Despite the lingering effects of the pandemic on Seattle’s restaurant scene, this year has already seen some excellent restaurant openings. Muriel’s, a kosher restaurant serving bagels, bialys, and drinking snacks opened in Seward Park in January, while Ballard got Bunsoy, its first Filipino restaurant, from chef Rhabbie Coquia, and Wero, a modern Korean restaurant, in February. Now, with the Omicron surge easing off, many restauranteurs who have been holding off on opening restaurants during the pandemic are making moves again.
Looking forward to summer, there’s an Edomae-style sushi project in Bellevue from a star apprentice of Seattle’s sushi godfather, Shiro Kashiba, and Ms. Helen is finally bringing her famed soul food back to the Central District. But there are exciting openings in the next three months too, including a bagel shop serving toro-topped bialys, celebrity chef Shota Nakajima’s newest project in Cle Elum, and the gorgeous new restaurant for the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.
The George Restaurant
When: April 4
What: The George is the new full-service restaurant at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel (at 411 University Street), part of a $25 million renovation of the historic hotel’s bar and restaurant areas. The menu, by chef Thomas Cullen, formerly an executive chef for Ethan Stowell Restaurants, is ambitious (he says he wants it to be the “top restaurant” in Seattle). Cullen will be serving huge seafood boils, dry-aged Carman Ranch steaks, sashimi, grilled octopus, among other dishes for dinner, using almost entirely ingredients from local farms, ranches, and fisheries. And the restaurant space, with its vaulted ceilings and granite tile floors, is stunning. Eventually, the restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
When: May 2022
What: Loxsmith Bagels, a pop-up that drew a huge following during the pandemic for bagels with dark-brown, blistery crusts and chewy interiors, is finally opening a permanent brick-and-mortar location. Last year, famous cookbook author J. Kenji López-Alt said these bagels were some of his favorite in Seattle. The café, right behind the Beacon Hill light rail station at 2709 17th Avenue S, will serve 20 types of bagels, East-Coast style breakfast sandwiches, and bagels and bialys loaded with Japanese and Korean ingredients like toro, ikura, gochujang, and kimchi (owner Matthew Segal used to be a sushi chef). Opening date was originally set for early April but is now scheduled for sometime in May.
When: April 2022
What: Shota Nakajima (of Taku and “Top Chef”) is opening his take on a teriyaki restaurant — inspired by flavors he grew up eating in Seattle and Japan — in Cle Elum, almost 100 miles east of Seattle by car. The restaurant, which has 38 indoor seats and a 90-capacity rooftop, will serve Nakajima’s teriyaki recipe (heavy on char flavor) with a choice of meat as well as tempura and some family recipes like his mom’s duck spring rolls. It’s located at 219 E 1st Street and will eventually serve food at the next-door Studebaker Alley, a recently opened music venue also owned by Nakajima and his business partner. Also coming in the next few months as part of this food and music complex: a yet-to-be-named fried chicken sandwich and soft-serve ice cream counter. Banzai had its soft opening at the end of March, but an official April opening date is yet to be announced.
MariPili Tapas Bar
When: May 2022
What: Grayson Corrales, who used to be a pastry chef at Junebaby, is taking over the Café Presse at 1117 12th Ave in Capitol Hill and opening a Galician tapas restaurant. According to The Seattle Times, Corrales just got back from Spain, where she was apprenticing at the two-Michelin starred restaurant Culler de Pau. Corrales told Capitol Hill Seattle that she’ll serve Dungeness crab croquettes, among other Spanish dishes using Pacific Northwest ingredients.
Xi’An Noodles Bellevue
When: April 3
What: Xi’An Noodles, which serves chewy house-made biang biang noodles drenched in chili oil at a counter-service restaurant with a few tables in the University District and in the food court at the Westlake Center shopping mall, is opening its largest restaurant yet at 1075 Bellevue Way NE in Bellevue. The new restaurant will have an expanded menu featuring grilled lamb, beef, and chicken skewers dusted with cumin and chili powder, along with noodles, mango sago, and sweet red bean soup. The dining room is also much larger than the U District location. The grand opening ceremony, which will have lion dancing and Chinese fencing, is on April 3.
Boca Argentine Bakery
When: Late-April 2022
What: The newest in a wave of excellent pizza openings in Seattle is something a little different: mozzarella-stuffed deep-dish Argentinian pizza, from the owners of the Boca steakhouses in Capitol Hill and Belltown, is coming to 426 East Broadway in Capitol Hill. Boca Bakery and Pizzeria will serve croissants and other pastries in the morning and will transition to tapas at night, with pizzas starting to slide out of the oven at 11 a.m. The restaurant is waiting on a health department inspection to open and should be operational in three to four weeks, according to owner Marco Casas Beaux.