Food & Drink

2021 Seattle Restaurant Highlights

Best New Restaurants, Places to Visit Before They Close, and Openings to Look Forward To in 2022
December 22, 2021
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So long and thanks for all the frites, Cafe Presse. (Cafe Presse)
The end of the year is traditionally a time for reflection, so we're taking stock of the year in food, including some of the most exciting additions to Seattle's restaurant scene (including Karachi Cowboys, Cookie's Country Chicken, and Tomo), soon-to-be-closed restaurants to visit one last time (we'll miss you, Vif and Cafe Presse), and things to look forward to in 2022 (hello, H Mart and Otherworld Wine Bar). Read on to discover more culinary highlights. For more ideas, check out our food and drink guide.

BEST OPENINGS OF 2021

Big Max Burger Co. Add to a List
The Queen Anne fine-dining restaurant Eden Hill Add to a List 's more casual, family-friendly spinoff Eden Hill Provisions rebranded as the fast food-centric Big Max Burger Co. in November. The spot, which features self-order kiosks and a Coke machine, highlights Eden Hill Provisions' most popular item, the eponymous Big Max burger (named for chef/co-owner Maximillian Petty and featuring two beef patties, lettuce, bread and butter pickles, caramelized and chopped red onion, smoked cheddar, malt-maple ketchup, and "Max sauce" on a challah bun). Besides the namesake burger, the menu also includes the "Queen Animal" (a burger with smoked bacon, frizzled onions, avocado, and house barbecue sauce), deep-fried "caramel corn" Brussels sprouts, a veggie burger with pastrami-cured celery root, a "Hot Mama hen" buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, and a kid-friendly "Little Sammy Slider." 
Queen Anne
Pickup

Blotto Add to a List  
The pizza pop-up Blotto opened its shop and specialty corner store in the former space of Chungee's Drink 'n Eat Add to a List in June. The space features a market with specialty groceries like Rancho Gordo beans, Milpa Masa tortillas, condiments, tinned fish, and more, plus a wide selection of beer and natural wine. Naturally leavened pizza options include cheese (fresh and aged mozzarella and Cascadia Creamery Cloud Cap cheese, oregano, basil, and pecorino), fennel sausage (tomato, fennel sausage, aged mozzarella, fontina, green garlic, seasonal greens, and pecorino), pickled leek (lemon cream, aged mozzarella, Cloud Cap cheese, pickled leeks, chili oil, fresh oregano, and urfa biber), and tomato (tomato, garlic, oregano, and olive oil). 
Capitol Hill
Pickup, dine-in

Cakes + Trees Add to a List
Married couple Alison Odowski and Erik Jackson, co-owners of the popular White Center donut shop Good Day Donuts Add to a List , opened their adorable spinoff Cakes + Trees in the former location of Happy Grillmore Add to a List in June. The shop sells a mix of sweets, including doughnuts, cakes, tarts, cookies, brownies, and more amid a selection of plants for sale. Grab-and-go breakfast and lunch options, such as sandwiches, and coffee from QED Coffee are also available.
Central District
Pickup

The Chicken Supply Add to a List
This year, chef Paolo Campbell transformed the former Opus Co. Add to a List space into his "dream restaurant," a Filipino fried chicken joint. The spot offers, of course, crispy battered poultry (thighs, drumsticks, skewers, and wings), as well as beans and rice, marinated vegetables, house-made pickles, coconut collard greens, cold pancit, crispy potatoes, garlic rice, and butter mochi.
Phinney Ridge
Pickup, dine-in

Cookie's Country Chicken Add to a List
In November, the cult-favorite, finger-lickin'-good pop-up Cookie's Country Chicken opened its Ballard brick-and-mortar location, which features an expanded menu with more bowl concepts, biscuits, hot items, and soup specials, plus free parking and indoor seating.
Ballard
Pickup, dine-in

Cycle Dogs Add to a List
The popular vegan food truck Cycle Dogs, known for its meatless hot dogs and other plant-based takes on fast food favorites, opened its first permanent brick-and-mortar restaurant in May. The all-vegan menu includes Field Roast frankfurters with variations like currywurst, Seattle dogs, and elote dogs, burgers inspired by McDonald's, Whataburger, and Dick's, and "hangry style" fries smothered in American cheese, grilled onions, and fry sauce.
Ballard
Pickup

