It didn't seem like a momentous occasion when chef Mark Fuller and his wife, Marjorie, began serving fried chicken on Monday nights at their bistro, Spring Hill. But as Seattle Magazine recounts, the move turned out to be more than just a way to fill tables on a slow night. Soon enough, crowds were vying for one of the 20 birds the bistro allotted for each evening. The chicken’s unexpected popularity compelled the Fullers to sit down and rethink their whole concept. They closed down Spring Hill and reopened it a short time later as Ma'ono, a restaurant that supplements the Fullers’ celebrated fried chicken with a number of complementary Hawaiian dishes. The chicken can still be hard to come by at times, and reserving it in advance is recommended. But even if you can't get your hands on one of the humanely raised Mt. Vernon birds, there's still plenty to admire on the menu. Take, for example, the wood-grilled kalbi beef short rib or a rainbow trout cooked with lemon, cilantro, and Hanapepe sea salt. There are also 40 or so whiskeys that hail from places such as Woodford Reserve in Kentucky and local distiller Woodinville Whiskey. The restaurant also produces a seasonally appropriate cocktail list, which in the summer might include a Napoleon's Kick (bourbon with lemon, sugar, and falernum) or just some ice water served in a baseball mitt.
The doors aren’t even open when the crowds start to gather for happy hour at Jak’s Grill. The West Seattle location only has 20 seats, and come 4:30 p.m., the scramble can resemble a game of musical chairs. If you’re lucky enough to nab a seat, you’ll be treated to a full hour of food and drink specials. The Jak’s burger is the top-ranking item on this truncated menu, described by the Seattle Times as “the kind of burger your neighbor grills on the Weber during the July Fourth weekend.” The smokey half-pound patty is topped with the basics: tomato, lettuce, and onions, with cheese available for an extra dollar.
Burgers aren’t the only well-grilled treat on Jak’s menu. You’ll also find prime top sirloin, new york strips, and even filet mignon—all aged a minimum of 28 days and cooked simply without pretension. And while you won’t get an elaborate plating or fancy garnish, you will get a bearnaise or demi-glace, a large cut of steak, and hearty portions of salad, veggies, potatoes, and fresh bread to round out your meal.
Weekend brunches also bring long lines to Jak’s reservation-free dining rooms. During this time, you can nab a burger, a steak sandwich, or a jazzed up breakfast benedict served atop Jak’s famous potato pancakes. As if that weren’t enticement enough, a brunch happy hour rewards early birds with discount mimosas and breakfast basics.
Plucking a wealth of ingredients from local vendors, the culinary team at Highstrike Grill puts together pub and comfort food classics almost entirely from scratch. Cilantro-lime, sweet-potato fries accompany hand-cut Angus ribeyes with creamy, bleu-cheese chive butter. Finally breaking the lunch-dinner stranglehold on the American classic, Highstrike Grill unapologetically serves the breakfast burger?a half-pound of Angus beef topped with sliced ham, an over-hard egg, and hollandaise mayo.
Along with breakfast-inspired mains, the cooks take to the grill to whip up breakfast every weekend with creative entrees like Belgian waffles with bacon cooked into the center. Steamy cups of Torrefazione Italia Coffee can complement those a.m. feasts, while bartenders can pair dinners with local and domestic beer and wine.
Despite there being three restaurants, each Salty's boasts a waterfront view. The Seattle location looks out on Elliott Bay and the city's skyline, the Redondo Beach location has views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, and the Portland spot oversees the Columbia River. And customers don't have to fret about getting a window spot—the spectacular sights are viewable from nearly every seat in the house.
About the only thing longer than the menu is the list of awards. A plethora of critics and publications have heaped praise on Salty's on Alki, naming it everything from the Best Place to Bring a Date (West Seattle Hearld) to Best All-You-Can-Eat Buffet (Seattle Weekly). Wine Spectator has given the Seattle location an Award of Excellence every year from 2003–2013, and Seattle Magazine also named that branch the restaurant with the best view from 2009–2011.
Salty's on Alki’s brunch, replete with a huge all-you-can-eat buffet, has been lauded by publications ranging from OpenTable to Seattle Magazine. It’s not hard to see why. Every Sunday (and Saturday at the Seattle and Portland locations), the staff situates trays and trays of prawns, salmon, dungeness crab, oysters, and other fresh seafood next to made-to-order omelet stations, waffle bars, hand-carved meats, and every dessert Betty Crocker could ever imagine. It's even got a make-your-own bloody-mary bar, where patrons can whip up custom hangover cures.
Where to Sit: The 180-degree wall of windows overlooking Elliott Bay ups your odds of nabbing a stunning waterfront view. But the rest of the dining room offers its own picturesque scenes including a fish pond replete with a babbling waterfall.
When to Go: Budget-conscious diners can score the same incredible views and fresh seafood during affordable prix-fixe lunches or “first seating” dinners held before the evening rush.
While You’re Waiting: Order a classic cocktail cooled by one of Palisade’s signature ice spheres, which are designed to melt slower and chill drinks longer than traditional cubes.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
By land: Stroll through the 12 acres of greenery that make up Magnolia Park (1461 Magnolia Boulevard W.), admiring clear views of Puget Sound.
By sea: Take a sunset cruise courtesy of Far Niente Sailing Charters (2601 West Marina Place).
"Fumaça" means "smoke" in Portuguese, and it's an apt name for this steakhouse. The obvious connection is that the cooks roast their meats in a mesquite charcoal grill, which releases aromatic smoke as it intensifies the flavor of the cuts. But there's another reason why smoke is especially relevant: it travels, far and freely. Fumaça's menu does the same, gathering dishes from Colombia, Peru, Puerto Rico, and of course, Brazil.
Inside the restaurant's sleekly modern confines, Peruvian halibut ceviche can be ordered alongside pork belly rubbed with Caribbean spices, or a Puerto Rican octopus cocktail salad. The ingredients defy international boundaries even further—many of them are local, such as the grass-fed and organic meat, whereas others come from as far away as the Amazon. But while the protein might be from the northwest, there's no denying that the rodizio dinners are a Brazilian invention. Guests sample different cuts of beef, poultry, lamb, and pork during the extravagant all-you-can-eat meal. There's also a long list of wines and cocktails, including specialty drinks made from tropical fruits including guava, passion fruit, and grapes that were wearing sunglasses.