Intentionalist: Mele Kalikimaka From South Seattle

by Laura Clise

Intentionalist is built on one simple idea: where we spend our money matters. We make it easy to find, learn about, and support small businesses and the diverse people behind them through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop. #SpendLikeItMatters

In my family, the holidays have always been about spending time together. My mom is from the town of Waimea on the island of Kaua‘i where I have fond memories of family visits and, fortunately, video footage of my late grandma dancing Christmas hula. I was raised in Seattle, but when my parents retired, they decided to spend more time with my mom’s side of the family on Kaua‘i — which is admittedly not a terrible place to be as the weather gets chillier here in the Pacific Northwest.

My parents had planned to come back to Seattle for Christmas this year, but recently decided with the current state of affairs regarding the pandemic, that it would be safer for them to remain on Kaua‘i. And so, for my ohana (family) and so many others, the end of a tumultuous year will be a bit different than anticipated, with plans to connect digitally instead of the usual in-person gatherings.

Fortunately, South Seattle offers a variety of places for me — for all of us — to eat our feelings this holiday season. For this column, and in honor of my family living in Kaua‘i, we at Intentionalist are excited to highlight some of the South End restaurants that channel Hawaiʻian flavors and aloha year round.

Super Six

Headshot of Super Six co-owner Kamala Saxton. (Photo: Kamala Saxton)

In a former auto body shop in the heart of Columbia City, Super Six is serving a mix of classic Hawaiʻian plates and Pacific Northwest staples with the hospitality, generosity, and aloha spirit you’d find on the islands. In 2015, Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison opened Super Six as the sixth addition to their Marination brand, further sharing their love for Hawaiʻian food and culture with Seattle. For a taste of home, Super Six serves loco moco, spam musubi (which you can also get with pork belly), malasadas, and more. But if you want to try one of Kamala’s favorite dishes, the Chicken ‘n Waffles is the way to go — a Hong Kong-style bubble waffle topped with a piece of fried chicken thigh drizzled with hot honey and haupia syrup. Super Six deliciousness is available for takeout or can be enjoyed in the open air in the tented seating area set up to ensure social distancing.

“[Columbia City] is a really tight-knit, close community. I think being a resident of the 98118 and being a business in the 98118, it’s a really difficult time for everyone. But during difficult times, I think we want to be in a community with like-minded people, and I really feel like this is that community. I think there is so much good work and goodwill that is happening in this area that — while times are really tough — I’m glad I have my neighbors as a support. And I’m glad I can be a neighborly support, both as individuals and as a business to those in need.” — Kamala Saxton

The Stonehouse Cafe

The Stonehouse Cafe is nestled in a building that has always been special to owner LeeAnn Subelbia and her family — a charming stone structure formerly home to the Collier Service Station in Rainier Beach they frequently drove by, which they called “The Gingerbread House.” It was always LeeAnn’s dream to open a restaurant in South Seattle where her family grew up, her son and social media and events coordinator at Stonehouse, Max Heigh said. Originally from the Pearl City area on Oʻahu, Max and his family relocated and set their roots in Rainier Beach. While the cafe mainly focuses on classic American food, Max said his family incorporates some of their Filipino heritage in their dishes, like ube syrup and longganisa, a type of Filipino sausage. At the moment, Max is a big fan of Stonehouse’s Burger Dip which features crispy Grand Central Bakery bread and a Painted Hills beef patty for a hearty, warm dish. The Stonehouse Cafe has a heated outdoor patio and also offers takeout and delivery (via 3rd party).

“We think [Rainier Beach] is a very diverse community that, growing up, we felt didn’t get as much shine as it should have. It has a lot of beauty to it, the neighbors and people that live here. It [has] really awesome scenery — you’ve got Lake Washington here and Coulon Beach not too far away. There’s just a lot of layers to it that make this area very special.” — Max Heigh

Buddha Bruddah

After years of running their successful food truck, Andrea and Mark looked long and hard to find the right neighborhood to open Buddha Bruddah’s brick and mortar restaurant. They wanted to find a neighborhood where they could grow, add value, and be a part of a place with a strong community connection — and that’s what they found in Beacon Hill. Buddha Bruddah specializes in mixed plates fusing Hawaiʻian and Thai flavors inspired by recipes from Mark’s mom (who, by the way, opened one of Seattle’s first Thai restaurants, Rama House). The restaurant’s Hawaiʻian influence stems from Mark’s time spent in Hawaiʻi since he was a kid. He was inspired by the island’s mixed-plate meals, which reminded him of the varied dishes he ate during meals growing up as someone half-German, half-Thai. Buddha Bruddah’s menu is full of classic Thai and Hawaiʻian dishes — Kālua pork or char siu BBQ pork mixed plates, phad thai, Hawaiʻian grilled short ribs, and more. Mark’s favorite dish is phad thai (which is the first dish he learned how to make), and Andrea’s favorite dish is their Buttermilk Fried Chicken Katsu. Buddha Bruddah offers takeout as well as delivery, which they manage themselves.

“We want everyone to feel like they’re coming to our house for Sunday dinner when they’re walking through the door. We try to greet everyone with a sincere welcome like they’re friends or family.” — Andrea Mizer

Laura Clise is the founder and CEO of Intentionalist, an online platform and guide to small businesses and the diverse people behind them. She serves on the board of directors for IslandWood and Athlete Ally, and can sing and/or order chocolate ice cream in Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Cambodian, Hebrew, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

Featured image: Grilled short ribs over a bed of jasmine rice and Asian slaw from Buddha Bruddah. (photo: Buddha Bruddah)

Leave a Reply