This is our largest roundup of restaurant openings this year, and with the weather warming up, two dozen more new bars and bistros are rushing to get their doors open by summer when foot traffic and tourism are expected to pick up. See our latest roll call below.
The family-owned Venezuelan restaurant Paparepas in Kent expands to Seattle, hawking empanadas, tequeños cheese rolls and other fried noshes near the busy Pike/Pine corridor. Its signature dish is the arepas or cornmeal cakes stuffed with seven different fillings from ham to vegetarian options, such as black beans and the plant-based ground Impossible meat. The best value is its $12.99 Pabellón criollo rice bowl with shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains and cheese. Any day now, Boca Argentine Bakery and Pizzeria, which specializes in Buenos Aires-style pan pizzas, will open along Broadway East.
Speaking of transnational pizza, the chain Pizza Twist also expands to Broadway East, doing tandoori chicken pizza. Indian fusion pizzas have become a hit in the South End and in some pockets on the Eastside, and perhaps this Capitol Hill opening is a sign that butter chicken and curry pizzas will catch on in the Emerald City. Check out our roundup of Indian pizzas around the Sound here, in which we dish on where to get the best lamb tikka masala pizza.
The Asian fusion bistro Money Frog got much buzz before opening because the team behind it includes owners from the popular Laotian restaurant Taurus Ox in Madison Valley and the Taiwanese counter Hangry Panda in North Seattle. This pan-Asian restaurant, in the former Vios space, serves cacio e pepe with yakisoba noodles and East-meets-West fusions. For the cheapskates, its new $7 happy hour offers a sampling of its dinner menu, including Cajun fried frog legs and a soft shell chili crab. Talented chef Khampaeng Panyathong, who is behind Money Frog and Taurus Ox, plans to open a pizza parlor near the convention center this summer.
The grocery chain H Mart opens its spinoff M2M Mart next to the Capitol Hill light-rail station with a bakery that sells croissants and sandwiches and also a deli station, where every lunch item costs under $10, from Philly cheesesteak and meatball subs to chicken katsu curry and other rice bowls.
Three blocks north sits Seoul Tofu & Jjim with its tofu soup, braised meat and kimchi. At Melrose Market, Sankaku Onigiri Cafe & Bar runs a cramped counter with sake to drink and meat and vegetarian rice balls to munch on. The counter spot has become a hit with the Japanese American crowd. And about a half mile east sits the vegan doughnut spot Dough Joy. If you’re not an early riser, then check its Instagram to make sure the doughnuts aren’t sold out.
WeRo is the Korean bistro along the main barhopping drag of Ballard from owner and chef Wes Yoo who took over this space when it was the cocktail bar The Gerald. He pivoted to more of a restaurant vibe with his contemporary takes on Korean comfort food including jorim with king salmon poached in a spicy-sweet broth and those trendy, sticky Korean wings. But the best value might be his $58 dinner for two deal: a ssam platter showcasing a slab of charred kalbi wagyu zabuton with banchan sides.
One lunch spot getting buzz around North Seattle is Kottu, with its gregarious owner Syd Suntha who does his contemporary spin on Sri Lankan street food, such as chopped up roti flatbread fried with chicken curry and topped with a fried egg and some Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Think a Southeast Asian drunk food version of chilaquiles. He’s usually sets up around the Ballard area.
Just Poké opens in Ballard with plans to expand later this year to Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, South Lake Union and West Seattle and, in early 2023, to Northgate.
One of the city’s swankiest digs, the Fairmont Olympic hotel has completed its $25 million dollar face-lift including a slick, 4,500-square-foot bar restaurant, The George, which seems to target the hip, new money Seattleites and the expense-account set. There are seafood towers ($155) and dry aged rib-eye (32 oz for $150) with “cheaper” entrees ranging from $42-$68. The opening of the 100-seat The George comes after the Fairmont completed the remodeling of its lobby bar and more recently a speakeasy-inspired den hidden behind a bookcase with cocktails that cost as much as $70.
More signs downtown may be coming back: Bloom runs a healthy, mostly vegan menu, all served in bento boxes to go. Four blocks southwest sits the pizza chain Slices, which offers a dozen Sicilian pizza squares from pepperoni to meatballs. (This chain also serves a substantial Italian hoagie for $10.95, one of the cheaper lunches you can score around downtown).
