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Third Annual Ultimate Seattle Restaurant Poll (2008)

I was debating If had enough time to do this poll this year but the holiday spirit brought me back. Last year was the second year doing this poll we had 44 responses and 84 restaurants were voted for. Here is a link to last years results http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/471619. So here’s the deal, rate your top five, and only five restaurants in the Seattle area (eastside in included) that you would recommend to a friend, looking for a memorable dining experience. The scoring will go 5 points for a first place vote, 4 for a second place vote, 3 for a third place vote, 2 for a fourth place vote and one for a fifth place vote. Please rate five and put number designations next to each restaurant. For the moderators, this is not a chowhound sanctioned poll. Also this poll is by no means scientific is is a fun way to create a list of the best restaurants in seattle that will hopefully be more accurate than Zagat. I will set the deadline for voting to be christmas day. and will hopefully have it tallied by new years. Here is my five:
1. Harvest Vine
2. Cafe Juanita
3. Lark
4. La medusa
5. Malay Satay Hut

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  1. As I get older and as the economy gets worse, I find myself turning to old favorites, places where we go again and again, with or without friends and family:

    1. Cafe Juanita--for that special occasion! no more need be said
    2. Green Leaf-good Vietnamese (the green mango salad is incredible) and the family that runs it is incredibly sweet
    3. Tango--a small plate for everyone, no matter how picky, and the El Diablo dessert is to die for
    4. Tsukushinbo--solid Japanese home cooking and sushi bar at a reasonable price. Great noodles and tempura. Non-chic cafe run by a friendly family
    5. Fondi's--best reasonably priced pizza I know with great salad sides . Good-by Pagliacci.

    Honorable mention (OK, so it's against the rules)

    6. Cafe Soleil (Ethiopian in style)
    7. Panos (a small plate for everyone, Greek-style)
    8. Mayuri Chaat--Indian street food and sweets
    9. Banh Thai (old reliable for pre-concert Thai meals--not the best Thai in town by any stretch, but hey, what other restaurant has made it in that location for so long?)
    10. Malay Satay Hut (the closest thing to Singapore/Malaysia in these parts; love the roti canai and char kway teow)
    11. Shun--another reasonably priced Japanese neighborhood restaurant, with good seafood and vegetarian choices

    And finally, since I'm breaking the rules anyway, places I really miss:

    1. Labuznik (I still crave the roast duck, dumpling and red cabbage)
    2. Takohachi (the best black cod kazusake in town and most reasonably priced)
    3. Le Tastevin (salmon kulibiac and floating islands)
    4. Chocolate Dan's (chocolate truffles better than Fran's, no joke)
    5. The original Huong Binh (used to be north of the old Uwajimaya--Cambodian noodle soup par excellence)
    6. Burrito Loco in U Village (not renewing their lease was one of Stuart Sloan's bigger mistakes)
    7. Gerard's Relais de Lyon (classic French in a lovely house setting)
    8. Le Pavillon (OK, so this really dates me--this was the first high end restaurant in Occidental Square, owned by the Kissel family of Brasserie Pittsbourg fame, the only place where I ever ordered calf's liver and many times too)
    9. The Other Place (This one shows my age too--used to be next to the main post office, if you can believe it--Roberto Rosellini served high end game--loved the quail and pheasant)
    10. Crepe de Paris--not the kind of depressing place in the Rainier Bank Tower, but the original one downtown one near the old movie palace (was it the Coliseum or the Orpheus??) and then moved to Madison Park. French Onion Soup and crisp Breton-style crepes made with the best ingredients.
    11. Surrogate Hostess--the yummy scrambled eggs with the croissants with the lemon curd cream cheese!

    5 Replies
    1. re: PAO

      1. Springhill
      2. Crow
      3. Le Pichet
      4. Cafe Campagne
      5. Palace Kitchen

      1. re: PAO

        How funny. I was thinking about the old 'Crepe de Paris' downtown a few days ago...I'm with ya on that....those crepes were really magnificent. I loved the spinach with the most delicate bechamel I've ever tasted and those crisp edges on the edges were unforgettable.
        The wonderful Surrogate Hostess. How can anyone forget walking off the street into the room where those tables and that line in front of the food was.
        The combination of the scent of coffee and baked goods and those scrambled eggs...it brings back memories on Capitol HIll.

