Seattle’s Most Iconic Foods (Besides Salmon)

If you ask people in other cities to describe Seattle, they’ll probably tell you that locals walk around here carrying a Starbucks coffee cup in one hand and an umbrella in the other, on their way to buy salmon at the Pike’s Place Market. Well, anyone who’s spent more than a year in town knows that there’s a ton of better places to get coffee, that only tourists use umbrellas, and that the place where they throw the fish is called the Pike Street market (I’m joking, folks). Still, one of those stereotypes is actually true: there’s a ton of great salmon here. And we’re fortunate to also have a wide range of fantastic fruits and vegetables, seafood, and other food products that are identifiable with the city and surrounding region and that make it an amazing place to eat. Inspired by a recent discussion in the Seattle Foodies Facebook group, here’s my list of 17 of the most iconic Seattle foods.


In addition to salmon, eating like a Seattle local means taking advantage of the abundant seafood in Puget Sound and nearby waterways. According to Cynthia Nims, author of several books about seafood, Washington is the biggest producer of oysters on the Pacific Coast and one of the largest in the country. And there are lots of great oyster bars in town where you can slurp your fill, including The Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard, Taylor Shellfish Farms in Pioneer Square and Capitol Hill, and Frank’s Oyster House & Champagne Parlor in Ravenna.

Another iconic seafood is Dungeness crab, which can be found throughout Pacific Coast waters but is abundant on the Washington coast. According to Nims, you can find Dungeness crab almost anytime on the calendar, but the greatest supply (and best prices) typically come in the first month or two after the ocean fishery season opens around December 1. And year-round, it’s possible to enjoy a great Dungeness crab roll at places like Seattle Fish Guys in the Central District, Bar Harbor in South Lake Union, and Local Tide in Fremont, as well as at many restaurants along the waterfront.

One more iconic Seattle seafood is the giant saltwater clam known as geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck), which is abundant in the inland waters of Puget Sound. A good place to try it is at Shiro’s Sushi in Belltown, where it’s available on the a la carte sashimi menu.

Fruits and vegetables

Washington State produces over 100 million boxes of apples annually, more than any other state. But there’s a lot of other iconic produce to enjoy here, like the sweet golden Rainier cherry, created in 1952 by a Washington State University scientist and named after the mountain. You’ll typically find them only for a few weeks after harvest, in late June to early July.

Another fruit created through a WSU breeding program and named after a local mountain is the Shuksan strawberry, a large, bright-red fruit. It also has a very brief season, typically harvesting in June at farms in the Skagit Valley.

Blueberries, blackberries, huckleberries, and marionberries are all prevalent near Seattle and throughout the Northwest, but the most iconic local berry is the red raspberry. Washington State produces over 60 percent of the nation’s raspberries, which is 15 times more than our neighbor to the south. Take that, Oregon!

It’s not surprising considering the Pacific Northwest’s moist climate, but you can find an abundance of iconic mushrooms in the local woods. Species including the Pacific golden chanterelle, morel, and chicken-of-the-woods are among the edible fungi you’ll find on a foraging expedition in the forest, or on a less adventurous visit to your local upscale market.

Teriyaki, pho, and poke

Three iconic Seattle foods that you can eat at dozens of restaurants around the city reflect its large Asian population and diverse culinary influences. According to a 2007 Seattle Weekly article, the first teriyaki establishment in town was Toshi’s Teriyaki Restaurant in what’s now called Uptown. A Japanese immigrant named Toshihiro Kasahara, who opened it in 1976, still cooks at a location called Toshi’s Grill in Mill Creek. Kasahara has defined Seattle-style teriyaki as meat that’s marinated in a sweet soy-ginger sauce, grilled over an open flame, and finished with a drizzle of teriyaki. You’ll find versions of teriyaki in every neighborhood in Seattle, but it’s much less prevalent in other cities.

With around two percent of Seattle’s population identifying as Vietnamese, it’s not surprising that pho is one of the iconic Seattle foods that you can find throughout the city. A few recommended places to try are Pho Bac Sup Shop in the International District, Billiard Hoang in Columbia City, and Pho Than Brothers, with multiple locations in the region (all of which provide a signature cream puff along with your pho).

And although poke is a food that’s native to Hawaii, it’s become ubiquitous enough in Seattle that I’d also include it among the city’s iconic foods. My favorite spot for poke bowls is 45th Stop N Shop in Wallingford, but Poke Square in Ballard is also great, and Seattle Fish Guys in the Central District has a delectable assortment of poke by the pound.

Baked goods

Huge numbers of Scandinavian immigrants settled in the Pacific Northwest in the late 19th century, and that heritage is still an important part of the city’s DNA. Seattle’s fortunate to have some outstanding bakeries that produce iconic Scandinavian baked goods. Larsen’s Bakery in Crown Hill is known for the Kringle, a buttery Danish pastry in a pretzel shape that’s filled with almonds and raisins. And at Byen Bakeri in Queen Anne, you’ll find a wide assortment of Scandinavian breads and cakes. These include cardamom braids as well as princess cake, a Swedish specialty consisting of sponge cake layered with raspberry jam, vanilla custard, and whipped cream, and topped with green marzipan.

