Since the air has finally cleared of wildfire smoke, leaving Seattleites with even more of a desire to get outside, I implore you to please oh please get to Woodinville (or maybe you already live there!) and pick up any of the following dishes. From silky-smooth milk tea and burger perfection to brimming picnic baskets and luscious wedges of flan, I can’t think of a single thing I ate amid the smoke of last week that wouldn’t have gone down even better while sitting in what is normally wonderful cool September weather in Seattle.
Bobae Coffee & Tea
11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily; 14015 N.E. Woodinville Duvall Road, Woodinville; 425-888-9666, bobaeusa.com
Owners Karma and Joey Lee worked with tea masters in China, Japan, Thailand and Korea and traveled to Costa Rica and Peru for coffee training before opening Bobae, a cute little strip-mall shop, in October 2019.
Order a nitro milk tea at Bobae and the Lees (and their staff) can tell you everything from where and when the tea was picked to who packed it, if it was blended and what types of leaves were used in the blend. Jams, boba and liquid sweeteners are also all made in-house. Keep an eye on Instagram for news of one of their boba doughnut days. The one I was at featured two flavors of raised doughnuts piped with either a brown sugar boba cream or a Kyoto bobaejicha green tea cream.
The nitro milk tea is incredibly smooth and creamy ($5.09) while the strawberry lemonade ($5.19) with popping boba is super fun, packed with soft, fresh boba pearls and a customizable sweetness level. There’s also a seasonal drink menu (September’s flavor is blueberry, showing up in blueberry lychee milk) and the Lees play host to local cookie company Macadons if you need a macaron fix.
La Riviera Maya
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 19145 N.E. Woodinville Duvall Road, Woodinville; 425-830-9655, rivieramayafoodtruck.com
There is limited seating outside this taco truck just off the intersection of Woodinville Duvall Road and Avondale Road Northeast, but the food there also travels extremely well. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, there are often pastries, but you’re better off heading to its sister coffee shop/bakery La Pasadita for a slice of caramel-rich flan (12637 N.E. Woodinville Drive, Woodinville). At La Riviera Maya, you’ll find burritos, tacos, quesadillas and tortas alongside the occasional sweet or savory tamale special.
The big burrito ($11) is big enough that I ate half and used the second half as filling for an entire tray of nachos the following day. The adobada was well-seasoned and tender and the black beans still had great texture. I also grabbed a carnitas torta ($7.50). The bread was wonderfully soft and held together despite the sandwich being an incredibly saucy affair — made even saucier with La Riviera Maya’s spicy green salsa. I want this torta in the fall sun, preferably by a body of water, just one more time before the rain really sets in.
11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 14111 N.E. Woodinville Duvall Road, Woodinville; 425-305-4300, tipsycowburgerbar.com
A friend of mine said that pre-pandemic this hot spot was “impossible” to get into on a Friday or Saturday night. There is some dine-in available, as well as limited patio seating, but you can also order online for pickup, which I’m assuming has helped Woodinville burger lovers get their fix. I will say that if you order online, you cannot choose the pickup time. Instead, there is an estimated pickup time given to you (mine was 15 minutes after ordering) so plan accordingly. Milkshakes, thankfully, are made to order once you arrive.
I opted for a classic Tipsy Burger with Beecher’s Cheddar ($14) and a Rockstar ($16.75), which was topped with beer-battered bacon, maple syrup, Beecher’s Cheddar, a fried egg, lettuce, tomato and caramelized onions. Here’s the thing. I didn’t fully read the description on the Rockstar; I thought I was just getting a simple bacon cheeseburger. So, when I picked up my order, drove it nearly 30 minutes home and unpacked it, I was mildly shocked to see a massive slab of fried bacon and a perfect sunny-side-up egg. The bun wasn’t even too soggy. The onion rings were perfectly crisp. I have no idea how this feat of magic happened!
As for the classic Tipsy, I did have to sacrifice the Bibb lettuce (I’ll never understand why Bibb is considered a burger lettuce), but otherwise the burger was cooked medium well with a loose grind, wonderful fat content and was nicely seasoned. A strong contender. I hear if you live in Woodinville you’re either team Teddy’s or team Tipsy Cow, and I’ll be back for more research to determine where my allegiance lies.
The PicNic Table
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday; 18672 142nd Ave. N.E., Woodinville; 206-683-2900, picnictablecafe.com
This little cafe and catering company is located deep in the heart of Woodinville’s Warehouse District. The specifics of the menu change weekly, but expect a mix of prepared salads, sandwiches and snacks that pair perfectly with the area winery offerings. I was in the mood for something that felt a little like pre-COVID life, so I picked up one of the three PicNic Basket offerings to snack on with a martini one night. For $50, the basket included a quinoa artichoke salad, marinated beets with goat cheese, chicken pâté, a pork terrine, smoked salmon deviled eggs, mixed nuts, olives, biscotti and cannoli. Overall, the package felt so indulgent — it’s funny how little things can do that these days. The pâté was some of the best I’ve had in recent memory and the biscotti disappeared lightning quick.