Lines often extend out the door at this exceptional Ballard bakery, so regulars know to arrive early for the best selection. (Fanatics know that the brioche comes out of the oven at exactly 9 a.m.) Chef-owner James Miller’s stunning pastries include buttery croissants and gingery biscuits.
We loved: Flaky pain au chocolat.
Out of a galley kitchen in a ranch-style house, chef-owner Holly Smith prepares nearly everything from scratch, from the crackers, grissini and loaves in the breadbasket to the pastas and gelati on her northern Italian–focused menu. Wine director Jason Halstenrud’s stellar wine list focuses on rare Italian bottles.
We loved: Braised rabbit wrapped in pancetta and served with delicate chickpea crêpes; crisp veal sweetbreads laced with capers.
A lot of the original detailing, from the terra-cotta-tile roof to the lion’s head on top of the fireplace, still remains in this circa-1910 two-story house, which Matthew Dillon (an F&W Best New Chef 2007) renovated in Seattle’s rough-and-tumble Georgetown neighborhood. There’s just a single seating at communal tables each night—but the dishes on the prix-fixe $80 Mediterranean-inspired menus are consistently spectacular.
We loved: Radicchio salad with bacon and cantaloupe; whole roasted sardines with a smoky eggplant puree.
The kitchen at Lark’s next-door sibling is open late and on Mondays, so chefs and restaurateurs hang out there after their own places close. Most of the cocktails at the restaurant and lounge are made with house-infused liquors, like shiso-infused vodka, and go for $9.50. Just $2 more buys an inventive bar snack from F&W Best New Chef 2001 Johnathan Sundstrom.
We loved: Chickpea fries; tuna crudo.
After heading the legendary Herbfarm for 17 years, chef Jerry Traunfeld traveled to India to research the local cuisine before opening his own restaurant. At Poppy, as at Herbfarm, he cooks with produce from the restaurant’s own garden, but instead of preparing nine-course dinners, he makes daily—changing thali—a selection of 10 small dishes, some Indian-inspired—served together on a round tray.
We loved: Eggplant fries drizzled with honey and sea salt; braised wagyu beef cheeks with kale.
Known for his earthy, elegant cooking at Restaurant Zoë, chef Scott Staples goes more casual at this gastropub in a renovated 1910 warehouse. He stuffs Sloppy Joes with jalapeño-spiked wild boar and tops roasted marrow bones with red-onion marmalade. The drinks list focuses heavily on beer and whiskey, but the short wine list is wide-ranging, with just as many half bottles as full.
We loved: Smoked hanger steak with Cabrales cheese and pimento-laced romesco.
In this narrow, timber-ceilinged nook around the corner from his flagship restaurant, Dahlia Lounge, local celebrity chef Tom Douglas sends out his own take on pizza: sturdy, oval-shaped, properly blistered pies with toppings like Penn Cove clams, house-cured pancetta and lemon thyme.
We loved: Pizza topped with lamb belly and peaches; house-made cannoli.
Chef Justin Neidermeyer used to cook in a traditional trattoria in Piedmont, and it shows in his rustic, convivial Spinasse. The menu is all northern Italy, with brightly flavored antipasti like anchovies smothered in a parsley-and-caper sauce and extraordinary house-made pastas like rapini-stuffed ravioli. The wine list is also proudly and purely Piedmontese.
We loved: Agnolotti del plin, fragile meat-and-cheese-filled dumplings floating in fragrant brodo.
F&W Best New Chef 2009 Mark Fuller worked under local star chef Tom Douglas for seven years before striking out on his own in 2008 with Spring Hill. His one-page menu focuses on local and seasonal produce (some from his backyard garden a mile away), adding a little playfulness—his ingenious take on cioppino (Italian fish stew) is intense tomato water poured table-side over shrimp and halibut sashimi.
We loved: Duck egg ravioli with duck ham and garlic chips.
At this new Belltown gastropub, chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough’s seasonal, sensational small plates all have an element of surprise, like pork belly sliders with orange marmalade. Bar manager David Nelson makes his own tinctures and bitters for cocktails like the Kentucky Tuxedo, which mixes bourbon, sherry, orange bitters and lavender syrup.
We loved: Crispy chile-glazed drumettes of chicken confit.