Drink Books Add to a List
If your idea of a perfect night in involves cozying up with a glass of natural wine and a captivating novel, we've got a hot tip for you: Co-owners Kim Kent and Emily Schikura opened this pop-up bookstore with evocative, hand-curated book and wine pairings in Phinney in November. The shop focuses on titles from women, transgender, and non-binary authors. 
Phinney Ridge
Pickup


Hello Em Add to a List
Pho Bac co-owner Yenvy Pham opened her Vietnamese coffee shop Hello Em in Chinatown-International District's Little Saigon back in January. Located inside the Friends of Little Saigon Creative space, the shop serves c√† ph√™ sŠĽĮa ńĎ√° (traditional Vietnamese iced coffee) made with espresso and is also the first Vietnamese roastery in Seattle. You can add a whipped egg coffee cloud made with egg whites and sweetened condensed milk to any drink. To eat, there's "banh-mi-nini" (panini-grilled banh mi sandwiches), with breakfast sandwich, tofu, and hot dog varieties, and baked goods like Chinese doughnuts and durian crepe cakes.
Chinatown-International District
Pickup, dine-in

Itsumono Add to a List
Kaname Izakaya, which was taken over by its current owners Mike Vu and Hisato Kawaminami in 2019, officially reopened as Itsumono ("regular" in Japanese) in January. Chef Sean Arakaki's innovative menu features unique dishes like Nashville hot chicken-inspired karaage, loco moco Scotch eggs, sweet 'n sour pork spare ribs, and teriyaki burgers.
Chinatown-International District
Pickup

Jackson's Catfish Corner Add to a List
In June, the beloved family-owned Southern restaurant made a triumphant return to its original neighborhood, the Central District, serving up deep-fried catfish, chicken, prawns, hushpuppies, mac and cheese, and other comforting favorites.
Central District
Pickup, delivery, dine-in

Karachi Cowboys Add to a List
The celebrated "Pakistani soul food" pop-up Karachi Cowboys, which is inspired by the Pakistani home cooking of founder Nasir Zubair's father's family and Texas barbecue techniques, opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant on Capitol Hill in June, with a menu that includes snacks like Bengali pickled cauliflower and curried nuts, main dishes like chana masala and aloo sliders, and drinks like damiana lemon soda and milk chai.
Capitol Hill
Pickup, dine-in

Kricket Club Add to a List
In October, chef Preeti Agarwal, who's racked up acclaim for her modern Indian restaurant Meesha Add to a List , launched her "refined but casual" sibling restaurant Kricket Club in Ravenna. The spot serves Agarwal's interpretation of Mumbai and New Delhi street food, with Indian-style snacks like papdi chaat (masala potatoes with moong sprouts and tamarind chutney) and larger dishes like awadhi dum biryani (slow-cooked goat, fragrant basmati rice, and burani raita), plus desserts and drinks. There's even a "bread bar" with paratha, roti, and kulcha.
Ravenna
Dine-in


Lariat Bar Add to a List
A project of three bartender friends, this wrestling-themed watering hole, which opened in November, boasts wrestling memorabilia (including vintage posters and a life-sized likeness of André the Giant), stage lighting, skeeball, pinball machines, and even a small ring for live music performances and TV wrestling commentary. 
White Center
Dine-in

Situ Tacos Add to a List  
Wild Powwers, Tacos the Band, and LORBO drummer Lupe Flores' Lebanese-inspired taco pop-up Situ Tacos, which she launched during the early days of the pandemic and which previously operated out of the Tractor Tavern Add to a List , is¬†now open¬†seven days a week inside¬†Jupiter Bar Add to a List ¬†in Belltown. The business pays tribute to Flores' grandmother Delores Flores, who was half Mexican and half Lebanese ("situ" means "grandmother" in Arabic).¬†Stranger¬†contributor Caro Myers previously¬†wrote, "Lupe‚Äôs menu is simple and her tacos taste unlike anything I've ever tried. There are two flavor options, Lebanese-style ground beef and butter‚ÄĒcalled 'hushwe'‚ÄĒand a vegetarian option‚ÄĒ'papas'‚ÄĒwhich are potatoes that pack a punch of flavor. The tortillas are fried and taste like crispy pillows. The meat is cooked in butter, so you can‚Äôt really argue with that."
Belltown
Pickup, dine-in

