(BOOKS) Last week The Strangerposted an interview Matt Baume did with author Aubrey Gordon about her new book "You Just Need to Lose Weight" and 19 Other Myths About Fat People. Not surprisingly, the comments section is filled with vitriol—people comparing fat acceptance to normalizing Fentanyl, trolls claiming its impossible for fat people to live past the age of 70. It's nothing new—I'm fat and I've heard this shit my whole life. But what the trolls don't realize—or they do and are too lazy to care—is that Gordon has built a career of debunking all the "proof" they offer to support their claims. If only they read one of her books or listened to her brilliant, hilarious podcast, Maintenance Phase, which she cohosts with Michael Hobbes, would they realize they've been tricked into believing dangerous, hateful lies for generations in part so the weight loss industry can continue raking in billions of dollars every year. Read a book, idiots! Specifically, read Gordon's book! I may be fat, but at least I'm not a brainwashed corporate shill. (Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave, 7:30 pm, $5-$20) MEGAN SELING
The Atomic Bombshells 14th Anniversary: J’ADORE! Beloved burlesque dazzlers The Atomic Bombshells will return to the stage for another va-va-voom Valentine's Day spectacular. Founded by Kitten LaRue in 2003, the globe-trotting troupe blends drag and dance with a sizzling spoonful of laughs, so grab your sweetie or a one-night fling for J'Adore!, an anniversary performance sealed with a kiss. (Feb 10–14, Triple Door, Downtown Seattle, $35–$50)
Black History Month runs from February 1-March 1, and as we celebrate, it's important to highlight the contributions of Black-owned businesses to our communities. We've made it easy for you by gathering a number of Black-owned coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, from the James Beard Award semifinalist Communion to the nationally acclaimed barbecue joint Lil Red Takeout and Catering. For more ideas, check out our Black History Month calendar and our food and drink guide.
Adey Adeba Traditional Ethiopian cuisine (including breakfast!) in a lovely room. Meat-eating fans praise the stews and doro wat; vegetarians love the veggie combination. Central District Pickup, dine-in
I have never had pizza in Chicago or Detroit. But I do regularly eat a slice of what Breezy Town Pizza describes as "a Chicago and Detroit-inspired deep-dish pan pizza." One slice, such as my favorite, the Pepperoni Paint Job, fills the deepest hunger in a matter of minutes. Its thick crust, thick cheese, and sea of sauce on which float slices of spicy salami, has, according to my senses, not a match in the city. And all of this for under $5. One slice is enough; two is, to be honest, overdoing it. In my mind, two slices would make me look like a python that has eaten a whole goat. CHARLES MUDEDE
You know you have to eat. The truth that so often gets lost in the hustle of day-to-day life is that youdeserve to eat well.
You deserve a meal, a snack, a sip of a cocktail or iced coffee that makes you groan with delight when it first hits your tastebuds. You deserve a hamburger, a bowl of pasta, and a bite of cake so thoughtfully balanced that you squeeze your eyes shut as you chew so as to not be distracted from all the flavors and textures commingling in your mouth.
This isn't about getting the most food for your money—there are plenty of spots in Seattle that will fill you up with a decent meal for $10 or less—it's about experiencing the most satisfying food your money can buy. From a $2 candy bar that has been scientifically proven to be so complex that your body physically craves more, to a $200 tasting menu and wine pairing that uses every ounce of an animal—the bone, the tail, the fat—to bring to mind, magically, memories of simple diner food.
Decadence doesn't have to mean deep pockets—culinary gratification can be found in the crunchy caramelized crust of $4.75 slice of deep-dish pizza just as it can in a $40 wagyu steak brought to the table still sizzling on a hot stone. Here are 35 things you can eat and drink in Seattle that will make your brain's pleasure center light up like a colony of photobacterium on an anglerfish's esca—so cool!—no matter how much money you have to spend.
During a press conference this morning, Seattle City Council Member Tammy Morales announced her campaign to represent District 2 for another term. The district covers the South End, Chinatown-International District, and Pioneer Square.
In her speech, Morales ticked off the crises facing the city—an uneven recovery from the pandemic, not enough places for people to live, a mental health crisis with no real infrastructure in place to deal with it, a record number of traffic fatalities—and acknowledged "public cynicism" about local government as an "understandable" reaction to hard times. Nevertheless, the community organizing that all the hardship spurred made her feel "hopeful" for the future.
Mental health facility funding is on the table: Yesterday, the King County Council voted 9-0 in favor of putting a $1.25 billion behavioral health levy on ballots for voters to consider. This April, in a special election, you can vote yes on actually putting money into our struggling, bare-bones mental health system.
