I had the opportunity to visit a long list of restaurants in 2016 that were located in the greater Seattle area. Oddly enough, most of the really good restaurants I went to were not all in Seattle (at least, not the city area of Seattle). In fact, many of the best meals and bites I had in 2016 were in Ballard. Yeah, far away, in the middle of no where Ballard. Don’t get too excited people of Ballard…Ballard is kind of part of Seattle…sort of…. However, I always feel like I need a passport and my day bag when I make a trek over there(Yes, Ballard is a neighborhood of Seattle, but I feel like there is a reason Ballard has it’s own subreddit).
The city portion of Seattle is known for having a lot of fancy, and expensive restaurants. Especially on Capitol Hill. Many of these places make really good food. Naka, Spinasse, Altura, are just a few examples of really good restaurants on Capitol Hill. However, due to what I assume is rent prices for retail and restaurant space, the food is very expensive.
In comparison, Ballard food and restaurants tends to be a lot more mildly priced. Maybe it is because Ballard has a lot of good homey styled restaurants that serve really good, simple food. Overall, I have come to enjoy food the scene in Ballard more than Seattle in 2016. Maybe it is just because the traffic is not as bad as often, or maybe it is just a hipper part of town. I am not really sure!
Whatever it may be. Both Ballard and Seattle have great food! That is without question. Whether you are looking for ramen, burgers, sandwiches, or pastries, you will find a great supplier of all of these in the greater Seattle area. When it is pouring rain out and you feel trapped, there is always a hot bowl of soup somewhere. If you are looking for a place to take a girl or guy out on a date, entertain a friend from out of town or just trying to figure out what to do on the weekend their are plenty of places to visit.
Check out some of my favorite places to eat in 2016!
Best Restaurants In Seattle- 2016
I found OOINK Ramen a few months ago when I was catching up with a friend. It is hidden above the QFC on Capitol Hill’s Broad Way Street. Right next to the Marination Station this small ramen shop produces high quality liquid gold. The broth here is rich and unctuous, it warms the soul on a rainy Seattle day. In the end, OOINK ramen could not be more perfect for Seattle weather.
My personal experience at OOINK was amazing! My friend and I sat a that counter facing the window and ordered off the limited menu of 5-6 bowls of ramen (which I prefer). When the bowl came out, the sight of the perfectly cooked egg alone caused my tongue to shudder. The pool of chili oil made my broth look like the next BP oil spill. I impatiently pushed my spoon passed the noodles to get my first taste of the broth. As I pressed the hot unctuous liquid on my lips my tongue was instantly satisfied. The fatty pork, and spice from the chilies went off like fire works. Blowing my taste buds to smithereens. There was a depth and richness that is hard to explain. The Thai chilies added a citrus like spice. It was bright, and spicy. The experience was a combination of fatty layers of chili and pork fat, rich broth, soy, and clearly love that created one of the better broths I have had in the last few months! (and I frequent Kizuki, mostly out of convenience). I don’t think I have been to enough ramen places to claim Ooink as the best ramen place in Seattle. However, it was the best experience I have had so far in Seattle. In 2016, this was the best ramen place by far!
So I lied…
There actually is a decently affordable place on Capitol Hill that makes amazing food! It is called Kedai Makan and they do great food!. Sadly, they don’t take reservations. However, the food is worth the wait!
My trip, again, involved a wet and dreary Seattle day. I walked into the restaurant wet and excited for the meal I was about to partake in. Upon entering Kedai Makan, I was instantly hit by a waft of amazing smells. I could smell spice, lemon grass, ginger, fry oil and so many other good aromatic compounds danced through the air.
Like usual, I came here with a friend who really wanted to experience a great meal. We ordered Pork Belly, Roti Jala, and their hand made noodles. All of the dishes were great.
The most shocking dish was the Roti Jala. I had never had it before, but we were told it translated to “Net Bread”. Wait what???
