After nearly a week of intensive reader voting, today we announce the winners of the 8th annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that made the largest impact on all 24 Eater cities over the past 12 months.
Here now are the establishments — from Southern restaurants and cocktail bars to soba spots and dumpling dens — that have taken the Seattle food world by storm. Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the readers’ choice and editors’ choice awards. Read on to learn more about this year’s best of the best. Editor’s Choice winners will receive an illustrious tomato can trophy via FedEx, along with a full feature on Eater in the coming year.
Restaurant of the Year
It’s amazing but true: Junebaby, chef-owner Edouardo Jordan’s highly personal exploration of his heritage, is “America’s next great Southern restaurant,” according to Eater’s roving food critic, Bill Addison. (Addison even gave Junebaby Eater’s national Best New Restaurant award this year.)
From the salad of “swamp cabbage” (hearts of palm) and pickled strawberry to the chitterlings to the painterly rendition of “The Scourged Back,” a photo taken in 1863 of the scarred back of an enslaved man named Gordon, the elements of this restaurant tell a powerful tale of race, family, and class. Thankfully, a hefty encyclopedia of Southern terms helps Seattle diners better prepare for the culinary and history lessons that await them in Ravenna. This revolutionary restaurant is a worthy follow-up to eclectic Salare, which netted Jordan Chef of the Year in 2015.
Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Junebaby
Chef of the Year
Mutsuko Soma: Kamonegi, Wallingford
Talk about a comeback: Soma stepped away from her lauded career at Miyabi 45th for maternity leave, then dabbled with pop-ups before launching her own Wallingford restaurant, Kamonegi, in October. It’s one of the few in the country to showcase handmade soba noodles, for which Soma even grinds the buckwheat in-house. She utilizes a delicate process she honed in Japan, making minute adjustments based on weather and temperature. The noodles are complemented by seasonal tempura, and each plate is prepared artfully. It’s not hard to imagine the James Beard committee taking notice come awards season.
Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Mutsuko Soma, Kamonegi
Bar of the Year
Alchemy, West Seattle
Move over, Capitol Hill and Belltown: Suddenly, West Seattle finds itself at the forefront of Seattle cocktail culture. In a moody space that captures the feeling that some dark science could be afoot, Alchemy’s bartenders combine seasonal ingredients in showy arrangements that are every bit as adventurous and substantial as they are flashy.
Bar of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Navy Strength
Design of the Year
When Pintxo, Belltown’s Spanish tapas restaurant, relocated to bigger digs in the neighborhood, its space became a gorgeous complement to the kitchen’s bright, visually appealing dishes. Bathed in an amber light, the restaurant has several features that put it atop the list of the city’s smartest restaurant designs: Walls are adorned with impressive paintings; bundles of herbs hang from the ceiling; and a massive stained glass installation looms, backlit, above the bar, providing one hell of a focal point for the restaurant.
Design of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: The Lakehouse
Restaurant Expansion of the Year
Dough Zone Dumpling House, International District
For its fifth location, Dough Zone finally crossed from the Eastside to Seattle proper. And thank goodness: For anyone who hasn’t made the trek to the other four restaurants in places like Issaquah and Bellevue, now it’s easier than ever to find out what makes this affordable local chainlet so special. The sleekest, most modern outpost yet even serves alcohol with its famous xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, and crispy-yet-juicy pan-fried pork buns, called Q-Bao here. With better food and shorter lines than international sensation Din Tai Fung, Dough Zone is a local treasure.