Psst: The wildly popular South Korean fried chicken chain Bonchon's first Washington location is now softly open in First Hill. Bonchon via Facebook
Pre-spring Seattle abounds with exciting food news: The popular Korean fried chicken chain Bonchon has soft-opened its first Washington location in First Hill, Hood Famous Cafe and Bar will bring its beloved ube cheesecake and other Filipino sweets to the International District this week, Seattle chefs and restaurants are buzzing with excitement after the James Beard Award nominations were announced this week, and Lowrider Baking Company has announced a brick-and-mortar location in the Central District. Read on to learn about all that and more of the latest Seattle food updates. For more ideas, check out our top 20 ways to celebrate Mardi Gras in Seattle, our list of unique Moscow mules in Seattle for National Moscow Mule Day on Sunday, and our full food and drink calendar.

OPENINGS
Bonchon
The highly anticipated First Hill location (and first-ever Washington location) of the popular South Korea-based fried chicken chain has finally soft-opened with the limited hours of 5-8 pm, according to a sign that was first posted in their window yesterday and spotted by a member of our team. The Seattle menu includes wings, drumsticks, and chicken strips; salads and soups; starters like takoyaki and fried calamari; main dishes like bibimbap and bulgogi; and sides like onion rings, kimchi, and fries.
First Hill

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Falafel Salam
Chef Shimi Kahn of the food truck and West Seattle brick-and-mortar restaurant Falafel Salam has opened a food truck with a kitchen in a fixed location in Georgetown, serving the same Israeli-Mediterranean fare such as fresh falafel, fresh pita, hummus, and garlic fries.
Georgetown

Greenwood Flame Burger
This new burger joint serving burgers and sandwiches, fried mushrooms, mac and cheese, French fries, onion rings, chicken tenders, and more has opened in Greenwood and had its first Yelp review on February 23. So far, reviews seem to be positive.
Greenwood

Hood Famous Cafe and Bar
Exciting news for ube cheesecake lovers: The Filipinx-owned, Ballard-based bakeshop with a cult following announced on Instagram that its new cafe and bar inside the Publix building in the International District will have a soft opening starting Monday, March 4, and will be open daily from 7 am until 3 pm.
International District

Jujubeet
The healthy chain offering fresh juices, cleanses, and vegetarian and vegan food opened its newest location in Pioneer Square today, March 1.
Pioneer Square

Mountaineering Club
This Northwest-themed rooftop bar, which opens today above the University District's Graduate Hotel (formerly Hotel Deca), offers a view of Mount Rainier and the Space Needle, locally inspired plates, and a cocktail menu designed by Jabriel Donohue (who previously spent time at Dino's Tomato Pie), with regional ingredients and novelties like hot drinks served in Thermoses.
University District

Ugly Mug Cafe & Coffee Roasters
This husband-and-wife-owned, University District-based coffee shop recently soft-opened a location in Interbay and had their first Yelp review on February 17. The menu includes specialty coffee drinks and seasonal specials, sandwiches, soups, pastries, and more.
Interbay

CLOSURES
Bluebird Ice Cream
The Fremont small-batch artisan ice creamery announced on Instagram that they have been unexpectedly forced out of their Fremont location after being given 20 days' notice to vacate. The shop hopes to find another location in Fremont or elsewhere. Bluebird's Phinney location will remain open.
Fremont

It's Bao Time
After four years of business, this popular food truck, which serves steamed buns stuffed with a variety of fillings, announced on Facebook that it will close for good after its appearance at the Lunar New Year Celebration in Hing Hay Park this Saturday. According to co-owner Young Cho, founder Sean Jen may eventually open a brick-and-mortar restaurant inspired by the truck's menu, but the truck currently has no set plans to reopen. However, Cho appears to be preparing to re-open his defunct South Park-based Asian-Tex Mex fusion restaurant Phorale, which The Stranger's Tobias Coughlin-Bogue once praised highly—the restaurant's Instagram posted a countdown for "24 days, 16 hours" on February 16.
Traveling