I was surprised to learn that the Dutch baby, a thick pancake that’s typically baked in a cast-iron pan and served in wedges, originated in Seattle in the early 1900s. In 1960, Sunset Magazine credited a downtown restaurant called Manca’s Café as the inventor of the Dutch baby. The owner’s daughter apparently named the creation, perhaps corrupting the German word “deutsch,” since the Dutch baby was similar to a German pancake dish. Around town, you could try one at the Tilikum Place Café in Belltown, or at the Original Pancake House in Bothell.

Hot dogs and hamburgers

The Seattle dog, a hot dog with cream cheese and sauteed onions, has been around for less than 25 years, but has since become known as a regional specialty. According to one account, the Seattle dog was invented in 1988 when a bagel vendor in Pioneer Square added a hot dog to the bialy sticks with cream cheese that were a popular snack for the stadium-going crowd. About five years later, a different vendor nearby added cream cheese to the hot dogs he sold, helping popularize a similar creation. Today you’ll still find Seattle hot dogs in the neighborhood before and after Seahawks, Sounders, and Mariners games, as well as at stands in nightlife hot spots like Belltown and Capitol Hill.

As I wrote about in March, Seattle doesn’t (yet) have its own iconic regional burger. But if I had to nominate one iconic Seattle burger, it would probably be the Deluxe at Dick’s Drive-In (with multiple locations around the city). It’s a pair of all-beef patties that are topped with melted cheese, shredded lettuce, mayonnaise, and relish. There are certainly better burgers elsewhere in the city. But this one is a touchstone for many locals remembering how good it tasted at 2 a.m., so it deserves to be on the list of iconic Seattle foods.

Sweet confections

Finally, I’ll finish the list of foods that are identifiable with Seattle (and the surrounding region) with a trio of confectionary treats. Similar to Turkish Delight, Aplets & Cotlets are jellied candies that combine fruit with powdered sugar and walnuts. Aplets were first developed more than 100 years ago as a way for Washington State apple farmers to use their surplus crops. (Cotlets, made with apricots, came a few years later.) The candy gained popularity during the Seattle World’s Fair in 1962, but they may soon be a relic of history, as Liberty Orchards, the company that makes them, recently announced that they would be shutting down this June.

In 2009, when the Washington state legislature debated whether to make Aplets & Cotlets the official state candy, the bill failed when some politicians wanted to give the honor to Almond Roca. The latter candy, a chocolate-covered toffee with an almond coating, is made by Brown & Haley of Tacoma. You’ll find it in supermarkets and drugstores all over the region, and in many other cities as well.

You might associate this third confection more with Chicago than with Seattle, but the Frango mint was originally created in 1918 at the Frederick & Nelson department store downtown, in the building that later became the flagship Nordstrom store. Frederick & Nelson was soon acquired by Marshall Field’s in Chicago, which changed the recipe and produced its iconic mints for more than 75 years before that company was acquired by Macy’s. Today you can still buy Frangos from Garrett Brands, the Chicago retailer that’s perhaps better known for its popcorn. It might be a bit of a stretch to call this candy one of the most iconic Seattle foods. But if you want to bring along a taste of the city the next time you visit relatives, it’s a lot easier than schlepping along a salmon – or a Dick’s Deluxe.

What do you think are the most iconic Seattle foods? Leave a comment and let me know!

To get updates on new posts, you can follow me @seattlefoodhound on Instagram, or @seafoodhound on Twitter.

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A Completely Subjective Ranking of 20 Places to Get Banh Mi (Plus 11 More I Need to Try)

If I could only eat one food forever, it would have to be banh mi. These Vietnamese sandwiches are crispy, fatty, crunchy, spicy, and savory all at the same time, and I never get tired of finding new places that make them all around the Seattle area. While I enjoy seeking out new flavor combinations, I usually order the restaurant’s version of the pork banh mi – and it’s slightly different every time. Sometimes the meat is roasted, but more often it’s grilled. The marinade may have notes of lemongrass or fish sauce, or it might be a little sweeter. There might be a smear of pate on the sandwich along with the pork. Or there might be a modern twist with a sauce or a topping that you wouldn’t find in a traditional Seattle banh mi.

When I’m looking for a perfect banh mi, I want the bread to have a crispy crust and a soft interior, the daikon and carrot pickles to have a sharp acidity, the cucumbers to be crunchy, and the cilantro and jalapeno accompaniments to be crisp but not overpowering. And there should be a light coating of creamy mayonnaise that ties the whole sandwich together.

Just about every banh mi is magnificent, but it’s rare to find every element I’m looking for in a single sandwich. Here’s my entirely subjective ranking of 20 places where I’ve eaten banh mi across western Washington – and another handful of places where I’ll keep searching for that Platonic ideal.

