Where to Dine in the Suburbs

There is plenty of good eating to be had outside Seattle

By Chelsea Lin & Amy Pennington February 23, 2015


This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Seattle magazine.

Preservation Kitchen and Main Street AleHouse  
Don’t be fiddling with your radio volume or reaching for your cell phone as you blitz down Bothell Way or you’ll barrel right past the cozy alcove that houses Preservation Kitchen and its dual personalities: upscale dinner destination and casual, all-day (and all-ages) pub, together in a 1916 estate. The fireplace-lit, classic-rock-playing Main Street AleHouse offers a menu that pairs well with its plentiful beer selection (the house-made potato chips are a must), while the more polished dining room places a greater emphasis on local ingredients, with entrées such as miso-marinated Neah Bay black cod ($28) and wild boar ragu ($23). Upstairs, the quaint historic home accommodates private events suitable for as many as 14 guests. 17121 Bothell Way NE; 425.408.1306; preservationkitchen.com

909 Coffee & Wine  
Lined with one-story brick buildings filled with little shops, cafés and bookstores, downtown Burien is a vibrant community bustling with foot traffic. This petite Italian-influenced spot sits just off the main drag, serving three meals a day and—our favorite—brunch on the weekend. A U-shaped bar splits the restaurant in two, with the rear area offering counter seating as well as lounge chairs that morning guests can occupy while chatting and mingling in front of the fireplace. For breakfast, try the Cave Man hash ($8.95), made with a hearty portion of yams and herbed sausage, or the French toast ($8.95), served with orange-flecked honey-butter. At dinner, opt for the roasted chicken breast, served with prosciutto and sage pan sauce ($18.95). 909 SW 152nd St.; 206.243.7909; 909coffeeandwine.com

The Blue Heron Bar & Grill  
Finding a good meal served in quiet, verdant surroundings is a tall order in the city, but not so at the lush Eastside Blue Heron Golf Course, which serves reasonably priced and dependably tasty food. A wood-planked ceiling, warm-toned walls and brown leather chairs create a soft, comfortable vibe, and the large windows filter in light and allow for spectacular views of the groomed course. The menu’s expected country club classics are done with care. The French dip is layered with house-roasted prime rib ($14.75), and a Cobb salad ($13.95) comes with all the usual fixings—bacon, egg, blue cheese and a crisp blend of salad greens. That same juicy prime rib can be had for dinner on Friday and Saturdays only ($18.95–$21.95), freshly sliced and served with fresh horseradish, garlic mashed potatoes and veg. 1810 W Snoqualmie River Road; 425.333.5016; carnationgolf.com

Grange Cafe   
Inside the restored former Grange hall, right on Duvall’s antique-shop-lined main drag, families meet for brunch, perched on heavy chairs around mismatched kitchen tables. The mood is friendly and homey (and kid-friendly; look for the toy corner), and the food is fresh from the farm (check out the list of source farms). We like the Grange best on a weekend morning for a leisurely brunch—eggs Benedict with perfect hollandaise ($13.50), spicy Bloody Marys ($7.50) chock-full of pickled veggies. But it’s also a worthy spot during dinner, when pizzas cooked in the stone oven arrive with house-made sausage and herb pesto, and there’s always something else comforting to eat, such as pot roast or roasted free-range chicken. On warm days, there’s a small deck out back that overlooks a garden and offers a few choice tables. Just be sure to call ahead to reserve one when the weather’s nice. 15611 Main St.; 425.788.2095 grangecafe.com

Bar Dojo     
Look for the proverbial nicest house on an otherwise forgettable block and you’ll have found Bar Dojo. It’s a modern, inviting neighborhood hangout sandwiched between a soup shack and a catchall store. Inside, wooden screens filter light through the windows while shutting out the view of the parking lot. The menu, created and executed by co-owner Shubert Ho, is a playful study in pan-Asian cuisine: oyster shooters ($3) and chile-lime chicken wings ($12), green curry with Manila clams ($16), crab and poke over rice with a fried egg ($19) and even a burger topped with blistered shishito peppers ($15). For a totally different experience, stop by on a Sunday evening to take advantage of the weekly street-food-esque taco night. 8404 Bowdoin Way; 425.967.7267; bardojo.com