As it stands right now, people in crisis usually end up in an emergency room or in a jail cell for treatment. After this levy passes (knock on wood), the county could fund five 24/7 walk-in clinics for emergencies, short-term observation stays of 23 hours, and stabilization stays of up to 14 days. Also, with the levy, mental health workers at these clinics would earn “20% more than comparable facilities,” the Seattle Times reports. King County Executive and silver fox Dow Constantine introduced the levy last fall.
Amazon accused of union-busting: Shocker! A judge with the National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon “illegally threatened to withhold raises and benefits from workers at two New York City warehouses if they voted to unionize,” Reuters reports.
Hong Kong Bistro lies along a strip of Chinatown-International District restaurants that are always open for any American holiday, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. This dynamic is a remnant of when Chinatowns across the country navigated the dualities of both extreme Westernization in aesthetic representation, while also maintaining their focus as economic and social centers for AAPI communities. If you are lucky enough to avoid the crowds of diners that swarm the Bistro during lunch or dinner, carefully sift through the menu of infinite possibilities and seek out the “雪山包,” or “Snow Mountain Buns,” which feature a shattered top crust like the more traditional Pineapple Buns. Snow Mountain Buns, however, are filled with a delectable taro filling, balancing the line between creamy and earthy. Like other root vegetables, taro has its place in the savory and sweet dishes of East Asian cuisine, but there is an element of intrigue to its appearance in this dim sum delicacy. ANN GUO
Cà Phê Chuoi
Hello Em Viet Coffee, $6.75
Looking down the menu at Hello Em Viet Coffee and you might think you've wandered into a dessert shop—cà phê brûlée, a coffee capped with egg cream and a torched sugary topping, or cà phê my dua, an iced coffee topped with a coconut cloud, pandan dust, and toasted sesame seeds—but don't be fooled. These drinks aren't sugar bombs. There is nuance in Hello Em's creations. The Vietnamese coffee shop is owned by Yenvy Pham and Nghia Bui, and Pham, as co-owner of Phở Bắc Sup Shop, Phởcific Standard Time, and the Boat, is a semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur in Washington in this year's James Beard Awards. These aren't the sickly sweet, only-look-good-for-Instagram coffee drinks. Pham and Bui bring balance to their creations. They source their beans from Vietnam and roast them in-house in a Neuhaus Neotec air roaster. The result is a coffee bold and rich enough to hold its own against an array of sweet additions. My favorite is the cà phê chuoi with caramelized banana, coconut, and an egg cloud topped with salted peanuts and banana chips. A tip: Before you mix it all together, take one of the banana chips and dip it into the egg cloud. Get a few peanuts on there, too. That's your amuse-bouche—crunchy, sweet, fruity, salty, creamy. Then stir the drink just a few times and take a sip. The earthy coffee hits first—and it hits hard—but it's mellowed out by the sweet, melting cloud and coconut milk. Stir a little more and sip again. Go slow, let the layers swirl. There's no need to rush perfection. MEGAN SELING
Keisuke Kobayashi’s block-long takeover of Wallingford continues at Secret Fort, an excellent new addition to the buzzy mob scene at Yoroshiku—his original ramen-focused izakaya—and Indigo Cow, the wildly popular destination for Hokkaido-style soft serve. At Secret Fort the spotlight is on live-fire yakitori, with a narrow open pit of charcoal anchoring the open chef’s kitchen, molten hot embers burning, skewers perched dramatically. Classics like glazed chicken thigh with tare and yaki onigiri with sweet miso go flying around the busy dining room, but it is the bacon mochi skewer at Secret Fort for which my rapture is reserved.