  1. Huong Xua, White Center. The roast pork banh mi, with crispy bits of skin and fatty meat, is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in Seattle.
  2. Yummy Pho, Redmond. What makes this sandwich great is the baguette, which is always crispy and slightly warm.
  3. Banh Town, Greenwood. The grilled pork banh mi includes a smear of creamy pate.
  4. Huong Duong, Beacon Hill. You’ll get a traditional sandwich here, with flavorful grilled pork.
  5. Le’s Deli & Bakery, Beacon Hill. Their catfish banh mi is a real standout.
  6. Banh Mi Deluxe, Beacon Hill. The pork belly is outstanding, and you can add egg and avocado to make your sandwich even richer.
  7. Luu’s Café, Wedgwood. Their banh mi is notable for the extra veggies they pile on, along with pate.
  8. Saigon Bistro, International District. A great choice for a banh mi pit stop when you’re shopping at Uwajimaya.
  9. Pho Cyclo Café, Bellevue. My go-to banh mi joint for years, they’re still a solid choice on the Eastside.
  10. iSandwiches & Teriyaki, Shoreline. During my only visit, I branched out by ordering a tofu banh mi, but it was packed with flavor.
  11. Toast Mi, Tacoma. A good sandwich with fresh, crispy ingredients, and a slightly sweeter pork marinade.
  12. Ba Sa, Bainbridge Island. It’s an upscale sandwich with a price to match.
  13. Unphogettable, North Bend. Here’s where to stop when you need a good banh mi to fuel your hike up Mt. Si.
  14. Tang Food Mart, Georgetown. The banh mi was served on a fluffy roll but the crust could have been crisper.
  15. Green Tree, Greenwood. A traditional sandwich that wasn’t especially noteworthy.
  16. Cafe Banh Mi, Northgate. I find the pork here a little too sweet for my taste.
  17. Sizzle and Crunch, University District. The meat on my sandwich was a little bland.
  18. Lan Hue, International District. The vegetables on my banh mi didn’t seem particularly fresh.
  19. Saigon Café & Deli, Bellevue. The baguette seemed like it was a couple days old.
  20. The Pho Broadway, Capitol Hill. The sandwiches here aren’t as good as they were when the location was the Pho Cyclo Café.

Seattle banh mi I need to try (or try again, if it’s been a few years)

  1. Billiard Hoang, Columbia City
  2. Oh’s Sandwiches, West Seattle
  3. Pho Hanoi, Rainier Beach
  4. Pho Liu, Burien
  5. Q Bakery, Hillman City
  6. Rise & Shine, Shoreline
  7. Saigon Deli, International District
  8. Seattle Deli, International District
  9. Tony’s Bakery & Deli, Hillman City
  10. Urban Chops, Auburn
  11. Yeh Yeh’s Sandwiches, Lynnwood

Where are your favorite places to get Seattle banh mi? Leave a comment and let me know!

To get updates on new posts, you can follow me @seattlefoodhound on Instagram, or @seafoodhound on Twitter.

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The Best Things to Eat at a Mariners Game

This post was written for the 2021 season. See the post for the 2022 season. 

Food options at T-Mobile Park look a little different this season. For one thing, COVID-19 restrictions prohibit fans from bringing in any outside food (which means I can’t pick up my usual banh mi at Uwajimaya before heading over to the ballpark). With a maximum of 9,000 fans allowed into the stadium per game, many fewer concession stands than normal are open for business, and there aren’t any condiment stations or vendors roaming the aisles. All of the Mariners food is being packaged in to-go containers, and all of the transactions are cashless (and for the first time this season, don’t include taxes in the listed prices). Still, along with the usual ballpark fare of hot dogs, peanuts, and nachos, there are plenty of interesting options to choose from. Here are my picks for the best things you can eat at a Mariners game.

The Best Sandwich: At Paseo in section 183, you can get a credible version of the much-loved Caribbean roast pork sandwich ($16) from the restaurant’s Fremont location. It’s served on a toasted baguette with cilantro, pickled jalapeños, and caramelized onions. For an extra $3, you can add roasted chili lime grasshoppers, which have become a T-Mobile Park staple since they were introduced a few seasons ago.

The Best Pizza: Ethan Stowell’s Ballard Pizza Co., located in the ‘Pen, has expanded this season to a second location in the Terrace Club in section 240. At both locations, you can get slices of cheese, pepperoni, or the “Ballard Bridge,” a combo slice with sausage, pepperoni, olives, and mushrooms ($8.50).

The Best Dessert (for Regular People): Stowell’s also responsible for a new dessert option that you can find at the Frozen Rope Sandwich Company behind section 132. Inspired by the name of one of Stowell’s restaurants, the “How to Wolf a Cookie” is a 4-inch, gooey treat with chocolate chips, pistachios, and cherries ($8, or $6 when it was featured as a “Highlight Bite” the night I tried it.)

The Best Dessert (for the Intrepid Eater): Adventurous ice cream lovers will want to try a scoop of the Creepy Crawly Critters flavor at Salt & Straw in section 184 ($8.50). Matcha ice cream is combined with toffee-brittle mealworms and chocolate-covered crickets in a dessert that’s creamy, crunchy, and just a little bit nutty. If eating bugs isn’t your thing, other flavors include the decadent salted malted chocolate chip cookie dough, and sea salt with caramel ribbons.

