Seasonal Produce at Seabird Charity Burggraaf.

Eat Local

However you get to Seattle—by plane, boat, train, or automobile— it’s easy to see what makes this temperate, leafy metropolis one of the world’s great centers of seasonally driven, locally sourced dining. The city is surrounded by fertile orchards and farm fields, lush and mossy forests, and the bountiful waters of the Salish Sea.

We asked some of the city’s most acclaimed and passionate chefs to tell us what they love about running restaurants in Seattle, and how they incorporate fresh, local ingredients into their menus.


 

Chef Aisha Ibrahim Charity Burggraaf
Halibut topped with geoduck at Canlis Charity Burggraaf
Chef Ibrahim in the kitchen at Canlis Charity Burggraaf

AISHA IBRAHIM

Canlis / 2576 Aurora Ave N

“Local wild ingredients play a large part in our pursuit of creating a food impression that strives to push the topics of biodiversity and microseasonality, while being respectful to the rich Indigenous history of this region,” says Ibrahim. Born in the Philippines, she perfected her cooking skills in the Bay Area and is now in her third year as executive chef of Canlis. In striving to create a cuisine that’s “balanced in flavor and composition,” she works closely with foragers and farmers. “I really enjoy the wild foods in this region. I love that I can spend a weekend right by Penn Cove eating endless mussels, or drive north to spend time at Taylor Shellfish. It’s a gift.”

LOCAL FARE | “We usually feature a dish of halibut or sablefish from Northwest Bounty, dashi, and geoduck, which we buy from Taylor Shellfish Farms (taylorshellfishfarms.com)—geoduck is one of my favorite ingredients, as it’s both sweet and savory and has a great texture. This dish gets an upgrade the moment locally foraged matsutakes are in season. We also almost always serve a variation of a mushroom custard, using cultivated mushrooms from Sno-Valley (snovalleymushrooms.com) and one of the ingredients I’ve become most impressed with here: bigleaf maple syrup. We balance that with a super-complex tamari to make a smoked-mushroom dashi glaze.”

Chef Brendan McGill at Seabird Charity Burggraaf
Seasonal Produce at Seabird Charity Burggraaf.

BRENDAN MCGILL

Hitchcock Restaurant Group
Bruciato 236 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island
Seabird / 133 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island
Café Hitchcock / 818 First Ave & 129 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island
Bar Solea / 822 First Ave

“Embedding my restaurant group in an agricultural community has gifted me the opportunity to work with hyper-local and -seasonal products for my whole career,” says McGill. “Having direct relationships with farmers, foragers, and fishermen has informed the way we do everything. We receive weekly “fresh sheets” from these sources and allow them to dictate the direction we’re going. After 13 years, we’ve learned when seasons peak so that we can buy in bulk to ferment and preserve.”

McGill notes that it’s practical to source locally year-round in the Pacific Northwest. “Our growing season never really comes to a close, it just hibernates,” he says. “We don’t get cold enough to see a lasting layer of snow that kills hearty vegetables, so we can plant in the fall to establish crops that will be the first to bump in the spring.”

LOCAL FARE | “Whether it’s at our pizzeria or at our slightly more refined seafood house, the winter-spring period is all about wild mushrooms (matsutake, black trumpet, yellow foot chanterelles), storage vegetables (winter squash, celeriac, rutabaga, turnips, sunchokes), overwintered produce (like kale and other sprouting brassicas) and finally the spring flush of foraged foods (fiddlehead ferns, watercress, miner’s lettuce).” He encourages guests at Bruciato and Bar Solea to try the funghi pizza, which always shows off whatever wild mushrooms are popping up on the Olympic Peninsula.

Gourmet Guides

Eat Seattle Tours

One great way to learn about and even sample local ingredients in season is on an excursion led by one of the city’s food-focused businesses that offer culinary tours, such as Atrium Kitchen, Eat Seattle Tours, and Savor Seattle. And you can go directly to the source on one of the seafood gathering or mushroom foraging experiences offered by Savor the Wild Tours.

Isabella Fiartarone
Local sea scallops on a bed of butternut squash puree Isabella Fiartarone

ISABELLA FIATTARONE

Shaker + Spear / 2000 Second Ave

The passionate chef who helms the kitchen of the rustic-chic restaurant inside Belltown’s Kimpton Palladian Hotel was born and raised in Seattle and started cooking when she was just 4 years old. “One of the things I love most about being a chef here is the diversity of culinary influences. From Mexican to Italian, Hawaiian to Korean, there’s no shortage of inspiration,” says Fiattarone. “I let the ingredients speak for themselves, rather than trying to force ingredients into a particular dish or style of cooking. I work closely with local farmers and producers to understand what’s in season and what unique characteristics each ingredient brings to the table.”

Another reward of her job is the chance to “get to know the people behind the food. I’m able to learn about their farming practices, their challenges and successes, and their vision for the future of sustainable agriculture in the region.”

