This samosa chaat, a potato-filled pastry topped with yogurt, chickpeas and chutney, is one of nine appetizers at Tasty Indian Bistro in Everett. (Sharon Salyer / Herald file)

This samosa chaat, a potato-filled pastry topped with yogurt, chickpeas and chutney, is one of nine appetizers at Tasty Indian Bistro in Everett. (Sharon Salyer / Herald file)

Top restaurants: The Herald’s 10 best places to eat from 2018

Here is a list of our favorite places to dine out in Snohomish County this year.

From Italian to Indian and Thai to Tex-Mex, 2018 proved to be a delicious year in dining reviews for the folks in Herald Features.

Features editor Sara Bruestle gets hungry just thinking about the Texas barbecued brisket, chicken and sausage she tried at the Amarillo Restaurant & Tavern in Monroe. She also wants to go back to Barkada in Edmonds for more calamansi kinilaw, which reminded her of poke and ceviche.

Reporter Sharon Salyer raved about the “utterly delightful” samosa chaat at Tasty Indian Bistro in Everett and the “just right” tiramisu at Edmonds’ FIVE Restaurant.

Reporter Evan Thompson found delectable Korean-inspired dishes cooked in the French technique at Everett’s 9 Delicacies and a fresh and delicious deluxe burrito ($9.95) with pork and caramel-filled churros that were dazzlingly sweet at Nacho in Lake Stevens.

“What’s Up with That” columnist Andrea Brown adored the piggy-faced buns at Fashion Dim Sum in Edmonds and devoured a signature burger sans pickles called El Paisano at Mukilteo’s Blu Burger. She doesn’t like pickles on her burgers.

Here are 10 of our most memorable restaurant visits from the past year.

Tasty Indian Bistro in Everett lives up to its name

On a rainy evening after fighting through rush-hour traffic, do you really want to go home and cook?

I didn’t. So I decided to try out an Everett restaurant suggested by my co-worker Janice Podsada — Tasty Indian Bistro — who had raved about it.

The restaurant is tucked away in a rather nondescript strip development on W Casino Road. Janice, who was joining me for dinner, told me just to look for the 76 gas station. It’s a great landmark for the restaurant on a dark, rainy night.

I love Indian food and wanted to try a new dish. For an appetizer, I ordered the samosa chaat, a potato-filled pastry topped with yogurt, chickpeas and chutney ($4). It was utterly delightful. That, with another appetizer or a bowl of soup, could be a filling meal.

As my main dish, I ordered the navrattan korma, vegetables simmered in a tomato-based gravy ($10). To anyone who hasn’t had a lot of experience with Indian cooking, they do take their spiciness levels seriously here. I loved it. I opted to pair my meal with the tandoori roti ($1.50), a whole wheat bread baked in a tandoori oven.

Simply put, this is one restaurant that lives up to its name: tasty.

Tasty Indian Bistro: 510 W. Casino Road, Suite A, Everett; 425-267-2444; www.tastybistroeverett.com.

Piggy bun dumplings from Fashion Dim Sum in Edmonds. (Ian Terry / Herald file)

Piggy bun dumplings from Fashion Dim Sum in Edmonds. (Ian Terry / Herald file)

Piggy buns at Fashion Dim Sum will put a smile on your face

I was in love when I saw the piggy-faced buns that Herald assistant city news editor Rikki King posted on Instagram.

OMG! They were the cutest dumplings ever.

“Instagram gold,” Rikki said.

Dining review gold is how I saw it. The piggy buns alone were worth 1,000 words.

Rikki scored the dessert buns at Fashion Dim Sum in Edmonds on a tip from former Herald local news editor Robert Frank, a dim sum expert.

Dim sum is bite-sized portions of Chinese fare served in small steamer baskets or on small plates. Other than that (which I stole from Google), I don’t know diddly-squat about dim sum.

I stared at the long order sheet, not knowing which boxes to mark on the list of some 60 items.

What would Robert and Rikki do? Rikki said her favorite dish to order at dim sum is the soup dumplings, known as xiaolongbao. Robert recommended the rice noodle rolls with dried shrimp and the chicken feet.

Fashion Dim Sum: 22923 Highway 99, Edmonds; 425-697-2886; www.fashiondimsum.com.

In Mukilteo, Thai food so good you don’t want it to end

This doesn’t happen often enough in dining.

Having met a friend for dinner, you start to catch up as you peruse the menu and place your order.

Then the food arrives, and suddenly, all conversation stops. Not for a moment or two, but for several long minutes.

