If in 2021 Seattle restaurateurs and chefs showed creativity and resilience while still keeping one cautious foot over the brake pedal, in 2022 they threw caution to the wayside and hurled themselves full force into the hard work of rebuilding a restaurant scene. This included the opening of several big, audacious projects, but also many small, low-key spots from former fine dining chefs leaving a stuffy, sometimes elitist, world behind to cook food that’s truer to themselves and their cultural backgrounds.
Eater Seattle’s 2022 Eater Awards aim to recognize the people who are rebuilding a better restaurant scene in Seattle than the one that existed before the pandemic, in terms of the scene’s offerings for diners and in how it treats employees and engages with local communities. The following restaurants, bars, and pop-ups also reflect the cultural richness of Seattle and the agricultural and ecological bounty of the region around it.
Without further ado, these are the Eater Seattle Award winners for 2022.
Best New Restaurant
Since opening in 2021, this Greenwood restaurant has been stunning Seattle with its super-crispy gluten-free Filipino fried chicken wings, drumsticks, thighs, and 10-inch-long cylinders of breast meat on sticks, which crackle under the teeth with the satisfying, puffy texture of Rice Krispies. Beyond serving some of the best fried chicken in America, with satisfying Filipino sides like tangy marinated vegetables and garlic rice, The Chicken Supply is the restaurant of owners Paolo Campbell and Donald Adams’ dreams. Like many chefs in Seattle, the pair left their demanding jobs at European fine dining institutions during the pandemic to open a more casual restaurant that was truer to their cultural backgrounds and offered a better work-life balance. Perhaps most impressively, Campbell and Adams offer one of the city’s most worthwhile culinary experiences in a $4 drumstick, during a time when rising food costs are making dining out a rare privilege for many Seattle residents.
Best Ocean-to-Table Restaurant
In a city packed with restaurants touting their use of local ingredients, to a point where the phrase “local” is starting to lose its significance, Brendan McGill’s new Bainbridge Island restaurant stands second to none in its sourcing of seafood from here, with careful preparations that bring the flavors of the surrounding waters into full bloom. Executive chef Grant Rico (who previously worked at the three-Michelin-starred Single Thread in California) imbues everything on the menu with hints of oceanic umami: The addition of fish fumet (a French stock made of fish bones and heads) elevates an herb cream sauce for the Manila clams to a satisfying, complex broth. A sauce made with crab broth, crab butter, and crab fat concentrates and deepens the sweet, earthy flavor of the Dungeness crab. Even the house-made bread is flavored with seaweed and comes with butter mixed with sugar kelp grown in the nearby Hood Canal.
Disclaimer: Jade Yamazaki Stewart, who curated the 2022 Eater Awards list while he was editor of Eater Seattle, now works for Brendan McGill, owner of Seabird and other restaurants. Stewart left Eater in October 2022; his current employment did not and does not inform Seabird’s inclusion on this list.
Best Next-Gen Omakase Restaurant
This new Bellevue omakase sushi restaurant has been one of the area’s hardest reservations to get because of its backing by the Kashiba family, whose octogenarian patriarch, Shiro Kashiba (of acclaimed Sushi Kashiba), introduced the Seattle area to genuine edomae-style sushi over 50 years ago. But chef Jun Takai — who moved to Seattle from Japan to study with Kashiba in 2000, along with fellow apprentice Daisuke Nakazawa, who went on to open the wildly famous Sushi Nakazawa restaurants on the East Coast — executes a distinct vision for his first restaurant that differs from that of his mentor’s. Takai, for example, is a master of dry-aging fish for his nigiri, a process that brings out more umami and relaxes the fish for a softer bite, sometimes aging toro for two weeks or more until it’s creamy and exploding with the flavor of tuna fat. There are local fish in the constantly changing omakase (including Puget Sound uni and geoduck), but Takai sources fish from around the globe, offering a survey of the world’s best seafood at any given time.
Best New Bar
The Pham family has been one of the most influential forces in Seattle’s dining scene since they opened their first pho shop in the now-famous red boat-shaped building in Little Saigon in the early 1980s. And co-owner Yenvy Pham’s first bar, located up a narrow staircase and behind a curtain from the downtown location of Pho Bac, is just as groundbreaking as any of her other businesses. At Phocific Standard Time, the sweet, grassy flavors of pandan mellow out the smokiness of mezcal and agave bite of tequila in one cocktail, while Vietnamese salted egg and pho fat-washed Japanese whiskey combine with nocino and sherry for a wonderfully savory, aromatic sip in another. Snacks like banh bot loc, the translucent, jiggly Vietnamese tapioca dumplings, round out the menu, and if you’re really hungry, you can always order pho from downstairs, which gets carried up the stairs to the bar in an instant noodle cup.
Couple Berk Güldal and Katrina Schult astounded the local dining community with the best Turkish food the city had ever seen when they left their posts at the three-Michelin-starred Single Thread restaurant to start a pop-up in Seattle. Hamdi’s monthly whole-lamb roasts have become one of the city’s most sought-after culinary experiences, and always draw stares from passersby hypnotized by the sight of an entire animal spinning over an open applewood fire, dripping juices into flames below. But Güldal’s sensational execution of the simple kebab — hand-mincing (male-only) lamb meat with a big, traditional Turkish knife, grilling it until medium-rare over charcoal, brightening the rich flavor of the lamb fat with a tangy tomato-onion salad, and wrapping it in lavash — shows his high level of culinary skill and understanding for the cuisine of his native country. The intermittent culinary spectacle just became a Ballard restaurant of the same name that opened to much excitement last month, but Hamdi will continue to do a whole-lamb pop-up at the restaurant every month.