Tom Douglas, who sounded the alarm and shuttered all his restaurants when the pandemic hit last year, is inching back into downtown. The James Beard Award-winning restaurateur who received $10 million from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Restaurant Revitalization Fund, plans to reopen The Carlile Room in mid-August and then Lola, according to management. He has also moved his two marquee brands into the former Dahlia Lounge restaurant space. The downtown Serious Pie, which reopened last year, has relocated into that prime real estate. Douglas also knocked down the wall separating Dahlia Bakery and Dahlia Lounge to expand his bread and dessert operations. Unlike the former tiny, claustrophobic Dahlia Bakery that was more for to-go orders, the new bakery is a sit-down cafe with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. The bakery operates Wednesday-Sunday, but management is rushing to hire more pastry cooks to open daily to take advantage of the returning tourists and office workers.
For his relaunch, Douglas rolled out a new sweet and savory lineup including meat pies and the focaccia-esque Fossette, with lemon-rosemary and other toppings and spread options. For the sweet tooth, the triple coconut cream pie remains most synonymous with the Douglas dessert brand, but more popular are the OH Mochi Donuts. Many other mochi doughnuts taste syrupy sweet or cloying in comparison. Douglas’ mochi doughnuts are enrobed with real berries; they’re also denser, while retaining that chewy, stretchy texture that mochi fanatics crave. And of course, the peanut butter sandwich cookies are back, a favorite of the late, great Nora Ephron.
On Phinney Ridge, chef Brian Clevenger opens Autumn, showcasing his signature handmade pastas, seafood and veggie dishes. Autumn, though, is more Mediterranean-inspired than his other bistros. Chef Nick Chiaro, a former sous chef at Canlis, will man the Autumn kitchen for Clevenger who also runs six other spots around town. The 39-seat Autumn can hold 16 more outside on the patio.
Technically, Tio Baby’s is a reopening since former Westward chef Will Gordon started this venture six days before the pandemic and then had to shut down by state order as a safety precaution. Tio Baby’s is back, running seven days a week inside the Rose Temple Bar on Capitol Hill, doing beer sponges like hot dogs, nachos, wings and queso waffle fries.
Look who’s also back: Jackson’s Catfish Corner. Anyone who’s lived within earshot of the Central District knows about this opening from the massive block party Catfish Corner threw last month. Besides its namesake dish, there’s fried snapper, chicken wings and chicken strips. Terrell Jackson now runs the soul food cafe that was started in 1985 by his grandparents Woody and Rosemary Jackson. The restaurant was sold in 2009 and closed in 2012 before Jackson revived the concept and brought back his family’s secret recipes.
Now you can get jambalaya, muffuletta and other NOLA grub, and to sip, a Sazerac or the French 75 at In the Heart, located in the back of Lika Love Boutique in West Seattle.
Near the beach sits Natalie’s on Alki, a Vietnamese bubble tea and dessert spot that sells fresh sugar cane juices and deli staples such as grilled pork rolls. Also on the bubble tea roll call: Happy Lemon in University Village and Sharetea in West Seattle. If you’re a boba newbie, check out Amy Wong’s bubble tea primer here.
On Capitol Hill, the popular pop-up Blotto Pizza slings New York-inspired pizza in the former Chungee’s space. Blotto also set up a pantry corner to hawk artisanal products, including tortillas from Milpa Masa in West Seattle.
Nearby, another former pop-up, Karachi Cowboys, also scored a brick-and-mortar space to do mostly vegetarian Indian and Pakistani rice dishes such as the red lentil curry.
LTD Edition Sushi opens a few steps from Cal Anderson Park, doing omakase takeout for now. LTD sits in the former space of Cure Cocktail bar, which now shares space with Remedium Island Grill on Capitol Hill.
In Fremont, Brandon Marie, a former chef at How to Cook a Wolf, heads the kitchen at Crumby Sandwich & Spirits, which features craft cocktails and some carnivorous sammies.