Made In House Add to a List
In October, Georgetown's BOPBOX Add to a List , a family-run eatery specializing in Korean-inspired rice-based dishes with seasonal veggies and house-made kimchi, opened a new deli spinoff called Made in House in Fremont, serving fresh, health-minded meals with seasonal, scratch-made components. The spot features a grab-and-go section and a counter-service dining room and offers a rotating sampler plate of offerings like seasoned veggie japchae, kale and butternut squash tempura, and herby quinoa lentil salad, plus a produce-packed "Mom's medley bibimbop" and a hearty "stone pot bop."
Fremont
Pickup, dine-in

Maíz Add to a List
The owners of the Mexican restaurant Sazón Add to a List opened this artisan tortillería, Maíz, in Pike Place Market in November, selling tortillas and antojitos (street snacks) like tacos and tamales, plus drinks like champurrado.
Pike Place Market
Pickup

The Mar·ket Add to a List
Chef Shubert Ho's acclaimed Edmonds restaurant¬†The Mar¬∑ket Add to a List , which has amassed a vocal following for its lobster and Dungeness crab rolls and fresh seafood, opened a cafe inside the Seattle Art Museum Add to a List in October. In addition to the wildly popular rolls, the new location also offers some new exclusive menu items, including a grilled salmon b√°nh m√¨¬†(marinated Pacific Northwest salmon, chicken p√Ęt√©, kewpie mayo, pickled cucumbers, red radish, fresh basil, and Maggi seasoning) and the¬†Mar¬∑ket burger¬†(a beef patty, caramelized onions, American cheese, arugula, bread-and-butter pickles, curry aioli, and tomato jam on a¬†Macrina Bakery Add to a List ¬†bun).
Downtown
Pickup, dine-in


Matcha Man Ice Cream & Taiyaki Add to a List
The popular pop-up, known for its eye-catching specialties like taiyaki (Japanese fish-shaped waffles) and soft serve in flavors like matcha and ube, launched a brick-and-mortar shop in Georgetown over the summer.
Georgetown
Pickup

Moto Add to a List
In January, chef Lee Kindell opened this pizzeria serving naturally fermented Detroit-style pies, made with a trusty 100-year-old sourdough starter. In addition to more traditional options like cheese and pepperoni, the menu features creative pizzas like the Mang(Mr) Pig, inspired by Kindell's Filipinx heritage and topped with lechon (pork belly), sausage, calamansi, chimichurri, garlic, onion, and Mang Tomas sauce, and a Pacific Northwest-inspired Dungeness crab pizza with butter, dill, thyme, lemon, and sea salt. Vegan options are also available, and gluten-free options are coming soon. Save room for the house-made soft serve ice cream and hand-baked cones.
West Seattle
Pickup

Phocific Standard Time Add to a List
The treehouse-like upstairs bar inside Pho Bac's recently opened downtown location Add to a List slings craft cocktails with Viet-inspired flavors like fish sauce, pandan, and ca phe trung (Vietnamese egg coffee), as well as beer, wine, and snacks.
Downtown
Pickup, dine-in

Saint Bread Add to a List
London Plane Add to a List and Post Alley Pizza Add to a List co-owner Yasuaki Saito opened this bakery and community space on the Portage Bay waterfront this spring, along with former London Plane bread baker Michael Sanders and Acres Baking Co. baker Randi Rachlow. There's a beautiful stained glass window befitting of the holy name, as well as an outdoor covered patio area with two picnic tables. Expect items like egg salad sandwiches with kewpie mayo and furikake, cookies, hazelnut butter toast, croissants, cardamom knots, and melonpan (Japanese melon-shaped bread).
Portage Bay
Pickup, dine-in

Tomo Add to a List  
Former Canlis Add to a List chef Brady Williams, who departed the renowned fine-dining restaurant in February, debuted his highly anticipated project Tomo in White Center this fall. The 28-seat restaurant, which is named in tribute to Williams' grandmother Tomoko Ishiwata Bristol (as well as the word for "friend" in Japanese), features two five-course tasting menus (including a vegetarian option) for $68 each and a weekend lunch service. The menu takes inspiration from Williams' Japanese heritage and chef de cuisine Diana Mata Garcia's Venezuelan heritage in addition to Pacific Northwest ingredients, resulting in dishes like katsu-style albacore tuna, arepas, and kakigori with melon, blackberry, and lemongrass. Intriguingly, the bathrooms play whale sounds, and the servers are equipped to regale guests with knowledge about orca whales.
White Center
Pickup, dine-in

