After more than 25 years in corporate America, Charell moved to the small business world by opening Firefly Cafe & Creperie. Her cozy, artwork-adorned cafe fills daily with the inviting aromas of sweet and savory crepes, into which she piles everything from apple-smoked bacon to dulce de leche. She even whips up gluten-free and vegan versions including breakfast crepes with tofu scrambles and dessert crepes with sliced almonds and cashew cream. Along with beverages from her espresso bar, Charell complements mains with organic smoothies and juices chockfull of healthy fixings such as mango and kale.
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.
Sunny and bright, the Heartland Café serves typical Midwestern comfort food, reminiscent of its owners’ Wisconsin roots. Brats, pork schnitzel, pan-fried chicken, burgers, meatloaf, deep fried cheese curds – it’s the stuff of living rooms and Packers games, with the usual hearty German flair. Yet, this being Seattle, Heartland also offers a few surprising vegetarian options, including a Field Roast sandwich and salad, as well as a handsome hummus plate. The cozy dining area is plastered with old Farmer’s Almanac pages, and purposefully mismatched boards with magnetic poetry underline the breakfast counter. Brunchers are invited to relax over hangover-curing plates of eggs and pancakes, while casual family dinners occupy most of the evening hours. Best of all, kids eat free at breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday.
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.
In terms of both geography and cultural temperament, you can’t get much further from the Deep South than the Pacific Northwest. But that hasn’t stopped the Seattle-based owners of Smarty Pants from opening a new restaurant—Hudson—that specializes in flatiron steaks, cheesy grits, and other hearty staples of Southern cuisine. And despite being dished out north of the Mason Dixon, the grub is convincingly authentic. Seattle Times book editor Mary Ann Gwinn––a born and bred Southerner––called Hudson's blackened catfish the best she'd ever tasted. The comfort food isn’t the only thing that makes Hudson feel refreshingly out of place in the Seattle restaurant scene. With its horseshoe-shaped lunch counter, welcoming outdoor patio, and nightly staged readings of Gone With the Wind the cozy spot is as a true a slice of the South as you’re likely to find in the Emerald City.
According to Seattle Met magazine, "no restaurant in Seattle spins such an offhand sense of romance as the sure-handed Boat Street." A local favorite, the sounds of vintage jazz fill the candlelit dining room at Boat Street Cafe, where parasols hang from the ceilings and couples cozy up at country-style tables. Conceived by owner Renee Erickson and chef Jay Guerrero, the menu is inspired by comforting yet complex dishes typical of Provençal grandmothers—made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients that are transformed by the kitchen into rustic, seasonal cuisine. After dinner, diners can dig into the café's famous dessert: the "richest bread pudding in town, its browned crags rising from a lake of heavy cream and rum butter."