OTHER FOOD NEWS
Seattle and Washington chefs and restaurants nominated for James Beard awards
The nominations for the semifinalists for the James Beard Awards (a prestigious honor in the food world, named for the legendary late cookbook author James Beard and often likened to the culinary equivalent of the Oscars) were announced this Wednesday. The Seattle and Washington names in the running include:

  • Sawyer for Best New Restaurant
  • Kit Schumann and Jesse Schumann of Sea Wolf Bakers for Outstanding Baker
  • No Anchor for Outstanding Bar Program
  • Renee Erickson of Bateau and Shiro Kashiba of Sushi Kashiba for Outstanding Chef
  • Cafe Juanita for Outstanding Restaurant and Outstanding Pastry Chef (Junko Mine)
  • Ethan Stowell of Stowell Restaurants (Ballard Pizza Company, Bramling Cross, Cortina, Goldfinch Tavern, How to Cook a Wolf, Marine Hardware, Mkt., Red Cow, Rione XIII, Staple & Fancy, Super Bueno, and Tavolàta) for Oustanding Restaurateur
  • Canlis for Outstanding Service
  • L'Oursin for Outstanding Wine Program
  • Dave Green of Skagit Valley Malting, Mike Sauer of Red Willow Vineyard, and Mhairi Voelsgen of broVo Spirits for Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer
  • Jay Blackinton of Aelder/Hogstone’s Wood Oven and Shota Nakajima of Adana for Rising Star Chef of the Year
  • Logan Cox of Homer, Eric Donnelly of RockCreek, Eric Johnson of Stateside, Taichi Kitamura of Sushi Kappo Tamura, Colin Patterson of Mana Restaurant, Mutsuko Soma of Kamonegi, Brady Williams of Canlis, and Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi of Joule for Best Chef: Northwest

    Life On Mars opening in Capitol Hill
    KEXP DJ/associate programming director John Richards (also known as John in the Morning), his partner Amy Richards (Pair Music Collective), Neumos/Barboza/Runaway co-owner Steven Severin, and his wife Leigh Sims (Wake Up Promotions) are planning to open Life On Mars, a new relaxed, vinyl-centric, '70s-inspired bar, in the Pike Flats building on Capitol Hill. The vegan food menu will be designed by chef Joe Ball, who's previously spent time at Flying Apron, Bread & Chocolate in Grand Cayman, and Harlow in Portland, and will offer dishes like waffle sliders stuffed with a choice of chicken-fried artichokes, barbecue pulled jackfruit, or coconut bacon, while the drink menu will emphasize "unfussy" craft cocktails, craft beer, and wine. The space will also feature "deep, comfy booths," a wide U-shaped bar, and a "gigantic wall of vinyl," with records available for sale.

    Yalla moving into Montana walk-up window
    After Monica Dimas's tortas stand Tortas Condesa exits its walk-up window next to Montana on Olive Way in Capitol Hill later this month, chef Taylor Cheney's Middle Eastern pop-up Yalla will take its place, open from 4 pm until late night daily. The new spot will offer mezze and wraps made with saj (a Lebanese flatbread).

    Ethan Stowell takes over Schooner Brewing kitchen
    Restaurateur Ethan Stowell, known for his restaurants Ballard Pizza Company, Bramling Cross, Cortina, Goldfinch Tavern, How to Cook a Wolf, Marine Hardware, Mkt., Red Cow, Rione XIII, Staple & Fancy, Super Bueno, and Tavolàta, is poised to take over the kitchen at Schooner Brewing once it re-opens in July or August 2019. (Schooner Brewing recently merged with spiked seltzer company San Juan Seltzer in January and closed its kitchen in the process.) Stowell is planning to create a casual food menu that will pair well with the company's beverages, with a laid-back ambience, and will use the location as a commissary kitchen to produce items like pasta and desserts for his other restaurants. A selection of Schooner Brewing and San Juan Seltzer products will also soon become available at Stowell's other restaurants.

