The vegetarian omelet from Jake’s Cafe is served with a choice of potatoes and toast. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

The vegetarian omelet from Jake’s Cafe is served with a choice of potatoes and toast. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

16 of the best eats at local restaurants in 2016

Herald Staff

From spicy “hangover” soup at G Mart Food Court to triple-berry pie at Whidbey Pies & Cafe, 2016 was a year of some seriously delicious dining reviews for the folks in Herald Features.

Arts reporter Gale Fiege deemed the Polish pierogi dumplings at Polska Kuchnia a treasure and the corn on the cob at the Evergreen State Fair the perfect starter for your annual indulgence of fair foods.

“What’s Up with That?” columnist Andrea Brown ordered the granddaddy burger, the Golly Whopper, at Soundview Bar & Grill and a plate of steak, eggs, hash browns and Texas toast at Cliffhanger Sports Bar & Restaurant and decided both plates were toothsome.

Features editors past and present Jessi Loerch, Aaron Swaney and Sara Bruestle had equally good things to say about the flavorful fare at Moon Tree Asian Tapas, Harry’s on Tye and Mukilteo Thai, respectively.

Here are some of our memorable restaurants, cafes and bars.

Boiling Point sure to fire up fans of hot Asian soup

Boiling Point: More than a catchy name, it describes what arrives on your plate at this chain of Taiwanese soup restaurants.

Soups come in a hefty bowl. Servers light a flame underneath, keeping the contents at a hot spring-like churn. A feast cooks before your eyes.

Hence the motto: Mini wok on a box, that’s Boiling Point.

Discover true Asian cuisine at G Mart Food Court

Hangover soup.

In Korea, it’s the tried-and-true remedy after a night of drinking.

It’s called haejangguk, which means soup to chase a hangover.

I first had the soup a few months ago in South Korea at a breakfast buffet. I wasn’t hung over (a glass or three of soju doesn’t count). There was a lavish array of some 50 food choices, but the vat of simmering reddish “hangover” soup caught my attention.

The spicy broth was laced with cabbage, sprouts, radish and things I couldn’t identify. It tasted amazing. Not only that, the tang cleared my head and jolted me with energy.

Ring in the Chinese new year at Tulalip Casino’s Journeys East

It’s the Year of the Red Fire Monkey and it’s being celebrated at Journeys East restaurant at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

It was a busy night at Journeys East, with lots of people ringing in the Chinese new year.

Having been born in a year of the monkey, I was very happy to be there.

We ordered from the Lunar New Year Specials menu, and were glad we did. We selected the traditional New Year fried fish, Shanghai stir-fry Udon and Hong You Chao Shou spicy wontons.

The whole pompano fish, with head and tail intact, was served in bed of vegetables, ginger and oyster sauce. The sauce was delicious and we soaked it up with rice. The fish skin was crisp (do not be afraid to eat it) and the white meat was tender.

Stanwood restaurant features delicious Polish food — and a great backstory

The pierogi are back.

After making their Snohomish County debut this past summer with the sale of Polish pierogi dumplings at the Arlington and Port Susan farmers markets, Sara and Wojtek Lisicki have a new restaurant, Polska Kuchnia, near the Amtrak platform in downtown Stanwood.

Get yourself there. Ride the train if you have to. The food is a treasure.

Small plates, big flavor at Everett’s Moon Tree Asian Tapas

I’ve always loved the word “tapas.” It’s a small, cute word that somehow manages to sound luxurious at the same time.

So, when I heard there was a new Asian tapas place on the Everett waterfront, I decided I needed to test it out. It’s right on the water, next to Anthony’s.

I called up my friend Suzanne, who is usually my sushi date, and we headed to Moon Tree Asian Tapas for a leisurely lunch. Moon Tree has been around since last summer, but somehow I hadn’t heard of it until recently.

One important thing to understand about this restaurant is that tapas means appetizers. And that’s how these dishes are sized. If you want a full meal, you’re going to need to order several dishes. You won’t have a hard time finding something worthwhile.

No loss of words regarding Cliffhanger’s $5.99 meals

Steak, eggs, hash browns and Texas toast for $5.99?

Yep.

No foolin’.

This and other $5.99 breakfasts are served all day at Cliffhanger Sports Bar & Restaurant in Lynnwood.

Cliffhanger has homestyle cooking with daily soups and specials. The menu is extensive. Here are some items that all are $12: Pot pies. Pot roast. Meat loaf. The Cliffhanger burger, topped with a fried egg. Bacon wrapped scallops.

This time, I stuck with the $5.99 menu, which also included pancakes, bacon and other morning favorites.

Dive into Everett’s Soundview for sliders, burgers, cool vibe

Golly whopper!

This is a wonderful dive bar.

If not for the flashy digital jukebox on the wall, you might think you stepped back into the 1960s and to a time when people could enjoy greasy burgers without guilt.

We went to Soundview Bar & Grill on a recent Friday afternoon to grab some grub. It was barely 4 p.m. and already the weekend vibe had kicked into gear. Balls zipped across the pool tables. Friends huddled around tall tables. A row of patrons perched at the long bar.

The place is famous for sliders but there was so much more. A dozen gizzards ($4.50). Grilled chicken burger ($7.75). Cordon bleu bites (a small taste of heaven for $5). I went for the granddaddy burger, the Golly Whopper ($11.75).

Tune up for Everett music fest at Cafe Wylde

It’s fresh, it’s tasty, it’s Cafe Wylde.

The cafe, whose owners used to run a similar vegan place in Lake Stevens, is housed in the former chocolate shop directly across the street from the Schack Art Center.