What we got was literally bread in a net form. It was stained yellow with turmeric and served with a cup of Lamb Curry. This was fascinating! Seven years of cooking and having all forms of flat bread and I had never seen anything like this. It wasn’t just perplexing in sense of structure. It was also a complexly delicious dish. The flavors of curry and spice from the lamb and turmeric from the bread layered together and danced. Like two partners that had been moving to the beat of flavor for years, these two food elements skillfully tantalized my tongue. Each movement of their feet threw my mouth into gleeful turmoil. I was getting excited for our main courses after only one bite of this flat bread. The flavors were border line partying in my mouth. I wish my stomach was bigger sometimes…
How they managed to turn something and plain as “bread” into something so exciting is amazing!
Now for the next two dishes, we split the main courses. We ordered the Pork Belly and the Chili Pan Mee.
|Spiced Pork Belly and Pickled Serranoes|
They were both great, but my favorite was the Pork Belly. It was golden brown, crispy and covered in just a light dusting of five spice. The slight sweetness that the five spice brought out of the whole dish set it all off. The cheap cut of meat is so often only seen as breakfast material. However, it served such a great purpose in a dish filled with vegetables. Each bite brought out new flavors in the green beans. The salty and crispy meat croutons were perfect. Like a salad, the beans almost were only getting in the way….I spent most of the rest of my night searching for hidden morsels of pork belly in the green beans.
Kedai Makan is a great cheap restaurant worth visiting more than once!
Best Restaurants outside of Seattle 2016
Ballard(Ok, not really out of Seattle…)
La Carta De Oaxaca
La Carte de Oaxaca is a small little restaurant in Ballard. It doesn’t have white table cloths, or obscure meats that can only be sourced by knowing a guy that knows a guy in some foreign country. Nope, it is a simple Oaxacan restaurant that serves the classics done right.
I would like to point out that Oaxaca is a region in Mexico. However, rather than classify this as a Mexican meal, I would prefer to refer to it as Oaxacan. You might otherwise assume every plate comes with refried beans and rice. This isn’t that kind of place.
|Tacos and Tamales|
Oaxaca is a decent sized region in the south part of Mexico. Like any other country, each region has it’s own specific dishes and variations of dishes.
For instance, let’s take the classic tamale. Typically you see them wrapped in corn husks and steamed. Well Oaxaca still steams their tamales. They just wrap them in banana leaves instead. It gives it a light sweetness and a slightly more difficult eating process. La Carte de Oaxaca does a Tamales Mole Negro that is worth taking time to order. If you are a Mole person, then you should order this dish.
When I went I ordered the Carnita Tacos and Chicken Mole Tamale. Both of these dishes were great. I had no complaints. These dishes can be a little small, so don’t let the prices fool you. However, for the quality of the product..I think it is worth it.
Pho and Sandwiches
Seattle has hundreds (maybe thousands of Pho) restaurants. They line Aurora and dart two and fro in the University district. There are even a few “Chic” Pho Places, including Ba Bar which charge up to $11-15 for a bowl of grass fed beef pho and recently opened its new location in South Lake Union. Most of the time, I prefer the more questionable bowls of pho you get for $9 in the International District (I don’t know why…something is wrong with me). This post may make you think that I am going to talk about Pho.
Nope, this is the story about two sandwiches at a restaurant called Stock. Located near Greenlake, Stock Seattle sits on 65th and 5th. Their pho is good, well seasoned and has an underlying essence of star anise. However, don’t expect to get any beef broth…they only have vegetarian and chicken based broths(I know, that is a border line sin).