Trade Winds Tavern Add to a List  
Owners Chris Elford and Anu Apte-Elford replaced their self-proclaimed "weird beer and rad food" pub No Anchor Add to a List with the retro neighborhood sports bar Trade Winds Tavern over the summer. The food menu features updated pub grub like cheesesteak wontons, buttermilk-fried cheese curds with ranch, jalape√Īo pineapple wings, short rib melts, and chips with blue cheese fondue. There's also a menu of playful, laidback cocktails, including Chai Sazeracs, Coconut Collins, and Chris's signature "Sharpie Mustache" (whiskey, gin, and Amaro Meletti), in addition to beer and natural wine.
Belltown
Pickup, dine-in


Volunteer Park Cafe and Pantry Add to a List
The iconic Capitol Hill staple Volunteer Park Cafe, which closed in fall 2020 and was purchased by local architect and winemaker James DeSarno, reopened this summer, and two Canlis Add to a List alums are running the show. Former Canlis expediter Melissa Johnson is managing the cafe, while former Canlis pastry chef Crystal Chiu is in charge of the baked goods. (If you tried any of the bagels at Canlis's short-lived pandemic pivot bagel shop last year, you're already familiar with her work, and yes, they will be making an occasional appearance on the menu.) The space functions as a coffee shop, bottleshop, and corner market, with natural wine and goods from local purveyors for sale. The menu includes items like New York-style breakfast sandwiches, seasonal toasts, vegan chocolate hazelnut cake, strawberry rhubarb galettes, and chocolate babka.
Capitol Hill
Pickup, delivery

The Wandering Goose Add to a List  
In November, Capitol Hill's dearly departed Southern restaurant The Wandering Goose, known for its fried chicken and fluffy biscuits, made a comeback at the Tokeland Hotel Add to a List , which was purchased by chef/owner Heather Earnhardt and her husband Zac Young in 2018. The revived location is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and serves hearty, homey fare like Dungeness crab melts, oysters, shrimp and grits, chicken-fried pork chops, fried rockfish sandwiches, and a special Sunday-only cranberry pot roast.
Tokeland
Dine-in

RESTAURANTS CLOSING SOON

Cafe Presse Add to a List
Francophile hearts broke all over Seattle last week when Capitol Hill's classic French cafe Cafe Presse revealed that it is closing permanently in February after a 15-year run, as owners Jim Drohman and Joanne Herron prepare for retirement. The restaurant's Instagram announcement read, "COVID took the breath out of us all, but it is with your support that we were able to build back to a place that affords us a graceful exit. We are so grateful. Our departure would have looked differently if not for the pandemic but nonetheless, our plans to move forward were always based on something close to this timeline." Drohman and Herron's French spot Le Pichet Add to a List in Belltown has a lease through 2023 with an option to extend "depending on how retirement planning is going." The Cafe Presse space will be taken over by chef Grayson Corrales, who will open her debut restaurant Maripili Add to a List , a Spanish tapas spot inspired by the flavors of the Galicia region, by spring. If you'd like to visit for one last croque madame before then, you have until February 13. 
Capitol Hill

Lava Lounge Add to a List
After 20 years of business, Belltown's longtime tiki bar is closing after New Year's Eve, and it's going out with a bang. Pay your respects at its final Christmas party Add to a List on Thursday, December 23, which will feature Santa photos by Kelly O. and music by DJ Vodka Twist.
Belltown

The Shambles Add to a List
This popular neighborhood bar and butcher announced on Instagram in November that they are not renewing their lease at the end of the year, writing, "If we are unable to find a buyer, we will be forced to permanently close the restaurant. We are currently in discussions with some phenomenally talented folks to take over where we are leaving off. As of today, negotiations are not finalized, and thus we are still seeking someone to continue the work of The Shambles in 2022. Our intent is to stay open until December 24...Thank you to our wonderful friends that have visited The Shambles and shared food and drinks with us over the years. We built this place in the hopes that we could share it with you and build community together, and we are very proud of the work that we have done here. We are disappointed to make this announcement, but if we are able to find the right folks to take over we hope to continue to enjoy The Shambles alongside you for years to come." The Shambles is also offering Christmas rib roasts for pickup on December 23, the last day they will be offering food in the restaurant, followed by drinks all day and a 7 pm toast to say goodbye on December 24.
Wedgwood