    Hot Cakes hires new pastry chef
    Hot Cakes has added chef Colin Buchanan to its pastry chef team. Buchanan previously interned at the molten chocolate cakery while studying pastry at Seattle Central College and has spent time at the Seattle location of Cantinetta and Salt & Iron.

    Lauren Darnell wins Miss Speed Rack NW
    On Monday, February 25, bartender Lauren Darnell of the Hideout won Speed Rack Season 8 Northwest, a regional all-female speed bartending competition, and has officially been crowned the reigning Miss Speed Rack NW. Darnell will go on to compete in the U.S. National Finals in Chicago this May.

    Little Big Burger opening a location in Capitol Hill
    The Portland-based fast-casual burger chain Little Big Burger, which serves burgers, truffle fries, root beer floats, sodas, and beer and recently opened its first Washington location in Wallingford in October, appears to be opening a location in Capitol Hill on 12th and Pike soon, according to a report from a Stranger Things to Do staff member. According to the company's website, another location is "coming soon" to Green Lake. The Wallingford location gave out free burgers for its grand opening, as is customary for the chain—we'll post updates closer to the opening.

    Lowrider Baking Company opening new location
    The Georgetown-based cookie company Lowrider Baking announced on Instagram that they will be moving out of their commissary kitchen and opening a brick-and-mortar shop in the Central District. (An address has not yet been announced.) Their trailer shop in Georgetown will remain open.

    85°C Bakery Café coming to Edmonds
    The Taiwanese bakery chain 85°C Bakery Café, known as the "Starbucks of Taiwan" because of its popularity, will open a location in Edmonds. (The chain has locations in Federal Way, Tukwila, and Lynnwood and recently opened a location in the International District.) The date of the opening is unknown, but Eater Seattle reports that signage on the building has gone up and that the location is recruiting employees.

    Woodblock owners opening Spark Pizza in Redmond
    Woodblock owners Carolyn and Tony Scott are opening Spark Pizza, a cozy pizzeria inside a former Redmond home opening this spring. The space will feature a fire pit and a deck, while the menu will offer seasonal and house wood-fired pizzas, rotating pasta specials, appetizers, salads, desserts, and more, with a selection of 20 beers, local and imported wine, and cocktails on tap.

    Spice Waala opening brick-and-mortar restaurant in Capitol Hill
    The Indian street food vendor Spice Waala, which regularly appears at the Fremont and South
    Lake Union farmers markets and is known for their kathi rolls stuffed with fillings like chicken tikka and paneer masala, is planning to open a permanent restaurant soon in Capitol Hill, in the former space of Kanak Cuisine of India (which appears to have recently closed after four years and has a banner reading “closed (temporarily)” on its website).

    EVENTS
    FRIDAY, MARCH 1
    Pig Day Out
    This event celebrates not one but two pig-related occasions: the Lunar New Year and National Pig Day—a special "Porcine Nexus" that only happens once every 12 years. Rather than just feast on pork (which you can still do via food specials at spots like Honest Biscuits and Pike's Pit Bar-B-Que), you'll be watching pig races, making pig crafts, witnessing the crowning of the 2019 Lunar New Year princess Golden Pearl, drinking in a Pig Pen Beer Garden and S’Winery, and seeing live performances by the Chinese Cultural Dancers.

    Slovenian Dinner
    Chef Derek Shankland will spotlight the cuisine from the tiny but culturally rich Baltic country of Slovenia. 

    Wizards and Witches Beer Festival
    Remember when Harry Potter has his first butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks and gets tipsy and tries to walk back to Hogwarts in the snow? Follow his lead by tasting the Adult Butterscotch Beer along with over 20 other wintery brews. Or, stop by the Lair of Secret Cider Potions. There will also be a themed photo booth and music by DJ Merlin.

