Tara Austen Weaver's The Butcher and The Vegetarian
Mark Fuller’s Spring Hill is my preferred Seattle restaurant for a meat indulgence. His perfect “Beef Steak Hot & Cold” dish features steak tartare alongside grilled wagyu sirloin with potato cracklings and a runny egg yolk. His burger—served with beef-fat French fries, house-cured bacon, and two kinds of cheese—has a local cult following.
When I need my health-food fix, I head to the year-old raw-food restaurant Thrive. The smoothies are habit-forming, and their Samurai Salad, which features chilled kelp noodles in a teriyaki sauce with shredded vegetables, is unbelievably good. I always bring a piece of the rich mocha chocolate torte home; I put it in the freezer and treat myself to an occasional bite.
For mixed crowds:
The new Delancey pizzeria and Café Lago are both run by vegetable lovers; one bite of Lago’s roasted tomatoes with goat cheese and you will agree. Delancey’s grilled radicchio with bread crumbs, parmesan and preserved lemon will make you profoundly happy. Delancey’s pizzas—including one with cremini mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and thyme—will make you happier still.
To say Contigo is a great place for meat gives short shrift to their wonderful salads and vegetable dishes, but some of my favorite meat dishes are found in this Catalan-inspired restaurant. Their oxtail-stuffed piquillo peppers are rich and fall-apart tender. The tripe, served with chorizo and chickpeas, has been known to win new fans for offal.
After a bayside walk along Crissy Field, I head to the nearby eco-friendly Plant Café Organic, which offers healthful meals, juices and smoothies made with carefully sourced produce. The bold flavors satisfy, while the food doesn’t weigh you down. I particularly love the jasmine rice topped with sautéed vegetables in a light coconut, lemongrass, kaffir lime dressing with fresh herbs.
For mixed crowds:
I hesitate to send anyone to Burma Superstar because the lines can be so long, but I regularly brave them for dishes like the musky tea leaf salad, which can be made vegetarian by omitting the shrimp. The samosa soup features samosas crumbled in a hearty broth with curry and chunks of potato. And my favorite, the mild chicken curry on rice noodles with fried onions and cilantro, can be ordered without the chicken. - Tara Austen Weaver