LOCAL FARE | One of the restaurant’s most popular dishes is seared local sea scallops. “We place them on a creamy bed of butternut squash puree,” she says, “and surround them with diced sweet red and golden beets, tangy pickled kumquats, and a refreshing blood orange gel. Shiso leaves add a subtle herbaceous note, tying all the flavors together.” Come spring, she recommends the hamachi crudo with hibiscus and rhubarb from Evergreen Produce. Other purveyors Shaker + Spear partners with include Baywater Shellfish for oysters, Loki Fish Co. for salmon, and Double R Ranch for steaks and ground beef.

Chef Emily Crawford and Matt Dann Ashley Garrels

EMILY CRAWFORD

The Corson Building / 5609 Corson Ave S

Seasonality is our compass,” says Crawford, chef of the romantic Georgetown restaurant that she and her husband, Matt Dann, own together. “Our menus are shaped by the ebb and flow of the abundance that surrounds us. I love that we have four distinct seasons, each with its own unique personality. It allows us to really connect with what’s available and at its peak. We also have a rich wild food culture in the Pacific Northwest, which I enjoy incorporating into our menus.”

LOCAL FARE | “A winter favorite is riced celeriac cooked in parmigiano brodo with roasted chicories, chanterelles, celeriac leaf, and a pine nut green sauce. We mince the celeriac to the size of rice kernels and then we cook them like risotto. It’s a fantastic way to utilize this delicious and abundant fall-winter root, which we buy from Foraged & Found Edibles as well as Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center and Wobbly Cart Farm. In the spring, we anxiously await the arrival of asparagus! We get it from Tonnemaker Valley Farm, and one of our favorite preparations is roasted and raw, with pistachios, preserved lemon, dates, sheep’s milk feta, and mint.”

Daily Catch

Taylor Shellfish Feed It Creative

With more than 50 miles of shoreline along pristine Puget Sound, Seattle is a seafood lover’s paradise. It’s only natural that crab, clams, oysters, salmon, spot prawns, and other edible treasures from local waters play a delicious role in the city’s food scene. At several lively restaurants along the waterfront, you can enjoy seafood while overlooking its very source including Anthony’s Pier 66 (2201 Alaskan Way), AQUA by El Gaucho (2801 Alaskan Way), and Elliott’s Oyster House (1201 Alaskan Way). Famous for its high-spirited fish vendors, nearby Pike Place Market (85 Pike St) has plenty of seafood standouts, including Pike Place Chowder (1530 Post Alley), which serves eight mouthwatering versions of its namesake specialty—order a sampler flight to try them all.

Known both for sublime fresh-caught seafood and beautifully designed, contemporary dining rooms, Taylor Shellfish Farms has oyster bars in Capitol Hill (1521 Melrose Ave), Pioneer Square (410 Occidental Ave), and Uptown (124 Republican St). The well-curated wine and craft beer menus offer plenty of great sips to pair with fresh-shucked oysters and rockfish ceviche. Seats at Ray’s Boathouse (6049 Seaview Ave NW) offer gorgeous vistas across Shilshole Bay toward the Olympic Mountains. It’s a classic go-to for applewood-grilled wild salmon and tom kha-style Penn Cove clams. Two local spots specialize in sustainable sushi: Mashiko (4725 California Ave SW), a friendly place in the lively Junction district of West Seattle, and Bamboo Sushi (2675 NE University Village St), in the U District’s hip University Village dining and shopping hub.

Chef Renee Erickson Charity Burggraaf
Clams steamed in a fumet of tamarind, coconut, and scallions a The Walrus and the Carpenter Charity Burggraaf

RENEE ERICKSON

Sea Creatures
Bateau / 1040 E Union St
Willmott’s Ghost / 2100 Sixth Ave
The Walrus and the Carpenter / 4743 Ballard Ave NW
+ six other restaurants

One of the Pacific Northwest’s leading ambassadors of sustainability, especially when it comes to seafood, Erickson opened her first restaurant in 1998 and has since won a James Beard Award and written two celebrated cookbooks: Getaway: Food & Drink to Transport You and A Boat, A Whale & A Walrus: Menus and Stories. She emphasizes the need to “support the farmers and fishers who work so hard to keep local ingredients coming in. Sometimes, like in February, it can be more difficult, but when summer hits we’re overflowing with options. Either way,” she adds, “it’s really important to think about seasonality all year long. Otherwise it’s not viable for farmers to farm.

“I feel grateful for all the options we have to choose from,” she continues. “From gorgeous mushrooms we buy from Foraged & Found Edibles to explodingly sweet watermelons from Alvarez Organic Farms, we really have it all.”

LOCAL FARE | Erickson raves about the shellfish from Hama Hama Oyster Company. “Of course, we love their half-shell oysters, but also their clams and shucked oysters, which we fry and serve year-round. The best time of the year to eat oysters is late winter and spring, so always having these beautiful bivalves available to us is a true luxury.”

All of her restaurants feature “incredible heirloom tomatoes and herbs” from Billy’s Gardens. And she buys chicories from Local Roots Farm, about 30 minutes away in Duvall. “They really give us something to show off in winter. I like them charred and preserved at Willmott’s Ghost, but they’re also so good simply dressed with a strong anchovy vinaigrette and Parmesan.”

