The inside of ViaVita Café & Wine Bar traces the timeline of a single day. Floor-to-ceiling windows cast morning light onto a display case of pastries and cheeses—an addendum to the counter that bears morning coffee orders. Nearby, granite-topped tables sit far enough apart to suggest an open, Parisian patio, but close enough together to support a cross-stream of chatter over lunchtime sandwiches. The day ends on the other side of a semicircular wine bar. There, walls wearing distressed paint encapsulate a rustic alcove, where hanging plants and Greco-Roman-style pottery evoke the dining room of a hillside villa.
The decor and seasonal menu at ViaVita Café & Wine Bar champion a European-flavored escape, where diners can stop at any time for a meal, a snack, or a glass of wine. From the crepes and omelets of brunch—served with duck-fat potatoes and chocolate-orange butter—to afternoon paninis and dinners of pan-seared Alaskan salmon, meals realized by imaginative chefs spark and fuel long conversations. Imported and domestic beers, as well as wines from small vineyards on multiple continents, complement the diverse bouquet of flavors and pair especially well with cheese and charcuterie boards. During special events, guitar music acts as a soothing soundtrack for bites, and sommelier seminars instruct patrons on how to age libations without sending them to PG-13 movies alone.
The culinary artists at Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar grant palates the royal treatment with their smorgasbord of fresh, regionally sourced seafood and oysters, hearty steak-house cuisine, and all-star wine list, which earned the restaurant the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. With a storied resumé that includes manning the kitchen at the prestigious Palisade Restaurant, as well as appearances on Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Presents: American Gladiators, executive chef and owner John Howie focuses his culinary aesthetic on the cuisine of the Pacific Northwest while he experiments with exotic flavors from around the globe. His menu of refined dishes and homey meals furnishes stomachs with alluring flavors from both land and sea, as tasted in the sockeye-salmon poke, dungeness-crab risotto, and fire-grilled filet mignon.
Each Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar location surrounds guests in a cozy cocoon of blond woods and warm light—an ideal setting for polishing off plates of shellfish stews, steak and potatoes, and fresh ice cream and chocolate truffles. While admiring each restaurant’s sleek interior, diners can also enjoy the many notes found in Seastar’s 14-page wine list.
Decked out in retro kitsch ranging from vintage lunchboxes to video-game memorabilia, Lunchbox Laboratory celebrates the art of burgers and the culture of nerds in equal measure. Its meat-based creations have inspired both devotion and hyperbole: Seattle Times' Providence Cicero described one dish, the Burger of the Gods, as a "double-fistful of deliciousness"—a fitting descriptor for the gargantuan blend of sirloin, rib eye, and prime rib slathered in gorgonzola sauce.
True to its name, the restaurant also loves to experiment with ingredients. Another burger, the Dork, takes its name from its blend of duck and pork—Seattle Magazine calls its "one of the most satisfying burgers in the city." The burgers are backed up by signature dishes, including Hong Kong–style buffalo wings and Goldfish mac and cheese. A range of milkshakes, such as the liquor-infused Drunken Elvis, are served in laboratory beakers stolen from sleeping chemists.
Across its three locations, Lunchbox keeps diners entertained with bowling lanes, billiards, and classic '80s video games. At the 5,000-square-foot South-Lake Union location, an experimental cocktail bar serves as a centerpiece.
At first glance, the kitchen of Trophy Cupcakes and Party could be taken for that of a gourmet restaurant. Pure Madagascar-Bourbon vanilla and Valrhona cocoa from France line the shelves, and local sweet-cream butter, free-range eggs, and fresh fruit fill the fridge. These are the ingredients Jennifer Shea uses to craft her daily rotating cupcake flavors, from chocolate nutella to gluten-free red velvet. With the help of husband Michael Williamson, she distributes her decadent handheld desserts to three Seattle boutiques, which have garnered press attention to rival that of the city's finest eateries. Martha Stewart gushed about Jennifer's innovative and widely varied flavors, and Seattle magazine picked six Trophy creations for its 2008 list of the city's 95 best desserts.
To complement their cupcakes, Trophy Cupcakes stocks a curated selection of party supplies. A cocktail-style party room in Wallingford Center, which can accommodate up to 30 guests, is available to rent for birthday parties, baby showers, and superhero business meetings.
Like the Danube River itself, the cuisine at Danube Bistro Restaurant winds through various parts of Europe, making for a menu as eclectic as it is satiating. Italian and German wines complement family-style cuisine of those same two nation. These two formative influences result in entrees such as house-made lasagna filled with a choice of meat, seafood, or vegetables. In true international style, Hungary scores some influence on the menu as well, with a goulash studded with chunks of beef simmered in a paprika sauce.
Once patrons enter the family-owned restaurant through its fountain-marked entrance on the ground floor of the Avalon Apartments, they'll notice the care the proprietors have taken to make the restaurant a relaxing dining experience. Patrons can sup indoors on one of the restaurants two floor, or choose to take their meals on the outdoor patio, where large red umbrellas and an invisible force field shield meals from the sunlight.
Blending Parisian aesthetics with Seattle’s top-notch coffee and commitment to locally sourced ingredients, Café Cesura is known for its fusion of style and sustainability. Behind the counter, baristas depress plungers on finely ground beans and hot water to create steaming cups of French-press coffee, or let time do the work with cold-press coffee that infuses overnight for sweeter, less acidic batches. However it’s brewed, each cup complements the flavors in the café’s fresh breakfast fare, which includes waffles studded with berries or bacon or hearty breakfast sandwiches layered with cheddar, eggs, and applewood-smoked bacon. Since most of the café’s ingredients come from local farmers and dairies, customers know their food is thoughtfully sourced and contains no unpronounceable ingredients—Yirgacheffe coffee beans excluded.