The Best Burger: Lil Woody’s, the mini burger chain with locations in Ballard, Capitol Hill, and White Center, has two outposts at the ballpark (only the one in section 219 was open the night I visited). The Big Woody, a grass-fed beef patty with bacon and cheddar, is a tasty, if somewhat messy burger ($12), and there’s also a version without bacon (The Little Woody) as well as a meatless option.

The Most Iconic Seattle Food: New this season at Hiroshi’s Sushi behind section 132, you can customize made-to-order poke bowls with salmon or tuna ($16). They’re topped with your choice of cucumber, avocado, and tobiko.

The Best-Named Menu Item: With apologies to the Marco Pollo, a new spicy shredded chicken sandwich that’s named after Mariners ace pitcher Marco Gonzales but wasn’t available the night I was at the park, I’ll pick the Moose-ubi, a two-piece spam musubi ($8) that’s also on the menu at Hiroshi’s Sushi.

The Healthiest Mariners Food Options: At the stand called The Natural, also behind section 132, you’ll find prepackaged salads and sandwiches, including a wild berry salad and a gluten-free turkey sandwich (both $10). They also offer a hummus plate and fruit cup as well as vegan burgers and sausages.

I left out one iconic Mariners food item that I won’t call one of the best things you can eat at the stadium. But if you haven’t been to a game at T-Mobile Park before, it’s practically a rite of passage to try an order of garlic fries from one of the Grounders locations that are located throughout the stadium. It’s an experience that you won’t soon forget – and a taste that will literally stay with you for a long time. The only way to cleanse your palate might be with some mealworm-and-cricket ice cream.

What are your favorite things to eat at a Mariners game? Leave a comment and let me know!

To get updates on new posts, you can follow me @seattlefoodhound on Instagram, or @seafoodhound on Twitter.

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Where to Eat Dumplings From Around the World in Seattle

I recently came across a fascinating map on a website called Taste Atlas that illustrates the dumplings of the world. It includes a few types I wasn’t familiar with, like the French-Canadian dessert called grandpères, dumplings that are boiled in maple syrup and water, as well as the Jamaican fried cornmeal dumplings called festivals. And it inexplicably locates chicken and dumplings, a Southern specialty, somewhere in eastern Texas. Still, the diversity of dumplings depicted on the map got me thinking about where to find the best versions from around the world in our city. Here are 20 places for Seattle dumplings that will transport you to Asia, Eastern Europe, and even the Middle East.

Chinese dumplings

When the Taiwanese restaurant Din Tai Fung opened in Bellevue in 2010, crowds lined up for hours to sample its xiao long bao, soup dumplings made with steamed pork. And the international chain is still popular a decade later, now having expanded to downtown Seattle, University Village, and Tukwila. But many Seattle diners prefer its competitor Dough Zone, which has seven locations in Seattle and the Eastside. When the International District branch opened in 2017, Seattle Times food writer Bethany Jean Clement wrote that her dumplings were “significantly hotter, juicier, and more tender” than the ones she’d had recently at Din Tai Fung. I’ve enjoyed plates of soup dumplings at both chains, and I don’t think you can go wrong with either.

I haven’t had a chance to try the xiao long bao at Xiao Chi Jie in Bellevue (which can also be ordered frozen), but I’m even more intrigued by their sheng jian bao, pan-fried versions of the pork dumplings that add a crispy textural contrast to the juicy soup inside.

You’ll also find great versions of both pan-fried buns and steamed, boiled, or pan-fried potstickers at Little Ting’s Dumplings, with locations in both Greenwood and Bellevue. For a dollar you can add an egg to either dish if you want to make them “amazing,” though I think they’re pretty flavorful even without it. My favorite dumplings here are the pork and fennel potstickers.

Another type of dumpling you’ll readily find all over the city are the doughy buns known as bao. My favorite spot for these is Mount&Bao in Lake City, where your bao can be either steamed or pan-fried, and filled with beef, pork, or vegetables. The restaurant also serves an outstanding version of the folded dumplings called jiaozi, which contain similar combinations of ingredients (my go-to order is the pork-and-chive). Oddly, there’s a surcharge if you want your dumplings pan-fried or steamed, instead of boiled, but you can buy a frozen bag to take home and cook them the way you like.

A relatively new option for Seattle dumplings is Dumpling the Noodle in Wallingford, which opened in early 2020. The appealing menu includes pan-fried dumplings with pork, chives, and shrimp, or beef and bell peppers, as well as buns filled with pork and onions, and spicy wontons with pork and shrimp. There are also vegan options here, including dumplings with tofu, carrots, and Napa cabbage, and buns with shiitake and bok choy.

