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Seattle’s Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of Fall 2020

Root vegetable cakes from chef Kristi Brown’s catering company will likely be on the new Communion menu. | That Brown Girl Cooks/Instagram (Zorn B Taylor)

Even with daunting challenges, several long-planned projects should finally see the light of day

As Seattle deals with the remnants of wildfire smoke, in addition to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, keeping an existing restaurant open is a challenge unto itself, let alone opening up a brand new one. There have already been some high-profile closures, as King County pauses in phase two of the “Safe Start” plan allowing for 50 percent capacity in dining rooms and patios. Many establishments have extended outside seating, trying to get the most out of whatever’s left of the warmer weather, with some trepidation that it won’t be enough to stay afloat.

But better dining days are hopefully on the horizon. Several chefs and owners who had long-gestating projects pre-pandemic are staying positive and forging ahead with plans this fall, even if they have to begin with takeout only or in a limited capacity, overall. Here are some of the most notable new openings coming within the next few months, from Sichuan cuisine to soul food to some seriously excellent bagels and pastries.

Chengdu Taste

Key player: Managing partner Sean Xie
Target opening: Late September

The wildly popular Sichuan restaurant chain that started in the Los Angeles area looked to open its first Seattle outpost at the historic Publix building earlier this year, before plans were scuttled due to the pandemic. But after finishing up construction and getting permits in order, things are thankfully back on track, with an eye on a possible late September debut. On the menu will be items such as mung bean jelly noodles and cold spring onion chicken in pepper sauce with serious kick. 504 5th Ave S, International District

Communion

Key players: Kristi Brown and Damon Bomar
Target opening: Late October

Chef Brown has been operating her successful catering operation That Brown Girl Cooks! for years now, and was an active member of the Seattle Community Kitchen Collective over the summer, feeding those in need. But, this fall, she’ll finally open her long-planned full-service restaurant in the Liberty Bank Building, an affordable housing complex honoring the neighborhood’s African American roots. The menu will reflect what Brown calls “Seattle soul” — dishes influenced by the Pacific Northwest and her Kansas City upbringing, which she’s teased on Instagram, including sweet potato bisque with curried goat, black eyed pea hummus, and vegetable root cakes. Brown’s son, Damon Bomar, will run the drinks side of the business. 2320 E Union St, Central District

Hai Di Lao

Key player: CEO Zhang Yong
Target opening: Early fall

The late Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold described this China-based chain as “the Ferrari of Chinese hot pot restaurants,” and it’s currently setting up its first Seattle location (and first expansion outside California) inside Pacific Place as part of the shopping center’s fresh look. After months of delays, the project is coming into focus, and Hai Di Lao will soon bring its rich broths and sauce bar to downtown denizens, although it’s unclear whether the famed table-side service, which includes dancing staffers, will be part of the equation. 600 Pine St, Downtown

Lariat Bar

Key players: Stephanie Burggraf, Nate Little, and Jorge Perez
Target opening: November

Several nightlife industry veterans are prepping this wrestling-themed drinks den in White Center, which will feature vintage posters, a small ring, and a life-sized Andre the Giant decal. Though the pandemic slowed things down somewhat, money from a Kickstarter campaign helped move things forward, and the bar should be operational in a few months, serving Future Primitive beer, mezcal cocktails, and concession-type food, such as nachos, hot dogs, pretzels, and chili. It will also look to support independent wrestling organizations and local groups. 9827 16th Ave SW, White Center

Mt Bagel and Rubinstein’s

Key players: Roan Hartzog, Andrew Rubinstein
Target opening: Late September, mid-October

Two major Seattle bagel purveyors are about to open their first fixed locations around the same time. Mt Bagel — which built a following from its Instagram account — will have a takeout-only kitchen in Ballard. The new space will allow the bakery to serve more bagels per day and try out new flavors. Meanwhile, critically-acclaimed Rubinstein’s is planning a new cafe inside South Lake Union’s Via6 apartment building for mid-October. The shop will introduce different flavors and dough types, and eventually breakfast sandwiches. Mt Bagel: 1417 NW 54th St., Ballard; Rubinstein’s: 2121 6th Ave, South Lake Union

Phorale Way

Key player: Young Cho
Target opening: Early fall

Originally conceived as a fast-casual restaurant offshoot of the popular Phorale food truck, this White Center spot has embraced a sustainable philosophy. Chef Cho has partnered with a South Seattle-based group called the Preservation Meat Collective, which aims to connect restaurants with local farmers and ranchers, with an emphasis on single-source meats. Diners can expect lemongrass pork chops with kimchi fried rice and egg, chicken guisado, banh mi, and a daily batch of pho, as well as the popular curly “siesta” fries smothered in habañero queso. After a successful GoFundMe campaign recently, the final pieces are being put into place, and an opening within weeks is possible. 9418 Delridge Way SW, White Center

Temple Pastries and The Flour Box

Key players: Christina Wood, Pamela Vuong
Target opening: Late September, early fall

These terrific bakeries, both born from pop-ups, that are about to debut permanent locations. Temple Pastries — known for its thoughtful use of local ingredients — is opening a new cafe in the Central District in collaboration with popular roaster Broadcast Coffee. There will be an expanded breadth of items, such as maple pecan cruffins, apple pear tarts, buckwheat furikake croissants, and a two-toned butterfly pea flower milk bread loaf. It’ll open for takeout-only at first, with the hopes of becoming a hangout spot down the line. Meanwhile, doughnut specialist The Flour Box is in the middle of readying its new Hillman City shop. Owner Vuong has earned fans for her plush brioche doughnuts, but says the new place will include a variety of desserts, such as fried-to-order beignets and pavlova. Temple Pastries: 2524 Jackson St., Central District; The Flour Box: 5520 Rainier Ave S, Hillman City.

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