In 2015, Seattle sustained some regrettable restaurant losses, including the beloved Kingfish Cafe, where for nearly 20 years, owners Laurie and Leslie Coaston imbued both the soul food and the space with warmth and family history. Shanik, the elegant, upscale Indian restaurant in South Lake Union, closed because, according to owner Meeru Dhalwala, her fine-dining model didn't work in a developing neighborhood filled with tech workers looking for happy-hour deals. Gastropod, which served some of the city's most idiosyncratic food in a tiny space in Sodo, also shut down, but luckily owners Cody Morris and Travis Kukull opened a new restaurant, Mollusk, where they continue to concoct distinct beers and food in a larger, more polished South Lake Union setting.
Seattle is in the midst of a restaurant boom, which leaves us with many choices when it comes to dining out, but I regret that so many of our conversations about food tend to focus on the biggest names and newest places, when it's the smaller, older, and more unassuming locations, including our own homes, that fuel us every day and contribute just as much to Seattle's culinary identity. I resolve next year to pay attention to as many of these places, in as many neighborhoods across the city, as I can.
And now, a year's worth of regrets from some of Seattle's finest food and drink professionals. —ANGELA GARBES
"I like to GSD: get shit done. This year, I regret that I did not get more accomplished. My life was full of learning, great meals, and support and love from our amazing food community, but I wish that I could have channeled my inner Beyoncé and multitasked a bit more—especially with Toklas Society, the nonprofit group I help run. It would have been great to host just one or two more Toklas events to bring our city's kick-ass women together and help create more of a community for young women working in the restaurant industry." —EunJean Song, cofounder of the Toklas Society and director of operations for Sitka & Spruce, Bar Ferd'nand, Bar Sajor, the Corson Building, and the London Plane
"I regret that I didn't eat a thousand more meatballs with focaccia at the Masonry. I regret that I didn't drink a hundred more liters of sweet vermouth. I regret that I blared the new Myrkur record only 10 times a day in the brewhouse. More than anything, I regret every single time that I wasted my time and energy by reading or allowing someone to read me a Yelp or Untappd review." —Adam Paysse, cofounder and brewer at Holy Mountain Brewing Company
"I'd like to think I approach life like Edith Piaf—voice raised, fist clenched, singing 'Non, je ne regrette rien'—but that never happens. In 2015, I totally regret not getting around to sampling all 26 dishes at our annual fundraiser, An Incredible Feast, although I always regret it when I do. I regret not being able to thank our hardworking staff enough for all they do to make our markets so great. And I REALLY regret this past season, when our farmers were hit hard with drought, then fires, then floods. What I don't regret is our Good Farmer Fund, which helped a dozen of our farmers get back on their financial feet after Mama Nature smacked them down." —Chris Curtis, executive director at Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets
"I regret not having time to teach a class on grower champagnes—sparkling wines crafted by the people and families who grow the grapes—this season. Corporate champagne is a travesty, and I enjoy teaching people why. I regret that all of my righteous indignation, however, is currently channeled toward Seattle's deplorable housing market. I regret watching my very reasonable offers on houses be rejected in favor of cash offers from buyers from China. (Note to foreign investors: Please consider Lynnwood. It's lovely and there's a Whole Foods there.)" —Noah Oldham, wine buyer at DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine
"I regret never becoming a competitive food eater. It would be amazing to say I ate 12 gallons of pho or a six-pound chimichanga in one sitting. I regret that my digestive system is telling me no about dairy but my mind is telling me yes. I regret not eating more Choco Tacos. I regret forgetting to eat when I'm busy, even though I cook and work at restaurants! I regret using a broken Robot Coupe earlier in my career that took a chunk of my finger off. I regret that Kate, my amazing wife, and I aren't eating soup dumplings right now." —Eric Rivera, director of culinary operations and innovation at Huxley Wallace Collective
"I regret not making more dumplings from scratch. I regret not coordinating the community dinner with youth organizers of color that I wanted to make happen. And I regret not eating more of my mama's cooking. I don't regret all those times around the dinner table when everyone's phone was put away and all we did was tell stories and talk revolution." —Lisa Chen, executive director at FEEST (Food Empowerment Education Sustainability Team) Seattle
"I regret that it took nearly a year for me to get to Nue, my new favorite restaurant—and that I didn't have those Chengdu spicy chicken wings the first time. I don't regret taking a spoon to balut for the first time at Nue, but if I had to choose between that soupy-good embryonic duck egg and their weird-ass Tostilocos (served in a Tostitos bag), I'd say, 'Mama's got a brand-new bag—now hand it over.' I also regret the fact that I haven't yet been to the newly renovated Cafe Juanita. And, more importantly, that my friend Ernie Pino didn't live long enough to join me there." —Nancy Leson, Seattle food writer and KPLU food commentator
"In 2014, I married into a family that has two Chinese grandmothers and a rich cooking history, both in and out of restaurants. I've learned how to make rice noodles, egg custards, and salt-and-pepper chicken wings from members of my new family. But I regret that my time in California, where most of my in-laws live, has been too short for a super-intense cooking lesson. I want to know what's in their spice cabinets, how they choose their dried scallops and wolfberries in Oakland's Chinatown, if they soak their rice or not, and observe them fry whole fish. I want to be a sponge and incorporate what I learn from them in my culinary career. Next year, I'm definitely spending a week in California to absorb as much from them as I can." —Herschell Taghap, chef instructor at Hot Stove Society and director of social media at Tom Douglas Restaurants
"I have so few, if any, regrets in life. I've always strived to regret nothing, even if deep down I wish had done this or that thing. I do have one that stands out, though. When I was in school in Paris ages ago, a good friend's family was in town and offered to take me along to dinner one evening. I thought little of it and politely declined, expecting it to be a dull evening of conversation with her parents. The next day at class, she informed me that they had gone to Chez L'Ami Louis, the infamous old French bistro with foie gras and chickens roasted in the wood-fired oven. She described it in great detail: stacks of fur coats thrown up on coat racks by aging waiters, the tiny boîte packed with well-heeled Parisians, and the delightful, rustic food cooked by the original, now long since deceased, owner. I so regret not joining them on that meal." —Kurt Timmermeister, owner of Kurt Farm Shop and Kurtwood Farms
"I regret that, despite my deep and abiding love of beef jerky (and hydroplanes), I was unable to visit the Oh Boy Oberto! Factory Store, even though it is located mere blocks from my home. I also regret our current inability to address issues of race, class, gender, and phobias of The Other in tangible ways that create a more civil, equitable society that's based on acceptance rather than fear. However, I have hope for next year on both fronts." —Jay Guerrero, chef at Bar Melusine