2000s Archive

Restaurants Worth the Money: Pacific Northwest

Originally Published October 2009
Six great places to spend your hard-earned cash in Oregon and Washington.
le pigeon

Imagine the perfect Seattle restaurant. It would be housed in a sweet little cottage, and the earnest servers would know the provenance of every item on the ingredient-driven menu. It would, of course, have organic certification, and the wine list would feature small producers. The food would be elegant, clean, and interesting, and everything would be available in half portions. Welcome to Tilth. 1411 N. 45th St., Seattle (206-633-0801; Tilth)


Lunchbox Laboratory
A giant chalkboard listing house-made toppings dominates chef Scott Simpson’s tiny burger-and-shake joint. The messy beef burgers are archetypal; the Dork burger combines duck and pork; and the milkshakes (especially the fudgy Boston cream) are the best in town. 7302 15th Ave. N.W., Seattle (206-706-3092; Lunchbox Laboratory)

Bruschetta? Crostini? Tartines? This quintessential neighborhood restaurant just calls it toast. Try it with fig-anchovy spread, arugula, and duck prosciutto, or chicken-liver mousse and pickled peppers, then move on to the stuffed pastas and gnocchi. This is European comfort food, but it’s always a little surprising, thanks to chef Melissa Nyffeler’s deft hand with accents (Marcona almonds here, preserved lemon there) and her willingness to reinvent the menu on a regular basis. 1514 E. Olive Way, Seattle (206-328-2282; Dinette)

Vegetables have a starring role in Poppy’s thali meals, Indian-inspired panoplies of small plates: a tiny chard gratin, spiced fiddleheads, a cup of corn soup, lavender-rubbed duck leg (okay, duck leg isn’t a vegetable). Don’t miss the eggplant fries with honey, and spring for the lavish dessert thali, which combines your choice of dessert and ice cream with extras in the form of cookies, spiced nuts, and crisp peanut squares. 622 Broadway E., Seattle (206-324-1108; Poppy)

Le Pigeon
Gabriel Rucker serves rich meat and richer sauce to off-duty chefs and those who want to eat like them. If they have the duck nuggets, get ’em. 738 E. Burnside St., Portland, OR (503-546-8796; Le Pigeon)

Pok Pok
This Thai roadside shack, along with the full-service restaurant next door, cooks up the real flavors, the real chile heat, and a bit of the real noise and bustle of Southeast Asia. We love the waterfall beef salad, the fizzy drinking vinegars, and the curry noodle soup known as khao oi kai. 3226 S.E. Division St., Portland, OR (503-232-1387; Pok Pok)

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