For a modern take on Szechuan-style dumplings, I’d recommend Tyger Tyger in Queen Anne. The flavorful pork dumplings are seasoned with black vinegar and spicy chili oil, and the honey walnut prawn buns nestle fried shrimp, candied walnuts, and pickled fresno chilies inside a pillowy crescent of dough.

I’ve also enjoyed the Sichuan pork dumplings at Plenty of Clouds in Capitol Hill. Beer-lovers and Ballard residents should take note that the restaurant also operates a food truck in the parking lot of Cloudburst Brewery on Shilshole.

I haven’t had a ton of great dim sum experiences in Seattle, but I’m eager to try Harbor City in the International District, which claims to be the city’s best spot for it. Among other dishes here, I’d like to sample har gow, which are round, translucent shrimp dumplings, and shu mai, a smaller steamed dumpling with pork and shrimp (as well as other flavor combinations).

And a final spot on my Chinese dumplings to-do list is Dumplings of Fury in West Seattle. There, you can order jiaozi with beef and ginger, and spicy shrimp and pork wontons – as well as steamed or pan-fried mandu, Korean dumplings that are made with pork, tofu, and kimchee.

Dumplings from elsewhere in Asia

Most dishes at Revel in Fremont have a Korean flavor profile, but the two types of dumplings it currently offers cross cultural boundaries. Mapo pork wontons are a riff on the spicy Szechuan dish called mapo tofu, while the crispy lumpia, made with pork and collard greens, are a version of the Filipino specialty. (The short rib dumplings I’ve enjoyed there over the years are no longer on the menu.)

Despite the high concentration of Japanese restaurants in Seattle, I haven’t encountered too many places that offer the traditional dumplings called gyoza. You’re more likely to find these at ramen restaurants than at sushi joints, though. One spot that’s highly regarded for its gyoza is Ramen Danbo in Capitol Hill, which also has locations in New York City and Vancouver. You can order the pan-fried dumplings as a side dish to your ramen, or as part of a lunch special with a vegetable “ramen topping” side dish or a soft drink, tea, or beer.

Another great choice for Asian dumplings, Kathmandu MomoCha, is a food truck that you can often find near breweries in Ballard like Fair Isle and Stoup. Momocha are wrappers made from ingredients like beetroot and saffron that are filled with ground chicken, pork, or beef, green onion, and Himalayan spices. And one more option for momo in Seattle is Annapurna Café in Capitol Hill. The Tibetan style chicken and spinach versions here are both served with peanut, sesame, and tomato chutneys.

Dumplings from Eastern Europe and Turkey

I can’t claim to have extensive experience with Seattle dumplings that don’t come from Asia, but there are a handful of Eastern European places that I’m eager to explore. These include:

  • The Georgian restaurant called Skalka downtown, where I’ve tried two versions of the dumplings called khinkali, one with mushrooms and one with cheese. They also make a beef-and-pork variety that I’d go back for, but none of the khinkali appear on their current online menu.
  • Korocha Tavern in Wallingford, which opened its new location in 2020 after a stint in Lake City. I’d like to try the Russian dumplings known as pelmeni, filled with pork and beef, as well as the vareniki, with potato, dill, and cheese.
  • You’ll find similar flavors of frozen dumplings at Dacha Diner in Capitol Hill, as well as a version that’s filled with semisweet cheese and served with a side of cherry compote.
  • For pierogis, I have my eye on Sebi’s Bistro in Eastlake. Their Polish dumplings are filled with meat or vegetables, topped with bacon or onions, and served with a side of sour cream.
  • I’m also curious to try the pierogi that are available for both dine-in and to-go meals at the Polish Home Association in Capitol Hill. On Friday nights you can order from a wide menu of Polish specialties, including beet soup served with dumplings, and both savory and sweet pierogis.

Finally, one of my favorite discoveries from a trip to Turkey a few years back was the dumplings called manti. In the town of Kayseri, brides would traditionally make manti for their future mother-in-law, and the smaller the dumplings were, the more skilled she was believed to be in the kitchen. 40 tiny dumplings were supposed to fit on a single spoon!

There are only a few Turkish restaurants in Seattle that serve manti. One place I’d like to try them is Café Turko in Fremont, where the dumplings are stuffed with spiced beef and topped with melted butter, tomato, and a garlicky yogurt sauce.

Where are your favorite spots in Seattle for dumplings from around the world? Leave a comment and let me know!

To get updates on new posts, you can follow me @seattlefoodhound on Instagram, or @seafoodhound on Twitter.

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How Delivery Costs Bleed Both Restaurants and Diners

At Spice Waala in Capitol Hill, the menu price for a chicken tikka roll is $7. And the Indian nachos known as papdi chaat costs $5. But order those same items from an online delivery service like DoorDash or UberEats and you’ll pay a dollar more for each. Why is that? While the restaurant gets more business from having a presence on those apps, the companies charge commissions that take a chunk out of Spice Waala’s revenue, forcing them to raise prices to make any money. And for the convenience of not having to go any further than your front door to get dinner, you’ll spend almost twice as much as you would have otherwise. Delivery costs may help the bottom line for DoorDash and UberEats, but they sure aren’t good for either diners or restaurants.