        1. re: latindancer

          I'm glad that brought back good memories for you too! Back then the imported gruyere and ham that Crepe de Paris used seemed very exotic in Seattle! And I think croissants were considered new and unusual!

          1. re: PAO

            I agree. That little part in my brain, where certain smells are filed, has been tapped and I'm really remembering some places now.
            Kingfish Cafe on Capital Hill was one of my favorites. The two sisters (can't remember their names now) made some of the best crabcake sandwiches and red beans and rice I've had anywhere in my travels. They really loved their food and made sure all their customers did too.
            Seattle and the coffee and the rain and the cold and the grey skies somehow is a haven for some of the greatest comfort food in the country.
            Those crepes....wow...I will never find one that comes close to them....the sweet and the savory were/are unbeatable.
            And, of course, that wonderful and memorable Surrogate Hostess. Not only will I never forget breakfast on a blustery, winter day with the homemade rolls and wonderful egg dishes, but their place next door (do you remember it?) with wonderful gifts from around the world....I still have some of the handmade plates and tablecloths and a variety of other quality kitchenware from Italy and France and S America I purchased from them...the owners of the Surrogate Hostess
            had impeccable taste.

            1. re: latindancer

              Yes, I don't know where to find Breton style crepes. Or mayte they were Normandy. At any rate, the more common ones seem so flabby in comparison.

      2. 1. Spinasse
        2. Pho Bac
        3. Dinette
        4. Palace Kitchen
        5. Harvest Vine

        2 Replies
        1. 1. Quinn's
          2. Vieng Thong
          3. Tamarind Tree
          4. Meskel
          5. Seven Stars Pepper

          1. 1. Olivar
            2. Bamboo Gardens (Bellevue)
            3. Green Leaf
            4. Cafe Presse
            5. Corson Building

            This very much reflects my dining favorites this year--there are some great-sounding places on other lists I haven't tried, and I don't want to vote for places I haven't been in over a year.

            1. 1. Cafe Campagne
              2. Green Leaf
              3. Matt's in the Market
              4. Salumi
              5. Jade Garden (I know there's better dim sum to be had, but I still love it!)

              1. 1. Union
                2. Lark
                3. Tilth
                4. Sitka and Spruce
                5. Samuri Noodle

                1. Harvest Vine
                  Matt's at the Market
                  Il Terrazo Carmine
                  Palace Kitchen
                  Salumi

                  1. 1) Lampreia
                    2) Sitka & Spruce
                    3) Crush
                    4) Harvest Vine
                    5) Tamarind Tree

                    1. 1. Cafe Juanita
                      2. Rover's
                      3. Union
                      4. Ray's
                      5. Salvatore's

                      Also love Lampreia, Il Terrazzo Carmine, Salumi, Etta's, Palace Kitchen, Brasa, Txori, and Matt's in the Market.

                      1. 1. Campagne
                        2. Restaurant Zoe
                        3. Orrapin Thai
                        4. La Spiga
                        5. Betty

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: charnu

                          1. Tilth
                          2. Crush
                          3. Shiro's
                          4. Black Bottle
                          5. Mr. Gyros

                          1. re: countpig98

                            Harvest Vine
                            Sitka and Spruce
                            Lark
                            Kisaku
                            Salumi

                        2. Thanks for taking this on!

                          (1) Quinn's
                          (2) Palace Kitchen
                          (3) Cafe Presse
                          (4) Crow
                          (5) El Paseo

                          HM- Cremant, Samurai Noodle, Tavolata, Taqueria el Asadero, Sichuan Cuisine

                          My wife would like to vote, too! She likes-

                          (1) Palace Kitchen
                          (2) Txori
                          (3) Presse
                          (4) Fiereband
                          (5) Hoosanyi (sp?)

