Providence Cicero takes readers on a tour of the tastiest items she encountered in a year of reviewing restaurants..
Sexiest small plate: Valdeon ice cream and dates stuffed with bacon and chorizo are a great way to start a meal at Hunger in Fremont.
Runner-up: Sam Crannell’s seared foie gras, with black cherries and maple syrup pooling in the crevices of a crisp waffle at LloydMartin on Queen Anne. It’s not a dessert, but it could be.
Best bite on a bun: Tamara Murphy’s water buffalo burger with talleggio cheese and oven-dried tomato at Terra Plata flaunts a jaunty skewer of pickled vegetables.
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Runner up: Mark Fuller’s dreamy steamed pork buns (manapua) at Ma’ono; Heong soon Park’s bulgogi sliders garnished with kimchi at Chan in Pike Place Market.
Best in the raw: Charles Walpole’s hamachi crudo with Serrano chilies, apple and chives at Blind Pig Bistro.
Runner up: Chan’s Korean steak tartare, zingy with jalapeño, garlic, sesame and soy sauce.
Best combination of three ingredients or less: Brandon Kirksey’s Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe at Rione XIII — fresh noodles, black pepper and Pecorino cheese — couldn’t be simpler or more divine.
Runner-up: Blind Pig Bistro’s Fat Bastard oysters garnished with grapefruit and pimenton ice.
Best fried-chicken riff: It’s easy to see why this breakfast stack of fried chicken and poached egg with hollandaise over sautéed kale, bacon and crisp roasted potatoes was the dish that clinched the romance between Hunger chef Jaime Mullins-Brooks and her co-owner husband, Brian Brooks.
Runner-up: Chan’s searing chili-glazed fried chicken wings.
Best incentive to eat your veggies: Any of the peak-of-the-season salads at David Sanford’s congenial restaurant and supper club, Belle Clementine.
Runner-up: Horseradish coleslaw at Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen.
Best incentive to drink your veggies: James Sherrill’s asparagus soup at Restaurant Zoë, graced with smoked steelhead, crème fraîche and toasted pumpernickel crumbs.
Runner-up: Steven Ariel’s lacinato kale soup with pancetta and lemon crème fraîche at Trace in the W Hotel.
That’sa some meatball award: Rione’s marinara-slathered prosciutto meatballs.
Runner-up: The garlic-and-herb laced beef-and-pork meatballs at Oddfellows Café.
Best excuse for a mall crawl: At Bellevue Square’s Moksha, Lamb Karaikudi, a South Indian stir-fry with garlic, chilies, curry leaf and fennel, is full of fire and spice.
Runner-up: Lush crab and corn chowder at Anthony’s Seafood Grill in Alderwood mall.
Best reason to get on a ferry: Jorge and Effie Garnica’s robust tacos and tamales at Zamorana on Vashon Island.
Runners-up: Greg Atkinson’s saffron-spiced Provençale fish soup floating an airy halibut quenelle at Restaurant Marché on Bainbridge Island; Matt Costello’s tasting menu at the Inn at Langley.
Best late-night nosh: Green Leaf’s delicate bahn xeo pancake overstuffed with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts.
Runner-up: A stack of smoked cheddar and tasso ham grit sticks at Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen.
Best swig from a bottle: Canon’s La Bicyclette cocktail, a blend of gin, sweet vermouth and St-Germain aged in French oak, is individually bottled and meant to be sipped sans glass.
Runner-up: Oola Distillery’s Waitsburg Bourbon Whiskey. (Caution: only do this at home!)
Most addictive snacks: Moksha’s fragile, cumin-flecked papadum served with three chutneys.
Runner-up: Terra Plata’s truffle-salted waffle chips; Hunger’s harissa fries.
Best reason to save room for dessert: Sharon Woo Fillingim’s pumpkin layer cake with chocolate ganache and cream-cheese frosting is just one of many good reasons to splurge on dessert at her restaurant, Grub.
Runners-up: Preserved kumquats atop pistachio-crusted lemon chevre cheesecake at bin on the lake; panna cotta napoleon with roasted strawberries and pineapple “caviar” at Restaurant Zoë.
Providence Cicero, Seattle Times restaurant critic, co-hosts “Let’s Eat” with Terry Jaymes at 4 p.m. Saturdays on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. Listen to past shows at www.KIRORadio.com/letseat. Reach Cicero at firstname.lastname@example.org.