The Best New Things to Eat During a Mariners Game at T-Mobile Park

The Seattle Mariners didn’t just spend the offseason upgrading their offense with new players like Adam Frazier, Jesse Winker, and Eugenio Suarez. They also boosted the quality and variety of food options available at their home stadium. While unique Northwest fare like Lil’ Woody’s burgers, Din Tai Fung wontons, Ivar’s clam chowder, and Salt & Straw ice cream are all still available, elevating T-Mobile Park food above what you’ll find at most ballparks, there are a good number of new, tasty options this season. (Just keep in mind that you might need to miss a few batters to wait in a long line, given the influx of fans coming out to support the team.) Here are my picks for the best new things to eat at a Mariners game in 2022.

BBQ Platters and Pulled Pork: At Holy Smoke near sections 105 and 313, hungry eaters can order combo meals with brisket ($18) or a long rib ($22) that come with mac-and-cheese, cornbread, and coleslaw. A good value at these stands is the mac-and-cheese with pulled pork ($12), or you can get it meatless for a couple dollars less. If you prefer your pulled pork with a bit of crunch, order the “Holy Moly” loaded Kettle Chips, smothered with white queso cheese and BBQ sauce and topped with citrus coleslaw and green onions. (You can also get the “Holy Moly” chips at a stand on the Terrace Club level near section 221.)

Pineapple Pizza and Meatball Subs: Ethan Stowell’s Ballard Pizza Company (section 241 and the ‘Pen) is offering a new “Staple and Fancy” slice ($10) that includes pepperoni, pineapple, and jalapeños. Also new this season is a meatball sub ($15), baked to order on an Italian roll with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella.

Spicy Chicken Sandwiches: David Chang’s Fuku (the ‘Pen) was a late-season addition in 2021, and its spicy chicken sandwich ($13) is still one of the best things to eat at the park. The buttermilk-battered breast is served on a potato roll with habanero pepper and “Fuku butter,” a puree of pickles, butter, and garlic.

Fresh Mexican Flavors: At Edgar’s Cantina, also in the ‘Pen, new options include “Tacos del Barrio” ($13), with your choice of barbacoa chicken, green chile pork, or fried avocado (tacos are also available in section 212); a shrimp tostada ($14); and a brisket quesadilla served with pineapple salsa ($13).

Hawaiian Plate Lunches: Seattle’s well-regarded Marination is a rookie-of-the-year candidate for T-Mobile Park food this season. Its offerings near section 119 include a luau plate lunch ($15) with either huli huli chicken, kalua pork, or tofu along with rice, macaroni salad, and a Hawaiian roll; a kalua pork sandwich that’s one of the best deals at T-Mobile ($10.50); and one of the two places in the park where you can order spam musubi ($6).

Poke Bowls and Sushi: Near section 132, Just Poké serves up ahi tuna or salmon bowls ($17) with avocado, edamame, pickled ginger, and seaweed salad over sushi rice, as well as spicy tuna or California sushi rolls ($14 and $13, respectively) that can be upgraded to “Hall of Fame” style with a topping of poké for an additional $9. You can also get your spam musubi fix here ($6).

Açai Bowls and Toasts: Pure Açai (section 132 and 328) offers three different açai bowls ($14) with a variety of toppings including granola, bananas, strawberries, and nutella, as well as multi-grain toast with either avocado and cherry tomatoes, or nutella, banana, coconut, and granola ($12).

Gourmet Sit-Down Meals: One of the best-kept secrets of T-Mobile Park food is that you’re allowed to order food at a table in the Hit it Here Café, regardless of where your seat is for the game. Appealing options here include the “Hit it Here” burger, with a grass-fed beef patty topped with Tillamook cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, and burger sauce ($15.50); the “loaded mac & cheese” sandwich, with four-cheese mac, caramelized onions, and bacon on Texas toast ($18.50); and the bacon and blue chese wedge salad, including iceberg lettuce, bacon lardons, blue cheese crumbles, marinated tomatoes, pickled red onions, and ranch dressing ($13).

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

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What I Ate: Meatball sub from Ballard Pizza Company at T-Mobile Park

T-Mobile Park food options this season include this meatball sub from Ballard Pizza Company.

The Curious Case of the West Coast Maple Bar

The United States produced over 3.4 million gallons of maple syrup in 2021, nearly all of it in New England, New York, and the upper Midwest. So why, then, is the maple bar a particularly West Coast phenomenon? Ask a donut lover in Boston or Chicago where to find a great maple bar and you’re likely to be met with a puzzled expression or be directed to the nearest drinking establishment with a wooden tabletop. But in California, you can find fantastic maple bars all over the state. There are great versions in Seattle and around the Pacific Northwest, too. And in Washington State, there’s even a Facebook group for maple bar aficionados.

