Where to Tuck into Carbs + Comfort Foods in the Pacific Northwest

This month, we’re celebrating clean eats and comfort foods – because January. Whatever route you choose, you can be sure deliciousness abounds in both.

Baby, it’s cold outside. And since it’s going to stay that way for a few more months, these picks will get you through deep winter by warming you up from the inside out. Discover where to feast on carbs + comfort foods in the Pacific Northwest this winter.

Local 360 Café & Bar, Seattle, Washington
Local 360’s mandate is clear: to source the majority of its ingredients from within 360 miles of Seattle and to get back to a simpler, better way of cooking. “Our take on comfort food isn’t too modern,” chef Stew explains. “We’re more about what’s best rather than what’s new or innovative.” To that end, they offer comfort classics like fried chicken and waffles, where the meat (a skin-on chicken thigh, “God’s gift to fried chicken!” exclaims Chef Stew) is double-dredged and fried, and also apple fritters, which are basically fried, fruit-filled dumplings served with vanilla ice cream and bacon brittle. (Behind-the-scenes info alert: when Local 360 replaced the fritters with another apple dish chef Stew wanted to try out, the restaurant was inundated with phone calls and emails begging for the classic dish to be returned to the menu.) Vegetarians craving comfort food should opt for the Mushroom Bolognese, which features ground up portobello and shiitake mushrooms cooked with tomato paste and milk, which is the traditional method of achieving a thick, creamy sauce. Make a reservation at Local 360 Café & Bar.

Comfort Foods in the Pacific Northwest

Stonesedge Kitchen, Whistler, British Columbia
For chef Erin Stone, comfort food is about memories. Her versions, however, don’t quite resemble grandma’s take. Sure, there’s mac ‘n’ cheese on the menu, but Stone’s version includes roast duck — as does the filling shepherd’s pie. Craving something starchy? Then you need the Chicken Meatball Bowl with rice and coconut curry broth or the Woodsman Bowl (on the breakfast menu) which features arugula, squash, shredded venison, and poached eggs. “People are often too busy to cook these days,” Stone says. “But everyone needs something homey and comforting in winter.” Make a reservation at Stonesedge Kitchen.

Comfort Foods in the Pacific Northwest

Bell + Whete, Seattle, Washington
The thing not to miss at this Seattle gastro pub: the eggs benedict served on house-made English muffins. “Most people believe the baguette is the best example of ‘perfect’ bread,” explains chef Jenny. “But it’s actually the English muffin.” And hers are made with dough that has plenty of air bubbles, which result in cavernous nooks and crannies. Also a treat: her cinnamon-and-sugar-dipped sour cream donuts, which are fried to order and have a crispy exterior but a soft center. At dinner, don’t pass up the Belgian fries, which are fried in wagyu beef fat to give them a buttery taste without adding butter. PS: You’re welcome. Make a reservation at Bell + Whete.

Comfort Foods in the Pacific Northwest

Golden Beetle, Seattle, Washington
Chef Maria Hines is famous among adults for competing on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters, but she’s loved by kids for having a Mac ‘n’ Cheese Mondays, where they — and actually anyone — can design their own version. Start by picking a pasta (gluten-free or regular), add in a béchamel sauce (roasted garlic or spicy harissa are options), and complete with cheese (white cheddar? Smoked gouda? Check and check!). Include some bacon or lamb sausage and have it baked in the kitchen until the panko crust is crispy. Pro tip: This is the staff’s favorite night to work — so you know it’s extra good. Bonus: Chef Hines’ sister restaurant Tilth, serves up a waffle made from 100% sourdough (the sourdough “mother” was actually started a few years ago and is used in all their breads) accompanied by maple whipped cream and candied pecans. Make a reservation at Golden Beetle.

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7 Delicious Pacific Northwest Restaurant Holiday Events

The holidays are a special and hectic time of year. When you’re ready for a break from feeling frenzied, check out one of these seven Pacific Northwest restaurant holiday events. From special Christmas-themed meals to book readings and nutcracker parades, each offers something that will take your mood from frantic to festive. All of these events sell out quickly, so make your reservations early.

