Best New Restaurants
Lark Exposed wood beams lend a mountain-lodge feel to this solo venture from F&W Best New Chef 2001 John Sundstrom, formerly of Earth & Ocean. Though neighborhoody, it's still a place for Seattle-style celeb-spotting. (Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz is a regular.) Sundstrom finds the best ingredients and makes brilliant matches, pairing braised short ribs with chanterelles or fresh albacore with spicy olives. DETAILS 926 12th Ave.; 206-323-5275.
Lola Tom Douglas helped define Pacific Northwest cuisine at Dahlia Lounge. At Lola, which he opened in the Hotel Ändra, he's taking on Greek food. The kitchen turns out meze, kebabs, grilled whole fish and meat dishes, like cumin-spiced leg of lamb. Wine-braised octopus with pork belly and fried egg is Lola's take on a Greek breakfast. DETAILS 2000B Fourth Ave.; 206-441-1430.
Crush The cozy, packed dining room feels like a dinner party in someone's house, in this case the house of Jason and Nicole Wilson. In a renovated century-old building, Jason Wilson, formerly of Stars, puts a modern spin on Northwest classics like Dungeness crab cake, which he pairs with diced bacon, celery root and green apple. DETAILS 2319 E. Madison St.; 206-302-7874.
Union Chef Ethan Stowell (formerly of Nell's) changes Union's menu almost daily, and for fans, that's both a pro and a con. If you fall for one of his dishes—bluenose bass with fennel and lobster salad, say, or braised rabbit leg with garganelli pasta—there's no guarantee you'll ever see it on the menu again. DETAILS 1400 First Ave.; 206-838-8000.
Les Cadeaux Gourmets Seisuke and Pia Kamimura have stocked their Queen Anne Avenue shop with stylish items for the kitchen, pantry, library and bath. Many of the lines they carry are hard to find elsewhere in town: Vosges truffles, Fauchon bonbons, Ito En teas, Yoku Moku cookies whimsically wrapped like cigars, or William Yeoward's gilt-edged English bone china in eye-popping jewel tones. DETAILS 1629 Queen Anne Ave. N.; 206-283-2270.
Inn at El Gaucho Belltown's swanky El Gaucho steak house has long attracted attention for its mink-lined banquette, but at the new inn upstairs, leather dominates the midcentury-modern decor. Of the 18 junior suites, number eight affords the best view of Puget Sound, but all offer plasma-screen TVs and free long-distance phone calls. For flaming chateaubriand bedside, just call room service. DETAILS Junior suites from $155; 2505 First Ave., 206-728-1133.