Somehow, we made it to the end of this year. We could measure 2020 by the number of bad television shows we’ve watched or cups of Dalgona whipped coffee we’ve screwed up. But for us, this year was really fueled by restaurants and all of the incredible ways they’ve persevered and innovated - for the past nine months especially. In this Year In Review, we look back at 2020′s silver linings. And yes, eating a lot of delicious bánh mì counts as one of them.
RESTAURANTS OPENED & ADAPTED
Saying that 2020 was a challenge for the hospitality industry is the understatement of the year. Some restaurants unfortunately closed their doors for good as a result of the pandemic. But many brand new ones opened despite all of these obstacles - including the spots on our international lineup of the Most Exciting New Restaurants. And regardless of opening date, we’ve seen restaurants, bars, breweries, and coffee shops across the city getting creative with outdoor spaces, from closing off streets to tricking out patios with heat lamps, tented coverings, and/or fire pits.
WE STOCKED OUR KITCHENS & BARS
Our stay-at-home order lasted from March until early June - which meant it was time to do a little bit (OK, a lot) of cooking. But QFC, Safeway, and (shudders) Costco were the last places we wanted to venture out to. Thankfully, restaurants started selling groceries and meal kits, and the city has plenty of open-air produce stands and seafood markets to choose from, too. To wash our home-cooked meals down, bars and bottle shops were there for us, offering wine and liquor takeout and delivery. And in May, pre-mixed to-go cocktails became legal. We drank well this spring.
WE MADE THE MOST OF SUMMER
When the stay-at-home order was lifted, we found ourselves asking: how do you celebrate summer in Seattle during a pandemic? Well, it was admittedly super weird - but restaurants helped us make the most of it. From hopping a ferry to Orcas Island to taking a road trip to Lake Chelan, it was very possible to safely travel throughout Washington, eating and drinking along the way. But even while spending most of the warmer months in the city, there was still a lot to do. Like eating soft serve, slurping frozen cocktails, having picnics, and hanging out by the water, with your dog, or on top of a roof.
RESTAURANTS GAVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY & STOOD UP FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE
2020 was a year of hardship for many, but it was also a year where restaurants across the entire country stood up for these communities through social justice and gave back a lot. In Seattle, we’ve seen restaurants donating meals to laid-off hospitality workers, frontline healthcare workers, and contributing portions of sales to charitable organizations. We’ve also chatted with the owner of Black Coffee and learned about her new espresso bar that’s devoted to Ethiopian beans, social justice, and being a safe space for the North Seattle community. And Savor Seattle, a Pike Place food tour company, started selling curated boxes to help support the Black community as well as Black-owned restaurants and bakeries throughout King County, along with a “Rise For Equality” box that supported the ACLU and nine different women-owned spots in the city.
WE ATE A LOT OF REALLY GOOD TAKEOUT
It goes without saying that we ate a large amount of takeout this year, and were constantly impressed by all of these meals specifically. We ordered great food from takeout windows, revisited Lil Red, a.k.a. one of our favorite takeout spots in town since, well, forever, and did a lot of sandwich-eating - from bánh mì to tortas. Restaurants debuted new burgers and fried chicken sandwiches like Netflix specials, and we debuted guides for the best Hawaiian food, dumplings, burritos, mac and cheese, and fish and chips in town.
WE WATCHED TOO MUCH TV
While we’re on the topic of Netflix: From Tiger King to The Undoing (Hugh Grant you terrifying, absolute star), it’s safe to say that we’ve never watched more television in our lives than we did this year. Which means we’ve had more pizzas delivered than ever before, too. We also paired some of our favorite movies with dinner ideas, and had a fun (albeit slightly existential) time watching fan-less Seahawks games and ordering delicious things for delivery.
WE RELAUNCHED THE HIT LIST
Much like our wedding attire and deodorant sticks, our guide to the best new restaurants in the city (The Hit List) had been on a nine-month hiatus. And in November, we relaunched The Hit List 2.0 - complete with all of the diverse and exciting recently-opened restaurants, pop-ups, and experiences that redefine what it means to be the best new spots in town.
2020 WAS THE YEAR OF THE POP-UP
Pop-ups made a huge splash in Seattle this year. In fact, they made a huge splash everywhere. From pancit in parking lots to Pakistani soul food at a macaron bakery, some of the best things we ate during 2020 came from these versatile operations, including our absolute favorite pizza of the year - Dantini.
WE CELEBRATED THE HOLIDAYS
ThE HoLiDaYs LoOkEd A LiTtLe DiFfErEnT tHiS yEaR. Sorry to be the 10,000th media publication to tell you that, but it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate. Restaurants offered Thanksgiving specials for those who wanted to sit back, watch Al Roker talk about some balloons, and do nothing else. They also sold unique holiday gifts, latkes and sufganiyot for Hanukkah, and continue to sell prime rib and cookies for Christmas. And, for the portion of the population who enjoys drinking eggs mixed with heavy cream and brown liquor, eggnog specials were abundant.