Arnies Restaurants keep their inspiration close. Stationed on the Washington shore for more than three decades each, the Edmonds and Mukilteo institutions overlook the Puget Sound's rolling waters like two trustworthy lighthouses. From Edmonds, a wall of windows looks out onto the Olympic Mountains. From Mukilteo, diners can peer across to Whidbey, Hat, and Camano islands. At both, sunsets color evening dinners, the sounds of storms rolling in add atmosphere to midday lunches, and ferries pulling in and casting off from the harbor bring with them endless people-watching opportunities.
Along with these panoramic views comes a rich spread of seasonal Pacific dishes. During spring's wild salmon season, the chefs create special preparations on Arnies Fresh Sheet menus. Cashew-crusted lingcod and sea scallops in a champagne cream meanwhile reach further into the waters' bounty while also demonstrating the kitchen's skill. And for those who are content to stay on land, a slow-roasted prime rib or salad mixed from local produce balances Arnies' menu.
Crab spring rolls. Thai curry penne. Grilled beef tenderloin. At the heart of this cuisine is executive chef Alvin Binuya, a man who has been profiled in and whose recipes have been featured in Seattle Dining!.
Binuya has been immersed in the world of food since he was just a boy, when he would use his parents' kitchen as a culinary laboratory to forge new flavors and antidotes for stale gingerbread men. He went on to hone his skills in culinary school and numerous restaurants before settling at Ponti Seafood Grill. Drawing from this expertise and using locally sourced ingredients, the chef fuses pan-Asian, European, and Pacific Northwest influences to create signature dishes such as grilled wild king salmon.
Ponti's dining spaces echo the villas of Tuscany. Warm colors and window-lined walls surround the restaurant's visitors as they sip selections from an award-winning wine list. Elsewhere, four private dining rooms give scenic views of the giant tarter-sauce bottles that float through Seattle's Ship Canal.
Queen City Grill's chefs seek out culinary inspiration on land and in the sea, creating a menu that earned praise from the Seattle Times in 2007 and garnered a rating of "very good to excellent" from Zagat. Fillets of Alaskan king salmon and Oaxacan prawns line the grill tops alongside dry-aged new york steaks, slowly roasting over the flames. The chefs embrace northwestern flavors by sourcing local greens for the house salads and topping hand-packed burger patties with Beecher's cheeses. To accompany each meal, servers can recommend wines from the restaurant's 500-bottle selection, which features an extensive spread of crisp whites and bold reds from Washington, Oregon, and beyond.
Opposite the dining room's immense wooden bar, booths line the wall of brick-lined windows, illuminated by sconces and small windowsill lamps. The tables on the outdoor patio area, however, rely on the romantic light of the restaurant's staff of indentured fireflies.
Seated in the midst of the International District, China Club Bistro wraps its guests in a casually upscale environment characterized by long horizontal lines and shades of crimson. Globe lights illuminate sleek hardwood floors, red chairs, and leather benches where patrons settle to investigate the menu. The kitchen crew serves Chinese cuisine ranging from egg foo young to spicy morsels of szechwan chicken and sizzling platters of prawns or calamari in black-bean sauces. Crimson curtains and painted wood beneath the bar echo the balance of color that the chefs—using their 30 years of culinary experience—create in each dish. Parties of people and prehibernating bears also come together over spreads of dim sum that include plates of fried sesame balls, steamed pork buns, egg tarts, and beef rice noodles.
Emerald City owner Steve Allen's New Orleans heritage is evident in his restaurant's slim, Southern-inspired menu of fresh fish 'n' chips, po' boy sandwiches, and salads. Quell tumultuous palate ponds with comforting cuts of alaskan cod, catfish, halibut, and salmon, coated in a flavorful batter and fried to a golden crisp, served with fries and coleslaw ($5.75–$15). Oysters ($5–$12.50) and prawns ($6–$15) sate maritime appetites, while delectable crab puppies ($5, 6-piece; $9, 12-piece) induce comforting memories of imaginary summers spent living among aboriginal deep-fryers. Bun enthusiasts can indulge in classic po' boys stuffed with a choice of shrimp, catfish, oyster, or chicken, while herbivorous diners dive into crisp salads ($3, small; $5, large) and piping bowls of hearty chowder ($3, small; $5, large).
Where to Sit: Ask for a seat near the open kitchen if you want to pick up tips from Chef Zach Chambers, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. From his humble beginnings as a dishwasher, Chef Chambers eventually went on to cook at the American Academy in Rome and Belltown’s Tavoláta before taking the Executive Chef position at Anchovies and Olives.
When to Go: The restaurant occasionally plans special events, such as the Earth Day dinner made with sustainable and locally sourced food. Or diners can sip wine and slurp oysters with their sweethearts on Valentine's Day—Anchovies and Olives was named one of the city's top Valentine's restaurants by Gayot. But you don't have to wait for a special occasion to visit A&O—Oyster Power Hour is Sunday–Thursday. On those days, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and again from 10 p.m. until closing time, the oyster of the day is just $1, and there are drink specials as well.
Crudo: Italian for "raw." It’s often used when referring to uncooked meat or seafood.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Pamper yourself before dinner with a mani-pedi or massage at Polished Boutique Spa (1422 E Pine Street).
After: Get dessert at Old School Frozen Custard, which offers specialty frozen-custard flavors like Almond Joy or apple strudel. (1316 E Pike Street).
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Chef Zach Chambers also heads the kitchen at sister restaurant and pizzeria Bar Cotta (1546 15th Avenue), located next door.