Most ink spilled on Irving Street Kitchen refers to the menu as "Southern," as though biscuits and fried chicken were only newly discovered foodstuffs anywhere west of Texas. Bullshit. Fried chicken is as much a part of American culture as tater tots and stuffed-crust pizza. We don't call Mo's Seafood a "New England joint," do we?
At Irving Street, fried green tomatoes share table space with albacore and salmon just as they've appeared in Cascadian kitchens since folks were moving out here for gold and cheap land, only now the tomatoes are laid over a bay shrimp remoulade, the albacore is lemon-poached with a zippy beet dressing, and the salmon is sake glazed with a mint-yogurt sauce that pirouettes over your tongue.
The restaurant space is wide-open, and well-divided into distinct spaces to adequately suit groups, pairs or those just looking for gravlax and Hemingway daiquiris at the bar.
Attentive and professional staff frequently recommend the squid ink risotto, murky and briny and more Bay Area than Gulf or East Coast, but if there's a must-order on this menu, it's the ham board, with thick and wispy biscuits slathered in salted butter, bedded down with thin-sliced smoked local country ham and dolloped with the sticky-sweet heat of pepper jelly. They'll have you praising Jesus like a Baptist preacher.
Pro tip: There's no shame in hitting the happy hour, which features a modest list of classics for half their regular price.
GO: 701 NW 13th Ave., 343-9440, irvingstreetkitchen.com. 5:30-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 5:30-11 pm Friday-Saturday, 5-9:30 pm Sunday; brunch 10 am-2:30 pm Saturday-Sunday. $$-$$$.