In an interview Spice Waala owner Uttam Mukherjee gave with KIRO radio, he explained that up until a year ago, the delivery apps took a cut of 25 to 33 percent of the restaurant’s sales. But in April 2020, aiming to help establishments that could not open for dine-in service, Mayor Jenny Durkan introduced a citywide emergency order capping those third-party fees at 15 percent. (Governor Jay Inslee issued a similar statewide order in November.)

But the delivery companies simply adjusted by charging consumers more. Now, in addition to seeing higher menu prices on DoorDash, you’ll pay an extra $2.50 local fee, as well as a 17 percent service fee that’s bundled into the line item for taxes (misleadingly, in my opinion). So your $12 order from Spice Waala (which, by the way, includes taxes in the menu price), will become $20.78 before tip, a delivery costs increase of 73 percent.

Ordering from UberEats is even worse. You’ll see a similar $2.50 local fee, along with a 15 percent service charge and a $1.49 delivery fee. So your $12 order through that app will come to a whopping $21.89, an 82 percent increase.

The easiest way to help restaurants as well as your dining budget is to order your food for pickup, not delivery. But be careful if you use a third-party service instead of going through the restaurant directly. It’s possible to order the same Spice Waala food for pickup through UberEats, but you’ll pay the higher menu prices as well as sales tax, for a total of $15.44. That’s 29 percent more than the cost of ordering direct.

Fortunately, a few new options in the Seattle delivery scene are making the situation slightly more palatable for both restaurants and diners. Many establishments are now using an online ordering system called Toast Tab, which typically charges its clients a monthly subscription cost. You can order a pair of $35 Seattle Restaurant Week meals from Ethan Stowell Restaurants and have it delivered using DoorDash drivers, but you’ll pay just a single $7.50 fee.

Other restaurants have signed up with a reservations service called Tock, which typically charges them a 3 percent commission, or 2 percent along with a monthly subscription fee. And the company is more consumer friendly as well. If you order a $22 pizza from Big Mario’s in Queen Anne, for example, you’ll pay just a $1 order fee on Tock, along with a hefty $7.41 fee for delivery, also using DoorDash drivers. (Order that same pizza through DoorDash, though, and your fees will total over $10.)

If that still seems like a lot, one way to reduce your delivery costs is to consider restaurants that operate their own service. Buy a couple plates of chicken pad Thai from 2C Thai Bistro in Lake City and it’ll cost you just $4.50 for delivery by restaurant staff, as long as you’re within three miles and spend at least $25. But make a similar order from Thai Thai Kitchen, delivered through DoorDash, and you’ll pay $8.56 in fees, over four dollars more.

It’s not always obvious which restaurants are using third-party drivers and which have their own delivery services. But going directly to the restaurant’s website should be your first step. You can also check out this Reddit thread from November for some ideas.

Or you could try out a couple of Seattle startups that are attempting to disrupt the industry with reduced delivery costs. One promising option is an app called Runner, which launched in June and doesn’t charge any fees to restaurants. Diners, however, pay a nine percent service charge. There’s also a delivery fee that’s based on the amount of time it takes a driver, who sets their own wages, to deliver your order. Order pad Thai for delivery from Thai One On through Runner and you’ll spend about $5.72 in fees, a little more than you would have paid 2C but a lot less than DoorDash charges.

Meanwhile, a startup called Swoop Belltown plans to offer an unlimited delivery service using electric vehicles, with no commissions for businesses in the area and subscriptions that will cost neighborhood residents $19 per month. If you live in Belltown and frequently order from local restaurants, that could work out to be a great deal.

With many Seattle restaurants struggling, ordering takeout continues to be a great way to support local businesses. But when you use delivery apps like DoorDash and UberEats, you’ll be giving your dollars to giant corporations – while you waste money by paying them extra to get the same food.

What are your thoughts on using food delivery services in Seattle? Leave a comment and let me know!

To get updates on new posts, you can follow me @seattlefoodhound on Instagram, or @seafoodhound on Twitter.

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Delivery fees are a burden to both restaurants and diners, so picking up your own food is a better approach

Five Ways to Eat When You’re Eating Less Meat

For about six weeks this winter, I didn’t eat any beef, chicken, or pork, as I experimented with some new flavors and learned a few new ways to cook vegetables. My change in diet wasn’t for any particular health-related or religious reason, and I don’t have an especially strong moral or environmental objection to eating meat. Rather, it was just something to shake up my routine during the late stages of the pandemic. If you’re considering eating less meat, here are five strategies that worked for me. While I certainly might have enjoyed a tasty burger from time to time, these foods helped give me enough variety that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

1) Eat more fish

Most of the seafood I eat tends to come in sushi form, but during my meat hiatus I mixed things up by checking out a couple of fish markets for the first time. Seattle Fish Guys in the Central District offers a wide selection of fresh fish as well as poke bowls and chowder, but also serves up a delectable, if a bit messy, crab sub on a toasted bun with green onion, Japanese mayo, and Sriracha.  I also enjoyed a Dungeness crab roll at Market Fishmonger & Eatery in Edmonds. The sandwich is stuffed with fresh crabmeat, served on a warm Macrina bun, and topped with arugula, house aioli, and brown butter. For a familiar taste, I also visited my favorite poke spot in Wallingford, 45th Stop N Shop, for an always-delightful bowl filled with salmon, izumidai, rice, greens, seaweed salad, Japanese pickles, and more.

