Adventurous Meals for Unadventurous Diners

For those of us that grew up around more Hamburger Helper than steak tartare, the idea of dining on innards and exotic meats can be a little terrifying, no matter what sort of culinary street cred it comes with. Embrace your inner gourmand, or at least earn the respect of your most adventurous foodie friends, at these Seattle restaurants preparing ingredients like beef tongue, bone marrow and alligator so deliciously you'll actually want to try it--no dares needed. Because sometimes, it's just not hip to be square. (Photo of tongue sandwich at June.)

Updated: August 24, 2010

Adventurous Meals at Seattle Restaurants: Offal Picky


June

1423 34th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

While conservative eaters may not be interested in tasting anything that can taste them back, tongue really is the chic ingredient this year, showing up on menus all over Seattle. One of the best displays is at this adorable new Madrona restaurant, where the thinly sliced tongue is soft and flavorful--the perfect protein between two slices of chewy baguette during the happy hour offering--and hardly identifiable.


Savatdee

5801 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Sure, you could order the pad thai or green curry at this U-District Thai/Lao restaurant, but what fun would that be? Don't look at the ingredients and just order the larp (a Lao meat "salad" of sorts) with pork. You'll notice the heat of the chilies, the pucker from the kaffir lime, the overall textural contrast of the dish; you won't notice the teeny bits of liver, tripe and pork rinds mixed in with the ground pork. Bragging rights, without any of the gross-out factor.


Quinn's

1001 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122

This Capitol Hill gastropub makes one of Seattle's best burgers, but before you settle on the safe bet, take a walk on the wild side with their bone marrow appetizer. Soft marrow (think of it as meat butter) is complemented by citrus jam for a perfect baguette topping. Now if you want to get really crazy, add seared foie gras as a topping to that burger.


Toulouse Petit

601 Queen Anne Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

The hundreds of menu options at this Lower Queen Anne stunner could leave your head spinning, but here's a cheat sheet: when a place offers New Orleans-inspired food, go for the alligator, especially when it's preceded by our two favorite adjectives, "fried" and "spicy." Tastes like chicken, right?


Lunchbox Laboratory

1253 Thomas St, Seattle, WA 98117

Things can get quickly out of hand at this Ballard burger stop, where the meat-cheese-topping combinations are virtually endless. We recommend trying the buffalo burger--not only is it unique without falling too far outside the comfort zone, but it's healthier for you than beef. With all those calories freed up, you can indulge in one of the creative milkshakes as well.


The Coterie Room

2137 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

Chances are if you're not a dedicated gourmand, you're going to see a lot of terms on the menu at this Belltown restaurant that you won't recognize, and a lot of ingredients you may not want to eat (see: confit lamb heart). If you're looking to toe the line between conservative and crazy, opt for the wild boar bolognese--basically a hearty pasta dish you'll want to come back for again.


Smith

332 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98103

This Capitol Hill eatery may be best known for its epic brunch, but dinner brings a rotating selection of seasonal dishes perfect for sharing over a drink (or three). Skip the venison tartare--raw Bambi may be a little too far left field for most--and order the pan-fried sweetbreads. Don't know what sweetbreads are? Don't ask--just enjoy the bite-sized morsels.


El Camion

2918 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134

Anyone with a high school level of Spanish knows what "cabeza" translates to, but here's a secret: those head tacos aren't filled with brains and eyeballs and tufts of hair. The three locations of this clean, friendly taco truck call cabeza what it is--beef cheeks--and serve it up tender and tasty in tacos, burritos, tortas and more.