Every year at Eater Seattle we end up writing a diary of the city’s dining scene. The exciting new arrivals, the sudden closures, the even more sudden deaths. And there were more than a few of those sorts of transitions this year. A number of national chains — including Dave’s Hot Chicken and Voodoo Doughnut — have expanded into the Seattle, while the increased difficulties of running a business due to inflation and labor shortages have seen many restaurants close. And as the culinary scene changed, for better or worse, you were eager to read about it.
Here in ascending order are the 10 most-read stories on Eater Seattle of 2023:
The news that the famed seafood market was closing in September was shocking, but not surprising on closer examination. Owner Harry Yoshimura told Eater Seattle that COVID-19 aftershocks and labor shortages were making it harder to operate, and recent shootings and other crime in the area made him nervous as well. And at 80, Yoshimura was thinking about retiring anyway. Still, Mutual Fish’s departure is a blow to anyone who needs a good piece of fish.
If you’ve been to a pro sports event you’ve probably seen the spread of Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology, which allows customers to, uh, just walk out with items off the shelves, no cash register transactions required. In August, Downtown Spirits became the first liquor store to adopt the tech, which owner Marques Warren told Eater Seattle has the advantage of deterring shoplifters, since you have to tap your way through a turnstile to access the sales floor.
Wow, you folks sure love Milk Bar, huh? The cake truffle and cereal milk ice cream merchant made waves when it opened its first Washington State location at the Nordstrom at the Bellevue Square mall.
...But not even Milk Bar has the hype of Jollibee. The Filipino chain — famous for its fried chicken and banana ketchup–topped spaghetti —generated excitement just by teasing its future location at the Rainier Valley Square mall this October. It’s not projected to open until late 2024, so until then Seattleites will have to travel to Tacoma or Tukwila to get their fix.
A lot of bars work to cultivate an air of mystery and mystique, but (unnamed) has a built-in advantage: The cocktail bar sits inside the Ruins, a Queen Anne event space that used to be the playground of Joe McDonnal and Virginia Wyman, who ran a lavish supper club in the 1990s there. Which explains the elephant, sort of.
More Bellevue opening news. This time the newsmaker is a major supermarket chain that has literally big plans for its first U.S. location, slated to open next year. The store will be 76,000 square feet, and as we wrote in June, “Uwajimaya is 60,000 square feet, so picture an Uwajimaya with a quarter of an Uwajimaya attached to it, then another little bit of Uwajimaya.”
In a tangled tale of globalization, French “tacos,” a fast food innovation first pioneered by North African immigrants in the suburbs of Lyon, have now arrived in Seattle via Canadian chain Brick’N’Cheese. This is drinking food, a mass of meat and cheese and fries wrapped in a flour tortilla and grilled like a panini — you can see why so many people wanted to read about it.
Thankfully, this headline is no longer true: As of this month, Moto Pizza began accepting walkups at all three of its locations. But back in April, getting your hands on one of Moto’s Filipino-inflected, Detroit-style pies required ordering your pizza months in advance. Or you could have done what one customer did, and buy a reservation off Reddit for $40.
The Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority (PDA), the entity that governs Seattle’s most popular tourist attraction, is apparently a fierce defender of its trademark,. In September, the PDA sued Pike Place Fish Market, one of the market’s most famous tenants, for using the words “Pike Place” in non-market contexts, which the PDA argues amounts to trademark infringement. The suit is ongoing.
The April death of Rachel Marshall was one of the year’s most tragic pieces of news. Marshall owned several bars and restaurants but will likely be most remembered for her eponymous ginger beer, which she built into a major local brand. What wasn’t included in the initial coverage of the 42-year-old’s passing was the cause of death, which the family later clarified in a statement. Marshall “drank too much for too long, and her liver stopped functioning,” the statement said, adding that the problem had begun during the pandemic lockdown. “Drinking went from a social, celebratory ritual to a coping mechanism, and one day alcohol gained the upper hand. Covid faded but the drinking didn’t, and this became its own source of depression, and this was the spiral she was caught in when she died.”