Fine Food, A Lively Vibe

Dining & Wine

October 27, 2006

What makes a restaurant a hot spot? Sometimes it's the inventive food -- the surprise of foie gras on Salt's gussied-up burger or chef Edward Kim's imaginative combinations at Saffron. Sometimes it's the slight reinvention of an old favorite: Think Take-Off-Your-Tie Thursdays at the Prime Rib.

Sometimes it's the location -- a space like the Spice Company's, where restaurants have come and gone, filled with neighborhood diners hoping for a hit. Sometimes it's the lure of a sure thing, like Clyde's or the Oregon Grille, or the modest prices for interesting wines at the Wine Market.

A restaurant becomes a hot spot when the quality of its food and drink is matched by a scene that's distinctive, that combines the living-room-comfortable quality diners want in restaurants now with a sense of excitement, even community. As restaurants adopt the more casual, more affordable menus of lounges, and as lounges dress up cocktails and slip finer ingredients onto small plates, they're meeting in the middle to create a new kind of eating out.

In this Dining & Wine Guide, you'll find reviews of 40 hot spots throughout the city and the region, along with alphabetical listings of more than 500 restaurants. The reviewers are Sun restaurant critic Elizabeth Large (EL), Live! restaurant critic Karen Nitkin (KN), Sun food columnist Rob Kasper (RK), Takeout columnist Sam Sessa (SS), former Sun food editor Liz Atwood (LA) and Sun food editor Kate Shatzkin (KS). In the listings, B denotes breakfast, L lunch and D dinner.

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