Overstuffed po' boys amid rustic sweetness at Roux.


Aragona Spanish                       

Artiste chef Jason Stratton (Cascina Spinasse, Artusi) has brought his highly singular vision of a Spanish regional restaurant to a long, windowy, casual space downtown—drawing an odd mix of hipster -Strattonophiles and tourists from nearby hotels. No paellas or classic tapas here; instead one finds innovations like a salpicón made with Northwest glories like Shigoku oysters and Asian pear or a Russian salad (a staple in Spain) crafted of Dungeness crab. If the salad tastes a little “one note,” that’s a common failing in this kitchen whose next composition might hit it out of the park. Do not miss the enchanting bar, or, for dessert, the sublime xuxos caseros—crisp-fried pastry filled with vanilla cream and dusted with, swoon, truffle salt.  


The French bistro that stole Seattle’s heart in the ’90s, returns in a storefront along the Alki shore. When dishes fail it’s toward blandness, so seek your genuinely charming waiter’s advice (we’ve enjoyed the bistro burger, the steak frites, and a seriously extraordinary housemade chicken-liver pate) and enjoy the gracious welcome and the panoramic view through its rollup doors. 

Red Cow

A French bistro menu, a fleet of crisp-white-shirted waiters, and a bubbling crowd greet diners in this fourth iteration of the minimalist cement-walled space on the Madrona strip—the best iteration yet. The reason? The steak-frites lineup, offering five cuts of meat up the ladder of price points with a choice of four sauces—a swell match to how the Madrona mix of families and young professionals want to eat. (No need to venture beyond the $21 hanger steak, btw; it’s plenty tender and flavorful.) Beyond that, the Ethan Stowell quality control in the kitchen is amply evident across bistro classics; if it’s available don’t miss the lush goat cheese–mushroom tartine. Great bar. 


The bricks-and-mortar version of fabled New Orleans food truck, Where Ya At Matt?—Roux on the Fremont Avenue hill radiates rustic Southern sweetness in a high-ceilinged room with red tufted booths and a central open kitchen. Lunch may be the best time to visit, when sunlight streams in the windows and the menu lists nearly a dozen varieties of po’boy sandwich—of which the oyster version is the finest in town. Evenings when the lights go down, the music goes up, the mixologist clocks in, and prices gently rise—Roux’s plates of Creole classics can be terrific, particularly the shrimp and grits. If braised rabbit leg with mustard greens over corn-bread puree is on the menu—order it. And save room for swoony beignets.


 New American

Slackers who once hauled hangovers to brunch at Linda’s Tavern are married and mortgaged Mad Men now, preferring their neighborhood restaurants sophisticated and their Bombay Sapphire tonics with a pinch of ginger. For them there’s Tallulah’s, from the very same Linda (Derschang, who has also brought us King’s Hardware, Oddfellows, Smith, and Bait Shop): A classy, glassy marvel of midcentury good taste amid the fine homes of North Capitol Hill, where aging hipsters chat loudly beneath floating globe pendants, enjoying weekend brunches like chunky corned beef hash with poached eggs, and evening noshes (topped flatbreads, veggie small plates) and healthy mains. Cocktails are creative, coffee is Stumptown, “gluten-free” and “vegan” are carefully marked on the menu, and a welcoming staff scatters bonhomie about the room.