Pizza, ramen and sushi headline our list of new openings around Seattle. While many readers have griped about pricey restaurants catering to New Money Seattle, many fast-casual cafes and mom-and-pop spots, even with record-high food costs, still run under-$20 menus, including many below.
Celebrity chef Shota Nakajima is the latest big name to sling pizza — think Motor City meets Osaka — as the former “Top Chef” contestant riffs on Detroit-style pie using mochi flour and koji to create a Japanese-inspired umami pie with a chewy crust. The pizza spot Kōbo is just the kitchen space inside Redhook Brewlab on Capitol Hill. (The chef essentially is taking over the food menu at Redhook, while the taproom continues to serve its beer.) The three-time James Beard Award semifinalist toys around with unusual toppings from ground chicken to braised beef and also features a pizza with his signature Taku fried chicken.
Ooink, arguably the best ramen on Capitol Hill, expands to Fremont. Now more Seattleites will get a chance to slurp the kotteri mala ramen that soup aficionados and local Asian American students swear by. The new location can hold 64, though management is starting with only 30 seats and also plans to add a bar that will focus on cocktails made with the Chinese liquor, baijiu.
A block north sits Aroom, one of the many Vietnamese gourmet coffee shops that have sprung up around Seattle in the past 18 months, doing elevated drinks beyond the iced milk coffee served at banh mi delis. Aroom has gotten much buzz for its sesame latte and its caphe trung, an egg coffee drink made famous in Hanoi.
Many patrons declare that the modest Simply Soulful shop makes the best sweet potato pie. That signature dessert is more accessible now that Simply Soulful Cafe has moved into a bigger space near the high profile corner of South Jackson Street and 23rd Avenue South. The Black-owned business also serves fried catfish, gumbo and fried chicken along a drag that has turned into an emerging restaurant row with Reckless Noodle, Wood Shop BBQ and Standard Brewing. The area boasts other Black-owned businesses, such as Catfish Corner and 23rd Ave Brewery.
More dining options for the big game: Across from T-Mobile Park, Vinason Pho Kitchen, a popular lunch spot around Seattle and on the Eastside, gives the pre-funk and postgame crowds a new place to hang in an area many bars and restaurants have left during the pandemic. The pho house, with a new menu of beer snacks, opens at 10 a.m. for early Seahawks home games.
About two blocks north sits Hatback Bar & Grille and Steelheads Alley in the former Pyramid Brewery building, with burgers and beers. The craft brews will come from Métier Brewing Company, one of the few African American breweries in the country. The complex, which can hold 350 fans, will open two hours before every Mariners, Seahawks and Sounders home game and will stay open at least an hour after those games end.
From the family behind Fogon Cocina Mexicana comes the Capitol Hill bodega El Lugar and its 10-seat bar with tequila and mescal drinks along with tamales, ceviche and tostadas.
Now that the West Seattle Bridge has reopened, these four openings will be more accessible to those on the other side of the bridge: West of Chicago Pizza Company, a hit when it was just a walk-up window in a commissary kitchen, has a brick and mortar off the main drag of California Avenue Southwest. They’re doing deep-dish pie and tavern-style pizza. West Wings opens in North Admiral with a dare that you can’t handle its five-alarm Buffalo hot sauce. A mile south along the Junction sits the bistro Bonjour Vietnam with Saigon comfort food. Till Dawn serves Asian snacks sourced from other local eateries, from fruit sandwiches from Baiten bakery to the deep-fried buns okazu pans from Umami Kushi.
The Amazon campus, which feels like a ghost town after the happy-hour rush, gets another jolt to its nightlife with the much talked about Sushi By Scratch banging in Denny Triangle. This comes after the debut of the rooftop bar Altitude Sky Lounge atop of Astra Hotel in South Lake Union. Thanks to the Michelin star that Sushi By Scratch got at its branch in Montecito, California, its expansion in Seattle has become a hot ticket. The online-only reservations for the first month were gone in a few hours, and its waitlist numbers are around 40,000, the owner told The Seattle Times. With three, 10-person seatings a night, the 17-course opening menu features local seafood such as geoduck and red ocean perch and catches coming from Japan.