How can a bowl of handmade noodles, topped only with hot oil and a dusting of chili flakes, be transcendent? Find out at Biang!, where perfectly chewy Xi’an-style flour noodles (“biang” is reportedly the onomatopoeic sound the noodles make when thwacked against the counter during preparation) are drawing enthusiastic diners from all over. The dish, called “hot oil seared biang-biang noodles,” is simple and affordable (at $8.49), though far from ordinary. In fact, all of the noodle dishes here are out of the ordinary, and you should order them in dishes topped with stewed pork and cumin-spiced beef as well. 22315 Highway 99, Suite H; 425.776.7847

Epulo Bistro   
Walking into Epulo is like stepping into a party: Tables are crowded with cheery diners, the bar is often packed, and the layout creates a circular flow of guests, who seem to move about constantly, clinking glasses and sharing good wishes. The adept staff waltzes among the customers, delivering quintessential Northwest comfort food. Try the succulent braised beef short ribs ($24), with garlic mashers, or make a meal of a salad and an appetizer; the confit duck raviolo ($14) with brown butter and winter squash is rich and superb. 526 Main St.; 425.678.8680; epulobistro.com

Max’s World Cafe    
Look for this unassuming and easy-to-miss restaurant in an old brick building in downtown Issaquah. It serves global food that is composed and cooked (in part) by owner Edna Noronha, who is chatty and gracious, talking to guests before, during and after meals, and calling everyone “honey.” You may have to wait for a seat at one of the five tables, but it’s worth it. This classically trained chef from India puts out seemingly simple dishes that are sublime and offer plenty of unexpected bursts of flavor. For lunch, a simple pressed and griddled Cuban sandwich ($13.50) overflows with juicy slow-roasted pork that has been marinated in citrus and paired with earthy Jarlsberg cheese and pickles for the perfect savory-crispy-acidic bite. Entrées are top-notch: Lamb shank ($29.95) is rubbed with a house-made (and secret) spice paste and left for two days to take on flavor before being braised and served with cilantro pesto for freshness. Desserts, too, are winners. The sticky date pudding, served in a pool of caramel sauce, will leave you licking the plate. 212 Front St. N; 425.391.8002; Facebook, “Max’s World Cafe”

Noodle Boat  

Shrimp fried rice with yellow curry powder, pineapple, carrot, onion and more at the Noodle Boat in Issaquah; Chustine Minoda

Impossibly heavy Jacquard drapes and countless golden Buddha trinkets give this Issaquah strip-mall restaurant—known by many Seattle gourmands for the best Thai food in the area—a grandmotherly feel. You may feel compelled to stick with familiar standbys such as pad thai and tom yum, but if you do, you’ll miss the bold, bright, complex flavors of house specialties that include Queen of Banana ($14.95), a salad of sorts with artichoke-like steamed banana blossoms, shrimp, roasted coconut, and a tangle of kaffir lime leaves, mint and cilantro. Noodle Boat doesn’t shy away from spice—order your dish “very hot” only if you’re familiar with true Thai-level heat. 700 NW Gilman Blvd., Suite E-104b; 425.391.8096; noodleboat.com

Punjab Sweets    
Despite the name, this place does far more than sweets, although the jewel-like desserts are definitely worth a visit in their own right. The atmosphere isn’t much to speak of—clean and casual—but the food is exceptional: vegetarian Indian dishes made from scratch, such as the complex, creamy baingan bhurtha (spicy roasted eggplant with peas, tomatoes and onions, $9.25) and channa bhatoora (stewed chickpeas, $7.75), served with two fluffy, fried disks of leavened dough, naan’s delectable cousin. Portions are a tad small, so come with friends and order several dishes for a sampling of different tastes. 23617 104th Ave. SE, Suite C; 253.859.3236; punjabsweetsonline.com

