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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Restaurant Recommendations for a Man Who Wants Some Damn Bacon

Posted by on Wed, Oct 3, 2012 at 7:01 AM

Hans Hempler and Otto Hahnel amongst pork, 1947.
  • Hans Hempler and Otto Hahnel amongst pork, 1947.

Sometimes people email me for restaurant recommendations. I always answer! Here's one for Christine, her husband, and our friend bacon.

My husband has made the admirable decision to stop eating factory-farmed pork. Our problem is that we don't want to be that couple from the Portlandia skit (you know, the ones who wind up living on a hippie commune when they go to visit their dinner) when we go out to eat, so he winds up just avoiding pork altogether, which can make him a wee bit cranky at times (especially at breakfast time). Where can my hubby get some damn bacon without the guilt of supporting those horrible pig factories? We're in Ballardish Greenwood, so Northend joints are preferred.

Thanks for your help!


Dear Christine,

Indeed, your husband IS admirable, and we should all follow in his admirable footsteps. Also: Mmmmm... bacon. Why don't you buy some Hempler's (sold at lots of local supermarkets—click "Where to Buy" and scroll down) and make it for him like a good wife? I jest. But you could! Or he could make it for you, so you wake up because you smell it frying. I would submit that if you're nice enough to email me about bacon for him, he should be nice enough to do this for you.

But out in the world, in Ballard (and the U-District, and South Lake Union), people enjoy Portage Bay Cafe, which gets its bacon from Hill Meat Company in Pendleton, Oregon, and has ham and sausages made in-house with Carlton Farms (also Oregon) pork. For a big-ass chop or other porky dinner plate—right now it looks like they have a Kurobuta pork shank (probably from here) with eggplant puree, padon peppers, and marinated tomatoes, which sounds quite good—there's Staple & Fancy in Ballard. Golden Beetle has "Carlton Farms’ Slow Roasted Baby Back Pork Ribs - tamarind, rice, mustard greens" on the menu right now. Another dinnertime option: Stumbling Goat in Greenwood, with pork belly AND a Tails and Trotter chop waiting for your husband.

Here's our list of restaurants that have a local/organic/sustainable focus for your perusal—it is searchable by neighborhood, too. UPDATE! And searchable by all those things plus "Breakfast/Brunch," too!

I'm sure there must be other breakfast places near you with non-horribly-sourced pork, but I'm drawing a blank right now... anyone?

Mmmmm... bacon,


Comments (40) RSS

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Matt from Denver 1
Ethical eating pretty much requires eating at home a lot. If he's unsure about the bacon, he can't be too sure about the eggs and milk at those restaurants, either.

Most restaurants can't fry bacon worth a damn anyway. It's usually that thin-sliced crap that they won't crisp because trying to do that means a 98% chance of burning it.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 3, 2012 at 7:49 AM · Report this
McBomber 2
I recommend Wild Mountain Cafe on 85th near 15th. They serve pork at breakfast, source their food locally/responsibly and you don't have to suffer the long lines you'll find at Portage Bay.
Or, it's not quite the restaurant experience, but at the Fremont PCC you can always get a pork-inclusive breakfast burrito or breakfast sandwich in their grab-and-go hot case. Here you'll also find foil packets of fresh-cooked bacon in the morning (I think PCC uses Hemplers).
Posted by McBomber on October 3, 2012 at 7:57 AM · Report this
Best fresh meats in the Salish Sea, including a selection of thick cut fresh bacons, is Green Valley Meats:

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on October 3, 2012 at 7:57 AM · Report this
I will marry the first person who finds me an "ethical bacon" that shatters properly. Suitors keep bringing me virtue-bacon that is lean and chewy. I can admire such bacons, but not love it. Nor eat it.

For that matter, my dream husband is a fellow who has an ethical eating strategy but KEEPS IT TO HIMSELF. I have begun to believe such a person does not exist, which I guess means I never have to commit to a relationship la la la.
Posted by gloomy gus on October 3, 2012 at 8:05 AM · Report this
Catherwood 5
@4, I (brace yourself) BAKE my bacon. Just strip it out in a baking pan, toss into a 350 degree oven, and turn once when it starts to smell good. I find it loses that chewy, jerky-like texture and has a nice crunch. YMMV.
Posted by Catherwood on October 3, 2012 at 8:10 AM · Report this
CC-Rob 6
Best Bacon in the city, Geraldine's Kitchen - Columbia City. (I know it's not north - but it's the best.
Posted by CC-Rob on October 3, 2012 at 8:20 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 7
Rather than "frying" bacon at home, which requires a painful amount of time on your feet, you could use the non-morning person's oven method, which only requires you to be out of bed for two minutes at a time:

1. The day before, put a piece of parchment in rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Leave pan near bacon. Go to bed drunk.