My Herald colleague, Janice Podsada, finally broke the silence as she sampled her entree of red curry with coconut milk, bell pepper, bamboo shoots, fresh basil and soft tofu ($11.95). “You don’t want this to end,” she said of the dish.

She joined me for a recent dinner at Thai Waterside in Mukilteo. I was so enjoying the salmon panang ($18.95) I simply responded: “This is so good!”

Sometimes, the least said is all that needs to be said, you know?

Thai Waterside: 415 Lincoln Ave., Mukilteo; 425-355-7393; www.thaiwaterside.com.

A pork belly plate at 9 Delicacies in Everett comes with roasted tender pork belly, scallions, garlic chips and ssam sauce. (9 Delicacies)

A pork belly plate at 9 Delicacies in Everett comes with roasted tender pork belly, scallions, garlic chips and ssam sauce. (9 Delicacies)

French technique meets Korean fusion at 9 Delicacies

Diane Kim’s motto is “No shortcuts.”

Kim is the chef-owner of 9 Delicacies, a new Korean fusion restaurant in south Everett.

My twin brother recently joined me there for dinner. While the space is too small to be a fancy, sit-down restaurant — Kim opened the eatery on a shoestring budget in July — 9 Delicacies truly is what it claims to be: delectable.

What it lacks in size, it makes up for in taste.

Kim’s menu offers Korean-inspired dishes cooked in the French technique, from pork belly and Korean fried chicken to spicy cucumber salad and noodle slaw.

“I knew I could combine both together in a way people could have enjoyed,” Kim said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s French or Korean — Americans know when it’s good food.”

9 Delicacies: 520 128th St. SW, Suite B8, Everett; 425-512-8167; www.ninedelicacies.com.

The pineapple pork adobo is a Filipino favorite at Barkada in Edmonds. (Sara Bruestle / Herald file)

The pineapple pork adobo is a Filipino favorite at Barkada in Edmonds. (Sara Bruestle / Herald file)

Barkada lets you travel to the islands without leaving Edmonds

Barkada brings a taste of the islands to Edmonds.

Which islands? Several of them.

The fast-casual restaurant serves a mix of Filipino-, Hawaiian, Japanese- and Pacific-Northwest-inspired dishes. (We’ve got some islands here, too, you know.)

“Barkada,” by the way, is Filipino slang for “friends.”

Though the kitchen at Barkada is small, owner-chef Brian Madayag serves up a large variety of dishes. He changes the menu weekly. Before you go, check out the menu on the website.

My colleague Mark Carlson and I tried two of the bestsellers on the menu: the calamansi kinilaw and the pineapple pork adobo. Both are Filipino dishes. We also ordered a sushi standby — sashimi.

Barkada Edmonds: 622 Fifth Ave., Edmonds; 425-670-2222; www.barkadaedmonds.com.

Lake Stevens eatery’s Tex-Mex chow will fill your belly

I was in the mood for some Mexican food.

So I decided to have lunch at Nacho, a Tex-Mex restaurant in Lake Stevens. I went to Nacho by myself for this review, so I felt a duty to try as much off the menu as I could.

I ordered the deluxe burrito ($9.95) with pork, a small enchilada for $3.50 off the a la carte menu and the churros, because I’ve always liked those.

(By the way, everything at Nacho — a family business sporting the owner’s nickname — is homemade.)

My burrito needed a fork. It came filled with pork, rice and beans, and was topped with melted cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, green onions and sour cream. Everything melded together deliciously. Every ingredient tasted fresh. The enchilada was just as great.

The churros were stuffed with a caramel sauce. Drizzled on top was an icing made of condensed milk and sugar. They were warm and creamy — like nothing I’ve ever had before.

Nacho: 600 91st Ave. NE, Lake Stevens; 425-397-8774.

From appetizers to dessert: FIVE full of gastronomic surprises

Going to a new restaurant somehow feels like a blind date — lots of expectations but a hesitancy to emotionally invest.

Edmonds’ FIVE Restaurant | Bistro didn’t disappoint, from its atmosphere — a comfortable place where neighborhood people come to hang out — to its menu selection.

The point of this lunch was to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law’s birthdays, so when our server slid the dessert menu toward us, we said “Yes!”

We opted to share the tiramisu ($8). We all thought it exceeded our hopes for a celebratory dessert. Its prep includes espresso- and marsala wine-soaked lady fingers layered with a mixture of heavy whipping cream, marscapone cheese and amaretto, and dusted with ground cocoa.