I grew up in the PNW suburbs, and my understanding of “mochi” was for many years the exclusive remit of sweet treats and wrapped ice cream desserts. In preparations like this one, mochi is wonderfully neutral with no sweetness added. The emphasis instead is on texture; when grilled, mochi’s ineffable, ooey-gooey chew softens and dissolves upon itself ever so slightly, yet also develops a slight crisp around the edges. This crispiness is emboldened thusly by a wrapped rasher of bacon, and the two disparate elements—smoked pork and soft rice cake—fuse together marvelously. It’s crunchy and chewy and soft and smokey, and a touch of charcoal from the open-fire cooking helps the flavors blend. I cannot believe it’s just $6. It is really so good. JORDAN MICHELMAN
I want to say straight off the bat that the best people work at Emerald City Fish & Chips, a small joint whose windows view Rainier Avenue and the ghost of Silver Fork, a restaurant and Black cultural institution that was replaced a decade ago by a Safeway gas station. Emerald City Fish & Chips is still here, and their two-piece Alaska cod and chips are made with the kind of goodness (back-home goodness) you expect from some of the best people in my town. CHARLES MUDEDE
Carmelo’s Tacos serves the most magical burritos in Seattle. If food is like music, the menu here is a symphony. The flavors are explosive, with spices balanced like a tightrope walker on a unicycle, and the carne asada (my favorite burrito variation) is a love letter written in meat juice. And that sauce! A volcanic eruption of spiciness. The beans and rice are also top-notch, contributing a soft earthiness to the dish, like a warm hug from a giant teddy bear made of tortilla. And let's not forget the guacamole—smooth and fresh like a party popper has burst in your mouth. A celebration of taste and texture! The only thing that can keep me from going on and on about how amazing these burritos are is stuffing one of them in my mouth to stop me from talking. MATT BAUME
My senses overwhelmed me as I ate the Tavern Burger right the fuck up at Loretta’s Northwesterner’s wooded, windowless, and cozy bar. The dish's ingenuity lies in how simple it is: beef, melted cheese, pickles, onion, special sauce, bun. The beef is charbroiled to smokey perfection, the cheese cheeses, the alliance between the pickles and onion is holy, and the toasted bun holds it all up. It tastes exactly the way I remember burgers tasting when I was a child—slightly greasy, but refreshing and supremely filling. The burger pairs well with a beer (duh), their fries, and a hockey game played on mute at the back of the bar. JAS KEIMIG
Back in Ghana, Priestwick Sackeyfio was a semipro soccer player, and he’s spun this theme into his career over the last couple decades in Seattle, where he coaches kids’ soccer and runs a kebab truck—named for Ghana’s national soccer team. Using peanut-based suya, sort of a textural mix between a sauce and a spice rub that he imports from friends, BlackStar does grilled kebabs in lamb, chicken, and shrimp, and they’re all the best things about street food: spicy and nutty, gingery and clovey, charred and smoky. I like the lamb kebab the most; it’s high-quality organic meat, and the grassy richness shines through the suya sauce. A big one is nine bucks and counts as a small meal, just a la carte, but can I also recommend the fried red plantains, which Priestwick dunks in the deep fryer? You know when you roast carrots and the ends get all knurled and candied? They’re like that. I always house about half of the plantains before my ass hits the seat. <3 MEG VAN HUYGEN
Vats of spitting rice porridge steam furiously in the back kitchen window of Mike’s Noodle House on Maynard Avenue in Chinatown-International District. The women behind the straightforward operation speed about in sensible black shoes and aprons fastened at the waist.
“We are cash only,” they say again and again to customers, with no excess affect nor sentimentality. Nowadays, it’s rare that the Chinatown-International District has spaces that legitimately feel in touch with its heritage of immigrant labor, when single men across diasporas occupied one-room hotel accommodations and found sustenance in the ingredients of their motherlands, which gave them access to memory.
In Chinese, the idea of a hometown is encapsulated in the term, “家乡,” (jia xiang)—a homonym for the second character is “想,” or “to think, remember, to miss.”
As in Western culture the motif of “daily bread” resounds, and so does that of rice in many Asian American and Pacific Islander diasporas, in which a treasured portion of the simple starch was fuel for the grueling daily work of populations who often faced incredible poverty and the traumas of war. So here is an honorific ode to the grounding cord of congee, which emerges through iterations across many cultures and nationalities, but nevertheless represents something more hardy and resistant in the people that it has fed so generously. ANN GUO
Two boiled eggs that are soft inside. Slices of thick and smoky bacon. Two thick slices of toasted bread. A fan of avocado slices. Chunks of light-brown roasted potatoes. Bring all of this together and you basically have everything a breakfast could mean to me. It's that simple, but breakfasts of this kind are, for reasons that I have to properly understand, hard to find in Seattle. (The same cannot be said about Portland, OR—and, by the way, Renton has an underappreciated breakfast joint, Uncle Mo's Bar and Grill.) Mr. West has three locations in Seattle. The one I visit to enjoy a cup of coffee and breakfast, which is served all day, is at the border between downtown and South Lake Union. CHARLES MUDEDE