This little eatery is a good place to stop while you’re walking around Everett enjoying all the tunes during the Fisherman’s Village Music Festival this weekend or after you’ve visited the Chuck Close print exhibit at the Schack.

My husband and I had lunch there: I ordered the 16-ounce wild berry smoothie for $9. Next, we ordered the smokey avocado dip appetizer for $8. My husband had three Bukhan tacos for $13. I had the jackfruit burritos for $14. For dessert, We enjoyed a slice of “cheesecake,” made with nuts, coconut and cacao.

Hungry for a good time? Bop over to Jake’s Cafe On Second Street

A Herald reader suggested we try Jake’s Cafe On Second Street.

I went to the Snohomish diner and stood at the entrance mesmerized: The walls were covered with Betty Boop, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean and the Blues Brothers. I couldn’t wait to sit down and take it all in.

The place was bopping.

Our party of six spanned four generations, two states and two continents and came with a wide palate.

Our menu choices: Bacon cheeseburger ($9.75). Vegetarian omelet ($11.50). Strawberry waffle ($10.75) and ham & eggs ($9.95). Belgian waffle ($6.75). And for me, the club sandwich ($11.95).

Whether sweet or savory, the pie’s the thing at Whidbey cafe

I’m going to admit something a bit blasphemous here. I’m not usually a big fan of pie.

I mean, if pie is placed in front of me, I’ll eat it, sure. But I don’t generally seek it out.

Recently, however, I found myself over on Whidbey Island while doing some reporting for a story I was working on. One of my coworkers had ordered “Bring back pie” before I left.

So, I stopped by Whidbey Pies & Cafe in Greenbank. I asked the waitress for her favorite pie. She said she liked the triple-berry, so I ordered one of those to go.

The pie was enough to change my mind about pie.

My slice of pie vanished quickly. The crust somehow managed to hold up perfectly when cut with a fork but then fall apart the moment it hit my mouth. It felt like a baking magic trick to me.

From corn on the cob to corndogs, we’re crazy about fair food

It was noon on opening day at the Evergreen State Fair.

A shaded picnic area was packed with people who had come to eat. Other folks were lined up at the Purple Cow stand, the Fisher Scones pavilion and the Nile Shriners’ corn booth, just waiting for their annual indulgence in fair food.

I grew up in Snohomish County, so going to the fair is an end-of-summer tradition I look forward to, especially at meal time. I always start with the corn.

The Nile Shriners, who are celebrating their 22nd year at the fair, sell about 25,000 ears of corn at the Evergreen State Fair.

Pay $3.50 and ask for a tad of butter. That adds just enough saltiness to make your corn on the cob near perfect.

Harry’s on Tye near Monroe transforms into quality gastropub

What was once Clearview Spirits & Wine is now Harry’s on Tye, so I gathered a few friends together to try some beer and eat pub grub.

We tried to get at least something from all the sections of the menu, which is sorted in four quadrants: appetizers, paninis, pizzas and sandwiches.

Quick note: The goal is to make Harry’s on Tye a full-scale, higher-end dining experience. For now though, Harry’s on Tye focuses on quality pub grub. They get it right too.

Our pizza — we picked the Meat Lovers over the Four Cheese and BBQ — had the perfect mix of thin, crispy crust and gooey cheese. The Italian panini, stuffed with salami and provolone, was grilled to perfection and wasn’t overstuffed with ingredients.

Choux choux offers its delicious take on French pastries and breads

A chou is a bun, a cream puff, a cabbage, a term of endearment. Only the French would have such a word.

So downtown Everett’s new bakery, Choux Choux (pronounced shoe-shoe and denoting two plurals) must be many cream-filled pastries and many sweethearts. Or maybe multiple cabbages?

Choux Choux bakes and serves up a lovely variety of breads and treats. Go check it out.

Great ways to reward yourself at Cama Beach Cafe

Wake up on Saturday morning. Decide to walk, whatever the weather. Drive down Camano Island to the state parks. Hike the trails. Work up an appetite.

Beyond the fresh air and the views of Saratoga Passage, here’s the reward: Breakfast or lunch at Cama Beach Cafe, located in the lodge at Cama Beach State Park.

Breakfast is served all day, but for those who scarfed their oatmeal before hitting the trails, the cafe has some wonderful sandwiches.

Linger over a good meal at Everett’s Vintage Cafe

A few months ago I went to the Vintage Cafe to write a story about the downtown Everett eatery celebrating 40 years in business.

It was hard to focus. I kept seeing plates heaped with fluffy pancakes and gravy-smothered mashed potatoes go by.

And then there were the cocktails, such as the peach martini…

We could have stayed there for hours if we didn’t each have previous obligations that pretty much forced us to eat and run. Next time, we’ll allow more time. The Vintage is a place to linger.

We ordered fish and chips ($10.99 for 3 pieces) and the clubhouse ($8.99), one of my favorite sandwiches.

Lunch combos offer delicious variety at Mukilteo Thai

You know the lunch you ordered will be good when the soup served with it is so tasty that you want another cup.

I’ve enjoyed lunch from the to-go menu many times from Mukilteo Thai Authentic Cuisine — but because I pick up most of my meals, I have never tried the vegetable soup.

All four of us raved about the soup. The other three had never been to Mukilteo Thai before.

Because there were four of us, we ordered the four lunch combos: cashew nut chicken, curry chicken, rama chicken and garlic chicken, $9.56 each.

I pick up the phad sweet basil when I want to treat myself, which is stir-fried bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms, onions, sweet basil, sauce and your choice of meat over rice.

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