                          1. 1. Lark
                            2. Cafe Juanita
                            3. Tamarind Tree
                            4. Paseo
                            5. Crush

                            1. 1st place: Café Juanita. Holly Smith has built on Peter Dow’s foundation to take Café Juanita to new and exalted heights. Smith is at the top of her game, and her staff, including the knowledgeable wait staff, has no discernable weak links. If someone offers to take me out for dinner, this would be my first choice.

                              2nd place. Union. The food at Union, under Chef Ethan Stowell’s direction, just keeps getting better and better. Another big plus is an excellent and carefully selected wine list.

                              3rd place. Tamarind Tree. The combination of the masterfully prepared Vietnamese dishes, the exotic and wonderful drinks, especially the non-alcoholic drinks, the amazing ice creams, and reasonable prices is a hard combination to top.

                              4th place. Harvest Vine. Harvest Vine, despite some variations in the quality of the service, has withstood the test of time when it comes to its delicious preparations of Basque cuisine.

                              5th place. Elliott’s Oyster House (oyster bar). The cooked food is just okay, but the reason to go to Elliott’s is to sit at the Oyster Bar, put yourself in the knowledgeable hands of champion oyster shucker Dave Leck, and consume vast quantities of the largest selection of the amazingly wonderful Pacific Northwest oysters in Seattle or probably anywhere else in the world for that matter. Elliott’s may be a one-trick pony, but what a trick!

                              1. Thank you for doing this. It's a lot of work and it is much appreciated. I use this list a lot during the year. My top five favorite places that I dined this year are:
                                1. Boat Street
                                2. Cafe Presse
                                3. Union
                                4. Art of the Table
                                5. Corson Building

                                1. 1. Lark
                                  2. Corison Building
                                  3. Harvest Vine
                                  4. Olivar
                                  5. Spur

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Greghms

                                    1. Cafe Juanita
                                    2. Harvest Vine
                                    3. Rovers
                                    4. Joule
                                    5. Tilth

                                  2. This is based on my dining over the past year.

                                    1. Matt's in the Market
                                    2. Elemental at Gasworks
                                    3. La Carta de Oaxaca
                                    4. La Medusa
                                    5. Le Pichet

                                    1. 1. Monsoon: dinner is great, but the dim sum pastries (which I wish they would expand on) are the best in town .. and don't get me started on the Pho
                                      2. Sitka & Spruce (still wish they could figure out how to take reservations though)
                                      3. Cafe Juanita
                                      4. Carta de Oaxaca
                                      5. Licorous: GREAT cocktails, lovely snacks , the nicest people..absolutely no attitude ever.

                                      1. Salumi (the kitchen specials, though the sandwiches are nice-to-amazing)
                                        Elemental (walk in, sit down, let go, enjoy)
                                        Pacific Inn (F&C)
                                        Paseo (take-out and plate-up at home, where you can have enough dishes and space to present it as the grand spread it can be, and maybe serve it with a nice white wine).
                                        Chinook's (take the auntie there for reliable fish, a great view, and a menu that allows a good exerience for low-budget, as well as high-budget diners).

                                        1. 1. Bis on Main
                                          2. Quinn's
                                          3. 35th Street Bistro
                                          4. Matt's in the Market
                                          5. Eva

                                          1. 1. Lark
                                            2. 35th St. Bistro
                                            3. Seastar
                                            4. Le Gourmand
                                            5. The Iris Grill (Issaquah)

                                            1. 1. Rover's
                                              2. Waterfront Seafood Grill
                                              3. Nishino
                                              4. Zoe
                                              5. Brasa

                                              1. As I've got a now 14 month old and we didn't have too many opportunities to get out to fine dining this year, my list is more of the quick, take out type fair:

                                                1. Cafe Juanita
                                                2. Paseo
                                                3. Lunchbox Laboratory
                                                4. Grinders
                                                5. Nells

                                                1. 1. Art of the Table
                                                  2. 35th Street Bistro
                                                  3. Matt's in the Market
                                                  4. Paseo
                                                  5. Tamarind Tree

                                                  1. 5-Tango
                                                    4-La Spiga
                                                    3-Steelhead Diner
                                                    2-Cafe Juanita
                                                    1-Georgian Room-I know it's not that chowish but the whole meal was phenomenal

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: bighound

                                                      1.Art
                                                      2. Quinn's
                                                      3.Matt's
                                                      4. Lunchbox Lab
                                                      5. Malay Satay

                                                      Gawd, I am so much like everyone else!!!!!!

