Newcomers like Stone Way's Thackeray serve as a reminder of how many restaurants around town draw their names from American (or British) literature.
Ethan Stowell’s Queen Anne eatery was named for MFK Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf, a 1942 guide to culinary creativity in the face of wartime shortages. This rustic, Italian-inspired restaurant pays fitting tribute to Fisher’s forte of creating adventurous spreads from modest ingredients. Such simplicity is palpable in down-to-earth plates of uncomplicated pastas on an ever-changing seasonal menu—perhaps pumpkin and mascarpone agnolotti drizzled in brown butter and crowned with pine nut and rosemary crumble that warms on a Seattle winter’s day.
This North Capitol Hill Italian-inspired gem honors Ernest Hemingway’s bittersweet romance with the lovely Red Cross nurse Agnes von Kurowsky, who treated an injured, nineteen-year-old Hemingway in Milan during World War I. Their whirlwind amorous encounter ended in heartbreak, which influenced Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. The restaurant's literary homage extends to the space: a heavily atmospheric scene out of a starlit Hemingway-esque romance, the walls adorned with photographs taken at the author’s home in Cuba and a reservable attic space made to look like an old-timey library. And the menu comprises thoughtful, Northwest-influenced Italian fare studded with bold Mediterranean flavors. A Hemingway daiquiri completes the experience.
The neighborly Leschi restaurant from Heavy Restaurant Group is named for a snippet of poetry by Robert Frost: “We ran as if to meet the moon that slowly dawned behind the trees.” Frost’s pastoral verse excerpted from the poem Going for Water—the writer himself a long-time proponent of rural living—seems an apt title for this Lake Washington–adjacent address. On the menu are dishes for all mealtimes: housemade pastries by morning, meaty sandwiches and farro bowls by night, and delightful nibbles like a porter and white cheddar pretzel when snack time rolls around.
Located in the Brooks HQ building, the 160-seat restaurant is named for 19th century English author and satirist William Makepeace Thackeray. With his well-known novel, Vanity Fair, a parody of literary heroism set during the Napoleonic wars, Thackeray helped bring the word “Bohemian” to common usage—a term that fittingly describes the restaurant’s eclectic menu tweaked with Mediterranean flavors (a Lebanese nine spice lamb shawarma, for instance) and complete with Spanish-style gin and tonics.
Renee Erickson's famed Ballard bar offers masses of icy oysters, small plates, and inventive cocktails. It’s aptly named for Lewis Carroll’s narrative poem in Through the Looking Glass about a walrus and carpenter who trick unsuspecting oysters to walk upon the beach for easy-access feasting. In this whitewashed space, savor fried brussels sprouts, octopus carpaccio, or roasted medjool dates in the company of a massive, coral-like chandelier that provides the semblance of dining under the sea.
This Greenwood happy hour destination (and its spinoff in Magnolia) was named for the owners’ son, Oliver, along with Charles Dickens' second novel, which follows lowly orphan Oliver Twist on his escape to London and adventurous encounter with the young delinquent, the Artful Dodger. The lounge sports a long bar and dim lighting; the tiny kitchen produces nibbles like garlic truffled popcorn and warm olives. Plus smart cocktails, naturally.
It's become so culturally ubiquitous, it's easy to forget the world-conquering, Seattle-based chain is named for Captain Ahab’s prudent first mate, Starbuck, in Herman Melville’s man-versus-nature classic, Moby Dick. The devoted Starbuck believed that humanity could overcome its inherent flaws and was the only one aboard the Pequod who thought steering the ship in ruthless pursuit of the white whale was a bad idea. Something to ponder the next time you’re in line for a caramel Frappuccino.