Marcela's Creole Cookery uproots the definitive flavors of authentic New Orleans cuisine and Cajun fare and packs them into a menu brimming with robust seasonings and exotic meats, as mentioned by Seattle Weekly contributor A.J. Tigner. With 30 combined years in the restaurant world, Marcela's owners have created an inviting eatery that pays homage to the Big Easy with vibrant, playful colors showcased in contemporary artwork. Red-clothed tables coddle piping-hot platters of creole delicacies, including muffaletta po boys, hearty gumbos, and fried ocean critters such as shrimp, alligator, and crawfish from Poseidon's personal crustacean collection.
The luminous block letters advertising “Merchants Cafe” nearly overshadow the intriguing tidbit beneath: a sign reading "Established 1890, Seattle’s Oldest Restaurant." Once guests pass through the double-door entrance, though, its historic charms become undeniably clear. Rustic wood floors covered with ornate rugs complement wooden and exposed brick walls, and the stained-glass chandeliers hanging overhead cast a warm glow. Despite the homey 1800s feel, a few modern touches accent the restaurant, including flat-screen TVs around the cherry-wood bar and a menu of contemporary eats. Hearty American entrees, such as hot turkey sandwiches and Angus burgers, are crafted from local, organic ingredients sourced from the likes of Pike Place Market and Bob’s Fruit Stand.
Over the past 120-some years, Merchant’s has accrued quite a colorful history, but most notably operated as a hotel, saloon, and card room in the late 19th century. Today, barkeeps continue the tradition, sans the fist-fights over whose horse is more attractive, by pouring libations including Georgetown and Mac and Jack’s craft beers and wines and spirits from local wineries and distilleries.
The amiable bakers at Cow Chip Cookies drop 11 types of dough onto sheets before baking their signature cookies to a golden finish. Fresh ingredients from The Butter Creek Farm are used to craft cookies available in flavors such as classic chocolate chip with Ghirardelli chocolate and Mock Baby Ruth cookies featuring a peanut-butter-and-oatmeal cookie-dough base spotted with chocolate and butterscotch chips. As the cookies drop, each one takes on its own slightly different shape, just like a handmade pillow filled with shredded college rejection letters. Gift boxes delight recipients with heart-shaped treats, seasonal shapes, or custom flavor combinations.
Cherry Street Coffee House displays local art, hosts live music, and holds events at each of its locations. Steam rises from blends of house coffees, forming the shape of perfume bottles that spritz the cafes with the aromas of Brazil nuts and dark cocoa. A medley of coffee beans from Papua New Guinea and Central and South America flavor the signature espresso, which guests can enjoy in between bites of house-made breakfast bagels, quiche, pastries, sandwiches, soups, and salads. Cherry Street's kitchen staff supplies a list of ingredients, highlighting which vibrant dishes are vegan, contain dairy and nuts, or plan to transform into dairy and nuts.
A sidewalk patio with shaded seating flanks Cafe Bengodi's corner façade, appealing to passersby with promises of authentic Italian cuisine and al fresco dining. Chefs deliver on this promise by doling out antipasti rich with cheeses and salamis, then cooking mounds of homemade pastas and fresh Neapolitan pizzas. Espresso, beer, and wine accent the meal and allow patrons to propose toasts as a subtle way to drop a hint that they need a new toaster.
“You’ll be a born-again Thai food fan after tasting the bright, fire-cracker version [of pad thai]” said Seattle Magazine about the dish created by husband and wife team Poncharee and Wiley Frank. But the magazine–-which named Little Uncle the Best New Restaurant of 2012––didn't stop there. "The food dances on the palate, shot through with lime, zinging with vinegar, with the heat of chiles tamped down by coconut milk or soft, steamed jasmine rice." That Little Uncle should win such venerable praise from Seattle's foodie community is even more awe-inspiring considering the restaurant's long and winding road to the top of the food chain. A trip to Thailand first inspired the Frank’s endeavor into authentic Thai cooking, and they spent the next two years perfecting their street-style food with a series of pop-up restaurants and a farmers market stall, before permanently setting up shop at a take-out joint in Capitol Hill. Aside from that signature pad thai, they're also serving up dishes like braised beef cheeks, which are served stuffed into a steamed bun to make them 'walker friendly" and keep grandmas from pinching them.