After the order came from Gov. Jay Inslee to shut down dining rooms across the city, restaurateurs faced a difficult decision: pivot to a takeout-only model, or close and hope the coronavirus pandemic passes quickly. Even now, options are changing by the day. Some restaurants closed immediately, others have transitioned to the delivery or takeout model. Even then, several that valiantly tried to adapt to the delivery/takeout model have already shuttered a short while later.
Things are constantly changing, so it’s a good idea to check in with your favorite restaurants daily to see if they are still open. If closed, see if they’ve got a recommendation for how you can still help until they are able to reopen. In the meantime, in a “Ballard takeout” edition of our Neighborhood Eats feature, here are three wonderful options, selected from our ever-updating list of options.
500 N.W. 65th St., Seattle, 206-402-3281, raizseattle.com
Like many restaurateurs, Raíz owners Kenny Villegas and Ricardo Valdes had more than one decision to make.
“We have a taco shop inside of Nacho Borracho in Capitol Hill that is dead-in-the-water at this point,” Valdes said in a recent phone interview. “We were lucky to have some opportunity [with Raíz], our menu is pretty simple and we were able to shift it into takeout pretty quickly.”
Raíz is the duo’s cozy cafe in Ballard, open since mid-November 2019. The menu focuses on dishes inspired by the food of Mexico City: smoked brisket tortas, breakfast burritos stuffed with housemade chorizo and potatoes, fried eggs served with black beans and corn tortillas made fresh each day.
The menu offered is abbreviated and available for pickup from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Villegas and Valdes are also offering two dinner options: a pollito (achiote-rubbed chicken) or cochinita pibil (pork shoulder) with Spanish rice, black beans, salsa verde, a chicory salad and a dozen tortillas for $35. As of now, free delivery is offered within two miles of the restaurant, with delivery times at either 5 p.m. or 6:30 p.m.
Call, direct message on Instagram or email firstname.lastname@example.org with an order. Cutoff for dinner orders is 4 p.m. day of.
Full disclosure: I ate at Raíz a few times before the novel coronavirus was declared a pandemic, so I was able to enjoy my meal in the window-filled dining room. The smoked brisket torta ($15) instantly brought me back to my trip to Ciudad de Mexico last January, perfect squashy bread enveloping the saucy brisket and a spicy chile morita aioli dueling wonderfully with creamy avocado.
The chicken chilaquiles ($16) were a tower of saucy chips, drenched in a deeply spiced salsa roja and juicy pulled chicken. There’s a smattering of queso fresco and two fried eggs, yolk still wonderfully jiggly.
The rice bowl ($14) features an herby green rice with roasted vegetables, crunchy fermented vegetables and a poached egg. I had the option to add slow-roasted pork shoulder for four bucks, which proved to be a good move.
All these things are still available on Raíz’s current to-go menu and I have no doubt the dishes will be executed with as much care as when Villegas and Valdes are serving you in the Raíz dining room.
For any fans of the restaurant’s excellent chocolate chip bread pudding (served warm with a scoop of crema and a dusting of cinnamon — be still, my heart), Valdes says it might appear now and again as a dinner option.
“Things change by the minute; check Instagram every day for dinners,” Valdes cautions.
7034 15th Ave. N.W., Seattle, 206-784-5701, thewaterwheellounge.com
St. Louis, Missouri, native Graham Elliott started hosting pop-ups at the Waterwheel Lounge in July 2019 while still working at nearby pizza hot spot Delancey, going full-time with his barbecue menu this past September. One of his specialties are pork ribs, shellacked with a smoky St. Louis-style barbecue sauce. He’s also got a St. Louis pork steak, Frito pie, hot links, a burnt-ends banh mi and a handful of other sandwiches.
Currently, Elliott is offering takeout every day but Wednesday, from 4-9 p.m., and delivering on Saturdays and Sundays from 3-5 p.m. Message him directly on Instagram to preorder and state your preferred pickup time. He’ll have your order waiting on the bar top at the Waterwheel and will have you slide your card yourself, but he’ll squiggle your signature and offer you a squirt of hand sanitizer on your way out.
Nearly a half rack of ribs is offered as a plate option ($15), served with two sides. The slaw is crunchy and not overly sauced. Green chilies bob amid pinto and black beans in the wonderfully saucy baked beans side dish.
The pulled chicken sandwich ($12) has a rich, tomato-y barbecue sauce, served with slaw on a soft bun that holds up nicely to all that sauce.
Vegetarians should take note of a jackfruit sandwich and a vegetarian pasta salad.
618 N.W. 65th St., Seattle, 206-420-7259, joliseattle.com
This neighborhood spot, situated just a few doors down from Raíz, has pared down its Italian-leaning menu for takeout orders. Still, from flatbreads and risotto to burgers and soup, there’s plenty to choose from, plus wine and the potential for cocktail kits coming soon. Order online directly through the Joli website for pickup between noon-8 p.m. Call for wine orders.
A table blocks off the rest of the restaurant; my paper to-go bag was sitting atop it with my name and order stapled to it. I had paid online, so there was truly no contact.
The online ordering page asks for a temperature for the Joli burger ($14) and it was cooked medium, as ordered. It’s topped with fontina, iceberg lettuce, pickles and a generous schmear of tangy bacon marmalade. I added skinny, crispy truffle fries for a buck, but it usually comes with a mixed greens salad.
If you’re looking for a slice of your pre-COVID-19 life, add on an order of the crispy Castelvetrano olives, stuffed with Fontina cheese and fried ($5). They are so crispy and salty and wonderful you immediately want to be in the sunshine with a martini or glass of cold rosé. Your dining room table will have to suffice for now; just be sure to add a bottle of wine with your Joli order.