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Experts Sum Up the 2019 Seattle Restaurant Scene in One Word

Local dining authorities reflect on the year that was

A closeup view of a pile of Off the Rez Cafe’s pulled pork fry bread taco inside a paper bowl, topped with coleslaw.
Off the Rez Cafe’s personal history was one recent narrative that stood out this year.
Off the Rez Cafe

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, the best dining neighborhoods, the biggest surprises, the biggest grievances, and favorite meals.)

Allecia Vermillion, editor-in-chief, Seattle Met: Understaffed.

Chelsea Lin, editor-in-chief, Seattle Magazine: Personal. I’ve really enjoyed hearing the stories behind some of this year’s passion projects: the community that’s rallied behind Melissa Miranda’s Musang, the building preservation that went into Il Nido, the family (and cultural) history behind Off the Rez’s new Burke Museum cafe. The margins are narrow and the stakes are high in this industry, and people do this because they really love what they do. (See also: journalism.)

Providence Cicero, food writer, former restaurant critic for the Seattle Times: Volatile.

Frank Guanco, food and wine writer, Seattle Refined: Repercussions. The repercussions of some of the major players in the Seattle food scene closing and reimagining some of their spaces, and what the repercussions will be, and what this may mean for Seattle restaurants. Tom Douglas, Ethan Stowell, Matt Dillon, Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi (and I’m missing some other examples). All made changes or closures to some of their spaces, and it’ll be interesting to see the consequences and what this may portend.

Rosin Saez, former associate editor, Seattle Met: Spin-offs.

Jill Lightner, Seattle food writer, author, and person who gets asked, “Is it still safe to eat this?” a lot: Embiggened.

Off The Rez Cafe

4300 15th Avenue Northeast, , WA 98105 (206) 414-8226 Visit Website


2524 Beacon Avenue South, , WA 98144 (206) 708-6871 Visit Website

Il Nido

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