                                                    2. We are a precocious pair in the paucity of pennies department so we got a head start in 2008 on the New Economy (or lack thereof). As a result, dining out declined and dining in inclined. 2008 found us dining at some old, some new, some pricey, mostly cheap to moderately priced establishments.
                                                      1) Café Lago - all year, any night, antipasto plate, any of the four or five pastas, pizza salsiccia and salad mista and a good wine
                                                      2) Salumi - if everyone at the table wasn't in the same situation it would be difficult to simultaneously moan and eat politely
                                                      3) Joule – it’s all quite miraculous
                                                      4) Pho Cyclo (prefer First Ave location) a steaming bowl of phragrant pho with added fresh vegetables will cure what ails me
                                                      5) Etta’s Saturday or Sunday brunch - deconstructed Irish Coffee - mug of black coffee, double shot of Irish, single shot glass of whipped cream and the morning’s seasonal special - pretty nice windows to watch the snow fall, but not as good as Matt's

                                                      New on my list to visit before 2008 or 2009 is too far gone are Spinasse and Poppy, hope to return to Lark and La Medusa soon. (How could Monsoon and Vios and Il Terazzo Carmine not be on my lists - they are all wonderful! I hate taking up a spot with Etta's, but no one else will deconstruct an Irish like they do, and some mornings that's all that saves me.)

                                                      1. Degrassroots, Thanks for doing this:
                                                        1. Harvest Vine
                                                        2. Matt's at the Market
                                                        3. Salumi
                                                        4. Il Terrazo Carmine
                                                        5. Palace Kitchen

                                                        1. 1 Matt's in the Market
                                                          2 Poppy
                                                          3 How to Cook a Wolf
                                                          4 Olivar
                                                          5 Restaurant Zoe

                                                          1. 1. Sitka & Spruce
                                                            2. Harvest Vine
                                                            3. Green Leaf
                                                            4. Restaurant Zoe
                                                            5. Cremant

                                                            1. It's hard for me to select a fair top 5 of Seattle restaurants due to the dramatic variations in price and mood available. That said, these are the top five places we would choose from for a great date night experience. Union is the only place we make a point of visiting multiple times a year, partly because we're in love with it and partly because we love variety and try to visit as many different restaurants as our budget will allow.

                                                              1. Union
                                                              2. Artemis Cafe & Bar
                                                              3. Oceanaire Seafood Room
                                                              4. Lark
                                                              5. Purple Cafe & Wine Bar

                                                              1. 1. Crush
                                                                2. Union
                                                                3. Lark
                                                                4. Tamarind Tree
                                                                5. Bamboo Garden (Bellevue)

                                                                Honorable mention: Quinn's, Spur, Cremant, La Medusa, Steelhead Diner, Malay Satay Hut, Samurai Noodle Bowl, Zoe, Monsoon, Salumi

                                                                All selections limited to places visited in '08. Thanks again 'roots.

                                                                1. 1. Canlis
                                                                  2. Brasa
                                                                  3. Divine
                                                                  4. 56 @ Edgewater Hotel
                                                                  5. Whym
                                                                  My former top two: Qube & Veil, I lament their loss for Seattle!

                                                                  1. 1. Licorous - like it better than Lark (not that I don't love Lark)
                                                                    2. How to Cook a Wolf (shout out to its' siblings Tavolata and Union)
                                                                    3. Canlis
                                                                    4. Lampreia (say what you will - the man can cook)
                                                                    5. Sitka & Spruce

                                                                    1. 1. Lark
                                                                      2. Olivar
                                                                      3. Harvest Vine
                                                                      4. Union
                                                                      5. Dinette

                                                                      1. There are some restaurants I'm still dying to try on this list, and though I've eaten at most, I feel I'll never get to them all. I LOVE that about the Seattle food scene. Here's mine, though it's hard to stack rank them -- they're my bucket of go-to's and which one depends on my mood!