2. Get up. Set oven to 425°. Lie down for at least 10 minutes

3. Wake to smell of smoke from hot, dirty oven. Lay Hemplers slices on parchment. Set timer to 15 minutes. Put pan in oven. Lie down.

4. Wake to smell of ready-to-eat bacon, or a kitchen fire if you didn't hear the timer. If no kitchen fire, remove pan from oven and make coffee.

You may want to watch the timing in step 3 more closely the first time, but for thick-sliced bacon and my oven, this works.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on October 3, 2012 at 8:20 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 8
@5 Damn, I type slowly!
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on October 3, 2012 at 8:21 AM · Report this
Bacon is quite disgusting smelling to me however wholesome the pig was reared and slaughtered. Perhaps this is the reason I’ve been cranky all my life. Regardless, pork odors will likely remain the most offensive kitchen smell to me. But good luck anyway in your pursuit of happiness.
Posted by sall on October 3, 2012 at 8:32 AM · Report this
Lew Siffer 10
This article is a slap in the face to goody Muslim readers.
Posted by Lew Siffer on October 3, 2012 at 8:34 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 11
@9 You are a horrible person.

@10 You are a horrible person who can't type.

Just kidding about @9
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on October 3, 2012 at 8:41 AM · Report this
gttim 12
Another one saying: Bake your bacon!
Posted by gttim on October 3, 2012 at 8:49 AM · Report this
@5 etc. thank you, and I have developed my arsenal of techniques to fry, bake and nuke "evil" bacon to perfection. The problem is that I've found no "look me virtuous" bacon that matches the mouthfeel I absolutely require.
Posted by gloomy gus on October 3, 2012 at 8:50 AM · Report this
@4, have your suitors brought you Olsen Farms bacon from a farmers market? Farmer Brent, he of the magnificent beard, sells meat and potatoes and the bacon is nicely fatty and thinly sliced; it shatters properly whether I've fried it or baked it. His farm (near Colville) is gorgeous and he owns the slaughterhouse, too.
Wild Mountain Cafe is a great north-end suggestion. Local 360 is in Belltown, but there's great breakfast there, no factory farms involved at all.

Posted by alight on October 3, 2012 at 8:53 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 15
@ 13, you like thin bacon, I'm guessing? Every ethical bacon I've seen is sliced thick.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 3, 2012 at 8:56 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 16
@ 9, you would have hated my house over the weekend. I made BBQ pulled pork on my grill, which made the whole block smell of it. Cherry-wood smoke, chunk charcoal, and slow-roasting pork shoulder make for a heady aroma.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 3, 2012 at 8:58 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 17
@ 13, wait, I know what it is. It's not the bacon's source for you, but how it's cured. You love the nitrites! (Or is it nitrates? I can't recall, but ethically-sourced bacon is never cured with that crap.)
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 3, 2012 at 9:00 AM · Report this
@14, hooray! I'm super eager to try it. If it turns out as you describe I will propose to you/try to steal you from your spouse. Even if you're not a fella. THANK YOU for the suggestion.
Posted by gloomy gus on October 3, 2012 at 9:01 AM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 19
wow ..did the rapture happen or sumthin ? .9am and no peta vegans hollerin 'meat is murder'.. what's happening? what'd i miss ?
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on October 3, 2012 at 9:04 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 20
@15 Is Hemplers ethical? I've had the slice thickness complaint from my spousal critter and daughter. Last week I took a package of unsliced Hemplers to the meat counter and asked them to open it and slice it thinly for me. Problem solved!

Now I have to re-calibrate my oven method timing...
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on October 3, 2012 at 9:06 AM · Report this
John Scott Tynes 21
I asked Hempler's years ago where they got their pork bellies and they told me they mostly came from Denmark, which is a major factory pig exporter. Delicious but not what this guy is looking for.
Posted by John Scott Tynes on October 3, 2012 at 9:07 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 22
Consider this thread jacked!
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on October 3, 2012 at 9:08 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 23
@19 If the Xtians and the vegans were all thrown together in Heaven, wouldn't they be angry? Sure would be nice here with that Antichrist guy and our heart disease in their absence.
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on October 3, 2012 at 9:13 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 24
@ 19, you know how some topics just end up not generating the comment count like they once did? Like Critical Mass, OWS, etc.? I think meat's made the same progression here on Slog.

