Now Open: As we reported last month, chef Monica Dimas has taken over the kitchen at Capitol Hill bar Nacho Borracho (209 Broadway E, 466-2434). Her restaurant-within-a-bar, Neon Taco, serves Mexican street food like carnitas and lengua tacos (all on handmade tortillas) until 1:30 a.m. every night of the week.
Adding to the abundance of Mexican food on Capitol Hill is Sur 16 (340 15th Ave E, Ste 201, 388-2244), located in the former home of the Bagel Deli. Offerings include tacos, tortas, and ceviches, but I'm most intrigued by Sur 16's ostiones, baked oysters on the half shell topped with huitlacoche, a corn fungus delicacy that most Mexican restaurant owners shy away from putting on their menus.
The restaurant inside Belltown's new Palladian Hotel, Shaker + Spear (2000 Second Ave, 448-1111), serves a seafood-focused menu with local and regional ingredients. At the adjacent bar, Pennyroyal, you'll find aged spirits, punches, and snacks. Chef Walter Pisano, who runs downtown's Tulio restaurant, created both menus.
Cantina Leña (2105 Fifth Ave, 519-5723)—the Tom Douglas restaurant that opened in early December, then promptly shut down because of a failed ventilation system—has reopened. The restaurant's original kitchen eschewed stoves and burners in favor of a more traditional fire pit, but residents of the Martin apartment building (where the restaurant is located) were less than happy about the black smoke that was accumulating in their homes. Leña's meats are now cooked on the wood-fired grill and smoker at the Palace Kitchen, another Douglas restaurant, conveniently located across the street.
Seattle's craft brewing scene continues to grow: Counterbalance Brewing Company (503B S Michigan St, 453-3615)—started by Jeff Howell and Frank Lawrence, two former home brewers who met while working at local coffee company Caffe Ladro—is pouring beers in their Georgetown taproom that were made just a few feet away in their 10-barrel brewery. Look for a few obscure, taproom-only brews to rotate through as well.
Seattle now has its own gluten-free brewery: Ghostfish Brewing Company (2942 First Ave S, 397-3898) in Sodo. Ghostfish is going against thousands of years of tradition and using gluten-free grains such as millet or buckwheat because, in their own words, "we are acutely aware of how the craft brewing revolution has left gluten-intolerant drinkers behind. We believe fate has brought us together to help rectify that!"
Local Food-Safety Attorney Featured in the New Yorker
The February 2 issue of the New Yorker includes a great profile of Seattle attorney Bill Marler, "the most prominent and powerful food-safety attorney in the country." According to a USDA study, salmonella contaminates 24 percent of all cut-up chicken parts in the US. In Marler's words: "Ground beef has learned its lesson—but chicken is still, in many respects, unregulated. So we have to keep fighting."