For this month’s issue of Seattle Met I wrote about hygge, the Danish concept of down-to-earth authenticity and cozy well-being that is untranslatable to English, but which even an American can begin to comprehend during an evening spent comfortably indoors, in the company of old friends, eating comfort food, by candlelight—and bonus points for a snowstorm out the window. “Deepen all that to a soul level, bake it into an attitude—and you’ve got hygge,” I wrote.
Which Seattle restaurants wrap diners in that kind of coziness? Here are a few you’ve got two more weeks of winter to savor at their hyggelig best:
Not sure it gets more hygge than eating rice porridge and cheesecake in a brick-lined basement. Add in Kraken’s creatively fused congee elements—red curry crab, pork belly adobo—and you’ve got hygge speaking in really smart, tasty Asian dialects. And don’t forget the bar; booze is hugely hyggelig.
Again with the bricks in this Belltown Euro-bistro, which is just small enough to feel cozy and just packed enough to feel vital. There’s a reason for the crowd: This food is magical, all the time, from the sage butter pasta and savory tarts by night to the inventively topped Dutch baby pancakes at brunch. Consistent attention to detail adds the final stroke of integrity that seals in the hygge.
This wine bar/urban winery in the heart of Madrona embodies hygge in its space—a house, with snug, wood-hewn rooms—and in its attention to cheese, platters of which waiters will bring over and lovingly deconstruct right down to the curd ratios. Something about its late afternoon happy hour (3pm to 6pm), its late-night weekends, its grilled-cheese-with-tomato-jam sandwiches—and that wine—just screams hygge.
The owner of this Queen Anne gem, Sam Crannell, is one masterful chef, spinning carefully sourced meats and seafoods and produce into sophisticated but comforting plates—pheasant confit, pelmini with rapini and truffle butter—that render “mouthwatering” less a cliché than a literal fact. Drench it all in amber light and barrel aged Manhattans and…voila hygge.
Pizza oven. Housemade mozzarella. Brick walls. Two-top boothlets. Vintage room. Glowing pendants. Gnocchi alla Romana. Sure it’s part of a chain, but Ethan Stowell Restaurants is a pretty hygge chain (think Tavolata, think How to Cook a Wolf)—and Rione’s perhaps the most hygge of those.