Top 100 Independents: West by Northwest | Food Newsfeed
Christine Dong

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Top 100 Independents: West by Northwest

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Historic landmark restaurants, high-performers, outstanding new concepts—meet the best operators in cities that are gaining traction as culinary destinations.

By Sonya Chudgar, Keith Loria, Bryan Reesman, Korsha Wilson July 2015 Bar Management

Langbaan

Portland, Oregon

Thai comfort food crafted with no open-flame cooking; only ovens and induction burners.

Opened ∕ March 2014

Annual Sales ∕ $1–$3 million

Average Check ∕ $65 (without alcohol)

Chef/Owner∕ Akkapong Earl Ninsom

The Squeaky Bean

Denver

A pop culture–driven atmosphere grounded by a garden-inspired menu (produce is grown in the neighborhood) and creative cocktails defines The Squeaky Bean, where weekend bingo is a popular draw. On Saturdays, a drag queen calls the numbers, on Sundays, it's a stand-up comedian.

Opened ∕ May 2009 (relocated June 2012)

Annual Sales ∕ $2–$3 million

Average Check ∕ $50

Owners∕ Johnny Ballen and Josh Olsen

Guard and Grace

Denver

At this modern steakhouse, guests can store their own reserve bottles, alongside the restaurant's collection, in the massive wine cellar.

Opened ∕ March 2014

Average Check ∕ $80 (estimate)

Chef/Owner∕ Troy Guard

Rioja

Denver

Jennifer Olson

Chef Jasinski won James Beard Best Chef: Southwest in 2013, and, at its 10-year anniversary, the restaurant closed for four weeks to undergo a major makeover including new walls, floors, furniture, and artwork.

Opened ∕ November 2004

Annual Sales ∕ $3–$5 million

Average Check ∕ $69

Owners∕ Chef Jennifer Jasinski and Beth Gruitch

Frasca Food & Wine

Boulder, Colorado

Paying homage to the food of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy, Frasca's signature dishes include Cannelloni (Homarus deep sea lobster, English pea, and tangerine) and Pappagallo (Parrotfish, Parmesan broth, lava bean, ramp, and black pepper), and the restaurant won James Beard: Outstanding Wine Program in 2013.

Opened ∕ August 2004

Annual Sales ∕ $3–$5 million

Average Check ∕ $125

Owners∕ Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and Bobby Stuckey

Beast

Portland, Oregon

Completely self-trained, Chef Pomeroy operates in a 100-square-foot kitchen (the restaurant itself is only 800 square feet) and serves 26 guests per seating, delighting with a six-course prix fixe menu that changes weekly.

Annual Sales ∕ $1–$3 million

Average Check ∕ $102 for food; $150 with wine pairings

Chef/Owner∕ Naomi Pomeroy

Kachka

Portland, Oregon

Kari Young

Serving the authentic Russian foods of her childhood, Chef Morales has been wowing Portland diners by combining Slavic fare with Portland values such as quality, freshness, and local sourcing, and polishing off the experience with a house-infused vodka program.

Opened ∕ April 2014

Annual Sales ∕ $1–$3 million

Average Check ∕ $35

Owners∕ Chef Bonnie Morales, Israel Morales, Ramzy Mattar

Ox

Portland, Oregon

Both chefs were finalists for James Beard Best Chef: Northwest this year, and the building has its own illustrious fame. Built in 1890, it once housed a general store, an auto dealership display room, a bar, a creamery, and a house of ill repute.

Opened ∕ $1–$3 million

Annual Sales ∕ $1–$3 million

Average Check ∕ $45–$55

Chef/Owner∕ Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton

Cucina Urbana

San Diego

Part Italian-inspired restaurant, part design incubator. All of the furniture is made by craftsmen who live in San Diego.

Opened ∕ 2009

Average Check ∕ $42

Chef/Owner∕ Tracy Borkum

State & Lemp

Boise, Idaho

Chef Kris Komori was recently nominated for the People's Choice Top 100 Best New Chefs in the U.S. by Food & Wine magazine, while State & Lemp was called the Best Restaurant in Idaho this year by Business Insider.

Opened ∕ October 2013

Annual Sales ∕ $500,000

Average Check ∕ Menu: $75/person, $30/wine pairing

Owners ∕ Remi McManus and Jay Henry

Mélisse

Santa Monica, California

Season-driven prix fixe menus with rich offerings such as Wagyu Beef Tartare and Wild Alaskan Halibut.

Opened ∕ 1999

Average Check ∕ $260–$270

Chef/Owner∕ Josiah Citrin

Bar Sajor

Seattle

Featuring Mediterranean-inspired dishes and homemade breads, Bar Sajor was named one of the 25 best restaurants in America in 2014 by GQ magazine.

Opened ∕ March 2013

Average Check ∕ $45 for dinner, $21 for lunch

Chef/Owner∕ Matthew Dillon

Canlis

Seattle

A legend in Seattle, this 65-year-old restaurant is revered for its approachable dishes like prawns with dry vermouth and garlic, has a 90-page wine list, and—to celebrate its 50th anniversary—created a city-wide scavenger hunt for 1950s-era copies of its menu, rewarding finders with dishes at 1950s prices.

Opened ∕ December 1950

Average Check ∕ $154

Owners∕ Mark and Brian Canlis

Joule

Seattle

Husband-and-wife Chefs Yang and Chirchi were finalists for Best Chef: Northwest in 2015. Driven by Chef Yang's Korean heritage, dishes are bathed in hints of sour and bitter flavors, such as White Stuffed Kimchi and Mackerel.

Opened ∕ 2007

Average Check ∕ $25–$35 (estimate)

Chef/Owners∕ Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi

Lark

Seattle

In 2014, the restaurant moved to a larger location expanding the dining room; adding amaro, the Italian digestif; and a crudo bar.

Opened ∕ 2003

Average Check ∕ $70–$80

Chef/Owner∕ John Sundstrom

The Whale Wins

Seattle

Chef Erickson, a finalist for Best Chef: Northwest in 2015, has a knack for surprising diners and is known for serving dishes at room temperature at The Whale Wins, whether her famous pickle plate or a salt-roasted filet mignon.

Opened ∕ October 2012

Average Check ∕ $50 (estimate)

Chef/Owner∕ Renee Erickson

MW Restaurant

Honolulu

With its Hawaiian regional cuisine, MW is a favorite of both locals and tourists; the restaurant hosts an afternoon tea once a month, with a sweet and savory bites prix fixe menu, priced at $35.

Opened ∕ October 2013

Average Check ∕ Lunch: $25–$35, Dinner: $55

Chef/Owners∕ Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka

Pomp/Resort at Paws Up

Greenough, Montana

Pomp is part of a 37,000-acre working cattle ranch that offers luxury vacation homes and luxury tents, which reportedly sparked the "glamping" (i.e. glamorous camping) trend, as well as luxury dining at Pomp, which received the Award Of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine in 2012 and 2014.

Opened ∕ June 2005

Annual Sales ∕ $3–$5 million

Average Check ∕ Dinner: $65

Owners∕ Dave, Nadine, and Larry Lipson

The Rookery Café

Juneau, Alaska

Located in the heart of Historic Downtown Juneau, the upscale-casual Rookery Café is known for adventurous dishes such as its Alaskan Reindeer heart tartare or its recent pasta dish that featured house-made squid ink spaghetti noodles, local lemon basil, and uni (urchin roe) in a simple citrus and wine and butter sauce.

Opened ∕ November 2010

Annual Sales ∕ $1.35 million

Average Check ∕ $21

Owners∕ Travis Smith and Chef Beau Schooler