Image: Olivia Brent
Radiator Whiskey: Home of two of our trends.
Sprinkled throughout the Best Restaurants 2013 package were the biggest Seattle restaurant trends I noticed in a year’s worth of eating out. To give you an idea of the sorts of trends we’re talking about, I’ll give you two that landed on the cutting room floor:

Let’s Eat, Y’all

The trend Southern food.     The evidence Biscuit sandwiches at The Wandering Goose, fried chicken at the just-about-to-open Bourbon and Bones, beignets at the brand-new Roux, Carolina BBQ at Bar Sue, buttermilk fried chicken and waffles at Witness.       The context Southern food sashayed into New York and LA before heading here a few years back to inflect Ballard in particular—see Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen, Bitterroot Barbecue, The Sexton—with a Dixie accent. This year the boom intensified, reflecting a surge in Dixie-born chefs: Bourbon and Bones’ Mike Law is from North Carolina, Roux’s Matthew Lewis from New Orleans.

Oink

The trend What, you thought pork couldn’t get any bigger? Pork got bigger.    The evidence Braised pork shoulder over apples and mustard at The Whale Wins; smoked half pig’s head—including crispy fried ear, braised tongue, and roasted loin—at Radiator Whiskey; the recent launch of Le Petit Cochon, Derek Ronspies’ new snout-to-tail restaurant in Fremont.     The context Smoky, unctuous, lean, crisp—pig has something for everyone, lean loin to the sheer debauchery that is pork belly. Chefs say no menu item will pull a diner off a regimen faster than pork; one from a chef’s-choice restaurant tells of a food preferences ticket she encountered marked simply: “Vegan; bacon okay.”

 What other trends were there? Those of you who dine out a lot can probably guess. Here are some hints…and not a spoiler among ’em.

  • The biggest thing to happen to pastry since, um, sliced bread.
  • The cooking implement almost no major restaurant of 2013 opened without.
  • The cuisine that’s giving Italian food a run for its money.
  • The world region whose varying cuisines Seattle chefs are most fascinated to play with.
  • Two sections of menus we barely saw ten years ago.
  • The new “sour.”
  • The family of cuisines chefs are most happy fusing.
  • The kind of restaurant Seattle should be known for—but hasn’t been until now.
  • The kind of food barkeeps couldn’t wait to put on their menus.