Along the same block, Molino is the latest Mexican spot from the family behind Maíz and Sazon restaurants in Seattle. Maíz makes some of the city’s best tacos and fresh tortillas, but that counter spot was hard to get to at Pike Place Market, especially during tourist season. The good news is that Molino serves the same taco lunch menu (three rotating braised meat options and one veggie) as Maíz, the family said.
Manna, the Mediterranean themed fast-casual spot near Amazon, serves rice and salad bowls along with lamb shawarma sandwiches. The lunch spot comes from the owners behind the nearby rooftop restaurant mbar.
Sailfish, which will open next week, takes over the Bunsoy restaurant space in Ballard to do scallop skewers and other small plates and shared dinner entrees such as a grilled whole trout. The seafood bar restaurant is owned by the guys behind the restaurants Ballard Cut and Parish NW nearby. Located at the corner of Northwest Market Street and Ballard Avenue Northwest, Sailfish sits in a prime real estate corner in a barhopping area, so the owners will also launch an early and late night happy hour to take advantage of that high foot-traffic area.
In the University District, students get a branch of Westman’s Bagel and Coffee, the Cambodian street-food spot Angkor Wok and Master Bing. The last serves Chinese crêpe jianbing stuffed with Peking duck.
Students from Seattle Pacific University can get fried chicken, steak and fries at Botteco Brazil on Nickerson Street.
For the party-hardy bunch who gets the munchies after last call, Casablanca Express serves chicken shawarma, gyros and other Mediterranean street food on Capitol Hill until 2:30 a.m. every day.
Pike Fish Bar in Pike Brewing serves seafood-shack staples from fish and chips to clam chowder. Chef Ethan Stowell is an investor and a consultant. (Stowell is also one of the founders in a new fast-casual chicken sandwich chain that focuses on pasture-raised chickens sourced from local farms who have an environmentally-friendly focus — Mt. Joy. The first sandwich spot will open in Seattle by fall of 2023 with plans for more franchises across the Northwest. In the meantime, Mt. Joy will do a test run of its fried chicken sandwich at Tavolata Capitol Hill from Oct. 14-16.)
Lobster rolls are having a moment in Seattle. The latest, the New England chain Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls, debuts near Post Alley.
Rainier Crawfish brings Vietnamese-inspired Cajun food and seafood boils to Rainier Beach.
Los Costeños serves fajita wraps and roast pork sandwiches in the Uwajimaya food court in the Chinatown International District.
The gluten-free bakery Wild Flour in Ballard serves veggie burgers and jalapeño pepper vegan bagels. Most menu items are dairy free.
In South Park, Good Voyage cafe pours natural wines by the glass along with beers and ciders.
The Sodo lunch haunt Slice Box Pizza expands to Magnolia.
The popular weekend brunch hangout the 5 Spot in Upper Queen Anne reopens under new ownership but still focuses on eggs and breakfast.
For a cup of joe: Himalayan Java, which sources organic beans from the Himalayas, opens on the ground floor of the condo Spire in the Belltown area. The Shop is a downtown boutique with a cafe. Ballard Coffee Co takes over the former Biscuit and Beans spot but will still serve those famous biscuits.
In related news, Taurus Ox plans to reopen on Oct. 4 after moving to 19th Avenue in the former Money Frog space. The Laotian-street food spot drew bigger crowds than what the tiny kitchen could handle, management said. The new dining space is four times larger and will soon have an expanded menu of Laotian dishes, including nam khau crispy rice salad and stewed beef tripe battered and fried like calamari, said co-owner Khampaeng Panyathong. The owners will turn the old Taurus Ox space into a smash burger shack that will debut this winter. Panyathong also plans to unveil a new pizza parlor near the Seattle Convention Center by the end of the year. He’ll have competition as Stowell also plans to open a pizza parlor called Bombo at the convention center.
Another popular spot, Chan, which introduced many Seattleites to those orange, sticky Korean fried chicken wings before that got trendy, has moved out of its stuffy, subterranean hideaway in Pike Place and into the old home of Dragonfish Asian Cafe in the Paramount Hotel. Chan expects to get its fryer up and running on Nov. 2.