For the uninitiated, a maple bar is a rectangular yeasted donut, often called a Long John in other parts of the country, that’s covered with a maple-flavored glaze. The classic maple bar is unfilled, but it can be filled with custard or cream, and it’s sometimes also topped with bacon, a version that Portland’s Voodoo Doughnut helped popularize in the early 2000s.

I haven’t uncovered any explanation for why the maple bar became prevalent on the West Coast. But several donut shops opened in downtown Los Angeles during the 1920s, a few years after two Salvation Army officers started delivering donuts to American troops on the front lines during World War I. Donut shops have existed in the Seattle area since at least 1959, when the Original House of Donuts opened in Lakewood. The California-based chain Winchell’s, now the largest on the West Coast, expanded to the Pacific Northwest in the 1960s and opened a branch in Wallingford in 1968 that lasted until 2009. Could its well-loved maple bars have helped popularize them in Seattle?

Perhaps the most notorious incident in Seattle donut history occurred in 2010 when Bellevue police issued Seahawks rookie wide receiver Golden Tate a warning for trespassing in a Top Pot doughnut shop at 3 a.m. one Saturday. Tate lived in the same building as the Top Pot and entered it through a back door that had been left open. He explained the offense by telling the Seattle Times that the maple bars there were “irresistible,” a notion that head coach Pete Carroll seconded. “I’m not disappointed in a guy being in a doughnut shop when they’ve got maple bars like Top Pot has,” Carroll said. “I do understand the allure of the maple bars.”

As usual, Carroll’s right. (Except for calling a pass play on second-and-goal from the 1. Still bitter about that one.) I spent a few weeks sampling maple bars all over town, and recommend these five alluring versions:

  • My favorite maple bar came from Chuck’s Donuts in Renton. The donuts at this old-school shop are pillowy soft, and the maple glaze has just the right level of sweetness. Tate and other night owls should note that the shop opens at 3 a.m., and often sells out early in the day.
  • My runner-up is the maple bar at Family Donut Shop in Northgate. This is another old-fashioned store, and the fluffy donuts here are less expensive than at other places (around $2) but a bit smaller. I also recommend coming here early in the day, as the shop closes whenever they’re sold out.
  • You won’t go wrong with a maple bar from any of the 15 or so currently open locations of Top Pot. I’d consider this the archetypal Seattle donut stop – not the best in town, but where you’ll always get a fresh, warm donut that’s above-average in size (with a proportionately higher cost) and a thick covering of maple goodness.
  • I also enjoyed the maple bar from Good Day Donuts in White Center. My donut here had come straight out of the oven, and the glaze had barely started to solidify before I inhaled the whole thing. I’ll need to return for the sandwiches they sell at lunchtime, including a meatball sub that Seattle Times food critic Tan Vinh called “the ideal trinity of meaty, gooey, and tangy elements.”
  • Finally, I’d recommend the maple bar from one of Seattle’s recent influx of innovative donut shops, Raised Doughnuts, which opened in the Central District in 2018. It’s a classic version whose dough I found a little more bready than the other ones I tried. The shop also sells special weekend and monthly flavors (June’s include tahini chocolate and earl grey), as well as donuts for your dog. And I’m particulary intrigued by their regular savory offering: the everything bagel donut.

What are your favorite places for a maple bar in Seattle, and do you have any theories on why they’re so popular on the West Coast? Leave a comment below and let me know!

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What I Ate: Maple bars from Chuck’s Donuts in Renton

The maple bar can be found all over California and the Pacific Northwest, but nowhere else in America

Is Seattle Barbecue Really Among the Nation’s Best?

You might not expect an international food website started by a Dutch chef in Sydney to have strong opinions about American barbecue. But last week, Chef’s Pencil stirred up controversy with its list of Top Cities for BBQ in the U.S. After analyzing TripAdvisor review scores for more than 2,000 restaurants with barbecue on the menu, it proclaimed New Orleans the best BBQ city in the country. Bizarrely, it included both Newark and Miami in its top ten, put Kansas City outside the top 30, and left out the state of Texas entirely. And perhaps just as shocking, it named Seattle barbecue as the seventh-best in America.

Reaction to Chef’s Pencil’s maps of the best and worst BBQ cities was swift. TripAdvisor disavowed the rankings, saying on Twitter that they were “very concerned” about how the data was presented and that they “did not make those wild BBQ maps.” Texas Monthly replied “LOL,” and the official City of Houston account seemed to have an uncontrollable fit of laughter.