The vegan food scene in Seattle is under attack. We lost Fremont’s Galaxy Rune, home to the best non-dairy milkshake I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. We lost Wayward Vegan for months and now that it's back, I’m sorry, but I miss the tofu scramble. Now, Cycle Dogs, the place to be for fast-casual vegan comfort food and fancy cocktails in Ballard and the city as a whole, is on the chopping block. So this is not a suggestion, it is a call to arms. March your ass to Cycle Dogs right now. If it's brunch, you’re eating the French Tourist and you’re gonna like it. Imagine, a hot, sloppy sandwich with juicy vegan sausage patties, perfectly seasoned tofu scramble, onions grilled golden, a combination of cheese and mayo that you won’t believe will spare you IBS symptoms, all on a buttery brioche bun. If you go for dinner, you’re getting the Elote Dog. There have been times I eat this hot dog twice in one week. I do not live in Ballard and I do not drive. It’s that fucking good. Basically, it's a Field Roast hot dog between a bun with a crisp outside and soft inside. But wait, there’s more. The cooks cover that dog in a pile of street corn, a drizzle of mayo, a sprinkle of cayenne and green onions. If you’re feeling fancy, add pickled jalapenos and Tapatío. The dog is so loaded, I recommend eating it with a fork and knife like a filet mignon at a Michelin-star restaurant. That’s the respect it deserves, after all. HANNAH KRIEG
Angry Beaver, $13
Few plates of food can fill the belly the way a big ol' plate of poutine can. At the Angry Beaver in Greenwood, the Canadian classic comes six ways, with a pile of fries and squeaky cheese curds smothered in your choice of beef gravy, country gravy with sausage, andouille sausage and jalapeno gravy, beer cheese, vegetarian yellow curry, or vegan mushroom gravy. I always go for the curry. It's still flavorful and stick-to-your-ribs hearty, but something remarkable happens when that flavorful mix of spices—turmeric, coriander, cumin, ginger, cardamom—dance with the greasy starch of the fries. Add in melty, chewy cheese curds and you got yourself a pinky's out kind of junk food, a messy meal that feels at once refined and utterly, delightfully ridiculous. Can't decide on the gravy that's right for you? The Angry Beaver understands. They also offer a poutine flight, where you can choose three of the six toppings for $20. MEGAN SELING
Kathmandu MomoCha, $14.95
Originally a food truck that haunted the breweries and farmers markets of North Seattle, Kathmandu Momocha recently moved into a brick-n-mort in the Amazon Village. The menu has some noodle and rice dishes, but their momos—filled purse-like dumplings that are popular in the Himalayan countries—are the point here. Perhaps one catches oneself being sneery about vegan food sometimes, demanding more flavor and more fat, and it’s tempting when reading the simple description of the vegan momos. But a non-vegan friend swore up and down that these grass-green dumplings are by far the winners of this whole menu, and I had to hard-agree. Inside the swirly little pouches, a loose mash of potato, carrot, garbanzo, and cabbage is accented with ginger, turmeric, garlic, and probably other stuff that I didn’t notice because I faced my half of the order in about 90 seconds. These plump little fatties are actually quite filling as well, but that doesn’t mean you won’t wish you’d gotten a whole order to yourself. You will. MEG VAN HUYGEN
Saint-Géron Mineral Water
Penelope & the Beauty Bar at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, $14
If it’s been a little while since you set foot inside the Fairmont Olympic, there’s been a fairly massive update to the hotel’s lobby bar and restaurant offering. Some of it is quite good; almost none of it is achievable for the $15 range. But hiding out downstairs on the hotel’s arcade floor, tucked away behind a glass refrigerator door within Penelope & the Beauty Bar (the Fairmont’s luxe spa situation), there is, quelle surprise, the city’s best selection of imported mineral water.
I know, I know, mineral water gets a bougie rap in America, something that flies in the face of the more egalitarian perception this stuff has abroad. But it’s some of the most delicious liquid you can drink—culinary, textural, surprising, undeniably healthy—and for less than the cost of an espresso martini, you’ll be armed with a generous bottle to enjoy upstairs among the fashion show madness and sophisticated rush of the Fairmont lobby. The spa stocks bottles from hard-to-find brands like Vichy Catalan (Spain), Saratoga (Upstate NY), Saint Geron (France), and Gerolsteiner (Germany), each with its own unique mineral composition and subtle expression of place. You can drink it from the bottle, pour it into a wine glass, or enjoy it over ice in a nice lowball. I am aware that people look at me like I’m fucking crazy when I say it, but water is not just water, not all waters are created equal, and site-specific mineral water can be every bit as nuanced and delicious and impactful to drink as a glass of wine or a nice cocktail (and in fact, it can *amplify* the pleasures of many such drinks when enjoyed alongside them). You need no appointment to shop for water from Penelope & the Beauty Bar, and the spa is open until 9 pm seven nights a week. This is someone’s idea of a perfect night: a really nice bottle of mineral water and some fancy hotel people watching from atop the mezzanine. (That someone is me.) JORDAN MICHELMAN
Sweet, sweet salmon. What can we say of her wonder? Songs have been written of this divine creature, as have poems, prayers, and spiritualisms. There is no question of the Indigenous cultures that have flourished in close friendship with salmon, and the marvel of frothing river tops in seasons of migration. From the Tulalip to the Chinook, the tribes along the Pacific Coast have over millennia echoed in resplendent communion with their natural collaborators.
