Consider Seattle As a Restaurant Destination
The culinary scene there is ramping up.
If I were part of the Seattle food scene, I would have an inferiority complex. When people talk about the culinary goings-on in the Pacific Northwest, what you hear about is Portland, Portland, Portland. (It’s not dissimilar to the legendary "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" refrain from The Brady Bunch.)
Well, look out, Portland. The Seattle culinary scene is ramping up. Perhaps it’s because Amazon has established its HQ there, bringing in a huge influx of people. Or maybe it’s because the city has been called the next stop for Silicon Valley. There’s certainly a terrific new breed of restaurateurs, like oyster goddess Renee Erickson and F&W Best New Chef Matthew Dillon, who joins the ranks of fellow BNCs Ethan Stowell and Tom Douglas in creating excellent places that feel quintessentially Pac Northwest. And then there’s all that coffee. I couldn’t even pick my favorite cup (shout-out to Victrola and Elm, here). Just remember this: Seattle leads the country in java consumption; in second place is Portland. These are only a few reasons you should be putting Seattle high on your list of must-visit food destinations. Here, suggestions for where to go and what to eat once you get there.
Aunt Annie’s Fried Chicken Biscuits at The Wandering Goose
At this lovely little Southern-styled café, it’s impossible to decide between The Original—tender, high-rising biscuits spread with butter and bright red strawberry jam—or those same biscuits stuffed with well-seasoned fried chicken and honey. The truth is, I got both, plus a foot-high piece of coconut cake, and they were all awesome. thewanderinggoose.com
Steamed Clams with Sherry and Chickpeas at Walrus and the Carpenter
I can’t imagine eating anything that’s not wonderful at Walrus and the Carpenter, the Renee Erickson restaurant that I would move into if they installed beds. It’s absolute fun to sit at the counter, watching the cute guys and girls shuck local oysters, fry cauliflower beignets and mix a Walrus classic cocktail (the Mustache Ride has bourbon, allspice and maple). I bogarted the platter of clams in a sherry-spiked broth with chanterelles that my group ordered and didn’t stop dipping the grilled bread until it was all gone. thewalrusbar.com
Spaghettini with Anchovy and Garlic at Il Corvo
There are two things everyone will tell you about Il Corvo, the handmade pasta specialists who operate out of a minuscule space in Pioneer Square: There’s always a line and you can’t sit down until you’ve ordered. (“Is she with you?” asked the woman behind the little counter, kindly but firmly, when she saw my friend grab a table.) There are only three or so ever-changing pastas on the chalkboard menu, and they are each a bargain at $9. I adored the tender-chewy al dente spaghetti in an oily bath of garlic, anchovies and slivered padrón peppers, especially with a big spoonful of the chilis inferno that you can order on the side for $1 more. ilcorvopasta.com
Haitan Old Fashioned with Chicken Fat Fries at Damn the Weather
At this outstandingly fun and expert bar, not only are the chicken fat fries crispy and golden brown, they’re also topped with a sprinkle of fennel pollen that gives them a very light sweet-anise hit. If you’re looking for the ultimate cocktail pairing, it would be good with a Last Word (chartreuse!). The fries also happen to be great with a smart, well-mixed riff on an old fashioned, made with aged rum, a little vanilla and creole bitters. damntheweather.com
Smoked Manila Clam Dip at Westward
“Day camp for adults” is how my friend describes Westward. (Wes Anderson comparisons also apply.) It’s a great restaurant all by itself, but if you can get a seat outside, around the oyster shell–lined firepit on the beach of Lake Union, you’re in paradise. The oyster situation at Westward is divine—among other things, each variety comes with a little tag so you know which kind you’ve got. (I fell in love with Sea Cows.) F&W Best New Chef Zoi Antonitsas also makes the platonic ideal of clam dip, with smoked clams, labneh so it’s thick and a little tangy, plus a sprinkling of pimentón, and thick-cut potato chips on the side. westwardseattle.com
Black Cod Run Down at Salare Restaurant
Chef Eduardo Jordan grew up in Florida, trained at The French Laundry and Per Se—and somehow ended up in Seattle. He opened his cozy restaurant in a quiet northeastern Seattle neighborhood and started cooking enticing food that combines all his diverse influences. (There are just two dishes on the kids section and one is a plate of fettuccine with kale, pork ragù and Parmesan.) He makes a killer version of Jamaican fish stew called run down: His is made with perfectly seared black cod in a spiced coconut milk sauce, with chunks of plantains, seared peppers and crisp tostones as a garnish on top. salarerestaurant.com
King Salmon Tartare at the Bar at Canlis
Opened in the 1950s, Canlis looks like it could be home base for a James Bond villain, an impenetrable split-level building, perched on a hillside. If you get to wander around a little bit, you’ll see fun old black-and-white pictures that show off the place’s history. The restaurant has a new chef, Brady Williams, executing supercreative tasting menus in the dining room. I’d been eating a lot; instead, I sat in the bar where I had stellar king salmon tartare with little dollops of smoked avocado puree, crispy fried capers and black lime. One other thing to know about Canlis (besides that there’s a dress code): Their wine list is epic and so is their whiskey selection. (In fact, F&W did a story with the Canlis brother owners, who went to Scotland in search of the Ultimate Whisky Barrel; you’ll have to ask them if they found it.) canlis.com
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