The A to Z Food Lover's Guide to Seattle

An alphabetical guide to our region’s incredible bounty of food, drink, and more

By Allecia Vermillion and Kathryn Robinson With Natalie Lew and Aoife Reilly July 9, 2015 Published in the July 2015 issue of Seattle Met


Great Moments in Washington Apples

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1826: Settlers plant the first apple tree at Fort Vancouver.

1889: Apples officially become a business with the creation of the first commercial state orchards; today they’re our largest crop. 

1937: Washington State University (then Washington State College) starts its Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center; today it breeds new apples varieties designed to be flavorful, juicy, and amenable to Central Washington’s climate.

1962: After 62 years as the Governor’s Trophy, the spoils of the UW and WSU football rivalry is renamed the Apple Cup.

1989: Only now does the apple becomes our official state fruit.

2003: Make way for organic produce: Certified organic apples make up nearly 5 percent of the state’s total apple acreage.

2010: The state’s annual apple harvest generates over $2.2 billion.

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2013: Cider’s back in a big way; Seattle Cider Company becomes the city’s first cidery since Prohibition.

2014: Washington sees its largest apple crop in state history—140 million 40-pound boxes of apples. Our apples comprise roughly 70 percent of the country’s apple harvest; nearly 35 percent of them are exported. 

2017: Estimated release date for the Cosmic Crisp, a super juicy apple WSU’s fruit breeding program spent 16 years developing; Washington farmers get first dibs on the limited number of trees. 



Book Larder

Book Larder might be Seattle’s only culinary bookstore, but with its giant selection of handpicked volumes, an intimate demonstration kitchen, and an entire shelf devoted solely to chocolate, it’s easily one of the country’s best dedicated cookbook shops. Owner Lara Hamilton curates a calendar of cooking classes and talks by local authors and big chef names from around the globe.

Some recent local releases on Book Larder's shelves...

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Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez  

Rodriguez, known for her blog Not Without Salt, offers a series of seasonal menus and a personal account of how cooking with her husband has sustained their marriage. Running Press, $28

Gluten-Free and Vegan for the Whole Family By Jennifer Katzinger

Find recipes for everything from lasagna to chocolate cake with maple frosting—minus egg, dairy, wheat, and even soy. Sasquatch Books, $25

Orchard House By Tara Austen Weaver

You won’t find a single recipe in the latest memoir from the local author of The Butcher and the Vegetarian, but the act of growing food is central to rebuilding family connections. Ballantine Books, $26

Sheet Pan Suppers By Molly Gilbert

This oven-based twist on the classic one-pot meal has already earned a vocal fan base via recipes like Buffalo chicken drumsticks with charred romaine. Workman Publishing Company, $16



Community Supported Agriculture, or farm share, boxes deliver summer produce from local farms. Options get more customized every year.

Acme Farms and Kitchen

Afraid of commitment? Order one delivery at a time; boxes contain everything from black cod to crackers, all from small Washington operations. 

Helsing Junction Farm

When you have only one mouth to feed, this farm in Rochester offers a $25 weekly mini share, cutting down on food waste.  

Jubilee Biodynamic Farm

Picky eaters rejoice: This Carnation-based farm sets up a trade table so members can swap unwanted produce.

Old Chaser Farm

Chef Matt Dillon’s a part owner of the Vashon acreage that supplies his restaurants, plus weekly summertime CSA boxes of meat, produce, preserves, eggs, even creme fraiche, freshly baked bread, and Dillon-approved recipes. The wait list for each summer season fills up fast. 

Oxbow Farm

Members who roll up their sleeves and carry out weekly weedings at this education-minded farm in the Snoqualmie Valley receive a small share for free.  

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Buying the Farm

Susan Ujcic founded Helsing Junction Farm with partner Annie Salafsky.

Image: Olivia Brent




Do-it-yourself sustenance. 


Improve your foraging, preserving, and chicken rearing skills at Seattle Farm School. Classes stress self-reliance in a world of food delivery apps and Amazon orders.


Seattle Meat Collective, a nonprofit meat education program, teaches students how to wield meat cleavers and butcher whole and half animals. 


Learn the basic method of food preservation at the new Rainier Beach Learning Garden, one of Seattle Tilth’s hands-on gardening programs that promotes healthy eating in the Rainier Valley area.



