Homestyle cooking; who doesn't crave it from time to time? While on the road, this is one thing travelers often desire–flavorful bites of comfort food that have been prepared with love. Luckily for us Seattle got the memo on this coveted genre, and the city boasts an array of options that serve delicious fare in spaces warm and inviting. (After all, even our Safeco sports stadium has started serving up waffles this season.) At some of these eateries, when you close your eyes and savor the aromas, you might swear you've been transported to your grandmother's kitchen.
Some choices might seem obvious (diners, intimate cafes and friendly pubs), while other choices like Fremont's 9 Million in Unmarked Bills are a bit less expected. This funky bar not only serves creative cocktails, but also homestyle dishes (think brisket and mac n' cheese) with a bit of a twist. Other suggestions include ethnic eateries like Capitol Hill's delightful Omega Ouzeri (Greek fare) and Taste of India near the University District, where the portions are generous and the staff exceedingly kind. We encourage you to work your way through this list, relishing the homestyle flavors along the way.
9 Million In Unmarked Bills
You won't find anything square about this funky corner bar, where blue jeans-clad college kids and young professionals hang out, down some brews, and enjoy a surprisingly upbeat menu that features everything from white truffle mac-n-cheese and steamed clams to havarti burgers and gourmet pizzas. An unexpected addition to the homestyle food list, this welcoming venue puts a posh twist on delicious comfort food, perfect for chillier months. Outdoor seating is available, and it's not uncommon for laid-back hipsters who frequent the place to stake out a table and set up shop for the night, especially if it's a warm Saturday. (206-632-0880)
This lively spot is known for its quarterly-changing menu that highlights a regional cuisine. So, in addition to the regular breakfast menu, you may find specialties like New Orleans po' boy breakfast sandwich, pain perdu (New Orleans-style French toast), or a Bourbon Street omelet. If you sleep through the usual breakfast hours, don't fret – Coastal Kitchen serves it till 3pm, and you can get the "All-Day Breakfast" any time (that's bacon, sausage, or ham, hash browns, three eggs, and toast). Local artists supply new themed pieces whenever the menu changes, and all of their masterpieces can be purchased and taken home with you. (206-322-1145)
Louisa's Café and Bakery
This well-known bakery in the Eastlake neighborhood (just a short jaunt from downtown) plies patrons with a mouthwatering selection of pastries, coffee drinks, and sandwiches made with thick-sliced homemade breads. Colorful, hand-painted furnishings add a country feel to the bright, spacious dining room, and the diverse crowd is welcoming, whether you're wearing a suit or sweats. If you're looking for heartier fare than pastries and breads, try a full eggs-and-toast breakfast with the best country potatoes in the area, or splurge on an addictive house specialty: baked apple French toast. A new menu has recently been added, and the venue now serves brunch till 3 p.m. daily. (206-325-0081)
Cozy ambience and authentic Spanish cuisine make this small, charming eatery a local favorite in the neighborhood of Madison Park. A wide-ranging tapas selection features both hot and cold options and promises to make you a return customer. The small plates are lush, with dishes composed of rich, salty, flavorful foods, such as chorizo, aioli, lamb, and authentic cheeses. Be sure to save room at the end of your meal; desserts are also spectacular, especially the legendary chocolate bread pudding. Space is limited, and they seat right up until 10 p.m. Also check out their brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. (206-320-9771)
Taste of India
Featuring a vibrant, neon exterior and an intimate, welcoming interior, Taste of India offers a delightful dining experience from start to finish. The food, service and ambience make this a wonderful spot for enjoying Indian and Mediterranean dishes ranging from rich curries and creamy masalas to tasty vindaloos. Other highlights include the chicken tikka masala, spinach naan and homemade mango pistachio ice cream. Vegetarian diners enjoy dishes like the Madras chili masala with crisp-cooked squash and peppers. Thanks to its family-style dining tradition, this is a perfect option for large groups or those wanting to sample an array of Indian comfort-food dishes. ((206) 528-1575)
