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.
A lion's head stands guard over the brick oven at Pizzeria Guido & Wine Bar, bearing its fearsome jaws at any who would try to pilfer the restaurant's family recipes. Thankfully, the only way most diners attempt to gain insight into the establishment's Tuscan traditions is through the food. Slivers of buffalo mozzarella, basil, and fresh tomatoes accent antipasti plates in the colors of the Italian flag, and the wood-fired oven spills forth the aromas of prosciutto, capers, and fontina cheese topping pizzas and filling calzones. Glasses of Italian wine click together in the halos of steam rising from pastas. Waiters move through the spacious dining room, and their white dress shirts and smart red ties complement the wall's gentle orange and yellow tones, which call to mind the warming glow of a sunset or a haunted ventriloquist dummy finally burning.
Edmonds handcrafts its wines in small, open-top fermentation tanks before aging them in small oak barrels. Producing only 1,000 cases of wine a year, the winery distributes them to local restaurants and gourmet shops. During your wine tasting, you'll get to try a variety of varietals, such as the sweet and dry 2008 Gewurtztraminer ($15), the intensely fruity 2007 Slide Ridge ($29), or the 2007 Delorious ($23), a wine made of equal parts delicious and glorious. Take note of which wine agrees with your flavor receptors and mind-matter the most, then take home a bottle.
Seattle's bustling Pike Place Market might be the last place you'd expect to find an authentic European-style wine cave. But that's exactly what guests to The Tasting Room Seattle find at this tasting cellar nestled between Stewart and Virginia Streets. But while the elegant surrounds might feel distinctly European, the vintages all hail from much closer to home. All of the wines served at this shop––and its sister location in Yakima Valley––come from Washington producers, and each winery featured (Harlequin Wine Cellars and Wilridge Winery, to name a few) is winemaker-owned. To help customers become acquainted with the artisan wines from their home state, the staff offers tastings of current releases and a few library wines, and presents a selection of salumi and cheeses from around the world, with recommendations for pairing or dunking.
Before it became a hotspot for wine enthusiasts, In The Red Wine Bar's space sheltered a Hansen Lamp & Shade starting in 1937. Its nostalgia-tinged decor?mix-matched wares and antique furniture?carries the tradition first set by the furniture store and complements the aging red, white, and sparkling wines that rotate through the menu on a regular basis. Local and independent craft beers round out the beverage supply, and the bar's edibles include bacon-wrapped dates and four types of mac 'n' cheese, along with a selection of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menu options, all made with local, sustainable ingredients. Along with stocking a wealth of varietals, the bar's staff dispenses wine knowledge with topics ranging from the fundamentals of tasting to tips for pairing wine with the appropriate horror flick.
In 1992, restaurant owner Carlos Kainz and chef Julie Guerrero first joined forces to open a tiny West Seattle bakery and café, a spot that quickly gained traction and outgrow its modest trappings. The duo packed up the winning operation and moved on to a larger space and a larger vision, renaming their venture Dulces Bistro & Wine and crafting an ambitious menu focusing entirely on Latin-fusion cuisine for dinner. Although Guerrero traces her family heritage back to Mexico, many of her dishes, including paella valenciana and boeuf bourguignon, show strong European influences. Unadulterated Latin staples pepper the menu, such as the green chicken enchiladas that serve as a staple in Mexico City and at Sam I Am’s Cinco de Mayo parties.