Last month, our roundup of 41 new restaurant openings outside of Seattle — in the South End, North End and on the Eastside — prompted some discussion that this could be a sign of a Seattle exodus for restaurateurs. There were also a batch of closures, most around Seattle. But just as telling, in the past month, the Emerald City alone boasted just as many openings as the rest of King County. (Note: To make this large list easier to peruse, we organized them by neighborhoods.)
Acclaimed chef Mike Easton, who makes some of the best pastas in the region, has opened Il Nido. That’s great news for nine-to-fivers who can’t make it to his popular Pioneer Square spot Il Corvo (open only during lunch on weekdays.) Il Nido is a grander version of Il Corvo, a 64-seat Italian restaurant located in a century-old log cabin by Alki Beach. Easton mills his own grains. Expect to see four or five different fresh pastas per night.
When the end-of-the-year “best of” restaurant awards are named, Pacific Room Alki will be a contender for best view. The steak-and-seafood restaurant sits across from Alki Beach and boasts a sweeping vista of the Sound, with 11 outside tables as prime real estate. The 122-seat restaurant will be open for lunch and weekend brunch with live jazz and blue grass in the evenings. A block north, Frankie & Jo’s has set up a pop-up for its plant-based ice cream. It will only be open until Labor Day.
In nearby White Center, Das Wagon, the trailer outfitted with a kitchen, has opened beside Future Primitive Brewing. Erik Jackson, formerly of Vendemmia, Dahlia Lounge and Spur Gastropub, serves up bratwursts, Wiener schnitzel and other German-inspired pub grub. Jackson also runs Good Day Donuts nearby.
Chuan on Capitol offers both hot and dry pots (the dry pot, as it sounds, is a no-broth variation of hot pot), with variations from fancy crab chili to rabbit meat. The ultra-adventurous can even try a dry pot of pork intestines and duck head. The Eastside Mediterranean casual-food chain Garlic Crush is now on Broadway near the Harvard Market. Tea Addicts is on the Pike/Pine corridor. Aloha Cup Bap has also expanded to Capitol Hill, though it just serves poke bowls there; you can only get its yummy Hawaiian lunch plates at its flagship restaurant in the Central District. A surprise hit is Spice Waala, hawking lamb kebab, chicken tikka rolls and Indian street food.
Odin Star and Odin Star East come from Seth Richardson, former sous chef at Rock Creek. He’s also part of the Huxley Wallace Collective restaurant group, which is relaunching Poulet Galore in Ballard this summer. Odin Star East, located inside the new Capitol Hill bar Rose Temple, is similar to Richardson’s Odin Star food truck, though its menu has more of an Asian theme to go with the Asian-inspired drink list (expect mapo tofu served on challah bread and brisket fried rice). The food truck serves smoked-meat sandwiches around South Lake Union, Pioneer Square and Georgetown, with plans to hit Bellevue and Redmond in the near future.
Downtown, Pioneer Square and nearby
Pacifica features a modest but well-curated cocktail list of pisco and mescal drinks, as well as snacks such as tamales and the Mexican beef jerky carne seca. The Pioneer Square spot comes from the team behind Copal.
Lowrider Baking Company has expanded to the Central District, featuring its Brown Butter Triple Chocolate Chunk. But check out its weekly stuffed cookie special. Lowrider is located at East Union Street and 23rd Avenue, where — rumor has it — more restaurant developments are pending.
Chengdu Memory sits along the main drag of the Chinatown International District, serving hot pot with at least six different broths, from spicy to mushroom, and about 50 different proteins and veggies to dunk in the boiling soup. (Check our past hot-pot coverage here and here.)
New downtown restaurant Conversation is located in the Thompson Hotel, near Pike Place Market. The hotel already boasts a crown jewel, the rooftop bar The Nest, which gets so packed that its new restaurant sometimes turns into a waiting area to get up top. Conversation, serving a menu of shared plates, wants to do its part to get people to text less and mingle more. My meal even came with a “conversation starter” cue card: “If you could spend one year in any country, which would you choose?”
Ethan Stowell opened the posh Cortina Café in Two Union Square, two flights up from his Italian restaurant Cortina. With a vibe similar to other office-building coffee spots, only three times fancier, Cortina Café sells grab-and-go sandwiches, as well as much-talked-about Rubinstein bagels.
For those with a sweet tooth: Hawaiian chain Matcha Café Maiko offers lattes, shaved ice, frappes, floats, ice creams and other desserts in Westlake Center. In Pioneer Square, Medzo Gelato Bar does gelato and sorbet, emphasizing Mediterranean flavors. (Look for my colleague Bethany Jean Clement’s feature on Burien-based Medzo next month.)
Mod Pizza opened a 4,200-square foot restaurant inside the Weyerhaeuser building, its largest to date.
Pioneer Square Cafe offers gluten-free and dairy-free meals to go.
Donut Factory, a Lynnwood-based shop, added an outpost at Northeast 45th Street and Roosevelt Way Northeast, which has been a big hit with the college crowd, serving over-the-top sugary offerings such as a vanilla-Oreo-crumble French cruller or a chocolate doughnut covered in M&Ms. Our review here. Nearby Chicglet does Korean fried chicken. Bugis serves rice bowls and hot pot. Snowy Village does Korean desserts, and Oh Bear Café & Teahouse does bubble tea and pastries.
Around North Seattle
The Vancouver, B.C.-based Galos Flame Grilled Chicken, which does Portuguese peri peri-style poultry, opened in Ballard last week with plans for six more branches around the state including in downtown Seattle, West Seattle, Kirkland, Renton, Tacoma and Bellingham.
Standard Bakery in Pinehurst has reopened as Zylberschtein’s Delicatessen and Bakery. Under the same owner, it has a menu featuring pastrami on rye and chicken soup with matzo balls, as well as all the Standard Bakery baked-good staples that regulars expect.
About 60 feet south of the deli sits El Parche Colombiano Restaurant, which makes empanadas and the corn cake arepas. Its Colombian comfort food Bandeja Paisa might be the largest serving for one I’ve seen on a plate and for only $15. The entrée includes rice and beans topped with a fried egg, four proteins including a chorizo and a small skirt steak and four sides including plantains and a corncake.
In Fremont, one of the most talked-about newcomers is 19 Gold, which does individual hot-pot bowls instead of communal pots. The house special is a Sichuan-chili-scented broth with 16 different toppings including lobster ball, quail eggs and meatballs; soup it up with your choice of protein (deli slices of beef, lamb, pork or chicken). That substantial bowl comes with a side of rice or vermicelli, all for less than $20. The restaurant’s name refers to its secret broth, which features 19 different spices.
Mod Pizza just expanded to Fremont this week; it’s at 442 outposts so far and counting.
MadMix opened along Aurora Avenue North with pizzas and Mediterranean food such as kebabs and falafel.
Green Papaya in Lake City offers pho, vermicelli noodles and Vietnamese rice dishes.
Portland-based Little Big Burger is scheduled to open in Green Lake by Tuesday.
Another outpost of Caffe Ladro opened in Ravenna.
And roaming around town is the food truck Auntie’s Family Kitchen, serving rice bowls and Asian fusion.