If you need an escape from the tourists around Pike Place Market, hit Shama, which is hidden on the back side of the Market. The bistro specializes in lamb, baked fish and other Moroccan dishes.
Other parts of Seattle
In North Seattle, one of the most promising Vietnamese restaurants to debut in recent years, Lotus Pond specializes in northern cuisine with bun rieu cua or crab noodle soup and bun cha ha noi or vermicelli noodle with chargrilled pork. Lotus Pond is a good primer for those who want to explore Vietnamese cuisine beyond the standbys of pho and banh mis. The appetizer list is absurdly cheap (most items under $9), including standouts bo la lot or charbroiled beef wrapped in betel leaf and fried pork-and-shrimp imperial rolls. It’s an impressive debut for new restaurant owner Anh Le who has worked in the kitchens of Tamarind Tree in the Chinatown International District and in Oakland, California, at the stellar Pho Ao Sen noodle house. (If the restaurant is packed, service can be slow due to the labor shortage. Go on off nights.)
An under-the-radar opening that serves excellent Indian food, Far Eats Cafe debuts near Climate Pledge Arena with chaat snacks, including the stellar fried potato vada and a handful of Indian beers to choose from. The Uptown spot also features some excellent curry entrees for under $20 such as its signature Malabar lamb soaked in a roasted coconut gravy.
Uminori in Madison Valley specializes in temaki or cone-shaped rolls. A set of five handrolls goes for $29. Those less adventurous can always opt for the spicy tuna or California roll ($6 each).
The Amazon busy bees must be returning to their cubicles in South Lake Union because a wave of cafes and bars are opening up soon. Out of the gate already is Noodle/Bar, which cranks out fresh Chinese noodles and Sichuan comfort food. This noodle bar comes from the same team that opened the Chinese bistro Plenty of Clouds on Capitol Hill.
Alibertos Jr. expands to Sodo and is gaining fans among students and day laborers with its under-$10 menu of $2.49 tacos and $6.99 burrito and quesadilla.
After a two-year hiatus, King Tut Mediterranean Restaurant, which had a following in Lynnwood, has reopened on Aurora Avenue North near the Shoreline border, doing Egyptian and Middle Eastern comfort fare from grilled chicken and kofta skewers to arguably its best dish, braised lamb with smoked rice.
Lily’s Salvadorean, a popular food stall at the farmers markets, has a brick and mortar in West Seattle serving pupusas and plates of thick yucca fries and deep-fried pork. Also in West Seattle is Ezell’s Fried Chicken at Morgan Junction.
Belltown gets Garzón Latinx Street Food, which shares space with the dive Black Cat Bar. Expect beer food like pinchos grilled beef skewers and fried plantains.
The Chawla Chicken chain in India expands to Lake City with Chawlas 2 Seattle, introducing locals to its signature “cream chicken,” a peppery, milky sauce with masala and cardamom over rice.
On the coffee front: Ballard gets the Mexican coffeehouse and dessert spot Valentinas Cafe, from the same investors behind the nearby Mexican steakhouse Asadero on Leary Avenue Northwest. In Queen Anne, the Vietnamese coffee shop Queen Càphê serves banh mis and spring rolls. Anchorhead Coffee takes over the former Stumptown Coffee Spot on 12th Avenue, next to the soon-to-be open tapas spot MariPili. And Monorail Espresso opens its fourth branch in downtown.
How fitting that Seattle just held a Boba Fest in the University District since that ‘hood has become the hotbed for bubble tea. Every two months, a wave of boba spots opens near the University of Washington to take advantage of the large, Asian American student population. The latest are R&B Tea UW and Boba Gem Tea House; the latter sits inside Mama’s Viet Kitchen on The Ave. There’s also a R&B Tea Downtown Seattle near Westlake, as well as boba spots on Capitol Hill (Timeless Tea) and in Ballard (DIY Tea Lab). Many boba spots double as lunch counters with pastries, rice bowls and teriyaki chicken and subs from banh mis to panini press sandwiches.