A pair of restaurateurs opened Pair Food & Wine so they could pair local and organic food with local and imported wine. The meat and dairy on the seasonal menu comes from Washington farms, and the produce might even come straight from Pair's back garden, harvested by the tiny farmers who live behind the sidewalk planters. While the wine list is lengthy, the bar-food menu is short, containing just a snack-size handful of dishes. "But each one," wrote the Seattle Times in 2009, "falls in line with Pair's penchant for making simple dishes elegant."
Tony and Thurston Tsui created Thurston's Bistro and Lounge by applying a simple recipe: great food, drinks, and music. In the kitchen, they cook everything from a classic French filet mignon in bordelaise sauce to mac and cheese in a homemade cheese sauce filled with buttery bites of lobster and crab. Meanwhile, bartenders prepare craft cocktails with house-made syrups and infusions. Local musicians such as vocalist Kate Rowley and pianist Matt McKlousky entertain four nights a week. On Saturdays, they relinquish the microphone to other patrons for an evening of karaoke.
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.
When to Go: between 3–6 p.m. for happy hour, which offers discounted small plates of nachos, deep-fried green beans, waygu beef sliders, and cheese quesadillas, along with discounted draft, well, and wine drinks.
While You’re Waiting Enjoy one of the 22 rotating on-draft microbrews, which come in sizes ranging from the small “schooner” to the pitcher.
Inside Tip Late risers can still enjoy breakfast—it’s served until 2:30 p.m.
The Story: Leon Torrey’s first experience in the restaurant business was as a dishwasher salesmen. It didn’t take long before he decided to trade in his tie for an apron and open Egg Cetra, which would become a hugely popular breakfast restaurant with three local locations. After more than 20 years of success, he decided to branch out and try his hand at classic pub staples, founding Blue Star Cafe and Pub in 1997. It wasn’t too much of a departure, though—he still kept the breakfast and lunch favorites that made Eggs Cetera such a hit. Today, his daughter Wendy carries on the torch.
Quote That Best Sums It Up “I avoid the trends and focus on offering consistent comfort food with homemade ingredients.” - Founder Leon Torrey
Ingredient Origins: Chef Joshua Theilen keeps his ingredients local, getting meats and cheeses from Washington producers, salmon from Oxbow Organic Farm, and organic produce from Full Circle Farm.
What to Drink: Beer lovers can partake of Washington’s best, including brews from Silver City Brewery and traditional English ales from Hale’s Ales Brewery. There are also craft cocktails such as the Moulin Rouge, reddened by Washington raspberries, Lillet Rosé, and recitations of diary entries.
Where to Sit: Grab a table in one of two dimly lit dining areas surrounded by red walls and local art, belly up to the bar to watch the bartender’s magic, or eat al fresco on the outdoor patio.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Fly through the air in a trapeze course at Versatile Arts (7601 Greenwood Ave N)
After: Tip back a few German-style lagers and hefeweizens at Prost (7311 Greenwood Ave N)
While guests ogle the boats and kayaks passing by outside, Chef Manual Frias stays in the kitchen, cooking up inventive takes on American comfort food. He seasons New York strips with house-blended rubs, smothers meatloaf in bourbon mustard glazes, and stirs bacon, pulled pork, and prosciutto into his aptly named three pig mac and cheese.
To complement each hearty dish, the tenders of Eastlake's tiki bar pour local microbrews and whip up tasty cocktails like the John Daly, a blend of lemonade and wild tea-flavored vodka. Though the deck and patio are seasonal, the dining room, complete with its own bar, is open all year. Here, rounds of trivia test knowledge every week, while flat-screens TV show the day's biggest sports games or rowdiest congressional boxing matches.