All the senses are engaged upon entering this Eastside spot, which is tucked into a strip mall across from PCC. You’re immediately enveloped by spiced aromas from the kitchen, hanging banners and flags in vibrant colors (that lend to the festival feel of a traditional shamiana, or Indian celebration tent), and the crowd of people. Two words are key here: Major Grey. This curry is slow-cooked and delectable, a creamy dish of stewed chicken that’s spiked with mango chutney, making it rich and tangy in the same bite. This dish and others from across the subcontinent (the menu showcases foods from India, Afghanistan and Malaysia) are offered in a long lunch buffet ($9.95), which includes samosas (savory-filled pastry) and naan (charred flatbread cooked in a tandoor oven). Major Grey is also served at dinner ($9.50), along with a menu of Indian classics. Wash it all down with a mango lassi, a thick yogurt drink that is spiked with cardamom and has a tart-sweet mango flavor that complements the food. 10724 NE 68th St.; 425.827.4902; shamianarestaurant.com

Deru Market  

Creative wood-fired pizzas and salads at Kirkland’s Deru Market; Easton Richmond
Hidden away in an industrial park just outside of Kirkland’s chic downtown area, Deru Market is an oasis of good eats that just keeps improving. What started out as a takeout lunch spot with terrific wood-fired pizza has grown into a full-fledged café, with marble tabletops and freshly cut flowers, a market-driven menu of sprightly salads in an herb vinaigrette, sandwiches of roasted carrots and Brie slathered in lemon aioli, and takeout-ready salads (kamut with roasted mushrooms, golden beets and a pistachio pesto). Even better, Deru is now open for early dinner (it closes at 9 p.m.), serving excellent pizzas (try the blue cheese and pear) along with beer and wine. 723 Ninth Ave.; 425.298.0268; derumarket.com

Original Sul Lung Tang       
We’re not generally big on all-you-can-eat gimmicks, but this Korean spot’s barbecue happy hour is worth every penny of the $16.99 cost. The term “happy hour” here is a bit of a misnomer: The endless supply of grill-it-yourself meat (pork belly, chicken, intestines and, perhaps most popular, salty-sweet beef bulgogi) flows freely from 4 to 9 p.m. The namesake sul lung tang, a simple traditional soup, is also a smart order, with plenty of sides to spice up the mild flavors. 19400 36th Ave. W, Suite 102; 425.672.2650

Tulalip Resort Casino  
This expansive casino just off Interstate 5 may be best known for its game tables and slot machines, but the food options are equally worthy of note—and not just at the fine-dining Tulalip Bay restaurant. At Blackfish, visitors dine on keystones of Pacific Northwest cuisine, such as wild salmon and local oysters, the salmon skewered on ironwood sticks and roasted over alderwood in the traditional manner of the Tulalip Tribes. Across the gaming floor, Journeys East offers a collage of Asian dishes—not fusion, really, but rather a handpicked assortment from across the continent: Chinese dim sum, Thai curries, Japanese sushi, Vietnamese soup and Korean noodles aimed to please the palates of all the casino’s visitors. And sure, there’s the requisite buffet, but this one is a cut above, and serves all-you-can-eat crab legs during the Tuesday seafood dinners. Though these restaurants are located just feet from the gaming machines, the noise melts away inside, and a killer air filtration system keeps (most of) the cigarette smoke out as well. 10200 Quil Ceda Blvd., Tulalip; 360.716.6000; tulalipresortcasino.com

Adam’s Northwest Bistro & Brewery      
In this casual, pub-like spot, craft beer and local food are highlighted by a chef with serious chops. Adam Hoffman, chef and owner, cooked at the fine-dining restaurant Rover’s, now closed, for more than 10 years. The bistro’s menu highlights this pedigree with comfort food at its best: Plates such as the thick bone-in pork chop ($21) are doused in glossy, savory fruit demi-glace, and a slow-roasting smoker infuses pulled pork sliders ($7), served with house-made bourbon barbecue sauce and crisp apple slaw. That same smoker is used for the handmade bacon, which comes piled on top of the Adam’s burger ($15), made from Double R Ranch beef and stacked with a thick, fried onion ring and a layer of blue cheese, all served on a soft brioche bun. Pair any of these dishes with one of five beers offered from the adjacent brewery, Twin Rivers. The crisp, light Kölsch helps balance out the rich flavors. 104 N Lewis St.; 360.794.4056; adamsnwbistro.com