Chef Logan Cox and Sara Knowles with their dog, Homer Charity Burggraaf
Roasted honeynut squash with date syrup, dried chilies, fried seeds, and pepita cream Charity Burggraaf
Cox finishes dishes with sumac, black lime powder, a coriander-and-rose petal blend, and other fragrant seasonings, including spices from West Seattles Villa Jerada Charity-Burggraaf

LOGAN COX

Homer / 3013 Beacon Ave S
Milk Drunk / 2805 Beacon Ave S

“In a way, it’s our local farmers who ultimately determine what we serve,” says Cox, who with his wife, Sara Knowles (and a little help from their dog, Homer), operates a beloved Mediterranean-Middle Eastern–inspired bistro in Beacon Hill. “Our goal is to work with the freshest and best possible products we can find so that our guests can experience what the region has to offer at its peak.”

For Cox, Seattle’s spectacular natural setting is a major inspiration. “Whether it’s salmon from the Sound, wild plants and mushrooms from our forests, or amazing produce, meat, and poultry from our sustainably operated farms, it’s easy to get excited about cooking and living in the Pacific Northwest!”

LOCAL FARE | Cox features seasonally inspired dishes like black cod with wild mushroom mousse and sweet potatoes with rose-hazelnut romesco on the menu. He’s also a supporter of Local Roots Farm, from which he buys winter squash. “During the cooler months, we always feature it as a small plate. Sometimes we serve it with fermented lime and almond milk, and season it with berbere spices and asafetida [a resin obtained from fennel plants], and then drape some of our house dry-cured ham over top.”

Chef Michela Tartaglia Charity Burggraaf
Penn Cove Shellfish mussels with orecchiette pasta Charity Burggraaf

MICHELA TARTAGLIA

Pasta Casalinga / 93 Pike St

Chef-owner of the wildly popular Italian restaurant in Pike Place Market, Tartaglia sees the Pacific Northwest’s culinary riches through a distinct lens: “Moving here from Italy, I discovered several ingredients that weren’t available back in the Piedmont region where I grew up,” she says. “My mind goes straight to seafood—a fresh and meaty piece of halibut, juicy Alaskan spot prawns—and also to foraged ingredients, like sea beans, fiddleheads, and morel mushrooms. These ingredients are so pure that I try not to combine them with other flavors that might overpower their taste.”

Tartaglia delights both in cooking and living in the Pacific Northwest. “Seattle has been home for 17 years, and I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to reinvent myself that this city has given me. It’s the birth city of my two daughters, and I love seeing them grow up here. This part of the country has this magical balance of a primitive connection with Mother Nature and a progressive approach to modern living.”

LOCAL FARE | “In the springtime, I love to make pasta with stinging nettle pesto, ricotta salata, and Calabrian chili oil (the recipe is in my book, Pasta for All Seasons). Foraged & Found Edibles and Wild Foragers are great purveyors of these. I adore Penn Cove Shellfish mussels from Whidbey Island and mixing them the classic Italian way, with garlic, capers, peperoncino, extra virgin olive oil, and chickpeas or cannellini. This is a typical combo from the Puglia region, and orecchiette is the best shape of pasta to pair them with—it’s just mouthwatering.”

Garden Delights

Frankie & Jo’s Reva Keller

One of the best ways to sample locally and seasonally grown ingredients is to dine at one of the city’s many meat-free restaurants. Celebrated plant-based chef Makini Howell is the author of Makini’s Vegan Kitchen, which shares recipes from her buzzy modern-industrial restaurant in Capitol Hill, Plum Bistro (1429 12th Ave), along with its adjacent fast-casual sister, Plum Chopped (1419 12th Ave). Dishes like sweet-and-sour General Tso’s cauliflower and black truffle–sweet potato gnocchi showcase her farm-focused approach. Around the corner, treat yourself to a decadent dish of plant-based ice cream at Frankie & Jo’s (1010 E Union St), which serves unusual flavors like chocolate-tahini-supercookie and almond butter & jelly. Down the hill in Madison Valley, Cafe Flora (2901 E Madison St) has been a local institution for creative, contemporary vegetarian fare since 1991. Check out their newer Beacon Hill cafe, The Flora Bakehouse (1511 S Lucille St), to savor freshly made chocolate-almond croissants and lemon-ginger scones on a rooftop deck.

South Lake Union’s stylish Kati Vegan Thai (1190 Thomas St) emphasizes locally grown ingredients in dishes like house-made veggie potstickers and stir-fried artichokes with red chiles, while Wallingford’s plant-filled Harvest Beat (1711 N 45th St) is the real deal when it comes to farm-to-table vegan cuisine. The five-course tasting menu may feature sesame-marinated beet poke with ponzu or a Thai-glazed cauliflower steak with lemongrass-roasted turnips. With locations in Uptown (111 Queen Anne Ave N) and the U District (4757 12th Ave NE), Broadfork Cafe uses ingredients from regional farms and markets as much as possible. The mushroom-lentil hand pies and yam-and-kale bowls are packed with flavor, and you’ll find a great selection of smoothies.

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