There’s something classic and homey about biscuits and sausage gravy, a dish with European roots that has existed in America in one form or another for more than 300 years. It became a staple of the American South after the Revolution when resources were in short supply; the dish, which requires few ingredients, is the perfect fuel for someone facing a long day of manual labor. You can almost imagine a colonial homestead in some distant post-war village, its cauldron of sausage gravy bubbling over an open fire and a hearth piled high with piping hot, made-from-scratch biscuits waiting to be smothered in sausage-studded creaminess.
Biscuits and gravy is a food tradition that remains to this day throughout the country, enjoyed by everyone from brunch goers to hangover sufferers to blue- and white-collar wage earners. But where, besides your grandma’s kitchen, are the best places to get biscuits and gravy in Seattle? I went in search of answers with home cook and gardener, Whitney Mongé, and one time competitive eater hopeful, Eva Walker.
While there are plenty of places in the city that offer mushroom gravy for the vegetarians out there, we avoided them in favor of the classic, meat-based versions, visiting nine Seattle spots with good reps to taste-test their biscuits and gravy offerings, rating each based on five parameters: quality of the biscuit, quality of the gravy, price value of the dish, vibe of the eatery and overall plate presentation. We scored each category 1-10, with a possible high score of 150. Without further ado, here are the scores.
Winner: Biscuit & Bean (135)
This was the final stop on our journey and Whitney summed it up best after our meal: “This was the biscuits and gravy I’ve wanted this whole time.” We agreed. Ballard’s adorable Biscuit & Bean offered the best of all the rest, narrowly beating out its closest competitor. Serving a delicious, flaky-but-also-fluffy-in-the-middle biscuit topped with rich, thick, flavorful gravy, Biscuit & Bean also sold the cheapest of all the plates ($6.50 per serving). With an even sausage –to-heavenly-gravy radio, this was the cream of the crop.
Second: Noble Barton (133.75)
Noble Barton and Biscuit & Bean are in a class all their own. As a restaurant, Noble Barton—which is located in the heart of the burgeoning White Center culinary scene—had a warm and comfortable atmosphere and friendly service that felt an awful lot like southern hospitality. The biscuits (about $10 per plate) were huge and piled with delicious gravy that finished with a noticeable taste of toasted fennel. We tried plenty of gravy that lacked variation during our excursion, but Noble Barton’s meat-rich version was welcomed and distinct. It was also fun to play the arcade games (skee-ball!) in the back of the restaurant as we digested.
Third: The Stone House Café (119)
Slogging through biscuit after biscuit and eatery after eatery can sometimes feel tedious. Rainier’s Stone House Café, though, offered a unique variation on the theme. Its façade featured hundreds of literal stones while its interior looked like a gnome’s living room, complete with a hearth and wood paneled walls. While many of the biscuits and gravy we tasted had a uniform white appearance and tasted one-dimensional, Stone House’s version (priced at about $10) was topped with fried yam ribbons. This touch alone bumped it a notch higher than the lower-scoring places below. It felt like an extra touch your grandma might add after decades of perfecting her recipe.
Fourth: Morsel (112.75)
Even though we’re getting lower down the list, the biscuits and gravy from Morsel were quite scrumptious. When they arrived at our table in the tiny eatery, the warm, decadent aroma wafted up and smelled just like tasty relaxation. A longtime personal favorite, Morsel—formerly the biscuit shop Nook—has always felt like a vibrant New York City-style kitchen with its array of copper pots and pans hanging from the walls. This place has soul. The meal ($7.25 per plate) was generous and satisfying in that stick-to-your-ribs sort of way.
Fifth: Wandering Goose (111.5)
In the same tier with Stone House and Morsel, Wandering Goose—had you asked me prior to this search—would have been my guess as No. 1 in the city. I’ve long loved the restaurant’s “Sawmill,” a biscuit and gravy sandwich with fried chicken inside. And, in doing research for this piece, local luminaries Kshama Sawant and Nikkita Oliver each named Wandering Goose as their top choice. But c’est la vie! Unfortunately, the gravy, while flavorful, was a touch too thin, and tasted more like a spicy chorizo sauce than traditional, heartier sausage gravy.
Sixth: Biscuit Bitch (95)
While Biscuit Bitch is a fun enough place (“Welcome, bitches,” they greet you as you walk in), their biscuit and gravy plate (about $7) was underwhelming. I eyed the biscuit sandwiches coming out of the kitchen enviously. Perhaps those were better? But our biscuit was mushy in some spots and overcooked in others, and the gravy looked like hummus, though it tasted fine, if kind of spicy.
Seventh: Honest Biscuits (85.5)
Winner of the best views, this Pike Place Market joint overlooks majestic mountains has an expansive waterside panorama. But inside, there’s practically nowhere to sit. Our table felt like it was made for children and we were handed our bland biscuits and gravy (about $7.25 each) in to-go containers, though we were dining on-site. The staff was extra friendly, and recognized Whitney from her music. But it was not our favorite by a long shot; none of us were inclined to even finish.
Eighth: The Dish (80.5)
Winner of maybe the best-looking plate of biscuits and gravy (about $9 each), the food regrettably didn’t match up to its appearance in this family-friendly establishment. The biscuit was super small, the gravy one-dimensional. But, and while this doesn’t count toward the score, the delicious fried potatoes that came on the side were, paired with the gravy, quite memorable. It made us wish the flattened biscuit matched its bounty.
Ninth: Voula’s Offshore Café (43.5)
Not a score typo and not a place to get biscuits and gravy. The food (about $8 per plate) tasted soapy, and we’d prefer not to have to talk about it anymore.
Biscuits and gravy seem like a hearty meal for everyday folks made by everyday folks. One of those traditional dishes that your grandma has been cooking for ages. But at many of the restaurants we visited, the gravy was uniform and bland, and other than a few exceptions, lacked variation. Our favorites diverted from the safe and normal recipes, delivering on distinct nuances and flavors that made us want to return for another helping.