Stan Phillips spent his childhood at his father’s side in their Kansas City backyard, his little hands barely strong enough to handle the wood for the family’s smoker. Now that he’s grown, Phillips brings his family’s recipes to his Issaquah restaurant, where he slathers meats such as beef brisket, ribs, hot links, and ham with a traditional dry rub, smokes them over hickory wood, and dishes them out with sauce on the side. When diners step inside the rustic barbecue joint, they can order their meats by the pound, or dig into sandwiches such as the Cowboy, whose pork is pulled apart with a spur. A full bar slings cocktails, wines, and craft beers to suit every entrée, and the dining room displays a full Sunday football lineup on its large televisions.
Fischer Meats has been selecting, stocking, smoking, and slicing fresh meats for more than 100 years. Since 1910, the shop's staff has aided customers in filling their freezers, tables, and underground bunkers with quality beef, poultry, and seafood, paired with marinades, rubs, and recipes. The shop makes preparing meaty meals easy by putting together meat packages as well as curing and smoking cuts. Handmade jerky comes in both spicy and sweet varieties.
At the center of a big, round table sits a lazy susan bearing tiny, elegant white dishes. Each holds a mound of intriguing dried leaves that look as though they’ve been emptied from an alchemist’s vial. Over the course of the evening, everyone around the table will watch, smell, and taste as the power of those leaves is awakened through hot water and the deep knowledge shared by Roberta, Experience Tea’s owner. A certified tea specialist, she leads classes on a vast range of tea topics, exploring everything from health benefits to proper steeping techniques to the etiquette of Chinese tea ceremonies or British-tea hot tubs. Within a warmly lit storefront lined by painted brick walls and a veritable library of tea varieties, students can also learn how to create their own signature brew in blending workshops. Even customers who stop in for a pouch of loose-leaf are likely to end up indulging in a rich sensory experience as Roberta offers them a sample and shares tasting notes.
One wouldn’t normally think of fish as having cheeks, but at Fins Bistro, they’re on the menu. The mildly sweet halibut medallions are indicative of the restaurant’s offerings: though mostly seafood, it’s a diverse balance of local and exotic flavors. The Northwest Trio touts the aforementioned cheeks with crab cakes and wild salmon, whereas sashimi-grade ahi tuna is seared and complemented by sautéed spinach. Beyond seafood, the staff cooks meaty entrees such as lamb shank braised in chianti, hinting at Fins' extensive wine list. The selection presents more than 100 varietals culled from near and far locales such as Washington, New Zealand, and Chile. Fins Bistro welcomes guests to sup in the yellow-hued dining room adorned with blue curtains or outside on the patio with large-enough table umbrellas to be used as tarps for baseball fields.
At Flat Iron Grill, executive chef Cody Reaves puts an international twist on traditional steak-house staples made with locally sourced organic ingredients. Small doses of chorizo, chimichurri, or chili-spiked truffle sauce lend distinctive Latin and South American flavors to the menu’s grilled steaks, roasted king salmon, and seafood-laden paellas. These culinary accessories add to the already fresh flavors of produce from Hand-Farmed Organics, whose verdant fields line the Snoqualmie River 25 miles east of Seattle. To accompany the rustically roasted entrees, the bartenders pour tipples from their selection of more than 200 whiskeys, which include rich bourbons, smoky scotches, and locally distilled creations.
Echoing the menu’s rustic elegance, the Western-themed dining room surrounds guests in dark wood tones and exposed brickwork. A spotlighted longhorn skull hangs on a terra-cotta red wall alongside local artists' black-and-white photographs of Washington landscapes. Patrons can also dine on an outdoor patio shaded by light-tan umbrellas and clouds lassoed into place by helpful cowboys.
Not much has changed since Lovie Yancey opened the first Fatburger in 1952. Since then, the chain has expanded, but the food has stayed the same: 100% USDA lean beef burgers grilled to order and hand-scooped ice-cream shakes. Each restaurant stays true to Yancey's vision, even down to retro-influenced digs with jukeboxes blasting old school favorites designed to make listeners flash enthusiastic thumbs-up signs. Inside the kitchen, cooks stack burgers from 2.5-ounce burgers to 24-ounce triple burgers on toasted regular or gluten-free buns as fresh onions crisp inside fryers filled with cholesterol-free oil. Diners can also enjoy Fatburger’s signature chili made with a secret blend of herbs and spices or milkshakes topped with dollops of whipped cream that resemble fluffy, white clouds shaped like marshmallows.