride with so many new restaurants, and so many open-minded diners. That being said, there are a lot of new laws going into effect soon that will really hurt small restaurants. It is scary for all of us, and if nothing changes, people will be losing jobs, and more restaurants will go out of business. I am also hoping our industry will represent the diversity of our city more accurately.
Image by: John Vicory
Edouardo Jordan’s favorite hole-in-the-wall find: Breakfast Club in Lake City
Chef and owner of internationally influenced Salare restaurant. Ravenna, 2404 NE 65th St.; 206.556.2192; salarerestaurant.com and Southern restaurant JuneBaby opening in 2017, also in Ravenna
Where is your favorite place to grab a slice of pizza? Delancey (Ballard, 1415 NW 70th St.; 206.838.1960; delanceyseattle.com), because Brandon is a rock star and passionate about what he is doing.
Where is your favorite place to take your kids? Salare. He loves Daddy’s food.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten all year? Pho bo at Pho Bac (multiple locations; thephobac.com). The tendon and beef, brisket, meatballs, tripe…so comforting.
What is your favorite hole-in-the-wall? Breakfast Club (Lake City, 12306 Lake City Way NE; 206.361.2582) in Lake City. My getaway for breakfast and my happy zone.
What do you think of the current state of the restaurant industry in Seattle? We need more quality restaurants, and not simply more restaurants. That’s what’s going to make this city a hot food town. I’m always worried about the number of restaurants that open in the city, and nearly all of them are doing the same thing or same concept from the same chef/owners.
Image by: John Vicory
Rachel Yang and husband Seif Chirchi at their date night spot, RockCreek seafood spot in Fremont
Chef and co-owner of Korean/Northwest fusion hot spots Joule, Revel, Trove and Revelry (in Portland)
with co-owner and husband Seif Chirchi, relayrestaurantgroup.com
Where is your favorite place to grab a slice of pizza? Pagliacci (multiple locations; pagliacci.com). Kids love them, everyone loves them!
Where is your favorite place to dine in your own neighborhood? The Fat Hen (Ballard, 1418 NW 70th St.; 206.782.5422; thefathenseattle.com). Perfect place to start the morning.
Where is your favorite place to order delivery or takeout? [Her own restaurant] Revel. Can’t beat take-out short rib rice bowl, which comes with all sauces.
Where is your favorite place to go on a date? RockCreek [Seafood & Spirits] (Fremont, 4300 Fremont Ave. N; 206.557.7532; rockcreekseattle.com).
Where would you like to be in five years? We only have a one-year plan. We always find that we learn so much every year, that we have so much knowledge to grow much further than we expect every year.
Executive Chef at Seattle institution, Canlis
Queen Anne, 2576 Aurora Ave. N, 206.283.3313; canlis.com
Where is your favorite place to grab a slice of pizza? I’ll go to Big Mario’s (multiple locations; bigmariosnypizza.com) in Lower Queen Anne or Delancey (Ballard, 1415 NW 70th St.; 206.838.1960; delanceyseattle.com). Typically, it’s after a shift, since it’s just down the hill from our restaurant. If I go, I’ll have a slice of cheese and a cocktail, then call it a night.
Where is your favorite place to drink after a shift? The Streamline Tavern (Queen Anne, 174 Roy St.; 206.931.9883) is my go-to. It’s the right speed and vibe for a nightcap, and a place where I can just order a whiskey-ginger and not think too hard about what I’m having. If I’m going nicer, I’ll go down to Rob Roy (Belltown, 2332 Second Ave.; 206.956.8423; robroyseattle.com) and have a tiki drink or something.
Where is your favorite place to eat noodles? Il Corvo (Pioneer Square, 217 James St.; 206.538.0999; ilcorvopasta.com). It’s the best pasta, and one of my favorite restaurants in town. And Mike and Victoria are so kind and hospitable. The lunch they do at the new pasta studio (Pioneer Square, 240 Second Ave. S; 206.209.0329; ilcorvopasta.com/the-studio) is killer, too.
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten all year? The best meal I’ve had in Seattle was the omakase at Wataru (Ravenna, 2400 NE 65th St.; 206.525.2073; wataruseattle.com). Kotaro-san is a master of his craft, and it was a beautiful, thoughtful meal. His rice is as on point as I’ve had.
Are there any restaurants expected to open that you’re really excited about? Mean Sandwich (Ballard, 1510 NW Leary Way; meansandwich.com). Kevin and Alex are awesome and amazingly talented people that just moved here from New York. They had a killer restaurant just across the river in Jersey City called Thirty Acres, and now they are here and doing a sandwich joint in a cool space with a backyard in Ballard. It’s a huge gain for Seattle.
Image by: Hayley Young
Miles James shopping at Pike Place Market, where he recently relocated the beloved Dot’s Butcher and Deli
Chef and owner of Dot’s Butcher and Deli
Pike Place Market, 94 Pike St.; 206.682.2828; dotsbutcher.com
Where is your favorite place to shop for groceries? It sounds cliché, but Pike Place Market (downtown, 85 Pike St.; 206.682.7453; pikeplacemarket.org). When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate it the way I do today—you can get anything you want, the best quality of whatever you’re looking for and support local business all at once.
Where is your favorite place to take your kids? Mora ice cream (Bainbridge Island, Madrone Lane N; 206.855.1112; moraicecream.com) on Bainbridge. They have great stuff, and taking your kid out for ice cream is about as good as it gets.
Where is the best global food in town? Little Uncle (Capitol Hill, 1523 E Madison St., No. 101; 206.549.6507; littleuncleseattle.com). In a city with 10,000 Thai places, it’s just always a little different and better. Also Wiley and P.K. are amazing people.
What dining trend are you currently really into? Which do you wish would disappear? I’m glad that people are hyperlocal, concerned with where their food is coming from, how they are affecting their environment and how animals are treated—I hope that never changes. I’m tired of seeing “scratch/handmade” and “hand-torn” on descriptions of items that every place should just be doing anyway. If you’ve got crème fraîche in the dish, you don’t need to tell me you made it—I’m going to assume you did. There isn’t any other way to pick herbs than with your hands.
Where would you like to be in five years? Maybe flipping eggs at a diner—really good eggs—and it’ll be named after my daughter.