Not all snails are created equal, says Ric Brewer of Little Gray Farms, the state’s first commercial breeder of what he calls “the original slow food.” Where most restaurant-grade snails come from ambiguous sources and are canned overseas, Brewer plumps up his snails on organic chow, cleans them out with a grain diet, then delivers batches live to a few local restaurants like Cassis at Alki.



Why, exactly, do Seattle chefs nurture their future competition? By Molly Wizenberg


Gluten Free


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Three local saviors for gluten-averse home cooks.

Gluten-Free Girl Flour

Her readers begged local GF starlet Shauna Ahern to just package her flour blend already, so she did—thank you, Kickstarter—and it’s selling like gluten-free hotcakes. 

Maninis Pasta

Multiple Seattle restaurants’ GF pasta maker of choice, this Kent outfit has been churning out glutenless flours and pastas from ancient grains—for firm texture—since 2010.


Pauline Shaw couldn’t find GF baking mixes that “tasted like real food,” so with the help of a picky focus group she made them herself. Five mixes include French baguette, chocolate cake, and a gluten ringer of a pizza crust. 


Hot Stove Society

At Tom Douglas’s cooking school upstairs in the Hotel Ändra, learn how to prepare potstickers, poutine, and even T-Doug’s coconut cream pie, usually with a little wine for a study aid. The tucked-away classroom is lined with rolling butcher-block tables for all the messy hands-on work, plus TV monitors that provide a superclear view of the instructor. Attentive staff make sure you’re whipping your cream just right. No wonder classes fill up so fast. hotstovesociety.com


Ice Cream
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Image: Olivia Brent

It was probably only a matter of time before Kurt Timmermeister gave ice cream a Northwest makeover. This is the man who first blended Seattle’s coffeehouse aesthetic with the French cafe (Septieme), who shone popular light on the local back-to-the-farm movement (in his memoir Growing a Farmer), who gave many of us our first taste of honest-to-god Northwest camembert (Dinah’s). Now out of his new Kurt Farm Shop in Capitol Hill’s Chophouse Row, he sells his cheeses and books—and ice cream whose egg custard base he makes, atypically, right at his Vashon farm. In his shop, he spins and flavors it with his own strawberries or raspberries, or with Sungold tomatoes and brown sugar (“great musky flavor”), or with farm-grown herbs like lemon verbena or bay leaf. Not your usual ice creams, but richly earthy and unsweetened as Kurtwood Farms—and the Northwest—itself. kurtwoodfarms.com


Japanese Knives

The Epicurean Edge in Kirkland has one of the best knife selections in the world, particularly Japanese knives. The Santoku chef’s knife is a favorite among culinary pros. Here’s what makes it so awesome.

Click to see larger image 

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Image: Lou Daprile

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Some bold technological advances in food are invented—and crowd-funded—right here.

Picobrew Zymatic

It doesn’t get much more Seattle than an automated beer-brewing machine: Just pick your recipe and add ingredients. The campaign crowdfunded more than $100,000 in its first 24 hours. 


Two former Amazon engineers designed an intelligent stove-top knob that turns a regular kitchen range into a precision instrument. One month after it launched, the project was 400 percent funded.


Western Washington University industrial design students created a portable tea steeper that uses magnets and gravity. Backers offered helpful design feedback, plus more than $360,000 (the goal was $20,000).



The best restaurant meals are a collaboration between chef and farmer. By Kathryn Robinson



Rounding up some of our favorite made-in-Seattle meat products.


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Nonalcoholic Beverages

In a town so serious about its coffee and booze, it makes sense that craft sodas would follow. Seattle Seltzer Co., the brainchild of local bartender Anna Wallace, makes a fizzy, savory celery soda and has an orange pop on the way. Two herb- and citrus-packed local takes on tonic water—Marley’s Tonic (on draft at Bell and Whete) and Bradley’s Kina Tonic—are made with real chinchona bark and bear zero resemblance to the clear stuff at the grocery store. Soda Jerk has become a staple at local farmers markets with of-the-season flavors like lemon lavender or marionberry sage. They’re all marvelous solo but—it must be said—a great companion to spirits.



One chilly November night, I decided to see how many oysters I could eat in one sitting. It was an exercise borne of unfulfillment every time I shared a freshly shucked platter with friends. Delicacies are by definition in short supply; split a dozen oysters, you’re getting three, maybe four. Six, tops. 

What happens, I wondered, when you can eat as many oysters as you want?  

