In Georgetown, a fortress of brick walls conceals a temple of dining influenced by the grilling traditions of South America, Portugal, the Mediterranean, and beyond. Here, an open grill yields harissa-spiced chicken for the whitewashed, warehouse-like dining room, where diners sit in gaily colored chairs beneath the folkloric Stacey Rozich mural. Meanwhile, just around the corner is sibling spot Bar Ciudad, home of cocktails, drafts, wine, and rotisserie chicken: whole or half birds that come with one or two sides and sauce.
In an old Italianate cottage amid a Georgetown garden, chef Emily Crawford Dann invents, and reinvents, seasonal odes: coho lox with tahini and ginger-marinated celery, or braised beef shoulder with brussels sprout tips, squash ribbons, and hearty caponata. Few special occasion restaurants feel this genuinely special, a magic that even infuses the old wooden chairs and communal tables.
Baker Charlie Dunmire, who graduated from an Airstream trailer to a charming brick-and-mortar shop in Georgetown, fashions towering beauties like a ginger-molasses cake, its nine layers soaked in a syrup of stout and molasses. Or a s’mores-inspired confection layered with ganache and crowned with toasted whitecaps of marshmallow. Pints of Sweet Lo’s ice cream are available for purchase so you can double down on the sugar rush.
The owners of Georgetown’s Fonda la Catrina turned a former punk rock club next door into a low-lit marisqueria, home to smoky mescal cocktails and snacks reminiscent of a Mexican seaside vacation. Everyone freaks out about the bar’s fish tacos—housemade tortillas, juicy fried fish, and an abundance of cabbage and pickled onion and spicy crema, delivering every texture you can think of—and the freak-out is justified. Most plates cost $10 or less (incredible given all the fresh local seafood), and you’ll need two or three of them to keep pace with those drinks.
Over the past decade, they’ve added locations in Maple Leaf and Georgetown, but the original outpost in Seward Park is the origin story of this pizza hangout with a love of old-school mixtape cassettes. It offers a few tables in shiny, crisply appointed spaces and stellar pies, along with salads and apps and ice creams. But Flying Squirrel is all about artisan toppings—cured meats from Salumi, chicken from Roy’s BBQ, Maytag blue cheese, and locally grown produce—on chewy, sinking crusts bound up with tangy tomato sauce.
You might assume this color-splashed Georgetown cantina with the faintly industrial vibe and the courtyard patio is too enchanting and fun to be this precise—but orange-kissed cochinita pibil and grass-fed bistek tacos testify otherwise, along with (usually) the rest of the authentic Mexican menu. The salt-rimmed deal of the century, from 3pm to 6pm weekdays, are excellent $6 margaritas.
Recipe for an instant Seattle legend: Take one forsaken corner storefront by the railroad tracks in Georgetown, lined with mottled brick. Add booths, tables, a bar, and at least one restroom sporting a perky B-film soundtrack. Paint concrete floor and exposed ceiling ducts. Throw in a little Donkey Kong, then finish with a tight list of fresh and feisty vegetarian and vegan food—a simple plate of roasted carrots and Yukon Golds and golden beets or other seasonal vegetables, topped with melted goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic-honey reduction; a sandwich crafted from a lentil-sage variant of the meat substitute called Field Roast, apricot chutney, and brie; or cheese enchiladas bubbling away under a chile-nuanced red sauce. Douse liberally with blue-ribbon alcohol, crafted into fruity cocktails. Serve to the whole motley crew of Georgetown denizens—they of the pink hair, pierced extremities, and low budgets. This is a recipe they can’t get enough of.
It’s all about the crepes at this friendly Georgetown cafe: namely the egg, black forest ham, swiss cheese, cheddar, red onion, Roma tomato, and baby spinach crepe, topped with poblano basil vinaigrette and creme fraiche.
Japan’s panko-crusted deep fried pork cutlets meet American’s love of enormous, flavor-packed burgers, now in five locations around Seattle and the Eastside. It’s truly a brilliant mashup, even before you factor in the black sesame milkshakes and fries dusted with nori flakes.
What started as a farmers market popup has transformed into a verifiable cookie destination. Owner and baker Emily Allport does one thing really well, doling out cookies in flavors like salted toffee pecan, lemon cranberry, s’mores, and brown butter triple chocolate chunk. Rotating flavors are also on the menu—a great excuse to make monthly (or weekly) trips to the Georgetown Trailer Park Mall and new Central District outpost.
The ice cream at Georgetown’s Seattle Freeze is a bit of a hybrid that’s halfway between scoop ice cream and soft serve: a machine takes an ice cream base, incorporates add-ins, and then churns it all out in flavors like pineapple mint, coconut, and chocolate black sesame. On the non-frozen side of things, husband-and-wife duo Darren McGill and Kryse Martin-McGill partner with the folks behind Big Boys and Poke Wai, slinging a variety of doughnuts—some cake, some raised, and some custard-filled—styled with homemade glazes and toppings.
Nashville’s signature hot chicken—brined for 48 hours, fried, then daubed in spice-saturated crimson lard—has arrived in Seattle. Moreover, it’s landed at an unassuming bar with a wide-angle view of Mount Rainier and the regular rumble of airplanes landing across the street at Boeing Field. Chicken comes naked, medium, Nashville hot, or insane; even the mild will make things tingle. The rest of the small menu has way more finesse than you’d expect at a place with video game tables and a black velvet unicorn painting on the wall: smoked gouda mac and cheese, fried green tomatoes, a wedge salad with dressing and bacon both made in-house.
Slim’s is all about the red: big heaping bowls of it, served up in four varieties daily (try the brisket and bean, with fire-roasted tomatoes and Angus beef)—and some of which, like the turkey–white bean and the chile verde—aren’t red at all. The nice folks here grill jalapeños and bake corn bread and are entirely too happy to ladle chili over fries or white cheddar grits or jalapeño macaroni and cheese. It all takes place in a room sprawling and spare—one part roadhouse, one part saloon—with a little stage in the corner so rockabilly bands can turn it one part nightclub on weekends.
Overstuffed, underpriced grills and melts feel exactly right amid the brick walls, cracked cement floors, motorcycle kitsch, and really loud music. Slightly divey Smarty Pants elevates the humble sandwich to a new status entirely. Like the Gringa, in which succulent pork freshened with lime juice arrives piled on a mayo-slathered, toasted french roll with tomato and lettuce. Or the Lil’ Philly, featuring a grilled mess of roast beef, onions, and peppers, topped with melting swiss, piqued with horseradish, and heaped to heaven inside a toasted roll. Miraculously, the coleslaw and potato salad sides are both fresh and feisty. Even more miraculously, the whole basketful—enough for two regular appetites or one enormous one—costs less than $13.
The folks we have to thank for Caffe Vita have given Seattle Neapolitan pizzerias with atmosphere so thickly Italian you could cut it with a pizza wheel. As for what they serve, it’s the real Neapolitan deal: springy, salt-licked, heat-blistered crusts sparsely topped with sprightly tomato sauce, along with every imaginable combination of mushrooms, bufala mozzarella, fresh garlic, cured meats, fresh sausage, and so on. The pies are slid into the roaring brick oven for, oh, 60 seconds or so, whereupon all they’ll need for company is an olive- and prosciutto-packed house salad, a good bottle of sangiovese, and an appreciative maw. Don’t bother with a doggie bag: The Trib’s pies, ephemeral joys, go soggy upon cooling.