Cured, slow-poached, and dissected into filets by tracing the natural grain of the fish, the team at Local Tide approaches their salmon cuts almost like artisans approaching a virgin piece of uncarved wood. Topped with pickled onions, and placed in between toasted slices of brioche, there is simply nothing bad I could say about the Salmon Sando at the elevated Fremont fish counter.
Salmon are amongst many species that face the detrimental impacts of climate change and pollution, which damage habitats and alter breeding patterns in populations. Perhaps the one lesson we can learn from Local Tide is this: treat a blessing well, and she will treat you in return. ANN GUO
The Marie Antionette
Polar Bar at Arctic Club Hotel, $17
The swanky-fabulous Polar Bar inside the historic Arctic Club Hotel just reopened last month, after several years spent closed, and I’m just delirious with joy about it. I wasted no time in testing out every single cocktail on the fresh menu, and there were quite a few that I liked, but the one that really made me feel a feeling is the Marie Antoinette. The cocktail itself is light and uncluttered—gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon, and bubbly, like a French 75 with a flourish of St. Germaine. Tres femme. But then! Extremely importantly!!!! It comes with a piece of cake as the garnish! It’s not small either. A nice big slab of pound cake, balanced on the lip of the glass, acting for all the world like a lime wheel. A big buttery vanilla walrus on the tightrope. A thrill to behold, and an immaculate delight to eat. I’m hella gonna get one on my birthday. MEG VAN HUYGEN
If you haven't yet had a chance to stop by Taurus Ox in the 3 years or so they've been open, now is the time to haul your ass over to this delicious spot. In fact, this Laotian restaurant got so popular, that they had to move out of their cozy Madison Street digs to a more spacious location on 19th Avenue. (Their old spot will be a new Laotian burger place. Sounds incredible.) Anyway, their signature Laos Sausage is a great way to acquaint yourself with Taurus Ox. The sausage is a balanced mix of spicy and savory, with punches of lemongrass coming through. It’s cut and served on a bed of rice (your choice of jasmine or sticky), alongside cold, steamed veggies (tomato jaew or jaew bong) that help cool your mouth from all the heat. If you’re looking for something else to satiate your hunger, my friend Brandi absolutely swears by Taurus Ox’s mango coconut rice and Lao burger. "They live in my head on a loop," she told me recently. You can't go wrong here. JAS KEIMIG
It's easy to find a hamburger in this city. Some of these hamburgers are even good. Lamb burgers, on the other hand, are hard to find, and when found, are almost never good. But the one sold by Island Soul, a Columbia City restaurant that specializes in Caribbean dishes, always catches me by surprise. It has slices of tomato, onions, cucumber, tzatziki sauce, spinach, and a grilled lamb patty between brioche buns. Apparently, if these parts are combined right, you end up with what is at Island Soul, a near-perfect lamb burger. CHARLES MUDEDE
I am a fermentation true believer: give me your pickles, your misos, your krauts and kimchis, bubbling with live cultures and possibilities. In late 2022 a major new destination for banchan—the world of Korean side dishes—opened on First Avenue in Pioneer Square, on the same block as the iconic Central Saloon, where almost every PNW band (great or otherwise) has played at some point in the last hundred years. Ohsun’s remodel of the space at First and Main is bright and airy, an open kitchen making 100% gluten-free food with a focus on a kaleidoscopic offering of housemade banchan.