Hi Spot Café
What was originally a lovely Victorian home has been transformed into a hip restaurant. The unbeatable breakfast menu features cheese-baked eggs, omelets, "green eggs n ham," breakfast burritos, ham steaks, bowls of granola and oatmeal and vegetarian selections like the tofu scramble, chock-full of fresh veggies. Be sure to try massive cinnamon rolls and world-class scones, and enjoy the patio during warm weather. The mid-day menu is served from 11:30am and includes fresh salads, sandwiches and soups. This eatery has been a hub of Madrona in the morning hours for some 30 years, and old-timers and newbies alike continue to relish its food and charm. (206-325-7905)
14 Carrot Cafe
A breakfast haven for locals since the late '70s, this friendly, offbeat cafe in the Eastlake neighborhood is known far and wide for its great breakfasts. From traditional eggs-bacon-potatoes combos to more unusual dishes like tahini French toast and Greek omelets, the menu has all bases covered. Coffee cake and cinnamon rolls are freshly baked, and there are four kinds of pancakes. Don't expect a fancy scene, though, because it's the type of place people head to having just rolled out of bed. On Saturday mornings, 14 Carrot tends to stay quite packed, so expect a wait. Lunch is good too! (206-324-1442)
In Belltown (and now Capitol Hill, too), Ethan Stowell has done it once again by wowing diners at his Italian gem Tavolata. Here, pasta reigns--from rigatoni to casarecce, conchiglie to linguini. A restaurant whose name means "to gather around a table," Tavol?ta is an ideal space for large parties and private events. Monthly Sunday Feast dinners mean four-course family meals served at the communal table (that seats up to 26 diners), perfectly embodying the venue's philosophy. Enjoy nightly happy hours (from 5 to 7 p.m.) as well as dishes like brushcetta and salumi boards to start, rigatoni and potato gnocchi for pasta dishes, salmon and beef short ribs as entrees and grilled carrots as a side. (206-838-8008)
A fairly recent addition to the Capitol Hill restaurant lineup, Omega Ouzeri whisks diners away to the rich flavors, welcoming vibes and cool hues of the Mediterranean, and it's an experience you won't want to miss. Executive Chef Zoi Antonitsas (Food & Wine's Best New Chef 2015) fills the menu with delectable Greek fare (authentic and contemporary), and the venue aims to "redefine traditional Greek recipes from earth and sea, around the long-standing tradition of mezedes – small portions, of exceptional food, to be shared by everyone around the table." Some of chef's favorite shareable dishes include Fava Santorini (fava: red onion, capers, evo, lemon), Kolokithokeftedes (zucchini fritters: graviera, mint, Aleppo aioli), Horiatiki (Greek salad: tomato, cucumber, pepper, feta, Kalamata olive, oregano), Keftedakia (grilled lamb meatballs: ouzo tomato jam, lemon yogurt, parsley, red onion, sumac) and Lavraki (whole, grilled Mediterranean sea bass: oregano-grilled lemon dressing). Diners will quickly fall for the welcoming venue's family-run feel and flavorful, inspiring dishes. ((206) 257-4515)
Skillet intends to redefine modern American food, describing its fare as "approachable, upscale and prepared with classic technique, using local and seasonal ingredients." The family-friendly restaurant now has four Seattle outposts and a line of food products (including Skillet's signature line of bacon jams and condiments) as well as the original Skillet Street Food trucks that hit the streets and cater private events. Items range from the maple-braised pork belly and waffle with a fried egg on top to a burger featuring bacon jam, arugula, bleu cheese and brie on brioche, served with hand-cut fries. A full bar hosts happy hour daily and offers hand-crafted artisan cocktails along with beer and wine on tap. ((206) 512-2001)
About Corinne Whiting
Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's backpacked around Australia, taught English in Argentina and explored (so far!) countries from Cambodia and Egypt to Turkey and China.
Corinne served as associate editor at Where magazine for five years; as a freelancer, she now writes for publications like National Geographic Traveler and Amtrak's OnTrak. Here in the lovely Northwest, she's attempting to debunk the rain myths, up her coffee and live music quotient and find her Zen near/on the water.
Read more about Corinne Whiting here.
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