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Opus Co.'s half chicken with malt vinegar caramel, three small things. (Image: Megan Swann)

The best wood-fired fare around Seattle

When it comes to cooking, nothing is more primal and visceral than cooking with wood. With wood, the heat output can rival Mordor while imparting its own unique flavor; and in the words of Newman, ‘it’s the wood that makes it good.’ Be it on a grill or as an oven, there are several restaurants in Seattle that feature wood-fired cooking.

Using wood for cooking, pizza is the obvious option with places, like Beacon Hill’s Bar del Corso or Ballard’s Delancey, that do an exceptional job with their takes on wood-fired ovens. Barbecue is another possibility when thinking of wood-fired cookery, but that’s more of a low and slow smoking process with the steady caress of smoke doing its thing; Jack’s BBQ is the lighthouse for barbecue in Seattle. But there are a few other places in the area that use wood as a feature of their cooking and here they are.

Ciudad. As Georgetown continues to evolve with bars and restaurants, Ciudad Grill and Bar Ciudad are other great examples of the growth in the neighborhood. Between the bar and the restaurant, there is a large patio with their wood-grill that ties the two spaces together. The look and feel of Ciudad Grill is warm and welcoming, and the food reflects that ethos. The flavors are global in scope with touches of the Mediterranean, Africa, and Central America throughout. There are many options throughout the menu to try different meats and vegetables, but I’d suggest the kofta and merguez. Absolutely order the cauliflower.

Copal. Opening at the tail end of last year, Copal, on the south end of Occidental in Pioneer Square, embraces its Latin American vibe with their well-lit and open space and a kitchen that centers around the open wood-stove and wood grill. Cocktail slushies beckon and a happy hour menu with tacos and wings hit the spot for a post-work nosh. Definitely try the barbocoa taco.

Miller’s Guild. Opened inside of Hotel Max in the winter of 2013, Miller’s Guild is Jason Wilson’s steakhouse centered around a massive wood-fired grill known as the ‘Inferno.’ Made by Grillworks, the Inferno at Miller’s Guild was (in 2013) one of the few restaurants in America at the time that had a grill of this scale. Steak and chops are featured and the team at Miller’s Guild also uses the Inferno for seafood as well. Be sure to try dishes with their ‘motoraioli’; an aioli made with the fat drippings from the Inferno. You heard me.

Opus Co.The most recent entry to Seattle’s wood-fired landscape, Phinney Ridge’s Opus Co. almost exclusively uses wood for their cooking. Accommodating to those with allergies and other restrictions, the team at Opus Co. features their ‘Opus Feast,’ where you put yourself at their whim for the evening. For $50 per person, this is the way to go to experience the story of Opus Co.

Palace Kitchen. When Palace Kitchen opened at 5th & Lenora, it went off like gangbusters and hasn’t slowed down since. Their food and drinks game has always been on point, and they’ve been doing wood-fired food since day one. Start with their chicken wings, that are grilled over apple wood, and finish with either the burger (one of the best restaurant burgers in Seattle) or the array of other large plates cooked over live fire. I’m partial to the whole grilled trout.