You can order a nice bibimbap or dubu jorim to eat onsite, each dish paired with an assortment of banchan, or you can do like I did recently and order every single currently available banchan to-go in a 3-ounce snacking size and take them home for a playdate. You’ll leave with a half-dozen or so little containers of onion jangajji, pickled mu radish, spicy squid, cucumber muchim, apple cucumber potato salad, and more, an ever-changing menu of banchan interacting with the seasons. Once home, your bevy pairs beautifully with whatever starch and protein combo you might be into: a simple bowl of rice and tofu, some nice mackerel or salmon collar (perhaps from Pike Place), or my favorite, an unsung cut of steak like hangar or London Broil (visit Beast & Cleaver for these, the best butcher shop in town). Good banchan such as what you’ll find at Ohsun is like the Best Supporting Actress of cuisine accompaniments: it can both steal the show and uplift every other performer in the picture. JORDAN MICHELMAN
I have yet to experience a roasted duck that's better than Beacon BBQ's, a blue and easily missed to-go grocery and deli on Beacon Hill. (The joint, which is all function and little beauty, also sells superb dim sum dishes.) What makes the duck here so good is, unlike so many places, that it's not that salty nor sweet. Instead, it is prepared with a focus on what's best about a duck, the almost gamy mix of juicy fat and soft dark- and light-brown meat. I also love eating the tangy bones of this bird, but I will not bring up that pleasure here. CHARLES MUDEDE
Blotto has some of the best pizza (and vibes!) in Seattle. Made with a light, crisp, naturally-leavened crust, it's extremely easy to pound one of these bad boys in the span of 20 minutes. I'd obviously advise against doing that for your stomach and tastebuds' sake as this pie is meant to be savored. While there are three constants on Blotto's menu—vegan, cheese, and pepperoni and peppers pizzas—they're not afraid to switch it up with their speciality pies, using local and seasonal ingredients. Currently, their Sausage Greens pizza ($29) has been rocking my world. It's made with a base of tomato sauce and aged mozzarella and topped with Olsen fennel sausage, red onion, parm, and kale from Sound Sustainable Farms—delicious. It's the perfect mix of meaty and vegetal, and tastes great dipped in their house-made ranch. I'd highly suggest pairing this pie with their Caesar salad ($13) and Mah Zeh burnt potato side ($8), which is a seared Russet potato that comes with a labneh and chili dip. Pair it with one of their natty wines why dontcha? JAS KEIMIG
It brings me significant amounts of pleasure to report on the ongoing greatness and increased recognition of Off Alley, the small but mighty Columbia City restaurant featured in The Stranger back in February 2022 (they’ve since landed on the NYT’s Best New Restaurants list and enjoyed coverage in Eater, Resy, and Tasting Table). Evan Leichtling and Meghna Prakash’s deeply personal, no-fucks-given twelve-seat restaurant has gone from strength to strength, crafting a nightly funhouse menu of food you will not find anywhere else in the city, or honestly, the country, inspired by local produce and protein and international travel: quail and sweetbreads with blue cheese popover, foie gras buckwheat waffles, crab fat deviled eggs, braised sea snails with winter radish, and so forth.
Dinner at Off Alley has become a reservations-only affair, with long wait times during peak hours (the restaurant is truly tiny). But my favorite time to go is on Sunday, when from 1 pm until around 6 they offer “Adult Lunch”—a sort of riff on the weekend-long lunch tradition beloved from London to Lisbon, which bears little by way of resemblance or intention to the horror show known as “brunch” here in America. A proper Sunday lunch at Off Alley might be enjoyed solo or as a duo; you should order two or three things from the menu, and maybe a little dessert; and a drink is nice, whether it’s wine or a cocktail or a beer or something zero proof, all of which they’re well-stocked for. You should lose track of time a little bit, but not in a “stuck in my phone” sort of way; more like losing yourself in a good book, a conversation with a stranger, or a particularly compelling date. Each plate is good on its own but taken together, across a Sunday afternoon, adult lunch achieves a sort of thermal mass, an exit velocity from reality, arriving at last at cosmic grandeur, or at least a little scoop of kumquat ice cream. Fifty dollars is a guidepost—you might spend a little more, or a little less, and it’s fine either way. It’s Sunday lunch. This is your time. JORDAN MICHELMAN
Tajarin con Burro e Salvia
Spinasse's Tajarin con Burro e Salvia is widely considered to be one of the best pasta dishes in the city. But here's a lesser-known fact: You can make it at home. No parking, no pants. Just you and a beautiful nest of handmade pasta drenched in a delicate buttery sauce and the latest episode of The Last of Us. Spinasse's $30 pasta kit comes with everything you need to make the iconic dish—a hefty handful of their housemade pasta shredded as fine as Easter grass, a small mountain of cultured butter topped with the expert amount of salt, pepper, and fresh sage leaves, and a small container of grated Parmigiano. From there, it comes together in literally seconds. Just melt the butter, allowing the sage to permeate through every last molecule of fat, boil the pasta for 30 seconds, and then quickly but gently stir the two components together with a decent splash of pasta water. The butter and starchy water transform into a smooth, perfumed sauce right before your very eyes. The pasta is melt-in-your-mouth tender and thoroughly coated, but not weighed down by the glistening sauce, just as you aren't weighed down by society's expectation to wear pants. MEGAN SELING
You have $50 in your pocket and steak on your mind. You want something amazing and special, a little different from the usual filet, ribeye, or NY strip, but don’t want to break the bank. The El Zabuton from Asadero is exactly what you’re looking for.