Meanwhile, I also used this time to cook more fish at home. For one dinner, I used one of the Omsom starters I wrote about in February to create a delicious Vietnamese lemongrass shrimp stir-fry. Recently, I pan-grilled scallops with a simple miso and mirin glaze. And I also ate some briny Kusshi and Kumamoto West Coast oysters with a classic mignonette.

2) Eat more Middle Eastern food

Falafel is your friend when you’re not eating meat, and Seattle has no shortage of great options. One of my favorite food finds recently has been Yalla in Capitol Hill, which describes its menu as having Palestinian, Egyptian, Lebanese, and Syrian roots. The falafel there were crispy outside and creamy inside, and the fermented turnip pickles that accompanied them provided a sharp contrast. I also tried the eggplant wrap called batinjan, served on homemade saj bread with tomatoes, olives, greens, and the fermented hot sauce known as shatta. (I tried making my own shatta as well, but the balance of tomatoes and chilies wasn’t quite right on my first attempt.)

Another great spot for falafel is Mean Sandwich in Ballard. In its “Midnight at the Oasis” sandwich, the deep-fried chickpea fritters are accompanied by hummus, harissa beets, and Persian pickles, and come with a side of salt-and-pepper seasoned potato skins. And I also tried the falafel plate at Iyad’s Syrian Grill, a food truck that operates four days a week at lunchtime on Vashon Island, and serves its specialty with hummus as well as salad and pita.

At home, I cooked a few dishes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks, including asparagus and gochujang pancakes, cucumber salad with sumac-marinated onions, and “ultimate roasting-pan ragu” with oyster and dried porcini mushrooms, miso paste, and rose harissa. While I enjoyed the complex flavors in the sauce, this was one recipe where lentils weren’t really an adequate substitute for ground beef. A more successful cooking experiment was shakshuka, which I made from a New York Times recipe featuring avocado, lime, and feta. It’s a Middle Eastern dish which in this preparation has both Mediterranean and Mexican flavors, and stars the subject of my next category.

3) Eat more eggs

According to French legend, a chef’s hat known as a toque is said to have 100 folds, representing a hundred different ways to cook eggs. And the versatility of eggs that I wrote about last week is incredibly helpful for people who are eating less meat. I won’t recount all of the suggestions from that post, but it’s possible to eat different preparations of eggs for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, and never run out of ideas. Over the past six weeks I’ve particularly enjoyed the deviled eggs at Junebaby in Ravenna, which were part of an Easter takeout feast,  and khachapuri, the Georgian bread boat topped with a barely-cooked egg, at Skalka downtown.

4) Eat more Asian food

Seattle is fortunate to have an incredible diversity of Asian restaurants, and all of these cuisines have plenty of options that cater to diners who are eating less meat. Over the past six weeks I’ve enjoyed the royal biryani (with shrimp) and mango curry (with tofu) from Taste of India in the University District, a catfish banh mi from the Vietnamese Le’s Deli and Bakery in Rainier Valley, and fancy rolls from Sam’s Sushi in Ballard. And on weekend excursions outside of Seattle, I’ve also eaten a handful of Chinese and Thai dishes without feeling like I was giving anything up by not including meat as my protein.

I’ve also made good use of Asian flavors in a few recipes I’ve cooked at home this winter, including two dishes from Christopher Kimball’s new cookbook called Cookish: green beans with ginger and coconut milk, and rice pudding with star anise and cinnamon.

5) Eat more fresh produce

One final suggestion to expand your dietary repertoire is to cook dishes that include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, using seasonal produce and fresh herbs whenever possible. Over the past few weeks, I’ve made risotto using a technique by Kenji Lopez-Alt that featured mushrooms, as well as a spectacular asparagus, goat cheese, and tarragon tart, and a tangy, fresh mango gazpacho. And I topped my homemade pizza with fresh basil and lots of mozzarella.

You might have noticed that during my recap of six weeks without eating meat, I never mentioned trying the Impossible Burger or other fake-meat substitutes. While these might be great choices for some people, I never felt like I was lacking for options for delicious things to eat, even if they didn’t look or taste like beef or chicken.

Now that my meat hiatus is over, I’m sure that I’ll continue to regularly incorporate fish, eggs, produce, and Middle Eastern and Asian flavors into my diet. But I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into a plate of fried chicken, a grilled pork banh mi, and a juicy burger. I’ve missed my tasty, meaty friends.

What are your favorite ways to change up your diet by eating less meat? Leave a comment and let me know!

To get updates on new posts, you can follow me @seattlefoodhound on Instagram, or @seafoodhound on Twitter.