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I answered this question at Elliott’s annual Oyster New Year, winding my way around the tables and tipping sweet Barron Points and tiny, coppery Olympias onto my tongue. The first dozen or so went down easy, garnished with icy pink peppercorn mignonette and the thrill of limitless satisfaction. By number 42, I achieved satiety; by 50, each tip of the half shell onto my tongue became more reflex than pleasure. 

By the time I cried uncle, the pleasure of eating oysters was entirely stripped away. I cringe now, thinking of the tideland farmers who tended these oysters so carefully, the shuckers who risk carpal tunnel syndrome and flesh wounds, and the rising levels of carbon dioxide in our waters that threaten the very existence of the creatures I knocked back rather than savored. Apparently when you love something, having as much as you want is a terrible idea. 

But, in case you’re curious, I did put away 76 of them.    —Allecia Vermillion


Our ideal pantry—stocked entirely with local goods—looks a little something like this.

Quality Coffee

A guide to the geekier brew methods.


The names behind some of the city's best beans.

Herkimer Coffee  

Herkimer is not afraid to get geeky with its espresso. The roaster sources its bedrock coffee from the Americas, East Africa, and South Asia and considers factors like organic chemistry and the physics of espresso machines when creating its complex yet approachable blend. Drink it at Herkimer’s HQ in Phinney Ridge.

Lighthouse Roasters  

The definition of small batch, Lighthouse roasts all its coffee out of an unassuming shop in Fremont. Offerings are split between single-origin coffees and classic blends, including the very popular blend known simply as Roaster’s Choice. 

Kuma Coffee

The roaster in Interbay (no retail space as of now) focuses on high-elevation coffees that are both complex and dense. Kuma is synonymous with big flavors, like in the Kenya Kayu, so bright and juicy it almost tastes like fruit candy. For some, drinking a Kuma cup is like switching from Diet Coke to the real stuff. 

Slate Coffee Roasters

In 2013, Slate opened its first coffee bar in east Ballard, a family-run operation roasting seasonal coffees on the lighter end of the spectrum. This allows the terroir—the unique characteristics of the coffee’s region—to come through in the cup. 



These spots are a sampling of what makes Seattle a seafood destination.


The lines are long, but the Dungeness crab is top class at this popular spot in the ID. 

Mutual Fish Company

The huge selection from kasu black cod to sushi grade tuna, draws customers to the Rainier Valley, but the savvy ones don’t leave without a tub of the house seafood broth. 

Pure Food Fish Market

In Pike Place Market, a few stalls from the tourists gawking at the flying fish, you’ll find a bonanza of fresh seafood. The real find is the superb alder-wood-smoked salmon. 

University Seafood and Poultry

Don’t let the bare exterior fool you; this family-run shop is known for pristine, sustainable seafood, like halibut, mussels, and lobster.

Taylor Shellfish Farms

Bivalve lovers go to the Melrose store to grab to-go Shigoku oysters or a whole geoduck—or find a seat and order some of the freshest oysters around.


The New Pike Place Market

This summer, Pike Place Market breaks ground on a major expansion, turning a surface parking lot on Western Avenue into an entirely new wing. The $73 million project, known as MarketFront should be ready by spring 2017.  More details about the space here (tk).

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  • Nothing will change in the existing market; this structure is across Western Avenue; a new public plaza will connect the project to the waterfront once the viaduct comes down.
  • A building full of vendor stalls (and the original Bavarian Meats) used to sit on this site until it caught fire and was demolished in 1974. 
  • MarketFront will connect with the rest of Pike Place Market through the existing Joe Desimone bridge over Western Avenue.
  • An additional 12,000 square feet of retail space will harbor local food businesses that make their products in view of customers. The market has agreements with Honest Biscuits, Indi Chocolate, and a brewery called Old Stove.
  • More space means more vendor stalls, more room for senior housing and social services, and more parking for cars and bikes in a new underground garage.

Urban Foraging

A name like the Beacon Food Forest inspires images straight out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: soaring trees, maybe a wide carpet of herbs to lie in while stuffing your face with rhubarb and morels.

In reality, calling this impressive community-propelled foraging oasis a forest is still a bit of a stretch. The food forest, which broke ground in 2012 in north Beacon Hill, is the nation’s first public edible landscape—an idea hailed as visionary in local and national press, a place where citizens could grab some lettuce on the way home or pluck a few apples on a family outing. But since the first section opened early last year, I hadn’t heard anything about what it’s like to actually gather food here.

