After days of intensive reader voting, today we announce the winners of the 9th 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 best of the best — from delicious taco restaurants to dramatic cocktail bars to decadent cake bakeries — that have taken the Seattle food world by storm this year. Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the Readers’ Choice and Editors’ Choice awards. 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
Little Neon Taco, First Hill
With popular eateries Neon Taco, Tortas Condesa, and Westman’s Bagel and Coffee, chef Monica Dimas has been showing off her range of cooking skills, leadership, and adaptability for years. But until 2018, Dimas’s projects have all been walk-up windows, rather than full-fledged restaurants. With Little Neon Taco on First Hill, Dimas finally spreads her wings in a charming space bedecked with Mexican ephemera. Here, she slings her tacos — some of the best in the city even when they were only available inside the Capitol Hill bar Nacho Borracho — alongside additional winning dishes like mole ribs, elote, tortas, posole menudo, and horchata. She’s truly realizing her immense potential with this opening, taking her rightful place among Seattle’s top chefs.
Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Homer
Chef of the Year
Eric Rivera: Addo, Ballard
Does this man sleep? Judging by the prolific nature of Addo, which encompasses both a Ballard incubator restaurant and off-site experiences, it seems Eric Rivera is constantly awake, cooking or cooking up new ideas for pop-ups. He’s at the helm of many of them, including the customizable 20-course madness of Off Menu and the Puerto Rican magic of Lechoncito, a take on the flavors of his heritage. He plans to spin the latter off into its own space eventually, but in the meantime he sells a pantry line that includes sazon, the ubiquitous, versatile Puerto Rican spice blend, and powdered kojis. He also welcomes other cooks to the kitchen, whether they’re home bakers who want to sell their cakes, cookies, and croissants from his pastry case during the day, or professionals who are testing a cuisine they don’t otherwise get to make for a crowd at night. His enthusiasm and creativity are boundless and infectious, and his food is similarly, endlessly inventive.
Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Aarthi Sampath (Kukree)
Design of the Year
Deep Dive, Denny Triangle
When renowned chef Renee Erickson’s Deep Dive opened beneath the Amazon Spheres in August, it immediately became Seattle’s most dramatic bar. Designed by prolific Graham Baba Architects, whose striking work also includes the likes of Mezcaleria Oaxaca and Chophouse Row on Capitol Hill, Deep Dive’s moody atmosphere stands in stark contrast to the bright, naturally lit greenhouses above, and to the rest of Erickson’s airy portfolio (including heavy-hitters Bateau and the Walrus and the Carpenter). The bar nails the feeling of being in a deep-sea cave of wonders, with its primary illumination dedicated to intriguing oddities displayed on built-in shelves. Collector and artist Curtis Steiner, whose eponymous Ballard shop is itself a treasure trove, filled the nooks and crannies with eclectic curiosities, from carved lotus leaves to a crown made of matches. It adds up to a stunning effect, a special place indeed to sip original cocktails.
Design of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Deep Dive
Bar of the Year
Dynasty Room, Chinatown-International District
Dynasty Room, from restaurateur I-Miun Liu (Oasis Tea Zone, East Trading Co.), captures the zeitgeist of Seattle in 2018. It’s a haunting establishment with one foot firmly in the past, reviving the Chinatown-International District’s historic Four Seas restaurant for one last hurrah as a hip bar. It pays homage to the look of the past century, from faithful antiques like the bronze Japanese lanterns to modern nods like the giant cardboard wolf in the temple-like entrance. Dynasty Room’s other foot is in Seattle’s uncertain present, with tea- and herb-infused cocktails, Chinese and Korean bar snacks, a free event space for the community — oh yeah, and a property that’s slated to be demolished and redeveloped within the next year or two. Dynasty Room is living on borrowed time, poignant given the pace at which Seattle is changing and gentrifying, although, thankfully, the planned replacement for this location is a mixed-use affordable housing project. Meanwhile, Liu has built a gorgeous, temporary tribute to a diverse neighborhood.
Bar of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Supreme
Bakery of the Year
Deep Sea Sugar and Salt, Georgetown
Charlie Dunmire’s cakes are resplendent, bedecked in bright red fruits, carefully coated with endless layers of smooth frosting, and sprinkled with edible gold — mighty timely for the Instagram era, a perfect representation of the maxim that one eats with one’s eyes first. But the flavors are every bit as artful. Sweets like the elegant London Fog, an Earl Grey-infused beauty with bergamot mascarpone and cream cheese frosting, helped propel Dunmire from home baker to established pro. Now, having upgraded yet again from Airstream trailer to historic Carleton Avenue Grocery location in Georgetown, Deep Sea Sugar and Salt is at the top of Seattle’s cake game, a worthy modern entry into the Emerald City’s pantheon of classic bakeries.