La Isla Cuisine      
From the kitchen of this restaurant, crammed into a strip mall and serving as the Eastside outpost of the original Ballard restaurant, comes deeply flavored Puerto Rican cuisine in the shape of fried turnovers, sandwiches and vibrant sauces. Pernil, slow-roasted pork shoulder, is a house favorite served a handful of ways: spilling out of a crispy baguette ($9); on a platter alongside rice, beans and a small salad ($16); or as an empanadilla ($4), made with flaky pastry that’s deep-fried. Tostones ($2.50), smashed and fried green plantains with garlicky mojito sauce, make for a perfect bar snack and accompany all dinner plates. The cocktail list is rum nirvana, offering mojitos, rum-spiked margaritas and caipirinhas ($8–$9). Purists can attend a monthly tasting of three rums (with food pairings) for $30. 16505 Redmond Way, Building B, Suite A; 425.298.0374; laislacuisine.com 

Pomegranate Bistro       
Located just off State Route 520, this bistro, run by superstar caterer Lisa Dupar, makes for a convenient pit stop during weekend trips or day errands to farm country. The large dining room is divided into two areas; families with kids tend to gravitate to the open seating up front, which has big windows for peering into the production kitchen. Head to the back bar area (past the pastry case and espresso to-go counter) for a more grown-up setting (21 and older only), where a seat at the counter or in one of several large booths is available in the wide, spacious room. The menu pulls from Dupar’s Southern roots and Northwest produce to offer a tasty selection. Don’t miss the famous fried chicken, which makes an appearance on the brunch menu with waffles, pepper jelly and maple syrup ($15), and on the dinner menu ($19) alongside mashed potatoes and slaw. 18005 NE 68th St., Suite A-150; 425.556.5972; duparandcompany.com

The Three Lions Pub       
A row of British flags hanging proudly out front announces this pub, located toward the rear of a strip mall in downtown Redmond. With cozy U-shaped lounge chairs, a plush brocade bench with tables and several TV screens throughout, this British-style pub is the place to be on game day. Food gives a nod to U.K. standards (such as a ho-hum plate of fish and chips, $14), but the real star lies in the savory pastries supplied by a neighboring shop (and restaurant), The British Pantry. The dough is flaky yet hearty and is baked in the form of steak and kidney pie ($11), which oozes with brown gravy; or used for the Lancashire pasty, a dumpling stuffed with minced beef, potatoes, carrots and onions ($11), best eaten with one of the many good beers on tap, including the hard-to-find British import, Old Speckled Hen. 8115 161st Ave. NE; 425.284.3399; thethreelionspub.com

This Northwest eatery is tucked into the Cedarbrook Lodge, a woodsy oasis that manages to feel much farther than a mile and a half from the airport. In what resembles a lofty hotel lobby, guests dine on meticulously prepared food—courtesy of French Laundry alum and executive chef Mark Bodinet—with a focus on local seasonality: soup made from foraged mushrooms, bourbon-glazed salmon bacon, Dungeness crab gratin, Theo hot chocolate with house-made doughnuts. It’s fine-dining fare with zero pretension. Just how we like it. SeaTac, 18525 36th Ave. S; 206.214.4282; cedarbrooklodge.com/eat


Grinders Hot Sands       
These are not fancy, twee, food-snob sandwiches. No, one of Grinders’ hot sandwiches could feed you all day, and you’ll likely leave with a little bit of it on your shirt. But this Shoreline favorite for lunch or dinner is unapologetic (as it should be) about its offerings: meaty mega-sandwiches with a blue-collar, East Coast attitude. Try the house-made-meatball grinder ($10.95), the Ciabatta ($11.95), stuffed with Genoa salami and house-roasted pork loin, or the ham with red-eye gravy ($11.95). You may not want dessert afterward, but the bread pudding has nearly as many fans as owner Mitch Gilbert. Note the musical mural on the wall and come back for one of the blues/rock/jazz concerts (check website for details). 19811 Aurora Ave. N; 206.542.0627; grindersshoreline.com