@ 20, I've never heard of Hempler's before reading this thread, so I don't know. I get my stuff from a local producer.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 3, 2012 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Skagit River Ranch makes the most unbelievably good bacon, and it's very humanely raised. They sell it at the Ballard Farmer's Market. I'm actually fearful of wording getting out and having them run out before I get there. Ah-mazing. They list the restaurants that carry their products here (scroll down to that section):…
Posted by Somethingunique on October 3, 2012 at 9:27 AM · Report this
@16, Yeah, you're probably right. I bet it would've smelled awful to me, but so long as it’s not in my kitchen or on my plate you’d hear no complaints.
Posted by sall on October 3, 2012 at 9:28 AM · Report this
espato 27
applegate makes good ass bacon. they have it at pcc, and probably everywhere else.
Posted by espato on October 3, 2012 at 9:47 AM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 28
Bacon + Foreman grill = pretty dang good every time in six minutes.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on October 3, 2012 at 10:08 AM · Report this
emor 29

Also sold at Central Co-op. it's quite expensive, however. People swear by it, so it must be great.
Posted by emor on October 3, 2012 at 10:28 AM · Report this
What you need - oven-proof cooling rack, a cookie sheet that said rack fits neatly inside of, parchment paper. And nice, organically fed/responsibly raised/humanely butchered bacon (suicide pigs are preferable, but rare)

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Put cooling rack on top of paper.
Lay strips of bacon on rack - stretch them out nicely. No bunching.
Put in 250 degree oven for one hour! HIGH HEAT KILLS BACON.

What you get - perfectly flat, perfectly lean, perfectly cooked bacon that shatters like glass when you tap it with your fork. Plus, a nice pool of bacon grease (AKA liquid love) in the cookie sheet, which because you lined it with parchment paper, you can easily pour into a mason jar, freeze, and use as an oil substitute in other recipes. Plus, no clean up.
Posted by johnjjeeves on October 3, 2012 at 10:40 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 31
@30 An hour, huh? That's a nice long nap!

Thick or regular sliced?
Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on October 3, 2012 at 10:59 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 32
Am I some sort of bacon philistine? Because I practically throw a shit fit when I order bacon and it comes to me in a "shatter" state. Gross. Give me some lardy thick-sliced bacon, cooked until it's both crispy and chewy. The shatter bacon tastes like ass anyway.
Posted by keshmeshi on October 3, 2012 at 11:12 AM · Report this
@21: Gah, really? I have a call and email in to them...

And @everyone: baked bacon, yes! I use the hotter/shorter method, but might try this hour-long thing...

@32: The best bacon is the bacon the way YOU like it. Fret not!
Posted by Bethany Jean Clement on October 3, 2012 at 11:39 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 34
@ 32, no. You have good taste.
Posted by Matt from Denver on October 3, 2012 at 12:12 PM · Report this
rob! 35
I'm kind of [read "pathologically"] averse to cooking greasy things at home, so bacon is a very rare treat. And the only restaurant I'll order it in (without detailed advance info from a dining companion) is an Original Pancake House, where I happily request it soft. I like the fatty portions rendered just transparent. Almost every other breakfast place, whether chain or one-off, apparently cooks all their bacon crisp at about 5 a.m. and then shovels it all into a big pan on the steam table. HATE. THAT.
Posted by rob! on October 3, 2012 at 12:17 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 36
I say to hell with it.

You're wasting a lot of resources that could be better spent on biking or riding, bacon-powered, to work instead of in a 15 mpg Big Steel Truck.

Just walk or bus to the Varsity Inn at N 34th and Wallingford Ave N and eat their yummy yummy bacon. And say Hola! to the owner while you're there.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 3, 2012 at 12:18 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 37
By the way, to cook bacon at home, line a microwaveable platter with paper towel (recycled paper is best), then let the grease drip out when you remove it.

Use the grease to cook a yummy yummy omelet. use mushrooms in that.

Posted by Will in Seattle on October 3, 2012 at 12:20 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 38
oh and remember, bacon grease soaked paper CAN be put in your yard waste/compost bin. Same as egg shells and shrimp shells.
Posted by Will in Seattle on October 3, 2012 at 12:21 PM · Report this
Maltby Cafe, or as we call it, Church of Bacon!
Posted by Bacon_lover on October 3, 2012 at 2:48 PM · Report this
@24 "Or is it nitrates? I can't recall, but ethically-sourced bacon is never cured with that crap."

Yes it is and it actually should be for good bacon. If you take a look at any package of bacon that claims to have no nitrates, they always have celery juice/celery powder as an ingredient. Celery juice has a huge amount of nitrites and companies are banking on the fact that you don't know any better and are willing to pay extra for the "chemical free" bacon. Michael Ruhlman has a great blog post about this hoax.
Posted by kathrine on October 3, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this

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