So what went wrong? There are at least three reasons why these lists didn’t match the expectations of smoked-meat aficionados around the U.S.:

  • First, Chef’s Pencil wasn’t evaluating the quality of the barbecue in the restaurants it included in its survey. Instead, according to an article about the list on the Matador Network, its methodology was to rank the cities based on their average TripAdvisor rating. So what it was actually measuring wasn’t how good a city’s barbecue is, but how good the people who rate it think it is. Maybe diners in New Orleans are just happier about the meals they eat there than eaters in other places.
  • Second, the survey might have used an expanded definition of barbecue that means that comparing one city’s ratings to another’s isn’t very meaningful. It’s impossible to tell without seeing exactly which restaurant ratings the website included in its dataset, but several people commenting on the survey on Twitter suggested that Newark’s ranking might be explained by its excellent Portuguese BBQ, and Seattle’s by its well-regarded Korean BBQ restaurants.
  • And third, the perils of the survey’s algorithm also likely skewed the results. Any restaurant with barbecue on their menu was included if it had at least five TripAdvisor reviews. We don’t know exactly how many establishments were analyzed for each location, but the difference between the second-ranked city (Oklahoma City, 4.26), and seventh-ranked city (Seattle, 4.23) might amount to a single person’s bad review score. It wouldn’t take much for a city with a few low-rated barbecue restaurants to fall down the leaderboard. And even Houston (3.93, seventh worst) and Ft. Worth (3.94, tenth worst) might have made the top 10 with just a few more good ratings.

With so many different styles of barbecue, and nearly everyone having a strong opinion about their favorite, naming the country’s best BBQ cities might be a fruitless exercise. But most people would probably agree that Texas, Kansas City, Memphis, and North Carolina should be well-represented on any list. So I think it’s safe to say we can throw out this survey entirely. (And Chef’s Pencil seems to have done so as well: the page announcing its BBQ rankings is no longer available on its website.)

One more reason it makes little sense for Seattle to be in the top 10 of any ranking of the best BBQ cities in the U.S. is that it lacks its own distinctive style, one representing a local tradition that’s shared by a number of restaurants. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any good barbecue here. Here are some of the top Seattle barbecue spots that represent a few different regional styles.

  • For Texas-style brisket, I like Jack’s BBQ, with locations in SoDo, South Lake Union, and Algona. The meat served here is rubbed with salt and pepper and served with pickles and white bread, but without sauce, as is typical in central Texas.
  • For Carolina-style pulled pork, I like Bitterroot BBQ in Ballard. The succulent meat is accompanied by a choice of sweet, spicy, or mustard-based sauce. (Lovers of eastern North Carolina barbecue would insist on a vinegar-based sauce, however.)
  • My next Seattle barbecue meal will probably come from Briley’s BBQ in Lake City. It describes its menu as “NW style,” with a selection of housemade sausages, Kansas City-style pulled pork, brisket, and baby back ribs. Eaters who miss their favorite Southern specialties can also order hush puppies, Brunswick stew, banana pudding, and more.
  • At Woodshop BBQ in the Central District (and at their food truck around town), you’ll find both brisket and pulled pork by the pound, as well as racks of dry-rubbed, St. Louis cut pork spare ribs.
  • Emma’s BBQ in Hillman City is a family-run restaurant offering ribs, chicken, and pulled pork, among other barbecue specialties. The owner, Tess Thomas, named the restaurant after her mother, who grew up in Arkansas.
  • The smoked meat that comes from Lady Jaye in West Seattle doesn’t fit a single regional style, but the daily specials include pork belly burnt ends, smoked New York prime steak, and smoked dry aged Delmonico cheesesteak, as well as giant smoked “dino” beef ribs.

What are your favorite spots for Seattle barbecue, and which regional styles do you think are sorely missing here? Leave a comment below and let me know!

Want to connect on social media? Follow me @seattlefoodhound on Instagram, or @seafoodhound on Twitter.

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What I Ate: Homemade sous vide brisket from Kenji Lopez-Alt’s Serious Eats recipe

Seattle barbecue probably shouldn't be ranked in the top 10 in the U.S., even if my brisket was pretty great

Eater Beware: How to Avoid Being Duped by Food Fraud

The shocking New York Times story about alleged sexual harassment and abusive workplace culture at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island overshadowed another serious allegation, that the restaurant committed food fraud by routinely misleading diners about the sourcing of its ingredients. Former employees said that although Chef Blaine Wetzel claimed to only use locally foraged, fished, and farmed products, supermarket vegetables stood in for local beets and broccoli, chickens came from Costco, and Pacific octopus was delivered frozen from Spain and Portugal.

If these accounts are to be believed, the Willows Inn’s substitutions are one of the most high-profile examples of food fraud that’s come to light over the past decade. Seafood, olive oil, certain spices, and even Bagel Bites are among the food products you could have purchased without realizing that what you were actually getting might have been deceptively labeled – or even completely fraudulent.

