“Can I explain our menu to you? It’s a bit different. Everything is designed to be shared, and we recommend 2-3 plates per person.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s because you’ve heard it at every single restaurant that’s opened in Seattle over the past few years. There’s certainly nothing wrong with small plate restaurants, but the reality is, unless you’re dining with just one other person, you can’t actually share anything on the menu. One lap around a full table of adults, and suddenly that burrata crostini is nothing more than a few crumbs and that last bit of cheese nobody’s brave enough to claim.
But there are still plenty of great restaurants where you won’t be subjected to the small plate craze. They’re the spots you go to when you want to order a single plate of food and keep it to yourself, or willingly share with everyone because the portions are actually large enough for adults.
This Mexican restaurant in Columbia City isn’t one of those places where you’ll end up splitting a couple of small tacos. The entrees here are massive, and you’ll also want to eat a thousand of their free chips and drink a couple of their “small” frozen margaritas that come in a goblet. The best thing here is the sizzling skillet of chicken fajitas, but you can’t go wrong with the combination dinner that includes an enchilada, taco, and a chile relleno.
When you’re sick of figuring out the correct amount of food to order for your hungry party of six, it’s time to go to Little Sheep. The hot pot combo includes a preset selection of things to cook in your boiling kettle of tasty bone marrow broth, like meats, dumplings, vegetables, and noodles. And be sure to save enough room for the free soft serve cone you get at the end of the meal.
The menu at Vendemmia is full of a bunch of different small plates, but when you’re sick of sharing you should be ordering one of their pastas. Whether you get the spicy spaghetti or the agnolotti, the pasta portions at this Madrona spot are more than big enough for one person - just as long as your date doesn’t start eyeing the cute little tongs that come with each order.
At Poppy, all of your decisions are made for you once you order the daily thali - an Indian meal made up of a bunch of tiny dishes on one platter. Since everyone’s thali comes with the same items, you won’t have to worry about order envy, or someone asking for bites of your food “just to try it.” Afterwards, get the dessert thali for two, which comes with things like cake, macarons, ice cream, and fruit.
You wouldn’t share a lollipop with a friend, and you aren’t going to split a bowl of broth either. Our favorite spot for a personal bowl of noodles is Hokkaido Ramen Santouka in U-Village, where you can order your ramen as a combo with gyoza or chicken karaage if you’re really hungry. After dinner here, there’s no way you’ll get hungry an hour later and end up eating the old grapes in the back of your fridge.
Each entree at this Belltown restaurant, like the jerk-spiced fried chicken or the incredible pressed Cuban sandwich, comes with a side of plantains, and is served on a personal plank of wood. You might be set on keeping your order to yourself, but these dishes are so huge that there’s a good chance you’ll need backup to help you finish. Order a few of their excellent mojitos with dinner, especially if you can sit outside on their patio under the string lights and vines.
At some pasta places, the servers will shove a big spoon in the bowl, cueing you to split it amongst your friends. If that makes you so angry that you hide the spoon under the table while nobody’s looking, Bizzarro is the place for you. The portions of the pastas, like the snap pea carbonara and elk bolognese, are enormous. And everyone will be so distracted by the circus props hanging from the ceiling anyway that stealing a taste from your plate will be the farthest thing from their minds.
If going to a classy pizza spot and ordering six tiny pizzas for a few people always leaves you wanting more, it’s time for Breezy Town. The deep dish pan pies here are extremely filling, so you shouldn’t need more than two slices - three maybe if you only ate a couple of raw almonds and a stick of gum for lunch. If you’re gonna order a whole pie, bring some friends to help you eat, and always add the spinach salad.
If you just want to take your own ribeye to the face without anyone trying to steal a bite of steak, FlintCreek Cattle Co. is the place to go. The side dishes like the scalloped potatoes with nutmeg cream and the green beans with bacon and bonito flakes will ensure you don’t go hungry. Just in case the giant slab of meat topped with paprika-anchovy butter isn’t enough.