Where to Eat (and Drink) on Beacon Hill
The perennially charming Perihelion Brewery. Photograph by Amber Fouts.
Some parts of town have buzzed-about dining rooms. Others harbor enviable neighborhood hangouts. The restaurants that line Beacon Avenue as it bisects one of Seattle’s most faceted neighborhoods comprise a density of both. Which makes sense; few neighborhoods have navigated the forces of gentrification with Beacon Hill’s wary dexterity, protecting what remains of its Latinx and Filipinx roots as it makes room for newcomers who respect the fabric of their surroundings.
Below you’ll find the dining gems of Beacon Hill, plus a new crop of bars, and some deeply rooted coffee shops and bakeries. At this point it goes without saying, but it’s prudent to say anyhow: The world is bananas right now, and restaurants must shift course often to stay afloat. Check websites and social media to make sure you know the latest on hours, takeout, dine-in, and patio status.
Fantastic Meals of All Kinds
Bar del Corso
One of the city’s most indispensable Italian restaurants lives a double life as a neighborhood hub. Both these identities hinge on Jerry Corso’s pizza—crusts blistered from the woodfire oven, toppings simple and seasonal. Under normal circumstances, crowds pack this restaurant on Beacon Avenue (not to mention its convivial back patio). Bar del Corso recently kiboshed its no-reservations policy, but our current state of social distancing means a very few seats in both dining room and garden, so tables still fill up fast. Thank goodness for the takeout menu of pizza, suppli al telefono, luminous seasonal salads, and portable versions of the aperitivi-based cocktails that should always kick off a meal here.
Breezy Town Pizza
Windy City Pie was the best deep-dish in town—until it spun off this counter destination for sourdough-crust pies inside the Clock-Out Lounge. It’s all that crisped cheese goodness, now with a saltier, slightly tangy crust, a style that hovers somewhere between Chicago and Detroit. The Pepperoni Paint Job, with its dual layers of meat, is a great introduction; experimental specials, like slices inspired by baja tacos or everything bagels, are bizarre and wonderful. Owner Dave Lichterman recently added in-house delivery for Beacon Hill and its immediate surrounds.
It’s the tortillas that make this family-run restaurant in the former Inay’s space so marvelous—springy masa pressed into delicate rounds, edges singed from the griddle. No, actually…the meat is what lodges these ample plates in your memory: charred carne asada, the tender titular carnitas, or an al pastor that melds pork, spices, and pineapple sweetness on an almost molecular level. Superlative quibbles aside, the food that emanates from the busy open kitchen blows away meals at way fancier (and more expensive) places. The friendly service and bags of dark and crackly chicharrones for sale by the register are just a bonus.
Tucked in an indistinct doorway on the neighborhood’s southern fringe, Corte Fino Mexican Cuisine is, according to its owners, the first full-scale halal Mexican restaurant in the Northwest. Far afield as its origins might be, the small restaurant serves familiar dishes: pollo en mole, enchiladas, tacos, a wet burrito. Food is often from scratch (Oaxaca cheese and housemade beef chorizo elevate a queso fundido), and spice levels pitch pleasingly high, making that familiarity feel more like welcome.
It’s one of those delightful spots midway between bar and restaurant (translation: ferociously good margaritas) where the staff might brief you on the fresh sheet in Spanish, whether you speak it or not. A lengthy menu covers tortas, massive huaraches, seafood dishes, big plates of carne asada, even a section of quesadillas. But the level of care can make the most straightforward enchilada feel like a discovery. Overwhelmed? Go straight for the fish tacos, filled with pickled veggies and moist whitefish sporting a golden, crisp crust that would be the envy of most fried chicken.
Logan Cox is the sort of chef who can make lamb ribs craveable, redefine roast chicken as something new and exciting, and recognize most of the neighborhood dogs (and their owners) by name. Homer puts big, broadly Mediterranean flavors in crunchy context but also runs a soft-serve window, just because. Seattle Met’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year also dedicates a section of its menu to things one might spread on saucer-size pitas, which arrive at the table almost too hot to touch, soft interior still puffed up with hot air from the dome oven in the corner of the open kitchen. Homer has reopened its sidewalk patio tables but still uses that soft-serve window to run a robust takeout program.
Few restaurants burst on the scene amid such heightened excitement. Even fewer shoot right past those lofty expectations. Melissa Miranda’s ode to the Filipino food of her Northwest youth—from kare kare to seasonal pancits, brunch silog to squid adobo—combines the intention of a talented chef with enough soul to win over grandmas skeptical of seeing their dishes served alongside a cocktail list. Musang’s charm, not to mention its homestyle flavors, translates easily to a takeout program, but the patio in front of the converted lavender Craftsman is also open for brunch and dinner (and takes reservations).
When Roberto Salmerón launched a taco shop in 2011, he didn’t duplicate the Mexican street tacos he grew up on, so much as harness their flavors and affordability. His tribute to those perfect tacos goes a little something like this: two lightly griddled corn tortillas with such proteins as adobada—marinated pork sheared off a vertical spit and topped with a square of grilled pineapple—or other fillings like carne asada, pollo asado, prickly pear cactus leaf. Now, mercifully, Tacos Chukís has four locations around town, including one at Plaza Roberto Maestas. Salmerón’s food has always been accessible, thanks to some insanely reasonable prices, but even more so with new-for-the-pandemic online ordering set up.
