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Seattle’s Biggest Dining Surprises of 2019

Area food experts reveal what developments caught them off guard this year

Tom Douglas in an apron against a tinted background.
Tom Douglas had a roller coaster year with a lawsuit settlement and announced closures.
Tom Douglas Seattle Kitchen/Official

As is tradition, Eater closes out the year by surveying local food writers on various restaurant-related topics. Here, the experts weigh in on this question: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2019? (Here are the top standbys of the year, the standout newcomers, and the best dining neighborhoods.)

Allecia Vermillion, editor-in-chief, Seattle Met: That Tom Douglas lawsuit reeked of BS. If he violated the letter of the law, the guy has also been prioritizing his employees’ well-being since before that topic became a national or civic conversation.

Chelsea Lin, editor-in-chief, Seattle Magazine: Poppy closing hit me pretty hard, not because I’ve eaten there particularly often, but it was one of those restaurants I simply equated with the best of Seattle’s dining scene. It was an easy recommendation when friends were visiting, and I knew they’d love it like I did.

Providence Cicero, food writer, former restaurant critic for the Seattle Times: Poppy’s closure and free on-site parking at Il Nido.

Frank Guanco, food and wine writer, Seattle Refined: The Shambles. Went with some friends and it was a revelation. Cocktails and proteins on point. The execution of what they’re doing with their butchery program always makes for an interesting meal there.

Rosin Saez, former associate editor, Seattle Met: I’m not much surprised by anything in Seattle’s tumultuous dining scene, but both Ethan Stowell and Tom Douglas opened New York restaurants in the same year the two restaurateurs announced the closures of three restaurants — each.

Jill Lightner, Seattle food writer, author, and person who gets asked, “Is it still safe to eat this?” a lot: How sourdough is taking over. I approve completely.

The Shambles

7777 15th Avenue Northeast, , WA 98115 (206) 659-0074 Visit Website

Il Nido

2717 61st Avenue Southwest, , WA 98116 (206) 466-6265 Visit Website


622 Broadway East, , WA 98102 (206) 324-1108 Visit Website