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Seattle Restaurants That Stepped Up for Their Communities in 2023

Food industry insiders talk about the businesses that inspired them

The storefront at Yalla.
Yalla led a fundraising effort for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund in November.

As 2023 is flushed down the toilet of time and 2024 comes to take its place, Eater Seattle is once again surveying a panel of food writers and industry insiders about the year that was and the future of Seattle dining.

We’ve already published a piece about trends that excited or enraged our panel and their favorite restaurants, so today we’re asking them which restaurants did important charitable or community-building work in 2023. Here are their answers:

Syd Suntha, owner of Kottu and host of the Seattle Restaurant Podcast

It was really inspiring to interview David Nichols from Eight Row and learn about how he started hosting Ben’s Friends meetings at his restaurant every Monday at 10 a.m. Ben’s Friends is a community of food and bev folks looking to get sober. The restaurant industry is a really great place to be an addict. You can hide it a lot of ways and its often very normal to work under the influence. As a recovering addict I wish there was a Ben’s Friends meetup when I was at my worst.

Meg van Huygen, food writer at The Stranger, Eater Seattle, and elsewhere

Yalla, hands down, no contest. Chef Taylor Cheney is a true comrade, not only for the tremendous fundraising work she’s done for the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund — she organized for over 50 local restaurants to donate a portion of their proceeds to the PCRF in November! — but also for hustling hard to lift voices and visibility for Palestinian Americans living right here in Seattle. Her heart is enormous. And her food is fantastic too.

Gabe Guarente. editor at SEAToday

Chef-owner Kristi Brown’s businesses Communion and That Brown Girl Cooks. Kristi continues to fight food insecurity with the Everybody Gotta Eat initiative and also helped support other local businesses through pop-ups and markets in her space.

Naomi Tomky, writer and author of The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook

Alida’s Bakery, in Everett, has consistently and beautifully advocated for a number of causes throughout the year, sharing their own painful stories as Kurdish refugees and raising money for people doing hard, amazing work on the ground in the Middle East and around the world.

Aimee Rizzo, senior editor at the Infatuation Seattle

In August, it was inspiring to see Seattle’s Hawaiian restaurants come together to support wildfire relief efforts in Maui — like Sam Choy’s Poke To The Max, Marination Ma Kai, Go Poke, Shaka Snacks, Seattle Poi Company, and more.