More from SeattleFoodHound: 

What I Ate: Asparagus, goat cheese, and tarragon tart

When you're eating less meat this asparagus and goat cheese tart is a great recipe to try

How to Eat a Dozen Eggs

Oh, no! So you bought too many cartons of eggs for the neighborhood Easter hunt. What are you going to do with all those extras? Here are a dozen ideas, with suggestions for new ways to cook eggs and tips from a few master chefs, as well as a couple of Seattle restaurants worth checking out. Now, let’s get cracking!

The first egg: Start your day as Chef Thomas Keller does, with a pair of boiled eggs. He cooks his for just five minutes once the water starts to boil, resulting in a creamy yolk and perfectly set white. But be sure not to boil your eggs too long, or you’ll get an unappealing green band around them from the iron in the yolk and sulfur in the white reacting to the long cooking time. Even at home, Keller also employs another handy tip that he learned during his training: If you’re boiling more than one egg, crack them into individual bowls in case you accidentally drop a piece of shell. It’ll make it a lot easier to fish it out.

The second egg: Deviled eggs are a classic Easter treat, but you can hard boil your eggs without ever having to put a pot on the stove. In this genius technique I learned from a recent article on Food52, just bake them in the oven at 325 degrees for about 28 to 30 minutes, which will give your eggs a firm texture without being overcooked. Talk about new ways to cook eggs!

The third egg: A classic bechamel sauce, made with butter, flour, and milk, is a great starting point for some hearty mac-and-cheese. But in Chef Wolfgang Puck’s version, he adds a couple of egg yolks into the bechamel to make it even richer. If you want to turn your bechamel into a Mornay sauce, just add some grated cheese, like cheddar, fontina, or mozzarella.

The fourth egg: Make a perfect poached egg with the help of tips from Kenji Lopez-Alt’s phenomenal cooking resource The Food Lab.

The fifth egg: Turn those poached eggs into eggs benedict by serving them on an English muffin, topped with Hollandaise. To make the sauce, whisk egg yolks with water over a double boiler to create an emulsion. Then mix in lemon juice as well as warmed, clarified butter. Sometimes, the sauce will “break” and separate as it’s cooking. Keller explains that this can happen if the heat is too high or there isn’t enough water. But you can fix it by starting with a new egg yolk, and then slowly incorporating the broken sauce.

The sixth egg: There’s no wrong way to scramble an egg, but Keller advises that a common mistake is cooking it in a pan that’s too hot. “I can’t stress enough the importance of treating eggs gently,” he says. Once the egg is fully scrambled, you can stop it from overcooking by mixing in some butter or crème fraiche. And a bonus – it will make your breakfast even richer.

The seventh egg: Sure, you can always make an egg scramble at home, but when I want a hearty omelette I head to Pete’s Egg Nest in Greenwood. I’m partial to the bacon, avocado and cheddar scramble, but you can mix it up with any of your favorite proteins, including gyro meat, chorizo, and country sausage.

The eighth egg: Italian chef Massimo Bottura says that preparing sole with tomatoes, lemons, and olives is a tasty way to create a Mediterranean-style dinner. To steam your fish properly, try cooking it en papillote, or in parchment paper. But make sure your wrapper has a tight seal by using an egg wash and pressing the seams together. The same technique works well if you’re making dumplings.

The ninth egg: Cook some perfect fried eggs using a technique I learned in a video by the French chef Jacques Pepin.

The tenth egg: Try the Georgian specialty known as khachapuri at Skalka in downtown Seattle. Their dish called adjaruli is a buttery bread boat that’s filled with melted cheese and topped with a runny yolk.

The eleventh egg: For dessert, how about a crème anglaise? Keller shows how you can make this creamy custard by tempering, or slowly cooking, egg yolks with sugar, warm milk and cream. If your heat gets too high and the eggs start to curdle, you can fix your sauce by running it through a blender and then straining it through a fine-mesh sieve. Crème anglaise is often flavored with vanilla beans and can be served over ice cream, cake, or fruit – or just eaten with a spoon.

The twelfth egg: With your leftover egg whites, try making some delicate, crispy meringues. Beat your egg whites with sugar and vanilla over a double boiler, then whip them in a stand mixer with confectioners’ sugar for about 15 minutes. Then, spoon your meringues onto a baking sheet and cook them in a low-temperature oven for about 45 minutes. I don’t think the egg-sact cooking time is critical, but make sure the interiors are soft and that they have an almost marshmallow-like texture. But don’t worry if your dessert doesn’t come out right. Just reach into your Easter basket and eat the eggs that are foil-wrapped and made of chocolate.

What are your favorite new ways to cook eggs, and where do you like to eat them when you’re not at home? Leave a comment and let me know!

To get updates on new posts, you can follow me @seattlefoodhound on Instagram, or @seafoodhound on Twitter.

More from SeattleFoodHound: 

What I Ate: Eggs benedict at The Lemon Tree in Bend, Oregon

Try new ways to cook eggs like making a delicious Hollandaise sauce for your benedict