This year, Seattle’s dining scene seemed to be in a bit of transition. Major players closed down outposts, while the outlying neighborhoods continued to see more dynamic newcomers enter the fray. This list of the most significant restaurant openings reflects places that not only had a strong culinary point of view, but also show where the city’s tastes are now — and where they may be going. (Note that these restaurants are not ranked, but listed geographically, from north to south.)Read More
15 Most Important Seattle Restaurant Openings of 2019
From a West Seattle homestead to a pizza pop-up success story to modern Korean in Queen Anne
1. Eight Row
Rising chef David Nichols’s new farm-to-table Green Lake restaurant showcases the ingredients, influences, and aesthetics from the Wenatchee, WA, orchards that his family owns and operates. A focus on seasonal, local produce isn’t new to the Seattle dining scene, but Nichols’s versatility and craft (honed at Rider before) shows that he’s one to watch.
Sunset Hill’s handsome, understated new bistro on the block is a warm, farm-to-table spot that has an appropriately Pacific Northwest feel, with dark wood decor and a wood fire stove — something that’s become more common around town. It’s one more piece of evidence that more and more northern neighborhoods are developing into food hubs.
3. Windy City Pie
Seattle’s best Chicago-style deep dish, once available only for delivery or pick-up in a variety of charming but limited arrangements, established its own permanent outpost in Phinney Ridge. The full menu includes a rotating selection of slices and a few new twists, including the Mamma Mia pie, which has roasted garlic, meatballs, and sport pepper, with Windy City’s signature caramelized crust. It’s a true pop-up success story.
4. Schmaltzy's Delicatessen
After more than two years of preparation, this highly anticipated lunch restaurant opened in the area most refer to as Frelard. It’s an offshoot of the popular food truck Napkin Friends, serving from-scratch pastrami sandwiches, corned beef, lox, and matzoh ball soup. But Schmaltzy’s is also a welcome reminder that Seattle is stepping up its game when it comes to destination Jewish delis.
5. Bamboo Sushi
While a Portland-based chain deciding to open a Seattle location wouldn’t normally turn many heads, the ethos behind this sustainable sushi restaurant — showcasing seafood sourced from eco-friendly fisheries — is a welcome trend. Together with West Seattle’s Mashiko, Bamboo Sushi helps continue to conversation about what it means to lower environmental impact in the restaurant industry, while maintaining a high level of quality.
6. Bistro Shirlee
Renee Erickson’s new restaurant opened this spring in the former home of Saint Helens Cafe. The star chef amended the menu slightly, adding more local and sustainable sourcing, along with new French dishes like steak au poivre and Parisian gnocchi. While fellow titans in the industry (Tom Douglas, Ethan Stowell) contracted their Seattle portfolio, it’s worth noting that Erickson was still in expansion mode.
7. Off The Rez Cafe
Seattle, WA 98105
Considered the first Native American food truck in Seattle, Off the Rez opened this permanent outpost inside the New Burke Museum on the University of Washington’s campus. Owners Mark McConnell and Cecilia Rikard make fry breads by hand, and have introduced pre-colonial dishes, such as wild rice bowls with braised bison. The intersection of food and history truly resonates in a location built around learning.
8. Eden Hill Provisions
Upper Queen Anne is now home to this family-friendly restaurant from chef Maximillian Petty and wife Jennifer. Conceived as a casual counterpart to their nearby fine dining destination Eden Hill Restaurant, it features some kid-friendly options like mac and cheese with aged cheddar. But adult palates are well-served, too — and the dry-aged “Big Max” burger may just grow into a franchise on its own.
This Capitol Hill Italian restaurant on East Broadway is a more affordable offshoot of the upscale Altura across the street. It also replaced the much-loved Poppy, so there’s a lot to live up to. Luckily, the light, well-crafted pasta dishes and a roving cart of small plates have been winners so far, showing that this section of East Broadway still has some heat.
Also Featured in:
10. Ba Sa Restaurant
Two young Vietnamese chef siblings — who were once refugees — look to the food of their childhood for inspiration at this Bainbridge Island newcomer. There are wings stuffed with ground pork and shiitake mushrooms, clay pot catfish, and sirloin wrapped in betel leaf, along with some fun brunch items, such as taro bubble waffles with fried chicken. It’s modern Vietnamese cuisine from a new generation, filled with passion and precision.
Though it didn’t open to much fanfare, this excellent modern Korean restaurant in Queen Anne could soon develop into a major star. Most all of the dishes are on point, including the smoky fried rice with squid ink and quail egg, and a crispy pancake with some strong okonomiyaki flavors. It’s yet another part of a vibrant Seattle Korean dining scene.
12. Momosan Seattle
“Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto opened his new ramen and izakaya restaurant Momosan Seattle in the Chinatown-International District’s historic Publix building this September, the third outpost of the franchise and the first on the West Coast. On the encyclopedic menu are Momosan’s signature broth and noodle dishes, along with an extensive selection of yakitori. There’s celebrity chef spectacle, to be sure, which can turn some off — but it no doubt raises the star power of a sometimes-overlooked dining neighborhood.
13. Il Nido
James Beard Award-nominated chef Mike Easton renovated West Seattle’s century-old log house, the Alki Homestead, and turned it into a perfectly PNW dining experience. The Italian menu features plenty of handmade pastas, just like the star chef’s acclaimed lunch-only spot in Pioneer Square, Il Corvo, along with worthy meat dishes, such as the seared ribeye. It’s no wonder that reservations have been so hard to get.
14. Lady Jaye
This hot new West Seattle smokehouse — from veterans of the uber popular Pike Place Market bar, Radiator Whiskey, and White Swan Public House — is a welcome addition to an often-thin barbecue scene in the city. The pork belly “Porkstrami” sandwiches on rye, smoked bologna, turkey leg with dry rub, slow-roasted brisket, and other meat-heavy dishes served in the warm, countryfied dining room make it feel like a cookout all year long.
15. The Ruby Brink
As butcher shop-kitchen-bar hybrids become more common in the region, this Vashon Island gem attempts to refine the form. Esteemed local butcher Lauren Garaventa and her partner Rustle Biehn (of the popular Meat and Noodle Soup pop-up) bring creativity to each seasonal menu, with sustainability as a key tenet. The signature meat and noodle soup dish was among the best this year.