Plaza Roberto Maestas
If the light-strung charm of this plaza hidden just off the street isn’t enough to draw you in, the collection of food carts that set up here each day seals the deal. The Business Opportunity Center at nearby El Centro de la Raza incubates these vendors; they sell street bites that range from marinated shrimp or octopus at Shark Bite Ceviches to Sabor Delicioso’s chicken tinga huaraches, even pepperoni by the slice at Outsider Pizza. The cast rotates ever so slightly each day, but the Business Opportunity Center Instagram is a good place for current hours and carts.
Great Bars (With Great Food)
It’s as if a tiny piece of Chicago set down on south Beacon Hill. Not just because Breezy Town occupies a counter at its entry, selling its brilliant deep-dish pizza. Depending on the hour (and the state of live music post-Covid), the Clock-Out is either a compact music venue or a roomy workaday bar, the kind that stays dark and mellow even at high noon, and feels broken in by decades of regulars, even though it only arrived in 2018.
The popular soft-serve window over at Homer (see above) gave rise to a new family-friendly bar that balances chocolate-vanilla swirl cones with fried chicken sandwiches. A touch of Homer surfaces here and there—a chicken sandwich smeared with the restaurant’s signature whipped garlic, a kale salad blanketed in crunchy toasted quinoa—but Milk Drunk definitely sports its own cheerful persona, the kind that makes its own scratch mozzarella sticks. Six sandwich options layer fried chicken with anything from pineapple slaw to hot honey and paper-thin slices of country ham, all easy foils for a pina colada slushy or cocktail of rye and rhubarb. Soft-serve machines churn a handful of flavors, compared with Homer’s two, ready for a hard-shell dip and your choice of toppings. It’s unclear whether the socially distanced lines on the sidewalk are driven by the soft serve or the chicken, but either way, come patient and prepared.
There’s a beautiful simplicity to the sort of neighborhood hole-in-the-wall where you go to “grab a burger.” And this stylized family pub on Beacon Avenue serves a superb burger: an impeccably seasoned third of a pound of Painted Hills beef, draped in melted cheese between a rich bun generously smeared with a spicy roasted garlic aioli, all together tall enough to need a satisfying smoosh with the hand before taking that first bite. Wash it down with porter or pilsner from top-tier local breweries, or a competent cocktail. And repeat—this time perhaps with Belgian frites, salad, soup, a sandwich, or something off the Oak’s surprisingly robust vegan section.
This neighborly brewery could lure people in on charm alone: the old brick storefront, the patio with its table-size firepits illuminated by a string of lights. Then there’s the beer, everything from the lightest lager to more scholarly styles like braggot or roggenbier. To top it off, a counter-service menu of burgers, sandwiches, and rotating specials—all way better than what you were expecting.
Just like its elder sibling, Vif, this spare little bar on Beacon Avenue knows its minimal intervention wines and coaxes high-quality snacks from the humblest of kitchens. The bar has enhanced its bottle shop identity these past few months and put its retail bottle selection online. The menu of dips, picnic platters, prosciutto, and other snacks remains indispensable as ever.
Tippe and Drague
This red-brick neighborhood watering hole is built for a world where you can watch the Seahawks over brunch, or linger with a few friends and a pint of something good and local. But Tippe and Drague’s easy charms live on in the form of takeout, growler fills, and some seating indoors and on the back deck.
Coffee and Bakeries
There’s coffee, to be damn sure, but this Beacon Hill caffeine stop on Plaza Roberto Maestas also brews community. The Station hosts a neighborhood-wide block party (almost) every year and is unfailingly vocal in support of artists and activists. They also happen to nail their Mexican mocha.
Cafetal Quilombo Cafe
Just south of Jefferson Park, where 15th Avenue South meets Columbian Way, a companionable coffee shop serves coffee and espresso laced with Mexican tradition, like cafe de olla or an Americano-latte hybrid. The drinks are great, but Quilombo’s menu of tamales (nopales, chorizo and cheese, salsa verde, and so many more) are the jam. Order them cold to prep at home, warm to eat on the go, or with a 12-ounce americano or coffee—a brilliant $5.50 breakfast special.
Victrola Coffee Roasters
Both a coffee shop and a roaster, Victrola values accessibility as much as quality—a rarity in coffee purveyors. If you want to break down roast profiles, the baristas are game. They also welcome passersby who just want a drip coffee bleached with cream and sugar. The comfortably worn vibe at the Beacon Hill location is a nice counterpoint to the shiny light rail station and library up the street.
Husband-and-wife power couple and pastry pros Keiji Koh and Etsuku Minematsu supply their beloved bakeries—four all across Seattle, including a glassy little outpost across from the Beacon Hill library—with croissants, danishes, and classic kouign-amann. But the couple’s talents really shine in many a Japanese-inspired pastry, among them yuzu macarons, azuki bean mini bars, and black sesame tea cookies.