The zabuton, or Denver steak, is a lesser-known cut from the chuck area of the cow and does not require the usual long cook time due to thorough marbling. Every bite is perfectly melt-in-your-mouth tender but without the sometimes too-rich fattiness of other wagyu steaks. At Asadero this piece of meaty heaven comes out of the kitchen seared and sizzling on a slab of rock, which remains at a high temperature for the entire meal. I found peak tenderness is at medium rare and would recommend ordering it rare (or one temperature below how you prefer your steak) and letting the rock do the rest of the work. (Tip: Ask your server for an extra plate to put your steak on once you’ve reached your preferred temperature to avoid overcooking.) The El Zabuton is served à la carte, topped with a sprig of rosemary, a small pile of rock salt for additional seasoning, and two house-made salsas, all of which are great, but not necessarily needed, as the meat itself has a full and buttery flavor with a hint of natural sweetness. EVANNE HALL
Shambles, market price but usually around $55-$65 for 12 ounces
The Shambles may look slick, but it started out as a butcher shop, and it stays true to its heritage in its menu and service. E.g,. the meat part of the menu is just a chalkboard in the main dining room, updated daily with market prices. Don’t come here if you’re not in the mood for an impeccable steak or pork chop, basically. Now, you can’t make a wrong move anywhere on this board, but I always go for the New York strip, which comes in several sizes, so I can order depending on my hunger quotient. Succulent, clean, with singed fat on the edges, plated on a smear of demi-glace and topped with a li'l beret of tarragon compound butter and a sprinkle of good salt… maaaaan, there's nothing like a New York strip. The fact that this one's grass-fed, organic, and hormone-free from Painted Hills Beef in southern Oregon just skyrockets the whole experience into outer space. Ordering this steak means you love yourself, so have some respect. MEG VAN HUYGEN
I See a Light
Inside Passage, $18 for the cocktail, an extra $55 to keep the anglerfish mug (and you should!)
One too many captain-and-cokes in college put me off rum for nearly two decades, but the cocktails at Inside Passage, a tiki bar tucked into Rumba on Capitol Hill, showed me the light. Literally.
Like every other dork in the millennial-heavy bar last week, I reflexively busted out my phone to capture the grandeur of the TikTok bait the server plopped on my table. I See a Light came in an anglerfish-shaped tumbler, complete with a little Christmas blub dangling before its chompers. A multi-colored, plastic ice cube nestled in a mountain of pebble ice added to the spectacle, along with a purple lei orchid. It was purdy, and it tasted as good as she looked. Lemongrass dominated the lightly tart and herby sipper, all balanced by the warm-spice sweetness of the Japanese rum.
I would also highly recommend the Amazombie 2.0, which arrived in a plastic Amazon box with a QR code that led me to an article about the sinking of the Princess Sophia, a mysterious luxury cruise wreck that killed 353 passengers but didn’t receive as much news coverage as the Titanic due to the east coast bias. (Classic.) You can read the feature while enjoying the all-spice-forward drink, taking care not to get nabbed by the plastic zombie hand sticking out of the ice. I liked the Inside Passage, too. Dry ice billowed out of a cut lime, and the whole thing tasted like an elevated Capris Sun. And if you want something bright and clean, then order the Ballard Fog Cutter, which comes with a little field of dill and a smoke salmon crostini.
Yes, I See a Light costs $18. And, yes, the other drinks cost $22. Despite the high price tag, these vessels contained plenty of authority—and the bar seemed to know as much. As the host and servers will remind you more than once: Inside Passage only offers “an hour-and-a-half experience.” That’s plenty of time to sip two of these suckers (tops) and pound a couple spam sliders while marveling at the massive octopus dangling above the bar. RICH SMITH
Deep Sea Sugar and Salt’s full-size cakes are pricier than most in town, and they’re often harder to get, too. The bakery—a green house on South Warsaw Street and Carleton Avenue South in Georgetown—can book up months in advance, and even if you just want a slice or two, the line can stretch down the block on sunny weekends. Go there anyway. Charlie Dunmire’s cake empire lives up to the hype, with a rotating menu of about a dozen different cakes and cupcakes on any given day, and there's not a single dud in the bunch. (Though I personally prefer a higher frosting-to-cake ratio than what's currently on their carrot pineapple cake. The browned butter cream cheese frosting is too good to be relegated to polite dollops! Pile that shit to the sky!) One surprising mainstay, and the cake you must try at least once, is the London Fog. The six-layer tower is stacked with intriguing components: Earl Grey cake, honey and Earl Grey syrup, bergamot mascarpone cream, and tangy cream cheese frosting. It sounds like it would be a flowery, herbal delight, right? Maybe an elegant dessert intended to placate discerning tea drinkers? Somehow, thanks to Dumire's wizardry, the combination of flavors surpasses the expectations of each individual part, and the grey, unassuming cake tastes like sophisticated Froot Loops. A bright, happy little party of flavor you'd never see coming. Surprise! MEGAN SELING
Tasting Menu with Wine Pairing
Bateau, $125 for dinner, an extra $85 for wine pairing
If I'm paying north of $200 for a tasting menu and a wine pairing, then I better be eating a whole cow. At Bateau, Renee Eriksen’s steak place on Capitol Hill, I pretty much did.