Pretend you’re in Italy with the Feast of Seven Fishes
In many parts of Italy, Christmas Eve is synonymous with the Feast of Seven Fishes. During this extravagant holiday meal, families serve as many as 13 fish-centric dishes to their friends and family. Get a scaled-down version of this experience at Seattle’s Agrodolce. Every Christmas Eve, they offer three-, five- and seven-course meals chock full of fresh Pacific Northwest seafood. Start with a bread and crab appetizer, move on to a hearty fish stew, and finish with a light dessert (which, in case you’re wondering, does not include anything harvested from the sea).

Blog Agrodolce interior copy

Brunch with Santa and the nutcrackers
The Nutcracker ballet is a Christmas tradition for many families. But Salty’s on Alki Beach in Seattle (as well as Salty’s on Redondo Beach in Des Moines and Salty’s on the Columbia in Portland) allows you to get up close and personal with these holiday favorites. During special brunches every weekend in December, Salty’s restaurants display their extensive collection of seven-foot-tall nutcrackers around each dining rooms. Santa is on hand to take Christmas lists and photos, and extravagant holiday light displays give the entire space a festive air.

Celebrate the holidays Celtic-style
For the last 20+ years, Café Soriah in Eugene has hosted an annual Celtic Holiday event. Matinee or evening shows start with Welsh, Scottish, English and Irish songs performed by two local musicians. For their finale, a Welsh chimney sweep who now resides in Eugene reads the book A Child’s Christmas in Wales. He even wears his traditional top hat for many performances. Café Soriah typically hosts eight performances of their Celtic Holiday celebration in the week leading up to Christmas.

An advent calendar for adults
When I was a kid, I loved those advent calendars with chocolate hidden behind every door. As a grown-up, the beer advent calendar from Bell + Whete in Seattle seems slightly more appealing. This restaurant is brewing up 12 holiday-themed beers and releasing them one by one through December 24. To help drinkers identify when each keg will be tapped and which ones they haven’t tried, Bell + Whete has put together an advent calendar that doubles as a punch card. Sample every beer and you can enter to win dinner for two at their first-class restaurant.

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How to Holiday High Tea in the Pacific Northwest

Maybe you already high tea annually during the holidays, or maybe you’re eager to try out this tradition. Either way, these spots offer both classic favorites and innovative twists that make for a festive — and filling! — holiday experience. Read on to find out where to enjoy holiday high tea in the Pacific Northwest.

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia
Seeking a side of glamour and grandeur with your tea? This is the place. Right smack in the middle of downtown, with a view of Vancouver’s skyline, the Fairmont’s Nutcracker Tea (December 20 + 21; $64 per person, $27 for children) includes delicate honey yogurt panna cotta, curried chicken finger sandwiches, crab cakes, and a live pianist playing favorites from the score of the ballet. And while you enjoy a glass of port, Prosecco, or wine, kids are treated to the Prince or Princess tea service with bubblegum tea, scones, and Black Forest ham and cheddar sandwiches — all in a building that genuinely looks like a castle. Someone cue the sugarplum fairies!

Holiday High Tea in the Pacific Northwest

Neverland Tea Salon, Vancouver, British Columbia
Neverland’s whole vibe is about whimsy, accessibility, and excellence. Accordingly, the High Tea service respects some traditions (the tea tower, small portions) and upends others (servers wear jeans and t-shirts and sport a relaxed attitude). Also central to the Neverland experience: food worth eating. “We’re not a place where the ambiance outshines what’s being served,” co-owner Terri Tatchell says. “Our food is actually worth indulging in.” To that end, the Holiday High Tea (offered through December 31, at $38 per person) features flank steak on focaccia with green peppercorn aioli, an insane macadamia and salted caramel brownie, and gooey sticky toffee bread pudding with brandied caramel sauce. Pots of tea are never-ending, and Neverland takes gluten- and dairy-free options seriously. In fact, the special order towers so closely resemble the standard ones that customers often think their requests haven’t been honored. “We want those with special needs to enjoy the full Neverland experience,” explains Tatchell. So while the ingredients have been tweaked, the taste is just as dreamy.