                                                                        1. Matt's in the Market
                                                                        2. Crush
                                                                        3. Serafina
                                                                        4. Cafe Lago
                                                                        5. Samurai Noodle

                                                                        1. 1. Tilth
                                                                          2. Harvest Vine
                                                                          3. Szechuan Chef
                                                                          4. Spinasse
                                                                          5. Quinn's

                                                                          1. My favs ...

                                                                            1) Crush - Best service in Seattle yet! Food was amazing and interesting. Completely accomodating. They really know how to service their guests
                                                                            2) Cafe Lago - Best firewood pizza and pasta in seattle! Their Pomodoro Al Forno is a must have Antipasti
                                                                            3) Tamarind Tree - Great drinks, they continue to improve the restaurant, food is awesome, service is quick.
                                                                            4) Chandler's Crabhouse - Surf and Turf and customizations are awesome. Expensive, but great meal
                                                                            5) Samurai Noodle - Samurai Armour with Pork and Beef broth are bomb. The Tetsu Max was not hot at all based on the advertisement though. Next time need to try the Tetsu Max Hellfire

                                                                            1. 1. Jouel, the best
                                                                              2. Eva
                                                                              3. Nell's
                                                                              4. Tilth
                                                                              5. Macrina on 1st Ave S.

                                                                              1. Hey all-
                                                                                Don't know if anyone's still reading this, but what the heck, I went and totaled these up anyway. I gave .5 to honorable mentions. Here's the top 20:
                                                                                Harvest Vine 43
                                                                                Café Juanita 40
                                                                                Lark 35.5
                                                                                Matt's in the Market 34.5
                                                                                Union 26
                                                                                Crush 22
                                                                                Quinn's 19.5
                                                                                Sitka and Spruce 19
                                                                                Salumi 17
                                                                                Tamarind Tree 16
                                                                                Tilth 16
                                                                                Palace Kitchen 15.5
                                                                                Green Leaf 14
                                                                                Olivar 13
                                                                                Café Campagne 12
                                                                                Café Presse 12
                                                                                Rover's 12
                                                                                35th Street Bistro 11
                                                                                Café Lago 11
                                                                                El Paseo 11

                                                                                I was also kinda interested in just the number of people who mentioned a place, so I counted that too (equivalent to just giving each vote a score of 1) and here are the top 20 there:
                                                                                Harvest Vine 12
                                                                                Lark 10
                                                                                Matt's in the Market 10
                                                                                Café Juanita 9
                                                                                Salumi 8
                                                                                Union 7
                                                                                Tamarind Tree 7
                                                                                Palace Kitchen 7
                                                                                Crush 6
                                                                                Quinn's 6
                                                                                Sitka and Spruce 5
                                                                                Tilth 5
                                                                                El Paseo 5
                                                                                Restaurant Zoe 5
                                                                                Samurai Noodle 5
                                                                                Green Leaf 4
                                                                                Olivar 4
                                                                                Café Presse 4
                                                                                Il Terrazo Carmine 4
                                                                                La Medusa 4
                                                                                Malay Satay Hut 4

                                                                                Thanks for your votes, everyone! As someone new to Seattle, this is very interesting to me. Enjoy!

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: dtasse

                                                                                  Dtasse, Thanks for the good work. It's nice to see new names on the list (Quinns) and old favorites (Harvest Vine). I am always intrigued by how different the annual Chowhound poll is from the Seattle Zagat guide. I recently used Chowhound extensively prior to a trip to Buenos Aires. The local hounds provided a wealth of information and we had a fabulous food adventure.

                                                                                  1. re: dtasse

                                                                                    Thanks for tallying that. Even as a long-time Seattle resident and frequent restaurant diner, I find myself referring to it during the year.

                                                                                    1. re: Lauren

                                                                                      Thanks dtasse,
                                                                                      I got super busy and was never able to follow through and I appreciate you picking up the torch.