The launchpad that propelled celebrity chef Tom Douglas to stardom, Dahlia helped put Northwest cuisine on the map when it opened in 1989. And though Douglas now has a mini-empire of five restaurants (all within blocks of each other), his first is still his best in many ways. His menus change according to what’s seasonally fresh, and dishes range from the straightforward (grilled Washington rib-eye with sautéed broccoli rabe, crispy potatoes, and cheddar gremolata) to the inventive (rotisserie-roasted five-spice Peking duck with yellow-curried fried rice, sautéed pea vines, and sweet-and-sour rhubarb) to the playful (dessert doughnuts served with seasonal jams for dipping). With its deep red walls and intimate two-person booths, Dahlia is the quintessential date restaurant, but early in the evening you’ll see plenty of families too.
Tip: If you can’t make it for dinner, pop into the Dahlia Bakery around the corner; it serves slices of the restaurant’s famous coconut cream pie.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.