New restaurants continue to dot our city’s landscape. But so far in 2020, not much has changed from last year. Half the new openings listed below are Asian restaurants, which mirrors what we’ve been seeing lately, not just in Seattle but on the Eastside, especially in Redmond and Bellevue. (Look for our list of new openings on the Eastside and around the greater Seattle metro area soon.)
By the looks of all the liquor and business license applications, expect the influx of Asian restaurants to continue in 2020, headlined by big names and acclaimed chains like Chengdu Taste and Haidilao.
Still, not all are Asian restaurants, and not all are plopping down in Ballard and Capitol Hill. The anticipated Peruvian restaurant Limena from talented chef Tamara Murphy is opening on the main drag of Columbia City, likely by spring. Nearby in Beacon Hill, Homer, one of the big hits in 2019, looks for an encore this summer with Milk Drunk, a soft-serve ice cream and fried-chicken sandwich spot near the Beacon Hill light-rail station.
Now, on with our roll call.
Taurus Ox is the hot newcomer from a trio with long résumés in the restaurant industry. Owner Khampaeng Panyathong, who did a stint at The Herbfarm and helped open a handful of other Seattle restaurants, has partnered with Jenessa Sneva of Salare and Sydney Clark of the late Poppy to open this 21-seat Laotian bistro in the former Little Uncle space. Expect comfort food and contemporary takes on Laotian staples, from a caramelized pork belly with sticky rice, to an interesting spin on a smashed burger with Southeast Asian spices and sauces. Even if you’re not familiar with Laotian food, you will recognize some similarities with Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. For instance, Taurux Ox’s khao jee sub is similar to a banh mi. A full bar is pending, as well as an outdoor seating area come summer.
Rachel Yang’s Revel returns to Fremont in a swanky, industrial-chic pad. The popular dumplings and rice bowls are still on the menu. Another big hit, the pork belly-kimchi pancake, now comes with bacon instead. Vegetarians will be happy to know a handful of new, nonmeat offerings have been added, from the chanterelle-mushroom spicy miso noodle to the tofu-cashew potato curry rice bowl. The new dessert menu features a chocolate mochi cake. Revel is still awaiting its liquor license to launch its bar menu.
The iconic boat-shaped restaurant Pho Bac in Little Saigon is ready for its second act after a major face-lift. Opened in 1982, the Vietnamese noodle house started as a modest, one-dish concept but now offers beer and hard liquor, and has added Central Vietnam’s signature soup, bun bo hue, to its lineup along with four variations of pho (beef, chicken, shrimp and vegetarian). Come summer, this 38-seat pho house will expand with an enclosed patio called the “tug boat.”
Another reboot, Rondo, which was formerly Junkichi Robata Izakaya, has shifted gears to ramen, donburi rice bowls, sushi rolls and, soon, bento. Owner Makoto Kimoto (who also owns Suika and Tamari Bar on Capitol Hill) will soon bring over another chef from Japan to expand the menu (look for grilled meats and more small plates). The previous “izakaya” restaurant concept remains, with plenty of bar snacks and drinking food to go with the Japanese beer list and a handful of highballs. Rondo is located on Capitol Hill, a block south of another newbie, Olmstead. (You can read more about Olmstead here.)
Fat Shack in Pioneer Square stays open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, which sounds tailor-made for the drinking crowd. Signature souped-up sammies include the “Fat Cow,” overstuffed with mac and cheese, bacon, fries, mozzarella sticks and — just to ensure it all goes down easy — Buffalo ranch sauce. Or try the “Fat Jersey,” a loaded cheesesteak with chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, fries and honey mustard. Dessert? Deep-fried chocolate chip cookies or deep-fried funnel cake. (I can see angry parents furiously shooting me emails. But send your nutritional concerns to Fat Shack. I didn’t come up with this menu.)
After a yearlong delay, Frelard gets Schmaltzy’s Delicatessen, from the owner behind the food truck Napkin Friends. The deli offers bagels with schmear, pastrami and matzo balls. (Note, the food isn’t kosher.) There are also “latke press sandwiches,” where those fried-potato pancakes serve as the bun. Owner Jonny Silverberg just added craft beer and wine and will soon start opening on Tuesdays.
A half-mile southwest of that deli sits PCC in Ballard, where there’s an in-store fast-casual cafe. You can take your cioppino, clam chowder and curry mussels to the rooftop. The cafe also has a taco bar. Wines are sold by the glass, and beer and cider are available on tap — no alcohol on the rooftop, though.
Also in Ballard, Beast and Cleaver functions primarily as a butcher shop, focusing on “local, sustainable” and “organic meat,” but owners Kevin Smith and Polly Yakovich also offer nose-to-tail dinners on Fridays and Saturdays, running about $125 per person. Reservations only. At the end of January, the couple plans to launch a limited lunch menu on Fridays and Saturdays with sausages, burgers and their specialty: duck confit served over a waffle-Yorkshire-pudding hybrid. (Smith is from London, after all.)
In the Phinney Ridge area, Raiz does brunch and lunch with breakfast burritos and chilaquiles.
Noodle Legend has opened in Mount Baker, with Sichuan-style noodles ranging from spicy cumin lamb to stewed oxtail. Also, there are spicy and sour beef dumplings.
Speaking of dumplings, the Ave now has Mr. Bian Dumpling, with steamed and fried variations along with steamed buns and street-style meat skewers. Three blocks north of that sits Six Pack Foods Company, specializing in clay-pot rice. Also, another boba-and-Asian dessert spot, Yan Tea, has popped up near the University of Washington campus.
Aiming for that young, bubble-tea demographic, Chungchun opened in the Chinatown International District, hawking a “Korean rice dog,” similar to a corn dog. These rice-flour-batter-dipped sausages can be coated with breadcrumbs, instant ramen or fried potato. Options include a squid-ink hot dog with a gooey mozzarella filling.
Pagliacci has expanded to East Pike Street, which will allow the chain to extend its delivery area around downtown and Pioneer Square, management said. The space also doubles as a test kitchen. Four blocks west sits Zaika, the Indian-fusion bar and restaurant at the elbow of Pike Street and Boren Avenue. Owners Nitin and Shefali Panchal are incorporating Indian flavors with Northwest ingredients. Menu ranges from salmon quinoa palao to the curry jalfrezi re-imagined as chicken tacos. The couple recently shut down their Chutneys restaurant in Queen Anne, though fans of that spot can still request chicken masala and other standbys at Zaika. The couple also recently bought a stake in Roti Cuisine of India in Lower Queen Anne with plans to update that menu soon.
Café Hagen looks to bring a taste of Copenhagen to the blue-badge bunch in South Lake Union. Espresso comes from Scandinavian roast coffee. The light food menu features cured wild salmon, waffles with housemade jam, Danish cinnamon rolls and other pastries and breads.
Khalid Agour, who owns the popular Itto’s Tapas in West Seattle, now runs Nos Nos Coffee House two miles south in High Point, offering an extensive menu of salads and sandwiches stuffed with lamb, tuna and Moroccan spiced meatballs.
Trübistro on First Hill feels like a Euro corner cafe. There’s coffee along with pastries, quiche and bagels in the morning. In the afternoon, the menu shifts to beer and wine with small plates (charcuterie, salads and pork sliders and naan).
Olympia Coffee has expanded to the main drag of Columbia City.