Did you think something was fishy about your last sushi dinner? You may have been right. A 2019 report by the seafood conservation group Oceana found that 21 percent of the fish samples they tested were deceptive, with 26 percent of restaurants selling mislabeled seafood. Imported fish was frequently passed off as local, and more than half of all the sea bass was actually something else. Italian research published the same year estimated that 15 percent of all swordfish being sold was actually shark. And a 2013 episode of This American Life noted the similarity between fried calamari and hog rectum, alleging that some restaurants were substituting a pork-based product for squid. (However, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service never reported any examples of mislabeled “imitation” calamari.)

Olive oil is another product under scrutiny for deceptive labeling. In a 2010 study by the University of California Davis Olive Center, nearly 70 percent of imported extra-virgin olive oil failed to meet the quality standards required to have that label. The Olive Center suggested that poor-quality oils were often being passed off as extra-virgin, and that cheaper refined oils such as hazelnut oil that are difficult to detect were sometimes mixed in. Later that year, the USDA adopted new standards for grading olive oils, although not all manufacturers follow them.

Spices such as cinnamon, vanilla, and saffron are also rife for fraudulent substitution. Real Ceylon cinnamon, which usually comes from Sri Lanka and elsewhere in southeast Asia, has a more delicate flavor than cassia cinnamon, which is often grown in southern China and contains higher amounts of a harmful toxin called coumarin. In addition, ground cinnamon can contain fillers like coffee husks. If you’re buying vanilla extract, know that it’s sometimes not made from real vanilla beans, but from a synthetic compound called vanillin. And saffron, derived from the flower of a species of crocus and said to be the world’s most expensive spice, has sometimes been forged with dried flowers or corn silk threads.

Of course, not every example of food fraud is found in nature. Just last week, a Wisconsin woman sued Kraft Heinz Foods, the maker of Bagel Bites. She claimed that the company mislabeled the product as having “real” mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, when it’s actually made from a cheese blend and a sauce with “non-tomato extenders and thickeners.”

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to avoid being duped by imitation food. You don’t have much recourse if a restaurant is flat-out lying to you, although the more questions you ask, the more likely you are to discover the truth about what’s happening in the kitchen. (You probably don’t need to find out the name of your chicken, as was brilliantly parodied in the restaurant sketch from the first episode of Portlandia.) Although I can’t say for sure that all of the ingredients used in my dinner at the Willows Inn came from Lummi Island, I did tour the expansive garden near the restaurant, and recognized some of the items, like squash blossoms and nasturtium flowers, that were apparently used in dishes I ate the night before.

For seafood products, your best strategy is to be sure and ask your local restaurant or fish market about their sourcing practices. You can also frequent establishments, such as Mashiko in West Seattle, that are transparent about where their fish comes from and that have shown a commitment to sustainability. And you can avoid ingredients like sea bass that have a higher chance of being something else entirely.

When you’re buying olive oil, look for labeling on a bottle that shows certification from either the California Olive Oil Council or a similar international organization. (Italian olive oils, for example, will have a “DOP” logo showing that the product was prepared using traditional methods.)

For spices, buy only from reputable grocers, and read the label carefully to make sure you’re getting what you think you are. Whenever possible, buy whole spices, like cinnamon sticks and vanilla beans, instead of processed versions. And let price be your guide – for example, an inexpensive container of saffron threads isn’t likely to be the real thing (and if you buy it, you might later realize that you’re mad about saffron). You can also test your purchase by adding a few threads into a container of water. Real saffron will slowly turn the water yellow while maintaining its own red color.

And if you’re concerned about the actual mozzarella and tomato content in your Bagel Bites? You probably have bigger issues than food fraud. I’d suggest making your own version – or, if that’s too much trouble, just order a pizza.

Want to connect on social media? Follow me @seattlefoodhound on Instagram, or @seafoodhound on Twitter.

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What I Ate: Squash blossoms and local flowers with nasturtium puree at the Willows Inn

The Willows Inn, where I ate these squash blossoms, has been accused of food fraud

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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What I Ate: Kumamoto oysters with classic mignonette

Kumamoto oysters are one of the most iconic Seattle foods

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.

More from SeattleFoodHound: 

What I Ate: The Mekong grilled pork banh mi at Toast Mi

The best Seattle banh mi include flavorful meat and crispy vegetables

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.

More from SeattleFoodHound: 

What I Ate: The Big Woody burger from Lil Woody’s

Mariners food options include the Big Woody burger from Lil Woody's

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.

More from SeattleFoodHound: 

What I Ate: Pork dumplings in black vinegar chili oil from Tyger Tyger

Tyger Tyger offers a modern, spicy take on Seattle dumplings

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.

More from SeattleFoodHound: 

What I Ate: Seafood paella from Ethan Stowell Restaurants

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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