For the late night Belltown-hoppers, chef Lupe Flores will drop some vegetarian and meat tacos in the deep-fryer for you now that her Lebanese-Mexican fusion pop-up Situ Tacos has a fixed address at the Jupiter Bar.
Shikorina Pastries chef Hana Yohannes bakes brown butter vanilla cakes, homemade strawberry Pop-Tarts and pies in the Central District, with an emphasis on locally sourced, organic and fair trade ingredients.
Dué Cucina opens its third fast-casual branch in Roosevelt to showcase its fresh pasta and bread. Roosevelt is its biggest location, with a spacious kitchen that will allow the culinary team to offer more dishes than what’s served at its branches on Capitol Hill and in Kirkland.
Seatango Foods is the Argentine bakery in Lake City, specializing in empanadas, from the traditional beef fillings to an American breakfast-inspired version stuffed with eggs and bacon. Also on the menu: sandwiches and South American pastries.
The pop-up Garzon also runs the food cart Ekéko to hawk South American-inspired “drinking snacks.” Look for it every Thursday at Fair Isle Brewing in the Ballard Brewery District. Fair Isle Brewing has hosted some of the city’s best pop-ups and featured many talented cooks, including Melissa Miranda.
Dough Joy, the vegan food truck in Ballard, focuses on plant-based doughnuts such as “the faconator” that features maple icing topped with coconut bacon.
One of Seattle’s most popular Vietnamese soup restaurants, Pho Bac, expands with a noodle house in downtown, with chicken, beef rib, shrimp and vegan pho. Coming soon, Pho Bac will open a bar as well in that downtown space.
Niku Niku Japanese Barbecue is the new tenant in the Asian Food Center, near Bitter Lake on Aurora Avenue North. Niku Niku is part of the new wave of Japanese grill restaurants, offering wagyu and other marbled cuts that you cook at the dining table.
The Korean fried chicken craze continues with the arrival of Mr. Chicken in the Chinatown International District. In Little Saigon, Sushi Ave opens in the Pacific Rim Center.
In North Seattle, Sunflower Garden offers Chinese takeout options from stir-fries to fried rice, along with $9.95-$10.95 lunch specials, including Mongolian beef and orange chicken.
Erik Jackson and Alison Odowski, who lifted the culinary scene in White Center by hosting many stellar pop-ups and guest chef dinners at their Good Day Donuts, have opened a dessert counter in a store called Cakes + Trees in the Central District. Look for lemon velvet (a buttermilk lemon cake with cream cheese frosting) and a banana cake with sea salt caramel glaze.
Across the street from that cake counter sits HoneyHole, which has expanded near the Seattle University campus with a full bar and a big patio. Both Good Day Donuts and HoneyHole made our best sandwich roundup earlier this year. Read it here.
For fans of Momiji who are tired of the long wait for a seat at that Capitol Hill sushi spot, there’s now Momiji South Lake Union, located in Amazon’s Nitro North building.
Pan Pacific Hotel hosts the new South Lake Kitchen & Bar, with steak for the expense account set and the obligatory cheeseburger and fried chicken sandwich for the bar crowd.
Speaking of hotels, the fancy Fairmont Olympic Hotel dimmed the lights and plopped down the sleek Olympic Bar in the middle of the lobby as part of its $25 million face-lift. Bartenders rolled out a new cocktail, The Seattleite (Olympic Honey Vodka, Amaro Montenegro, espresso, lemon), made with honey from the apiaries on the hotel’s rooftop garden.
On the bagel front, Loxsmith Bagels, a popular pop-up, has rented space during the daytime to operate out of the dive bar Nacho Borracho on Capitol Hill, while Bagelbop, specializing in breakfast sandwiches, debuts in Pike Place Market.
For those hot summer afternoons, Creamy Cone Café offers 12 ice cream flavors in Rainier Beach, while Matcha Man Ice Cream & Taiyaki debuts in Georgetown.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.