A new spot from a Seattle superstar chef. A hotly anticipated diner with Eastern European and Jewish favorites. An upscale Filipino/Pacific Northwest prix-fixe place. A beer-nerd's dream. And much, much more.
We thought 2017 was booming for Seattle-area restaurant-and-bar openings: approximately 290 total, by the back-of-the-napkin math my colleague Tan Vinh and I did this time last year. That was versus 85 closures.
But the tally for 2018 is even nuttier: new spots opening at the pace of almost one per day — 362 total, versus 71 closures.
And these most recent openings, from the last month-plus of 2018, offer lots of places we can’t wait to try — including a new spot from a Seattle superstar chef, a hotly anticipated Capitol Hill diner, an upscale Filipino/Pacific Northwest prix-fixe place, a beer nerd’s dream and more. Let’s eat!
Lucinda Grain Bar in Ravenna: This little spot is “a boutique dining and libation destination featuring grains & booze from around the world.” It’s also the third restaurant from a chef you may have heard of: two-time James Beard award winner Edouardo Jordan, of Salare and JuneBaby. The menu features delicious-sounding snacks (country terrine en croute, preserved smelt, smoked chicken wings with sorghum-chili vinaigrette), pressed sandwiches on whole-wheat ciabatta (served with a probably stellar quinoa, yam and turnip salad) and above-and-beyond grain bowls (freekeh with lamb shoulder! Einkorn and smoked trout! Buckwheat bucatini!). Also: all manner of cocktails (some containing alcohol made with grain, get it?). And yes, there’s something for everyone, even the gluten-free … if you can get a seat.
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Dick’s Drive-In in Kent: At last, the seventh location of our local favorite burger joint (as officially anointed in the recent Seattle Times Burger Bracket) cameth unto the Midway Shopping Center near Highline College, and there were marching bands and a hydroplane in the parking lot, there were Specials and Deluxes and hot-fudge sundaes with peppermint-stick ice cream, and there was rejoicing among the people.
Dacha Diner on Capitol Hill: This family-run spot is being hailed by Jewish in Seattle Magazine as a key part of “Seattle’s pastrami moment” (also including Dingfelder’s Delicatessen and Westman’s Bagel and Coffee, along with the imminent Loxsmith, Schmaltzy’s Delicatessen and Zylberschtein’s). The team here is Joe Heffernan and Tom Siegel — owners of Madison Park’s excellent The Independent Pizzeria — along with GM/designer Tora Hennessey (who’s married to Siegel). Their menu‘s got latkes, herring under fur coat, pelmeni, borscht, brisket and lots more Eastern European and Jewish foods you will want to eat immediately. You’ll find Dacha in the funny triangular-shaped building formerly housing The Saint, now painted black.
Xiao Chi Jie in Bellevue: The good news: the sheng jian bao — a bigger, pan-fried cousin of the soupy dumpling hit xiao long bao — at this spot lodged in a mini-food court are so tasty, we named it one of the best cheap eats of 2018. The bad news: Even before XCJ made the list, the lines were nuts. Maybe wait a month or two?
Archipelago in Hillman City: This hotly (and long) anticipated restaurant from Aaron Verzosa and Amber Manuguid serves a 10- to 12-course tasting menu of “Pacific Northwest cuisine through progressive Filipino American flavors.” The source of the anticipation: finding out exactly how good that tastes, coupled with chef Verzosa’s background at beloved Harvest Vine and cutting-edge Modernist Cuisine. Both he and Manuguid are locals, and both are involved with ILAW, which promotes, serves and empowers Filipino food and beverage professionals in the Pacific Northwest.
D&E in Pioneer Square: This one snuck up stealth-style: In the former Radici space, it’s “meant to be a simple & approachable restaurant, welcoming to everyone,” from husband-and-wife team Jonathan Fleming and Libby Aker, two industry pros who met working at RN74. Chef Ben Davison comes from Local 360 and Nell’s; the bar’s in the hands of Ben Ernst from Cortina. The menu ticks lots of good boxes: chicharrones, crudo, charred Brussels sprouts, pasta with local mushrooms, grilled wild salmon, a fried-chicken sandwich with fries and a can of Rainier for $10 (!) … The name stands, simply, for “drinks and eats.”
Aerlume near Pike Place Market: The latest from the restaurant group behind high-end hits Miller’s Guild, El Gaucho and The Lakehouse is the sleek-looking and slick-sounding Aerlume. “The menu delights with the pure flavors found in the seasonal bounty of the Pacific Northwest,” the Puget Sound views from every seat will allegedly stun you, and the name is a play on “air,” luminescence” and “heirloom.” Exec chef Maggie Trujillo has an Oregon résumé: the Portland Hilton, Lela’s, Chateaulin, Caldera Brewing Company and Larks Restaurant. A sample sumptuous-sounding menu item: roasted black cod with lemon-chile spinach, hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and octopus gravy for $38. (For the less well-endowed in the wallet, a happy hour is coming soon.)
Future Primitive Brewing in White Center: Beer nerds, heads up — this is a big-deal one, coming from Ian Roberts, co-owner of Capitol Hill’s popular Pine Box and co-founder of Seattle Beer Week.
Salumi has found bigger digs for its longtime favorite sandwiches, but it’s still in Pioneer Square, where Rain Shadow Meats Squared used to be. (We won’t count this as an official closure, as the new retail location replaces the old one without an official shutdown.)
Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches has been reborn on Capitol Hill inside Queer/Bar.
Jack’s BBQ now has a branch downtown in the Columbia Center food court.
Meg’s Hamburgers, from the owners of nearby Altstadt, is making “Old school hamburgers in Seattle’s oldest neighborhood!” — that’s Pioneer Square.
Migoto Sushi Bar and Grill, filling the recently vacated Lemongrass space in the Central District, is run by Mai Nguyen of the former I Love Wasabi.
Ada’s Restaurant & Bar is open again in the same location under the new ownership of chef Ayhan Barlas (formerly of Daniel’s Broiler) and Levent Sahin.