They use the whole bovine—tip to tail—to create plates that look like a million bucks but hit like diner food. In fact, every one of the dishes on the current five-course menu recalled classic greasy spoon fare, a high-class wink this erstwhile midwesterner welcomed.
The carpaccio with bright paddlefish caviar, a creamy oyster emulsion, and four prisms of aggressively browned pomme paillasson tasted like a chunked and diced Waffle House hash brown at the ballet. The Crémant de Bourgogne Tentation, a sparkling white wine derived from Pinot Noir grapes, possessed enough acid and body to take on the potatoes and generally paired perfectly.
That hearty start didn’t stop.
The thin, tender bresaola topping a croquette stuffed with mushroom knocked me out and reminded me of stroganoff. The Grilled Oxtail sprinkled with preserved black truffle came on a bed of cabbage swimming in a bay leaf buttermilk sauce, and it tasted precisely like a corned beef sandwich. Two wines made from rare grapes in Italy’s northern Piedmont region attended each course; the first a light and lemony Derthona, and the second a cherry-red Verduno—both tremendous partners.
For the main course, they give you TWO steaks from two different parts of the animal. On the night I dined, I scored a short rib in anchovy butter and a petit sirloin with bone marrow butter. The former was super-fatty, unctuous, and indulgent; the latter was tender, grassier, and my favorite of the two. They also brought out a plate of collards stacked like a deck of cards (hence the “mille-feuille” title on the menu) and packed with umami from the black garlic. A surprise favorite of the night.
After the two steaks, you get TWO desserts: a couple plum-stuffed donuts drizzled with beef-fat caramel and a sidecar scoop of cheese ice cream topped with a dollop of rutabaga compote. Sounds gross, but honestly this course set off a synesthetic response for which I was emotionally unprepared. I felt like I was eating mahogany in a mahogany room, and washing it all down with a mahogany tawny port. The savory/sweet/tart waltz going on in the ice cream and in the beignets, the balance of hot and cold, the high and low—it was a dream. After the third fried thing, the fifth wine, the 10th (or whatever) piece of beef, I felt as satisfied and warm as the restaurant’s amber interior. I wanted a cigarette and an ex-girlfriend. I felt like I was home.
Sometimes you’ll drop $125 on food at one of these places and feel like you need a slice of pizza afterward. Not so at Bateau, god bless. RICH SMITH
Science writer Annalee Newitz has their eye on the future, but not necessarily our future. Their fantastic new book The Terraformers is a vision of things to come on a far-off planet, thousands of years from now. There are some sci-fi twists, like sentient trains that fall in love with talking cats, but at its heart, the book is a fascinating reflection of human history, our tendency to repeat mistakes, and the difficulty we seem to have in treating each other (and our environment) with compassion.
It’s also a super queer book. “It’s a world where there’s a lot more room for identities to be shaped by things other than gender,” Newitz says. They’ll be passing through Seattle this week for a talk at Third Place Books on Friday, February 3 and a book signing at Fuel Coffee in Wallingford on Sunday, February 5.
We caught up with Newitz for a phone interview to talk about the origins of their new book, how it reflects the current transformation of certain American cities, and the opinions of worms and cats.
Wanna get out of town with your sweetie but don’t know where to go? Well, good thing you happen to live in one of the greatest states in the U.S. for scenic road trips! While we do love Leavenworth and Orcas Island, crowds there are likely for holidays like Valentine’s Day, so we’ve rounded up a few off-track trips that you two will remember when you’re old and gray (hopefully, you know, together).
Drink craft beer and meet goats in Republic Stashed up in tiny Ferry County, about 30 miles south of the Canadian border, is the Gold Rush-era town of Republic. With an unusual confluence of old-timey architecture and really good beer (at Republic Brewing Company), it’s definitely worth an overnight stay, maybe even two. There’s also a really good feed-n-seed store, Wild West Farm and Garden, with unusual seeds for gardeners (let your love bloom?). If you have an extra hour, stop by The Goat Farm to meet the goats and maybe even do a little hike with them. Just make sure you contact Wayne or Jenny before your visit! For a more leisurely trip, take the free six-minute ferry—nicknamed “The Gif”—across Lake Roosevelt and then head northwest through the Colville Reservation. It adds an hour to the journey, but it’s the most fun way to get there.