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Happy hour at Seattle’s Sazerac will leave you smiling

Sazerac is a great downtown spot for happy hour food

Try Sazerac's freshly-shucked and fried oysters for happy hour. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Try Sazerac’s freshly-shucked and fried oysters for happy hour. Photo by Christine Willmsen

I’m always tempted to show readers of this blog exciting, new Hot Spots for them to try that are great for single people. But I haven’t forgotten there are numerous old -school restaurants and bars that are great to visit.

Sazerac Restaurant & Bar, at 1101 4th Ave., is a great place for happy hour if you are already downtown for a shopping spree, live music or a museum visit.  Sit at a bar stool, relax in a lounge chair or sit near the open kitchen, where wafts of sweet, smoky wood meander through the entire room.

The pork rillettes with raisin bread is satisfying and filling. Photo by Christine Willmsen

The pork rillettes with raisin bread is satisfying and filling. Photo by Christine Willmsen

While the drinks are good here, the food steals the show.  You’ll only need one or two of these appetizers to feel like you’ve had a full dinner at this restaurant adjacent to Hotel Monaco.

One of my favorites is the pork rillettes for $9 because the rich pork spread is paired perfectly with raisin pecan bread. Another must-have is the spicy beef tartare with roasted chilies for $8.

A glass of Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with oysters. Photo by Christine Willmsen

A glass of Sauvignon Blanc pairs well with oysters. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Happy hour is 4-8 p.m., every day except Sundays. And don’t forget the half dozen oysters freshly cracked in front of you and put on a beautiful rustic wood platter that pairs well with the Townshend Sauvignon Blanc for $7 a glass.

Sitting at the counter at Sazerac gives you a view of Chef Jason McClure's talents. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Sitting at the counter at Sazerac gives you a view of Chef Jason McClure’s talents. Photo by Christine Willmsen

For a main entrée I dug into the Pork Cheeks with Parsnip Puree, Bourbon Mushrooms and Shishito Peppers. The rich tender pork, the subtle sweetness of the parsnips and the touch of heat in the peppers make this a winning combo.

Jason McClure has been the executive chef for 15 years, but that doesn’t mean the menu is stale. McClure is always pushing his staff to be creative and bold, even mentoring some of them.

There’s no doubt he’s infused a certain chill factor at the open-faced kitchen. If you are like me and want to see the food and chefs in action, sit at the kitchen counter where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of almost every maneuver of the staff.

Here you will see and be able to interact with the chefs and be able to ask questions.

Try the pork cheeks with mushrooms and peppers for a main entree at Sazerac. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Try the pork cheeks with mushrooms and peppers for a main entree at Sazerac. Photo by Christine Willmsen

This is definitely my comfort zone, sitting near the heat of the wood-fired oven, soaking up the scents from the cutting boards and hearing the food sizzle on flames.

But another place to sit is in the bar, where you’re more likely to find people to interact with who have just gotten off work or who are gallivanting around downtown.

Here there is a mix of men and women who are single, often ready to start their weekend early and spark a conversation.

But don’t let me sway you. Try Sazerac out yourself and tell me what you think.




Sazerac on Urbanspoon

This small Seattle bar has sparks – The Yard Cafe

The light bulbs add a rustic feel to The Yard Cafe, a small Seattle bar and restaurant.

If you want a place where people spark up random and engaging conversations, then hit The Yard Cafe in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. You also may end up with a phone number at the end of the night.

This is one of The Solo Cook’s Hot Spots. With bare light bulbs dangling from the ceiling and dark wood walls and booths, The Yard Cafe feels like a cozy mine shaft.

The Yard Cafe, at 8313 Greenwood Ave. N., evokes its name during the summer with outside seating at picnic tables, where people read books, peck at their computers and cuddle with their dogs.

Inside this small, dark bar and restaurant you’ll find amazing drinks, beers and a Latin-focused menu.

What’s refreshing is that there are no piñatas, colorful flags and wool blankets stapled to the walls. With autumn here, this is my hunker down locale that is casual and relaxed.