    SATURDAY, MARCH 2
    Cabernet Classic
    Celebrate Washington Wine Month and toast to one of most crowd-pleasing grape varietals out there by tasting over 50 cabernets from 30 Washington wineries. There will also be bites from The Central and Pearl Bellevue as well as live music from DJ EPop. The event will benefit Talk It Up, a "positive messaging" nonprofit.

    Icelandic Þorrablót 2019
    The mid-winter Icelandic festival Þorrablót is filled with traditional food (like fermented shark meat), Brennivin schnapps, and music (provided here by Icelandic band Sour Balls).

    Washington Beer Open House
    For this event, more than 140 Washington breweries will open their doors for a simultaneous open house, which will give local beer lovers a unique opportunity to create their own adventure. Plot an itinerary for a personalized brewery crawl, travel to a few destination breweries you’ve always wanted to try, or simply drop into the nearest participating craft brewer in your neighborhood. Each featured brewer will have their own lineup of surprises in store, including samples, tours, souvenirs, rare barrel tastings, savory food pairings, and more.

    Whiskey Ginger Cocktail Dinner
    Enjoy a six-course dinner paired not with wine or beer, but with whiskey ginger cocktails made with Jim Beam and Maker's Mark. 

    WhiskeyRocks NW 2019
    Get all warm and tingly by tasting fine whiskey and bourbon while you enjoy live music. There will also be craft beer, snacks, and hot food.

    MARCH 2-3
    Penn Cove Musselfest
    Thanks to the nutrient-rich outflow of water from the Skagit River, beautiful Penn Cove’s famous mussels grow full-sized in record time and are harvested young, making them impossibly firm, fat, and sweet. This annual festival, which bills itself as a celebration of all things “bold, briny, and blue,” features boat tours of the Penn Cove Mussel Farm, a mussel eating contest, cooking demonstrations with local chefs, a waterfront beer garden, and the main event: a tasting competition with 16 restaurants from all over Coupeville vying to have their mussel chowder declared the finest in town.

    SUNDAY, MARCH 3
    Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables Potluck Dinner
    Tote along a dish to share from Joshua McFadden's brilliant seasonal produce-focused cookbook Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables and partake in a potluck feast.

    MONDAY, MARCH 4
    The Art of Aperitivo
    Explore aperitivo, the Italian tradition of drinks served before a meal in order to open the palate and stoke the appetite. This event will cover history, production methods, distinctions between Italian and Spanish vermouth, and more, with tastings of Mancino, Yzaguirre, Lacuesta, and Rinomato and samples of "botanicals and macerations."

    Co-Authored Gin Cocktail Competition
    At this competition, Temple Distilling will seek a talented mixologist to be chosen as their "co-author" to help conceive a new unique gin in collaboration with Temple's head distiller, followed by an after-party with cocktails.

    Oysters & Inferno Dogs
    Manolin will team up with Hama Hama Oyster Co. and Dante's Inferno Dogs to sling bivalves beside beef franks. Wash them down with Big Gin cocktails, wine, and beer.

    Smells Like Seattle Spirits: Tales of the Northwest’s Rumrunning Past
    Learn all about our town's seedy, boozy, rum-running past with Smith Tower and the Good Bootlegger’s Guild, who'll host three talks on "history, mythology, [and] whiskey." The main subject will be Roy Olmsted, Seattle's most infamous bootlegger. Today's talk, "The Rise of Old Roy: Seattle’s Most Original Innovator" follows him as he takes up bootlegging full-time. Order a drink and be entertained by this century-old scandal. Don't forget to admire the view.

    TUESDAY, MARCH 5
    The Backdoor Whiskey & BBQ Pairing
    Rebekah Holman will educate guests on the distinctions between different whiskeys and lead a tasting paired with bites of smoky meats.

    Ivar’s Mardi Gras Party
    Local seafood staple Ivar's will offer a Cajun and Creole twist on their Northwest fare, plus King Cake and drink specials for Mardi Gras. The Filé Gumbo Trio will provide live music.