So on a recent Saturday morning I strolled through the two-acre plot—the first completed section of what will eventually be a seven-acre site. I found fragile sprouts labeled carrots, Japanese walnuts, beets, and Chinese silverberry, all planted in a series of volunteer work parties but available for anyone to harvest. Except nothing was quite pickable yet, chimed helpful signs marking the time of year for foraging. It was too early for the chives and marble-size strawberries; the infant plum trees would need at least a year.

While the adjacent P-Patch displays neatly regulated parcels, the food forest looks like its unkempt twin, the young fruit trees forming a canopy more at eye level than FernGully. The footpaths were empty but for one other visitor—a wandering teenager. But it’s easy to imagine a few years making this modest stretch of green every bit as visionary as the organizers intended. That’s the thing about natural landscapes…they need to develop naturally. —Darren Davis



Some promising farmers market newcomers.

Deiros Artisan Chocolate

Using only local ingredients the Maple Valley confectioner creates unique and decadent chocolates—including, crucially, Royal Velvet Lavender truffles.  Find It  Columbia City farmers market  

Falafel Salam

Israeli-born Shimi Kahn had trouble finding authentic Middle Eastern street food, so he began selling his own dishes like organic chicken shawarma and pitas baked fresh daily.  Find It Queen Anne, Phinney Ridge, West Seattle, Kirkland, Edmonds farmers markets

Left Foot Farm

A herd of 100 Nigerian Dwarf dairy goats graze pastures in Eatonville to produce small batches of raw milk that’s gentler on some stomachs than cow’s milk.  Find It Ballard, West Seattle, and U District farmers markets 

Locally Leavened Breads

Wild yeast and a wood-fired brick oven help produce a wide range of artisan bread such as walnut raisin sourdough and olive malted wheat.  Find It Capitol Hill/Broadway and Wallingford farmers markets

Yellow Belly Farms

A honey farm in Rainier known for organic offerings like clover, wildflower, blackberry, and fireweed Find It  Lake City farmers market

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Jody Hall of Cupcake Royale is using her acumen for sweets to break any remaining stigma of recreational marijuana. Goodship, her boutique brand of THC-infused cookies and chocolate, offers an approachable, even refined way to enjoy legal pot. Instead of bringing wine to your next dinner party, perhaps a six-pack of sea salt, chocolate chip, and cinnamon snickerdoodles?


Xiao Long Bao

For years, Seattle was largely bereft of these Shanghainese dumplings—translucent, pinch-pleated vessels resembling floppy gumdrops and harboring meat filling (pork, usually), and a sloshy burst of broth—until Din Tai Fung opened in Bellevue. Now there’s a U Village location too, and even a few independent spots developing a knack for this labor-intensive dumpling. Ping’s Dumpling House in the International District often has versions filled with beef, lamb, or shrimp. The Dough Zone’s two locations in Bellevue refer to theirs as “juicy pork buns”—not as fun to pronounce though equally satisfying to eat.

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Image: Olivia Brent


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Fans of Georgetown-based Ellenos Greek Yogurt have a habit of declaring it better than ice cream—a statement that may seem like an exaggeration until you taste the stuff. Fresh flavors like lemon curd and marionberry add to the appeal, but that intense, thickly creamy taste is the product of local whole milk, probiotic cultures, and time.



This is the cradle of the modernist cooking movement and a body of knowledge made possible by two technology titans.

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Left: Nathan Myhrvold and Francisco Migoya; Grant Crilly and Chris Young on the right

Modernist Cuisine

Nathan Myhrvold, a former Microsoft chief technology officer and all-around genius, went on to produce (and fund) the industry-shaking treatise Modernist Cuisine. Now Myhrvold’s kitchen lab, led by head chef Francisco Migoya, is working on another massive tome, devoted to the art and science of bread. Mastering the interplay of water, flour, salt, and yeast definitely seems like a multivolume scientific endeavor.


Partly funded by Gabe Newell, another Microsoft legend and cofounder of the gaming company Valve, some original authors and contributors to Modernist Cuisine struck out on their own, translating these science-driven techniques for at-home and professional cooks. From a Pike Place Market kitchen/lab/studio, founders Grant Crilly and Chris Young put forth beautiful videos and online tutorials at chefsteps.com.

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