Smell is the sense most closely tied to memory. If that's the case, then Willie Turner must be in a constant state of reverie. Willie grew up in Tallulah, Louisiana—and it was there that he fell in love with slow-smoked brisket, pork shoulder, and other smokey barbecue staples. When he moved to Seattle, he brought that same passion, along with authentic recipes for made-from-scratch soul food, with him. Willie's Taste of Soul Bar-B-Que stands as a slow-smoked tribute to the southern cuisine of its proprietor's youth.
Naturally, Louisiana-style barbecue anchors the menu, much like brontosaurus ribs anchored prehistoric ships. First, Willie covers brisket, ribs, chicken, links, and other meats in his signature rub. Then, he slow smokes them for hours on end, creating impossibly tender entrees. Finally, the dishes get some home-made sauce, resulting in barbecue that The Stranger praised as being "worth the trip down south to Beacon Hill."
Not everything emerges from the smoker, however. Willie and his team also fry chicken (which pairs nicely with waffles at breakfast), and they cook classic soul food sides from scratch, including biscuits and greens. Their tour de Louisiana cuisine ends on a dulcet note with plates of cobbler. As for drinks, just look to a cooler filled with Faygo and Jones Soda.
A barbecue place is only as successful as its saucy foodstuffs, and the hot and mild meats at Jones Original Barbeque have been winning affections for more than 20 years. The family business still makes full use of the original sauce recipe devised by the Jones family patriarch, William U. Jones, Sr., and refined by his son, William U. Jones Jr. . With signature ribs and smoked brisket featured on Food Network's BBQ with Bobby Flay, the eatery was voted Best BBQ for five years in row (2004–2008) by readers of Seattle Weekly. Beside bountiful rolls of paper towels, tables populate with chopped pork, brisket, and hot links in sandwiches and on platters with collard greens and mac 'n' cheese. After wrestling down sharable meat combination platters, patrons can snatch bottles of their signature barbecue sauce to slip into holiday stockings filled with coal and other grilling essentials.
Guadalajara North attracts Mexican-food aficionados with friendly staff, a full bar with regular happy hours, and a West Seattle location with plenty of on-street parking. Although the menu hosts Americanized standards such as taco salad and chicken quesadillas, according to the Stranger, " it's their authentic Mexican dishes that are superb." The chili verde, for example, features morsels of pork loin cooked with a tomatillo sauce and seasoned with house spices. On a warm summer evening, the restaurant's outdoor deck is an ideal spot to sip a margarita or test out napkin parachutes on action figures.
Drink That Pairs with Smoky BBQ Flavors: An American bourbon, such as Bulleit, George Dickel, or Michter’s Sour Mash, or an American draft beer, such as Salted Caramel Porter from Oregon’s Breakside Brewing, Lazy Boy Brewing Hefeweizen out of Washington, or 2X IPA from New York’s Southern Tier.
While You’re Waiting
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Build a BBQ-level appetite with a hike through Discovery Park.
After: Continue with the bourbon theme with a nightcap at Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen (5309 22nd Ave. NW)
"My paternal grandmother's kitchen was like a window into the world of food," head chef Paul Michael reflects on Frontier Room's website. A transplant from Louisiana, he draws much of his culinary inspiration from his Southern roots and his grandma's cooking—a melting pot of such culinary influences as Syrian, French-Louisianan, and African-American. Chef Michael crafts many of his recipes over the smoke of a wood barbecue pit, cooking beef brisket for up to 14 hours and barbecuing Northwest salmon with the same creole spices that the fish migrate every year to harvest.
These dishes are complemented by an extensive list of craft beers from the West Coast and around the world, from a Redhook coffee stout to an Allagash brew selected specifically to pair with barbecue. En route to the outdoor patio, the aromas of smoked meats waft through the Frontier Room's rustic interior, where hardwood tables sit under deer antlers and a bronze-relief cow amid such fixtures of Americana as a pile of chopped firewood reminiscent of Paul Bunyan's pencil shavings.
Even if your party isn't as big as Smokin' Pete's catering maximum of 10,000 people, its chefs still have you covered. That's because co-owners Julie and Eric Reinhardt create meals of all sizes on the shop's smokers and grills for parties all over town. Their secret behind sating crowds of all sizes is their tender, fall-off-the-bone barbecue. But it isn't just their signature sauces—which they sell by the bottle—that set their dishes apart. It's also their commitment to using all-natural brisket, pork, and ribs that only get in richer flavor as they smoke for up to 14 hours.
Their comfort food sides aren't to be missed either, from fire-roasted corn salad to dirty rice and cowboy beans. Catering options let customers choose to host meals such as a barbecue sandwich bar or an extravagant Hawaiian luau. For those who want to learn how to make their own succulent meats at home, pit-master Eric and Julie—also a cookbook author—teach three-hour classes that cover basics such as grilling, sauces, and how to properly pull off a Kiss The Cook apron.