Its “Marché” opens Monday-Saturday noon-5 p.m.; 1315 E. Jefferson St., Seattle; 206-485-7173, loursinseattle.com
After pivoting to a contactless marketplace, the popular French bistro now looks like some artisanal Brooklyn provisions provider off the L train. The owners have sectioned off its entryway into an aisle of takeout food and dried goods. Bottles of vermouth and trendy pét-nat wines line the shelves; the fridge is stacked with roast chicken with potatoes soaked in chicken fat, poached halibut, rabbit legs and pâté. There is tinned fish, cheese and charcuterie. But I never leave without getting one of everything under the heat lamp, a rotating lineup of deep-fried orbs of arancini stuffed with asparagus to a dense duck-and-veal mini pie that’s better than any pâté chaud hawked in banh mi shops. There are pigs-in-a-blanket, though the only thing American about those is the concept and the gooey American cheese, which spills out of the end like hot lava from a magma chamber. Everything else is Frenchified, and better for it. If only all heat-lamp food in convenience stores were this good.
Bok a Bok
Hours vary by location. Bok a Bok has branches in White Center, Burien, Capitol Hill and the University District; bokabokchicken.com
Fried chicken has taken over many takeout menus during this pandemic, as even white-linen dining spots are offering comfort by way of three-piece specials or bucket deals. But if you want extra-crispy chicken, there’s only one choice: Bok a Bok, which seems to defy science with a batter that holds its crispiness even when the drumsticks and wings sit in those steam chambers of to-go containers. Even 30 minutes later, the chicken has an audible, potato-chippy crunch. I still don’t know how owner Brian O’Conner pulled off this culinary trick. The crackling, tempuralike batter that enrobes the brined dark and white meat is thick but still obtains an airy lightness. In what is the most original food-and-drink pairing, you can tame the fiery four-alarm wings with the accompanied carton of cold milk for a clean, creamy aftertaste.
Takeout Wednesday-Saturday 5-7 p.m. Preorder is recommended. 3506 Stone Way N., Seattle; 206-632-5685, relayrestaurantgroup.com/restaurants/joule
At a time when the James Beard Foundation often honors the shiny and new, it was refreshing to see judges nominate Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi last week for “Best Chef in the Northwest and Pacific” for their work at Joule. That Wallingford Korean-inspired bistro is going on 13; that’s dog years in the restaurant industry. Like their colleagues, the couple are trying to pay their bills during this pandemic. The food comes in two versions: as a cooking kit or as takeout. The former will save you up to $6 on entrees if you’re willing to cook it yourself. The fried scallion pancake comes with a pronounced allium bite; cod gets bathed in a sweet, miso-esque broth, ideal with the garlic-butter rice. But you’ve gotta order the short-rib burger, which pays homage to Korean BBQ, a half-pound patty with a thick, charred crust sealing in the fatty drippings and the kalbi marinade. It’s as rich as a Kobe steak. It comes with horseradish cream, lettuce and onions, and you’re going to need every one of those spicy, pickled root veggies to make this drippy burger go down easy.
The carnitas family meal is offered Wednesday-Saturday noon-8 p.m. Preorder suggested. 5313 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; 206-268-0217, graciaseattle.com
Best family meal deal I had in Seattle: The $33 pork carnitas deal can feed three hungry diners or four for lunch. The pulled-apart shards of salty pork shoulder glisten in its own pork fat. The confit pork comes with all the taco fixings (rice, beans, salsas verde, pico de gallo, escabeche relish and those signature fresh tortillas). Gracia’s tortillas are some of the best in Seattle. Made from Oaxaca organic kernels, they’re slightly sweet with hints of fall spices. Set aside a couple of tortilla discs — heat them up, slather some butter and honey on them and roll them like a cigar. It’s dessert.
Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar
Every Wednesday and Saturday, pickup noon-5 p.m.; 205 108th Ave. N.E., Bellevue; 425-456-0010, seastarrestaurant.com/family-meals
Best family meal deal I had on the Eastside: The three-course meals, especially the seafood dinner, are some of the best values. Pencils out to $15 per head. I ordered the $60 shrimp-and-calamari pasta kit that came with an absurdly generous ratio of shrimp to pasta in every bite. My coursed-out meal included a giant grilled romaine salad with Green Goddess dressing and four ramekin-size Key lime pies. Depending on your comfort level in the kitchen, the meal could be a bane. Meal kits range from reheating to cooking; my seafood kit was the latter. The cooking directions seemed overcautiously written — as if a health inspector were peering over their shoulders. I cooked mine a minute less than directed; shrimps turned out snappy, linguine still firm and coated in an aromatic garlicky-buttery sauce. (If I followed the cooking directions, the calamari would have turned rubbery and the linguine and shrimp mushy.)