Homegrown is now open in University Village. 

Ba Bar 

Open all day and till 4am weekends, Monsoon’s street food sibling is a go-to for great food and drinks, no matter the hour. Co-owner Eric Banh likes to keep things on trend, from moscow mules and frosé to an unexpected and impressive pastry program. The food, though, remains strictly traditionalist—dumplings, five-spice rotisserie duck, noodle bowls with grilled beef sausage and sliced papaya, caramelly chicken wings, and pho heady with herbs and fork-tender sheets of flank steak. 

Bamboo Sushi

The food is impressive even before you factor in some of the most forward-thinking seafood sourcing in the industry. Its arrival is a happy chapter for the former Blue C sushi space, and given the shopping center location, Bamboo will soon be open for lunch. The menu of signature rolls, hot dishes, and traditional nigiri should look familiar to Bamboo fans, but throw in 142 seats, the company’s first takeout window, and murals by Seattle’s own Kyler Martz.

Din Tai Fung

Seattle’s love affair with xiao long bao began right around the time Din Tai Fung opened in Bellevue Square—and although the tender-fleshed little soup-filled dumplings are now peddled in a few joints across the Eastside, Din Tai Fung delivers them in grand, creamy quarters with attentive service and extreme consistency. You might think that multiple locations would reduce the waits, but you’d be wrong.

Eureka!

It may not be the splashiest food destination in U Village, but this California-based chain sure comes in handy should you find yourself looking for a drink. A full 40 taps pour creations from legit West Coast breweries, and my god, that’s a huge whiskey collection for a chain restaurant in a mall. The vast food menu upgrades every stripe of bar food from mac and cheese balls to fish tacos, but Eureka’s especially good at fancy burgers. In spite (or because) of all that booze, it’s also a great destination when you’ve got little kids in tow. 

Frank's Oyster House and Champagne Parlor

Okay, this one's outside of U Village proper but with its endearing blend of decor both quirky (plywood walls) and glam (velvet settees, tufted white leather barstools), it's a great post-shopping go-to. Frank’s levels a broad wink at its cocktail-swilling, oyster-slurping, steak-knifing clientele—and they love him right back. Because really, who wouldn’t love fried oysters or creamy goat cheese deviled eggs or copiously buttered lobster rolls—all preludes to big New York steaks, perhaps, or succulent pork chops with pear salad and celery root puree? Yep, the retro food is winking at you, too, but it’s executed with such respect (and served with such terrific bubbly and cocktails) there’s simply no way to dismiss the place. Desserts run to exceptional creamy things, particularly a banana split with housemade ice creams and bruleed bananas.

General Porpoise

Smitten by the fried dough at St. John in London, Renee Erickson’s cafe has created custard and cream-filled doughnuts in its image. The lemon curd is an especially bright and citrusy reminder that fried things can be wonderfully light and airy.

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

The Japanese chain’s first freestanding U.S. locations excel at two things: managing crowds and making ramen. Every variation here contains tonkotsu-style broth—a creamy confluence of pound after pound of pork bones and hour after hour boiling in pots the size of beer kegs.

Homegrown

The sandwiches, soups, salads, and sides listed on that menu burst with more than quality and freshness. They are exuberant assemblages of foods that simply taste perfect together—like a slab of blackened cod with sweet slaw on a panino roll, or a perfect toss of arugula with flank steak, blue cheese, red onion, and honey mustard. Homemade potato chips come with a salt of the day; homemade fries might be parsnip, turnip, and yam. And all the pristine sourcing and blazing creativity come with a heaping side order of what may be this year’s most important ingredient: value. It’s tough to pay over $12 in here.

Mamma Melina

The former come-as-you-are casual pasta and chianti haunt on Roosevelt went all upscale/techno with its move to a shiny new building near U-Village, and the results are mixed. In the plus column is a much bigger bar (virtually screaming "bring a date!") and decorative trappings—floor-to-ceiling windows, dripping chandeliers, lots of semi-private dining options in back, and bathrooms that could double as discos—befitting destination dining. Alas, the classic Italian food, bland and lackluster, doesn’t yet live up to that promise. Stick with pizzas or simple pastas for best results.

Mr. West

The owners of Bottlehouse in Madrona turned a sterile office building space downtown into that rare breed, a truly all-day cafe. By day, it’s a sleek, spacious destination for impeccable coffee, Instagram-pretty sandwiches, and pastries. Evening brings an impressive wine list and a happy hour crowd. There’s even a patio—at the Olive location and up north in University Village too. 

Pair

The happy hour destination north of the Cut is this farmhouse-rustic bistro on a corner in Ravenna, where small-plate favorites like cambozola fondue with pears and fontina mac and cheese have fan clubs. Careful owners train a close eye on details, and, though execution can vary, goodwill is constant. The place is smaller than its popularity, so prepare to wait.

Piatti Ristorante and Bar

It's not the most groundbreaking Italian food you'll ever have, but who cares? It's hit-the-spot good, with simple pizzas and generous wine pours. 

Rachel's Ginger Beer

The beloved local juicery fits right in among the trendy boutiques and coffee shops at U Village, and we’re sure the $7.50 moscow mules and Porch Swings have nothing to do with it. Hungry? Ma’ono has a counter inside for all of your fried chicken needs. Charismatic murals by Stacey Rozich, a family-friendly atmosphere (they make a wicked ginger beer ice cream float), and consistently lively staff offer a refreshing break from the frenzy of shoppers just outside the door.