Yelp's national Top 100 list has some peculiar Seattle choices, the great H Mart expands to Seattle and more food news ... including 14 brand-new places to eat!?

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1. IS YELP’S TOP 100 ACTUALLY HELPFUL? Yelp just released its list of Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. for 2016, and Seattle got four slots:

  • 3. Paseo
  • 41. Bakery Nouveau
  • 81. Pike Place Chowder
  • 94. Cafe Besalu

Yelp’s methodology for creating the list is, shall we say, subpar: It’s based on ratings plus the sheer number of reviews and “performance since the founding of Yelp in 2004.” So, the list privileges longevity and cult status, while reinforcing … longevity and cult status.

What this means to Seattle is that super-fancy places elsewhere (Alinea, the recently New-York-Times-slammed Per Se) make the list, while our fine-diningest restaurants (insert argument about that here) are highly unlikely to ever show up — the four Seattle entries are all cheap eats. And regarding Seattle’s best cheap eats, local sandwich freaks will know to ask: Is Paseo really better than Un Bien, which is run by the original Paseo founder’s sons? Paseo has many more Yelp reviews (4,176 at this writing, compared to Un Bien’s 337). It’s been around much longer. It’s also changed hands. Un Bien, in the current scheme of things, will never stand a chance of making the list at all. (But, really, which is better: Paseo or Un Bien? You must look within.)

That being said, all four of the Seattle spots are worth a visit. In particular, if you’ve never heard of/been to Cafe Besalu in Ballard (like one person who emailed me about the list), you are not truly living.

Also, only two Portland restaurants made the list. Haha!

2. H MART IS FINALLY HAPPENING DOWNTOWN: Construction on H Mart — the Korean grocery chain currently found in Lynnwood, Bellevue and Federal Way — has at last begun in the former Nordstrom Rack space at Second and Pine in downtown Seattle. Things to get at H Mart: way-less-expensive-than-elsewhere roasted seaweed snack, ingredients to make Trove’s best-thing-ever rice cake dish, kimchi galore, all kinds of produce, sweet potato noodles for japchae… And it’s really fun to just browse. This is going to be great!

3. THE TAXMAN COMETH: Facing allegations of tax cheating to the tune of $395,000, the owner of Facing East restaurant in Bellevue says that “so many restaurants use” the same software system to achieve the same ends. Sounds like more to come on this one.

4. UNION GROCERIES: Will the new supermarket going into the Broadway light rail station be a local/union Metropolitan Market, Central Co-op, or PCC … or non-union New Seasons from Portland?

5. BEY’S FOOD: Carry hot sauce? Get the bag. After Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance, sales at Red Lobster spiked. And here’s an essay on the hot sauce lyric, “Southern Black identity, Beyoncé, Jim Crow, and the pleasure of well-seasoned food.”


CLOSING SOON: Restaurant Zoe is becoming an event space because, they say, their myriad catering/events were making “consistent availability” at the restaurant for regular customers difficult. Last day: Sunday, Feb. 14.

NOW CLOSED: Inay’s on Beacon Hill (nooooo!), Canal Market near Portage Bay (after less than a year), Nate’s Wings and Waffles in Rainier Beach (already replaced by Drae’s Lake Route), Bar Code in Bellevue (no info available on why).

FOOD EVENTS: Go eat Mutsuko Soma’s soba at Miyabi 45th right away, while she’s still making it there (though there will be future pop-ups). You might want to check out the all-star burgermaster guest chefs for Lil Woody’s Burger Month. And here are some other ways to amuse your bouche.