Woodman Lodge       
Whether on a day trip to Snoqualmie Falls or in need of a night away from the city, this country lodge, steeped in ambiance, offers a traditional steakhouse menu and a short list of intriguing wild game. In this lovingly restored building, the interior harks back to olden days with a dangling crystal chandelier, an upright piano and antique lighting, along with taxidermy and tabletops made from fallen trees, which help create a woodsy feel. The Woodman Wedge ($7.50), a grilled heart of romaine with blue cheese dressing and bacon, is a classic choice to start off a meal of steak, which ranges from prime Nebraska cuts to Snake River Farms wagyu and local Double R Ranch cuts ($38–$42). The menu offers a clever cheat sheet that gives a handful of cuts to choose from as well as a primer on grilling “doneness,” so diners and chefs can be on the same page. For a more exotic meal, choose the wild boar osso buco with foraged mushrooms ($32) or the seared elk medallions in a cognac-peppercorn sauce ($44). 38601 SE King St.; 425.888.4441; woodmanlodge.com 

The Buttered Biscuit        
Tucked behind the train tracks that run through the small town of Sumner, this busy diner serves breakfast, made from scratch, all day long (as well as lunch and dinner). Trains zoom by, rattling tables and blaring their horns, lending to the overall charm. It’s Americana through and through, from “home cooking” you’d expect at grandma’s house to the large waiting area with couches and a chalkboard for the kiddos. The menu is several pages long, so while reading through it, do yourself a favor and order a snack: house-made, crackly, sugar-topped cornbread ($2.95), which comes with a heaping mound of honey butter and is big enough to share. Omelets ($9.95–$13.95), buttermilk pancakes ($8.95), German pancakes ($7.95), and the house specialty chicken-fried steak (swimming in gravy and served over a thick, split buttermilk biscuit, $14.95) make for hearty meals. The cozy booth seating lends to the overall homey feel. Everything here comes “extra”—extra-big portions, extra butter, extra cream and extra affordable. 1014 N St.; 253.826.6099; thebutteredbiscuit.net

The Hollywood Tavern
You’ll know you’ve reached this roadside hot spot when you spy the neon “Tavern” sign out front. The same sign has marked this spot for more than 65 years, long before local restaurateur Josh Henderson and the Huxley Wallace Collective (the force behind Westward and Quality Athletics) took over in 2013. They reimagined the landmark into a chic hunting-lodge space, complete with patio fire pit. And while Henderson is no longer involved in the project, the menu of refined pub grub doesn’t stray far from the classic Americana food diners may associate with him, such as a fried chicken sandwich ($12), the slow-roasted prime rib special on Fridays and Saturdays ($23/8 ounces; $29/12 ounces) and mac ’n’ cheese ($7). Woodinville Whiskey Co.’s expanded distillery is next door, and you’ll find plenty of the fine brown liquor here. 14508 Woodinville-Redmond Road NE; 425.610.7730; thehollywoodtavern.com

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers        
In a region as densely populated with superb burger options as the greater Seattle area, you might think there’s no reason to try a burger made by a Hawaiian franchise. But you’d be wrong. Teddy’s, in Woodinville’s town center, does indeed offer bigger burgers—order yours as a 5-, 7- or 9-ounce flame-broiled ground chuck patty—but size isn’t the only reason to go. The specialty burgers are imaginative and supremely tasty, particularly the aloha-inspired Hawaiian, with house-made teriyaki and grilled pineapple, and the jalapeño- and pepper-jack-topped Volcano. Inside, expect an old-school, neon-lit sock-hop feel, tempered by a surfer-girl island aesthetic. 17705 140th Ave. NE; 425.408.1604; teddysbiggerburgers.com

The Station Pizzeria     
In the heart of Woodinville’s tourist district, just down the road from tasting rooms galore, sits this family-run pizzeria by the same folks who run the neighboring and beloved Italianissimo. Wood-fired pizzas arrive at the table thin and deeply golden with a generous layer of toppings. The house-made tomato sauce is piquant and fresh-tasting, acting as a base layer for the cipolla ($15)—sliced Italian sausage, caramelized onions and ricotta with chili flakes—and for the more classic margherita ($12). Nibbles are also available. Try the crispy polenta onion rings ($5) or the fried mozzarella tots ($6), perfect for days when you need a little nosh between wine tastings. 14505 148th Ave. NE; 425.408.0711; thestationpizzeria.com


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