That wasn’t what got my foodie juices going. Here, what I really enjoyed eating was their sandwiches.
|Stock Seattle Duck Sandwich|
Let’s talk about this duck sandwich. It is like putting roasted turkey on your leftover sandwich, it always makes a great sandwich. Then of course you add garlic aioli. Forgot about your fancy sriracha aioli, chipotle aioli, and whatever other funky combo you want to make (actually, you should try smoked onion aioli..it is really good!). No, garlic aioli is always king. It is a classic for a reason. The garlic adds an extreme amount of flavor, like BMX biking extreme. There is just a little bit of spicy bite but a whole lot of depth in a good garlic aioli. Every good sandwich needs mayo, aioli or sauce. No matter what health websites say. A dry sandwich is no good! You need some love from a fatty substance. Garlic aioli is a good choice!
Besides an amazing duck sandwich. They also make a delicious lamb shank sandwich..when it is not 86ed..
The actual building where Lil Woody’s is, seems like the entrance to a typical Jonny Rockets, or classic burger joint. Inside, you are instantly welcome by a giant “Whats Up Ballard” tile message. Not much can really be said about the furniture or ambiance besides that (what did you expect, linen and a butler?).
Being a purist, I had to order a Lil Woody. What more do you need than Patty, Cheese, Pickles, maybe ketchup, lettuce, tomato, and bun. However, my friend did tell me that the “Pigs and Fig” was a good burger. So I gave in. I ordered that as well….
It didn’t stop there, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Milkshakes made with real Tillamook Ice Cream, but it wasn’t just that. They had a flavor that looked like a middle schoolers text autocorrect. Ube, did they mean to spell Uber???
Nope, they meant to spell the word Ube, or a Filipino sweet potato. Well, how could I say no? So I finished my order and sat down.
While I waited, I eyed the silly Sasquatch, who I can only assume was Woody himself. The guy seems to like burgers.
This place felt good. Like, I was actually going to enjoy the burger I was going to eat and feel full at the end. Unlike Feed Co Burgers, which offer a small patty at an even steeper price. This place seemed to scream, real deal, with nothing to prove.
|Figs and Pig Burger
Un Bien, wow, I must really love sandwiches! If you like greasy, flavorful, sandwiches with crusty bread and grilled onions, then check out Un Bien. Now, I am not sure where you stand on the whole Un Bien Vs. Paseos argument and I don’t really care. All I know is that the Palomilla Steak sandwich is my favorite sandwich in 2016. Yes, the roasted duck sandwich at Stock is good, this is just that much better…
However, unlike the duck sandwich, you will definitely need a nap after this delicious morsel. This sandwich is not for people on a diet. It is a great sandwich that asks for no forgiveness. Clearly it is full of flavor, fat, and passion!
|Un Bien Sandwich|
Midori Bakery is a privately owned bakery in Redmond Town Center. The bakery touts seasonal ingredients and Coava Coffee from Portland Oregon(which for those who really like Coffee, will be very happy with the flavor!). I walked in and was a little dismayed. It was 3 PM and they had already sold out of most of their baked goods. In particular, I had heard of a delicious Nutella and Banana Croissant that I really wanted to try(also a Blueberry Almond Croissant that is supposedly just as good).
|Caramel Chocolate Whisky Pecan Gateau and Pate Choux|
Nevertheless, they still had plenty of their Gateaus lined up. A Gateau is a rich french cake. Typically, it has one layer of thick stabilized cream and a layer of fruit preserve on top of a rich decedent cake. They have several varieties pending on the time of year. This includes a Lemon Blueberry cake with a White Chocolate Creme, a Caramel Chocolate Whisky Pecan Gateau, a White Chocolate Cherry and Pistachio Gateau and…is your mouth watering yet.
They also have Dulce De Leche Brownies, Kouign Amann, Chocolate Kugelhopf and a few other pastries that make my spell check go crazy and throw the dreaded red line underneath. Maybe, the farther away the word is from English, the more delicious it is?
Overall, Midori was my last great find of 2016. I am excited to see what restaurants I will find in 2017. Let me know if you guys find any great places worth going!
Have a great 2017!
Tags; Best Places to Eat in Seattle 2016; Seattle; Ballard Restaurants; OOINK; Ramen; Sandwiches; Where to find food