Cocktails and beers for the thirsty

The Break of Don cocktail is one of several on the drink list that you’ll want to try. There also is a great selection of beers on tap.

For a spin on the traditional margarita, order the Break of Don, with tequila, Campari and citrus. The Campari played off the citrus so well that the drink was gone within minutes and I was sucking on the ice cubes for the last bits of flavor.

The menu has the traditional favorites of tacos, arroz con pollo, and grilled fish Veracruz. But my eyes locked on the queso fundido with homemade chorizo. With small corn tortillas served on the side, I made bubbling, oozing pockets of creamy cheese, green chiles and chorizo. There’s no need to count the calories on this dish – it’s off the charts and totally worth it. This is a great dinner for $7.50.

Queso fundido with house-made chorizo oozes with flavor at The Yard Cafe.

When I arrived, I quickly realized this was a place for conversation and yes, meeting other single people. I shut the laptop down and was quickly immersed in chats about legalizing marijuana, the variety of beer hops in Washington state and the bitter loss my Green Bay Packers faced at the hands of the Seahawks and the amateur officials.

A drink you can nurse while chatting with new friends is the Burnt Orange, with rye, Grand Marnier, orange juice and bitters. But don’t forget the draft beer list with ever-changing taps of cider, IPA, pilsner, stout and more. The owners of the Dray in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood of Seattle also own the Yard – which is spelled backwards.

Cocktails are $8 and draft beers are $5-8. Happy hours of 4-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-close make these drinks even more appealing with $1 off. It can be chilly inside because of the open deck area, so wear layers.



Anyone new to my blog can also follow me on twitter @TheSoloCook

The Yard Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tapas bar in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood is a hit for singles

Ocho – a Hot Solo Spot

This deviled egg delight combines salmon roe, pickled onion, tomato dust and dill.

Turn to Ocho in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, if you want a restaurant that has small bites, made just for one person with an artistic impression.  As The Solo Cook, I look for places that single people can enjoy, whether it’s the vibe of the place or the menu that is eclectic and perfect for one. I’ll share my secret hot solo spots with you and I’ll also discover new places along the way.

At Ocho they throw great cocktails behind the bar and create bite-size menu items that are loaded with flavors from Spain.

This small tapas bar at 2325 NW Market St. is hopping, but there’s usually an empty seat at the bar. I also like to people-watch so I sit in the outdoor area, just in front, where I’m entertained by the foot, bike and car traffic, zooming by the table.

The Solo Cook enjoys the San Miguel cocktail at Ocho, a tapas bar in Seattle.

What’s fantastic about Ocho and other tapas bars is that you get to try several menu items, without getting full like you would if you ordered a large entrée.

Visually, these tapas tempt the eyes. I craved deviled eggs as a child, so when I saw Ocho’s grown-up version, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into the creamy egg. Their Huevo del Diablo for just $2.50 is an explosion of flavors in the mouth with salmon roe, dill, fried capers, pickled onion and tomato dust.

Another great menu item at $1.75 is the Banderilla de Boqueron, which combines skewered anchovy, red pepper, deep-fried artichoke and aioli.

“I wanted to convince people to try anchovies because in Spain they’re eaten like candy,” said Ocho owner and manager Zach Harjo.

While chatting with Harjo, I discovered his inspiration for the restaurant.

This tapas dish at Ocho will make you an anchovy and artichoke lover.

After graduating with several art degrees from University of Washington in 2003, Harjo backpacked through several regions of Spain. He discovered a vibrant nightlife with people standing at bars, nibbling food and having cocktails.

“I wanted to bring the bar nightlife of Spain to here,” he said about opening Ocho in 2008.  “The two or three dollar items inspired me in Spain and I love the flavors.”

To quench your thirst, I recommend you sip on the herbaceous and refreshing San Miguel drink with gin, St. Germain, rhubarb bitters and a touch of lemon.

Another gin drink called El Picador, changes colors as you imbibe. Because the speared beet bleeds into the drink, it turns red much like a Spanish bull bleeding in the ring, Harjo said. Drinks cost $8 and tapas about $2-9.



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Ocho on Urbanspoon