It all began with a chowder competition. Shortly after Larry Mellum and his business partner opened Charlestown Street Cafe, pretty much everyone in the kitchen was convinced they had the ultimate chowder recipe. So they decided to put each version to the test. Every Friday, they let customers sample a different chowder recipe and gave them the final say in which one made it to the menu. The smooth-as-silk winner––a creation of one of the kitchen's line cooks––became so popular, people from all across Seattle would come to wait in line just for a taste. Inspired, the restaurant decided to take the recipe on the road, entering (and winning) chowder competitions up and down the West Coast. But the real victory happened 3,500 miles away in Newport, Road Island. There, Mellum and company's chowder took home the grand prize at the Great Chowder Cook Off––the first non-New England contender to do so in the competition's 20-year history. After taking home the grand prize three years in a row, and being inducted into the chowder hall-of-fame, the recipe officially retired from competition and now spends the majority of its time watching golf. When it's not in the kitchen, that is. Today at Pike Place Chowder, guests can taste that award-winning chowder––made using freshly picked vegetables and herbs from Pike Place Market––or sample one of seven other chowders, including a smoked salmon chowder, seared scallop chowder, and a vegan chowder. For those who hit their chowder limit, there's also dungeness crab rolls flavored with top-secret seasonings and fresh salads topped with Oregon Bay shrimp, while a second location in Pacific Place Center has earned a following for its made-to-order fish 'n chips, made with either Pacific cod or wild salmon.
The Scoop's friendly staff welcomes visitors into its shop under hand-painted and cut-steel lettered signs, which hint at the quirky small-scale philosophy that earned the shop praise from the Pacific Northwest Inlander. The beloved neighborhood treatery serves 16 rotating, unique small-batch ice-cream flavors from local Brain Freeze Creamery. Customers savor scoops of ice cream piled into cups or handmade waffle cones; but rather than traditional vanilla and chocolate, they experience flavors as eclectic as dirt, Malties Falcon, Freshly Minted, cakey dough, and banana pudding. To complement the frozen treats, the menu presents Roast House coffee, The Flying Pig baked goods, Belgian liege waffles layered with toppings such as yogurt and bacon, cranberry-turkey sandwiches, and turkey pesto paninis. Many items are vegan or gluten-free. They've been voted "Best ice cream shop" three years running from Krem2's The Best of Spokane
Some think of raw-food diets as restrictive and bland, but with chef Francisco Hernandez pulling the strings in the kitchen, that's not the case. “One look at AmeRAWcan Bistro’s menu is enough to convince anyone that raw doesn’t mean boring,” according to the News Tribune writer Rosemary Ponnekanti. “Vegan burgers, sesame falafel, kelp noodles, kale chips and cheesecake are just some of the possibilities.” Raw cuisine this delectable requires preparation methods unfamiliar to some. Hernandez and his team soak seeds until they sprout, grind cashews for faux milk and cheese, and dehydrate grains for “bread” that they use to create sandwiches or feed to health-conscious ducks in the park. They never heat any ingredient to more than 116 degrees, which preserves the full spectrum of vitamins and enzymes in each morsel.
While many of the restaurant's dishes mimic foods that are normally cooked, others are straightforward in their freshness; tomato-cucumber gazpacho, for instance, with chopped sweet peppers, basil, and mint. Smoothies and juice blends fresh-squeezed from granny smith apples, parsley, and beets wash raw bites down. Though the menu is healthy, patrons can find hints of decadence in the form of raw chocolate truffles, beer, and wine.
When Ken Knight first started Gateway Produce more than 15 years ago, he sold his goods out of a small tent. As demand grew, so did his inventory, which now occupies an expansive indoor space filled with stacks of fresh produce that almost overflow from their displays. Sourced from local farms, merchandise includes fruit such as plums and watermelons, seasonal items, and dairy products. Gateway also has a grocery section that gathers different ethnic foods and everyday edibles such as chicken tenders, energy drinks, and treats for the neighborhood guard lion.
The inside of ViaVita Café & Wine Bar traces the timeline of a single day. Floor-to-ceiling windows cast morning light onto a display case of pastries and cheeses—an addendum to the counter that bears morning coffee orders. Nearby, granite-topped tables sit far enough apart to suggest an open, Parisian patio, but close enough together to support a cross-stream of chatter over lunchtime sandwiches. The day ends on the other side of a semicircular wine bar. There, walls wearing distressed paint encapsulate a rustic alcove, where hanging plants and Greco-Roman-style pottery evoke the dining room of a hillside villa.
The decor and seasonal menu at ViaVita Café & Wine Bar champion a European-flavored escape, where diners can stop at any time for a meal, a snack, or a glass of wine. From the crepes and omelets of brunch—served with duck-fat potatoes and chocolate-orange butter—to afternoon paninis and dinners of pan-seared Alaskan salmon, meals realized by imaginative chefs spark and fuel long conversations. Imported and domestic beers, as well as wines from small vineyards on multiple continents, complement the diverse bouquet of flavors and pair especially well with cheese and charcuterie boards. During special events, guitar music acts as a soothing soundtrack for bites, and sommelier seminars instruct patrons on how to age libations without sending them to PG-13 movies alone.
While living on Molokai, Bobby and Diane Nakihei couldn’t throw a stone without hitting a plate-lunch special. The classic Hawaiian dish—two scoops of rice, one scoop of macaroni salad, and an entree—is served at practically every fast-food restaurant and food wagon across the island. When the couple moved from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest, they began to long for the once-ubiquitous island cuisine. So Bobby traded the stuffy shirt and tie of a bookkeeping career for the patterned, button-down shirts of his homeland and opened Bobby's Hawaiian Style Restaurant, drawing transplanted islanders and locals alike to his plate-lunch specials, which often come wrapped in taro leaves and seaweed.
His cuisine earned the restaurant a spot on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and praise from Scott Gorman of the Herald, who extols it as “prepared and presented with a good deal of authenticity and style.” Revered dishes include Kahlua pig, which Chef Bobby cures with hawaiian sea salt, covers in banana leaves, and roasts for eight hours. The meticulous preparation extends to the rest of the menu, which spotlights the leaf-steamed pork of laulau and the sushi-esque spam musubi. In addition to the cuisine, owners Bobby and Diane showcase Hawaiian culture by offering hula lessons, presenting live Hawaiian music and recycling diners' lawn clippings into grass skirts.