Vif Add to a List
Alas, Vif co-owners Shawn Mead and Lauren Feldman announced via their email newsletter last week that their beloved Fremont gem of a cafe and wine shop is closing for good at the end of the month after eight and a half years of business. The spot was known for helping pioneer the natural wine scene in Seattle, with a focus on European wines. The letter read, "So much has happened over the years and it has been our honor to be a place where people felt they could come to get grounded, feel cared for, and greeted with warmth and a smile. The truth is that this property is slated to be developed and the time was right for us to move on. We all knew it was going to happen someday, no matter how charming our little fishbowl was. We won't lie that COVID has taken its toll as well. We are so grateful for everyone that has come through our doors. Please come say farewell - you have no idea how much we will miss you and this place." Vif's Beacon Hill wine shop sibling Petite Soif Add to a List  will remain open.
Fremont

UPCOMING OPENINGS FOR 2022

Chuck's Hop Shop Add to a List and Muri's Add to a List
The ever-popular craft beer geek destination Chuck's Hop Shop announced in September that it would be opening an outpost inside Seward Park's Third Place Books Add to a List , along with a restaurant. In November, it was revealed that the restaurant will be Muri's, a spinoff from the popular Pinehurst-based Jewish deli and bakery Zylberschtein's Add to a List . The upcoming spot will be a Kosher dairy restaurant and parve bakery, set to open as early as January 2022.
Seward Park

Frelard Tamales Add to a List and El Sue√Īito Brewing Company Add to a List
The popular spot Frelard Tamales Add to a List , which has earned a loyal following for its hand-crafted tamales and community involvement, revealed this fall that it will be expanding to Bellingham and that the opening is slated for spring or early summer 2022. Just like the original, the new outpost will have a walk-up window and free delivery and will be committed to community causes like environmental justice, immigrant rights, LGBTQIA+ rights and wellbeing, education, and social justice. Not only that, but it will also house a new brewery. According to an Instagram post, starting a brewery has been a longtime dream of Frelard Tamales co-owners Osbaldo Hernandez and Dennis Ramey, who hope to create a "welcoming and inclusive space where folks can enjoy delicious handmade tamales, tasty diverse craft brews, and special PNW and Mexican-inspired drinks." Ramey, who currently works as a brewer at¬†Hellbent Brewing Company, will serve as head brewer, and the brewery will be called El Sue√Īito Brewing Company ("little dream" in Spanish, a reference to Hernandez and Ramey's long-held vision).
Bellingham

Glo's Add to a List
The beloved Capitol Hill diner¬†Glo's Add to a List , known for its inimitable eggs benedict, is moving out of its cozy E Olive Way location, where it has happily resided for 34 years. The longtime breakfast favorite, which recently reopened for indoor dining in its current space, plans to relocate to a new home in¬†Capitol Hill Station Add to a List ¬†in 2022. The change is bittersweet for fans who are attached to the old Glo's, but owner Julie Reisman tells¬†Capitol Hill Seattle¬†she is excited for the opportunity for growth‚ÄĒthe restaurant's new home will have over 2,900 square feet (as opposed to the current 830) and will overlook¬†Cal Anderson Add to a List .
Capitol Hill

H Mart Add to a List
Get ready: The Korean grocery behemoth H Mart's long-awaited store in Capitol Hill Station Add to a List appears to be preparing to open soon. The business's liquor license was approved in November, and the location seems to be in the final stages of construction, with signage for the bakery chain Tous Les Jours and the Korean fried chicken chain bb.q Chicken.
Capitol Hill

Ohsun Banchan Deli and Cafe Add to a List
Sara Upshaw, who runs the local food blog Kimchi Halfie and published the cookbook Korean Barbecue at Home in November, is about to add "restaurant owner" to her resumé: She's planning a banchan-focused brick-and-mortar shop called Ohsun Banchan Deli and Cafe. Upshaw hasn't yet nailed down a location for the Korean comfort food business but hopes to open it sometime by late spring or early summer 2022.
Location TBA

Otherworld Wine Bar Add to a List
The team behind the pop-up Juice Club, which Stranger contributor Jordan Michelman called "a roaming series of natural-wine bottle parties with an experiential, interactive bent," plans to open a wine bar in the former Electric Tea Garden space in 2022.
Capitol Hill

Sweetgreen Add to a List
The popular fast-casual chain Sweetgreen is opening its first-ever Washington location in the former Stout Add to a List space on Capitol Hill, just across the street from The Stranger's former offices. An opening date has not yet been released.
Capitol Hill

West of Chicago Pizza Company Add to a List
This Chicago-style deep dish pizzeria is set to begin slinging pies in the former Chaco Canyon Add to a List space in West Seattle in February 2022.
West Seattle

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