My thing about desserts is they’re often loaded with enough sugar to fuel a trip to the moon — way too much of a good thing. But this dessert was just right.

Both by brother and sister-in-law have had tiramisu at other restaurants and gave it a big thumbs up.

FIVE Restaurant | Bistro: 650 Edmonds Way, Edmonds; 425-563-7117; www.fiveedmonds.com.

The BBQ for two at Amarillo Restaurant & Tavern in Monroe comes with your choice of 3 meats and 2 sides. (Sara Bruestle / Herald file)

The BBQ for two at Amarillo Restaurant & Tavern in Monroe comes with your choice of 3 meats and 2 sides. (Sara Bruestle / Herald file)

A storied Nebraska barbecue tradition continues in Monroe

Named for a city in Texas, the Amarillo Restaurant serves Texas-style barbecue, but it’s not in the Lone Star State. It’s right here.

Owners Connie and Brian Adams opened the Amarillo Restaurant and Tavern on E. Main Street in the former tavern known as Paradise. The building is 115 years old and the original bar in back is still there.

Connie and Brian hired a chef, who they sent to Texas to learn from the pit masters, and remodeled the tavern. Inside, with its light-finished wood and metal signs, it feels very much like you’ve stepped into Amarillo, Texas.

On the menu is Texas-style barbecue, steaks and burgers. If you go, be ready to eat some meat. (There are salads, sandwiches, vegetarian burgers and lots of sides.) The kitchen continues to offer Campbell’s recipes, which are 30 years old and were designed to complement the flavor of hickory wood.

I took The Daily Herald’s Mark Carlson with me to lunch. We split the BBQ for Two ($36), which comes with your choice of three meats — four ribs, a half-pound of pulled pork, brisket, corned beef, a sausage link and/or a half chicken — plus two sides and two cornbread muffins. We went for the ribs, brisket and chicken and asked for three sides: coleslaw ($3), a baked sweet potato ($3) and mac and cheese ($5).

The Amarillo Restaurant & Tavern: 116 E. Main St., Monroe; 360-217-8484; www.facebook.com/TheAmarillo.

Caper and Olives’ bucatini pasta, handmade by chef and owner Jimmy Liang, features pancetta, red onion and egg yolk. (Evan Thompson / Herald file)

Caper and Olives’ bucatini pasta, handmade by chef and owner Jimmy Liang, features pancetta, red onion and egg yolk. (Evan Thompson / Herald file)

Find an Italian gem in the heart of downtown Everett

Italian cuisine doesn’t get much better than Capers and Olives in downtown Everett — unless you go to Italy.

My coworkers and I couldn’t stop raving about the restaurant on Colby Avenue, which serves house-made pasta with seasonal ingredients in an intimate setting.

I’m glad Sara Bruestle and Sharon Salyer joined me for lunch. It was a thrill to find a gem like this together.

“I haven’t been this impressed with a restaurant in a long time,” Sara said.

Grab a friend or two and eat family-style so you can taste as much as possible off the menu. The three of us split two starters, three pastas and a dessert.

“I’m Chinese, and that’s how we eat,” owner-chef Jimmy Liang said. “It’s the same way with Italian culture. You see a big bowl of spaghetti and a big bowl of bread on the table. It’s a good way to share a little bit of everything.”

Capers and Olives: 2933 Colby Ave., Everett; 425-322-5280; www.capersandolives.com.

Feeling blue? Mukilteo’s Blu Burger is for you. Fries, too

My partner in dining crime Ben Watanabe and I have pretty much never met a burger we didn’t like.

Well, as long as it is clothed in the proper condiments, that is.

That’s why we were drawn to Blu Burgers & Brew, which offers many options between the buns.

Come hungry. Signature burgers are one-third pounders, each with different enhancements.

I ordered the El Paisano ($8.95), with cilantro, roasted chilis, pepper jack cheese, grilled onions and chipotle mayo. The burger did not have pickles, which is a selling point for me. I don’t want them anywhere near my buns.

Ben had the Sweet Caroline ($8.95), topped with bacon, cheddar, creamy slaw, frizzled onions and Carolina-style barbecue sauce. He also had sweet potato fries ($3.50), and a bunch of my regular fries ($2.75), plus a to-go 16-ounce Butterfinger milkshake ($5). Ben is a for-heaven’s-sake-give-me-a-milkshake guy.

Blu Burgers & Brew: 9999 Harbour Place, Suite 100, Mukilteo; 425-493-6900; www.bluburgersandbrew.com.

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