High Holiday Tea in the Pacific Northwest

The Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia
Here, the setting’s the thing. There are 55 acres of lush gardens, plus the dining room is located in the Butchart family’s Craftsman-style former residence. Admission tickets to the garden are required for tea, but they’re worth it because they grant access to ice skating, strolling carolers, and a proper carousel. The traditional High Tea (served through December 22; $33.75 per person) features classics including egg salad sandwiches with watercress and Cornish pastry. But it’s the Flavours of Christmas High Tea from December 22-27 ($39.50 per person, $18.95 for children) that really screams happy holidays. Heavy on regionally sourced items such as Salt Spring Island goat cheese brioche and a Dungeness crab salad sandwich, the festive high tea can also be paired with wines from three Vancouver Island wineries to make it a hyper-local experience. Pro tip: Make a late afternoon reservation for tea, but arrive early. That way, you get to appreciate the garden during daylight hours and also see it dressed up at night.

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Last-Minute Thanksgiving Reservations: Deals + Offers

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Reservations

ICYMI, Thanksgiving is just days away. If it slipped your mind (or your stomach), fear not. There is availability at top restaurants in cities all across the nation. To wit, we’ve rounded up a variety of deals and offers in our last-minute Thanksgiving reservations guide for restaurants in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Read on and start booking!

A bit more: Le Bilboquet: With an all-day special menu, French favorite Le Bilboquet is open from 12PM-8PM and serving a 3-course meal at $65 per person and $25 for kids under 12.
A bit less: B’s Bistro: B’s is offering a traditional four-course turkey, ham or Scottish salmon Thanksgiving feast from 1PM-7PM. It’s just $34.95 plus tax and service, and $16.00 for the 12 and under crew.
A bit different: The SHED at Glenwood: Dig into an amazing Thanksgiving buffet with all the holiday classics! With seatings from noon to 7PM, it’s $50 for adults and $20 for kids 3-11.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in Atlanta.

A bit more: Bar Boulud: Celebrate with friends and family while enjoying a three-course, prix-fixe Thanksgiving Day spread. Enjoy seasonal classics with a French twist, from 12PM-8PM for $85 apiece.
A bit less: Amuse: Chef Martin Quinn is creating a special three-course Thanksgiving prix-fixe menu for only $28 per person.
A bit different: Club Café: Do good while digging into the sumptuous buffet at Club Café. Served 11AM-4PM, it’s $29.95 per person and 10% of food sales will be donated to The Boston Living Center and the dollar donation will be matched by Mark West wines.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in Boston.

A bit more: Cite: Feast with your family and friends on a hearty Thanksgiving brunch buffet on the 70th floor of the prestigious Lake Point Tower, from 10:30AM-2:30PM. Adults are $85 each, and kids eat for $38.
A bit less: Brasserie LM: Brasserie by LM will celebrate Thanksgiving with a $35 prix-fixe menu. Menu items include Roasted Chestnut Soup, Fried Ham Steak with bacon & Brussels sprout hash, and yummy Pumpkin Pie.
A bit different: Vermillion: Partake of the most unabashed innovative Thanksgiving feast that has earned raves from the Wall Street Journal, among others. The four-course global meal is big on herbs and spice with a Latin-Indian twist. Vegetarian options abound. $55 per person.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in Chicago.

A bit more: Element 47: The three-course prix fixe Thanksgiving menu gets a luxe spin at Element. Book for the $99 per person experience with an optional $65 wine pairing.
A bit less: Hodson’s Bar and Grill-Southglenn: Enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner two ways — traditional with all the fixings for $17 or a smoked turkey with root vegetable gratin for $16. Both options are served all day, from 11AM-8PM.
A bit different: Kachina Southwestern Grill: Add a southwestern accent to your day with this family-style “Back to Our Roots” supper from 11AM-9PM. The four courses feature Achiote Turkey, Smoked Prime Rib, and traditional sides. $40 for adults and $15 for children.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in the Denver area.

A bit more: Carbon Beach Club Restaurant at The Malibu Beach Inn: Surf into the holiday with a beachside Thanksgiving dinner. There are three courses for $ 85 per person with wine pairings available upon request.
A bit less: The Front Yard: You don’t have to stress about cooking this year if you hit up The Front Yard! Chef Chris is serving a save-ory menu at just $39 for adults and $18 kids 12 and under.
A bit different: The Hungry Cat: It’s tender vittles all the way with offerings that include deep-fried turkey, spiced cranberry, chorizo and oyster stuffing, potato puree and more, plus dessert.
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