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.
When Spokane natives and Adelo’s Take-N-Bake Pizza owners Matt and Kim Howes decided to open their restaurant in 2008, they wanted to offer, in their own words, "great pizza at a great value." After four years and gaining a following in the community, Adelo’s Take-N-Bake Pizza continually strives to appease. Customers can construct their own pizzas, matching four types of crust, including their very own gluten-free, with six house-made sauces, hand-grated 100% whole-milk mozzarella, and more than 25 toppings. The gluten-free option came about when they discovered Kim’s gluten allergy, and, as a result, they knew they would have to adjust their approach to pizza. However, instead of simply declaring the pies off-limits, they spent their time in the kitchen tweaking recipes and researching alternative ingredients that would keep their slices both delicious and healthy. The result was a gluten-free dough derived from rice, potato, and tapioca flours that helped bring pizza back into the lives of celiac sufferers and earned the restaurant accreditation through the National Gluten Intolerance Group in 2011. Today, that dough forms the basis of their gluten-free specialty pies, which range from the pineapple-sprinkled Hawaiian and creamy garlic chicken to the jalapeno burn packed with peppers and spicy sausage. No matter what pie they choose, customers can also complete their meals with a six pack chosen from the shop's large selection of mix-and-match micro brews, which also include gluten-free beers from forward-thinking brewers such as Bard’s Tale Brewing Company.
Perry and Penny grew up together near Prosser, Washington in the 1970s, and were close friends throughout elementary school. More than 20 years later, the two rekindled their friendship but it wasn't all smooth sailing from the start. That year, Penny started making fortified blackberry wine, which Perry described as, "indescribably undrinkable." More than a little annoyed by this harsh judgment, Penny challenged Perry to do better. The result of this winemaking challenge was four cases of merlot that won a second-place ribbon among the amateur entrants at the Puyallup Fair. Stina's Cellars grew from this initial success, and over time production grew and grew, until finally the team was able to move into a small facility and officially open the winery for business in 2006.
At the winery, Perry and Penny—joined by helpful family and friends—make small batches of wine using grapes grown throughout eastern and western Washington. The type of wines they make changes frequently, but past bottles have included a dark and fruity syrah balanced by its bold tannic structure as well as an amber-hued roussane with hints of poached peaches and a pronounced nuttiness reminiscent of sherry. These wines appear on store shelves and restaurant menus throughout the region, but can also be sampled inside Stina's Cellars tasting room. Visitors are encouraged to stop in, try some samples, and attempt to guess which wine bottle contains a wish-granting genie.
Chef Peter Gallin had just constructed a custom grill, and was stoking its first fire with applewood harvested from a nearby orchard, when the idea struck him—the name for his Northwest-centric restaurant: Applewood. Though Chef Gallin's restaurant foregrounds its Northwest heritage, it also incorporates recipes gleaned from a childhood spent living in the Asian Pacific Rim with his anthropologist and sociologist parents, as well as French cuisine, and influences from years spent in New Mexico. He incorporates these varied culinary styles while avoiding traditional dishes, instead mingling flavors such as chipotle, lime, ginger, and orange into new incarnations.
Though he favors elegant food presentation when furnishing platters of roasted duck and northwest fish, Gallin uses only regular, relatable ingredients, which make his dishes approachable for all palates and untraceable by detectives. He brews all of the restaurant's soups in-house, designing up to six unique soups each week. West Coast wines, microbrews, and desserts made in-house complement his international appetizers and main courses. The focus on simplicity extends to the restaurant's decor: framed photographs hang above potted plants on rustic side tables, and long communal tables stand next to floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto deep pine forest. Behind a hardwood bar, flanked by exposed brick walls, hangs the giant, hammered steel apple that serves as the restaurant's emblem.
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.