With over 130 wineries, Woodinville needed a food scene to go along with all of the stellar vintages available in town. The culinary scene is rich in farm-to-table fare, with local chefs working with established partners to bring the freshest foods of the season to your table. Dining establishments vary from high end restaurants to high end taco restaurants and everything in between. In organizing this list, I’ve included a wide variety – even a place in a garden store. You’ll find plenty of wine lists in many restaurants, but I recommend sticking to Washington wine, which you came to sample in Woodinville.
Insider tip: Woodinville is extremely popular due to its proximity to Seattle. When planning your day, make reservations for everything, especially meals. COVID-19 and the labor shortage are contributing to lower availability. I like being a spontaneous traveler, but unfortunately in this climate a more structured day will save you from being disappointed. Also be kind and generous to your servers – they work very hard under stressful conditions.
Thanks to Woodinville Wine Country for hosting me on a press trip to some of these restaurants, and the ones I’ve discovered on my own.
1. Purple Café and Wine Bar
The Purple cafe and wine bar is the restaurant for wine lovers. Wine and food are thoughtfully paired by knowledgeable staff. The wine flights are three glasses of small thematic pourings together. It’s a good way to enjoy a variety of wines with your meal without getting drunk. The cafe’s slogan is “Wine + Brie = Our Love Language”. I have to agree – this is my favorite wine pairing. Order the baked brie with apricot, caramelized onion, candied walnuts, raisins and crackers. I like to associate it with the theft of “local” wine, which is a Washington Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay and a red blend. The whites are great with cheese, and the red mixture will go well with a starter. Purple is also a popular spot for lunch.
2. Heritage Restaurant
Owner and chef Breanna Beike puts her heart into her simple and delicious cooking Heritage Restaurant. Its prices are moderate by design to make it the place where locals go to eat, and with its warm hospitality, they come in droves. She sources as much local ingredients as possible and elevates American comfort food. Beike’s food is simply good. My son once said to me: “Mom, what does Nana put in her food? I said TLC (loving loving care). He said, “You forgot to put it on. You can’t say that with Beike’s food – she swims in TLC. I tried quite a bit on the menu and liked everything. Make sure to try a craft cocktail. Empress G&T is a stellar blend of Empress Gin, Fever Tree Tonic, Rosemary, and Butterfly Pea Flower Ice Cream. The tonic is served separately, and when you add it to the glass, it turns a vibrant purple.
Be sure to try Beike’s Honey Citrus Pickled Half Chicken, which is a beautifully presented meal. The rich caramel color of roast chicken is enhanced by the contrast of asparagus, baby carrots, smoked cheddar whipped potatoes and a red wine chicken jus. Divine ! You know the queen of comfort food is going to create a great dessert. Try the Jar of Pie, a classic lime curd on a graham cracker crumble with toasted marshmallow meringue and fresh berries. So good.
3. The Picnic Table Café
The Picnic Table Café is Woodinville’s best kept secret. It was a suggestion from a local, and what a find! It is tucked away in the Artisan Hill neighborhood of Woodinville. Chef Danilo Amato is originally from Tuscany and he combines his knowledge of Italian culinary traditions with the bounty of the Pacific Northwest to create a warm and welcoming place. The menu changes weekly and you can eat there or order a picnic to enjoy at the local tasting rooms. The Picnic Basket n ° 3 enhances it all with marinated olives, beetroot salad, Tuscany nuts, quinoa artichoke salad, country pork terrine, chicken pâté, eggs stuffed with smoked salmon, Tuscan cookies , Nutella donuts, a platter of imported cheeses and cold meats, and Tuscan steak salad (grilled flank steak on a bed of arugula and parmesan shavings). Think about food and wine pairings.
4. The barking frog
If you want to enjoy a meal for a special occasion in Woodinville then go to Barking Frog. Executive Chef Bobby Moore and his team use the freshest ingredients from the farmers, fishermen and gatherers of the Pacific Northwest to create a memorable menu that changes with the seasons. Add one of the Northwest’s most comprehensive wine lists and you will have a seamless dining experience. Everything I ate here was exceptional, with every dish carefully prepared with an eye-catching presentation. I love all the attention to detail, like slicing the rib eye with bone on the bone to make it easier to eat.
The epitome of what Moore creates can be seen in his Penn Cove Mussels with Coconut Curry Broth. These heavenly little cushions are a local specialty grown and harvested in the crystal clear waters of Penn Cove and shipped the same day. It’s a very special ingredient, so when you see Penn Cove Mussels on a menu, order it. Moore’s dish respects the distinctiveness of mussels, creating a delicate yet flavorful broth that enhances but does not overpower the dish. Truly exceptional.
From the restaurant tables you can see into the kitchen, and I just had to say how quiet and fluid it was. This is not a “hell’s kitchen”. Everyone was working calmly together, no banging pots, and it was a wonder to see. It’s a joy to see people love what they do.
5. Lifted taco
This neighborhood hangout is in Woodin Creek Village, a luxury mixed-use urban community with gourmet restaurants, wineries, and shops. Taco lifted nothing fancy – you order over the counter and the food is served in disposable containers. I loved the artisan tacos, and these are some of the best. I ordered the Ribeye taco, which had seared rib eye, fried queso, fried black beans, mashed avocado in a fresh corn tortilla. Order one to have room to try the cowboy caviar and loaded queso with short ribs. I ordered everyone’s personal size, but it was more than enough to share and it came with a bag of tortilla chips. The menu includes vegan and gluten-free options as well as breakfast tacos.
6. Molbak’s garden cafe
You might be wondering how I ended up in a garden center for lunch. Well, that’s the whole story. One thing I love about Woodinville is the number of over 50 girls working in the tasting rooms. When I visit a new destination, I make a point of asking locals for interesting things to do. Time and time again people have mentioned Molbak’s garden and house for me as in “Oh my God, you have to go to Molbak’s.” The local favorite is a nursery, garden center, and gift shop with maps, gourmet foods, cookbooks, and more. It lived up to the hype.
In the middle of it all is Molbak Garden Café, which is surrounded by plants and overlooks an artificial stream and waterfall. The menu is inspired by the plants grown there and consists of high quality ingredients sourced from local farmers. The simple menu offers soups, salads, sandwiches and pizzas as well as a variety of freshly baked pastries. Beer and wine are available and you can dine inside or outside on the terrace. A barista prepares specialty coffee drinks to order. It is a pleasant setting to enjoy a meal.
In addition to the restaurants, many tasting rooms offer cheese or cold cuts, ideal for tasting during a wine tasting. Keep your pace and plan to eat at least one good meal in Woodinville. You won’t regret the calories.
Washington State is increasingly famous for its food and wine. To consider: