photo credit: Nate Watters
Wero is a Korean spot in Ballard with such an impressive cocktail situation that you could feasibly pop in just to drink. Their signatures involve ingredients like matcha and creamy coconut, sesame oil-washed scotch, or peanut butter, fernet, and a whole egg. You’ll also find twists on classics like three dots and a dash, or a white negroni. For the non-imbibers, there are actually exciting mocktails featuring Pathfinder and fig or Wilderton aperitivo and tonic. The variety is intense, and everything sticks to Wero’s Korean roots.
And sure, you could certainly come here for a drink and call it a night. But once you’re in, we urge you to stay for the excellent food.
The menu is a short but mighty lineup of snacks and ssam platters, and it’s all a truly delicious grab bag, almost like a White Elephant exchange without the silly gag gifts. Start with bites like blistered rice cake skewers with smoked sausages, sweet-and-spicy chicken wings, and butter-roasted potatoes with gochujang mayo. Then move onto a ssam platter. Pick between steak kalbi, pork belly, tofu, or salmon served alongside plenty of perilla leaves for wrapping, tangy fermented beancurd paste, and a variety of seasonal banchan. You’re in the best hands with either their incredibly meaty fried tofu or sizzled pork belly with melty fat and crackly edges.
While Wero’s cocktail showing is as vast as Queen’s discography, so are the scenarios in which you could use this place. The marble bar is quite spacious, which works well if you’d like to eat side-by-side with a date, but also ensure there’s enough room for ssam platters and multiple bowls of banchan. That same bar is also great if you’re dining solo, as there’s plenty of real estate for you, a good book, a high ball, and a mung bean pancake. For large groups, you could kick back at one of the big booths across the way, and there’s typically availability to snag a last-minute reservation.
Above all else, we do prefer the bar, which feels cozy on a cold night, with warmth coming from coffee shop-style tunes, smells of whisky poured in front of you, and copious amounts of potato steam. Do it for the potato steam.
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A magic trick that’s edible. Here you have yukon gold potatoes that have been roasted in butter for 24 hours, then deep-fried whole. The result is just like a croquette, with a whipped texture in the middle and a brittle salty snap on the outside. Gochujang mayo brings it all together. You should not only go to town on these spuds—you should go straight to City Hall.
Rice Cake & Sausage Skewer
There’s not much to this—it’s simply a wooden stick speared with fried rice cakes and miniature sausages alongside a sweet drizzle and sesame seed topping. But it’s a highly satisfying nibble that’s equal parts smoky, chewy, and crisp, and when one order costs four dollars, it’s kind of a no-brainer.
This mung bean pancake has a delicate crispness on the outside that gives way to warm carrot and kimchi, and is topped with raw bean sprouts. It’s not just a tasty way to eat a bunch of vegetables at once—it also happens to be a great pre-ssam snack.
Korean Fried Wings
Wero uses the whole chicken wing, so you get a lot of perfectly moist meat and crunchy battered skin. Tossed with a sweet and spicy sauce and topped with sesame seeds, these are some exemplary wings, and a must-order.
Pork Belly Ssam Platter
This is the best pork belly in Seattle. Our fearless declaration is backed by these morsels of braised-then-fried hunks, complete with fat that melts, lean edges that crackle, and a blend of spices that season without stealing the spotlight from the meat. A dollop of fermented bean paste and a lettuce wrap is all it needs, but don’t be surprised if you find yourself eating the pork pieces on their own.
Tofu Ssam Platter
If Wero’s menu were a movie about a performing arts high school, this platter of deep-fried and seared tofu would be the shy, underestimated misfit who ends up coming out of their shell and bringing the crowd to tears at the spring showcase with their jaw-dropping rendition of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” The squares of tofu are meaty, flavored with soy marinade, and are even better than Wero’s beef.
Steak Ssam Platter
We love the kalbi marinade and char on the beef, but it leans a bit too tough—it’s hard to eat while swaddled in sheets of fragile lettuce, and the other two ssam platters blow this steak out of the water anyway.