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Best of Olympia 2015 Food and Drink: Quality Burrito, Obsidian, Peddler Bistro, Top Rung Brewing Co. ...

Weekly Volcano staff names the best food and drink in Olympia for 2015

SAFEST BREWERY: Top Rung Brewing Co. in Lacey is owned by two Thurston County firefighters. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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BEST MULTICULTURAL TACO

Quality Burrito

We don't have to tell you about Quality Burrito, readers. You've voted it the best restaurant in Olympia more than once. (Don't you like upscale restaurants?) But if you go there and always order what you've always ordered, you might be missing out. QB doesn't just have big burritos - named for the owner, staff and friends - and an incredible array of housemade sauces (orange epazote aioli, anyone?) It also has distinctly unexpected flavor combinations. How about a taco with pork belly, hoisin sauce and kimchi? {MOLLY GILMORE}

BEST INSPIRATION TO BECOME A BARTENDER

Dillingers Cocktails and Kitchen

We could also have awarded Dillingers Cocktails and Kitchen a title such as "best inspiration to return to the Prohibition era," but we don't have a time machine. We're envious, though, of the way the bartenders and servers all seem to have stepped right out of the past - without looking out of place outside the bar's swanky interior, complete with an old bank vault. Style aside, the rest of the inspiration to tend bar comes from the extensive cocktail menu, which includes plenty of drinks we hadn't seen elsewhere and more than one that we've learned to make at home because they are just too good to live without - even when we're stuck in 2015. {MG}

BEST SERVER ACCESSORY

Bar Tray of King Solomon's Reef

It's the one that's been in rotation since cigarette smoking was allowed indoors; it's corkboard covered in worn stickers, the porous surface dimpled and grey from decades of spilled drinks. A mortgage-worth of quarters has been plunked against its absorbent surface; it's lipped edge smoothed to sheen by the sweat of a hundred server's hands. It's size and shape, round, and not too big - acting as the ultimate catalyst between the public and its demands, has survived multiple bosses, and multiple fires. This accessory has been thrown, dropped and pushed, tossed like a Frisbee and used as a playful weapon to ward off teasing co-workers. This overlooked, yet familiar friend, is the one and only Bar Tray of King Solomon's Reef, a beacon in the community, and an inspiration to us all. {NIKKI MCCOY}

MOST ECLECTIC SPOT

Obsidian

By day, Obsidian is a sunny coffee shop that also serves chai, kombucha, coconut water and - after noon - beer and wine. And a breakfast and lunch spot. By night, it's a bar with creative cocktails - yes to the sweet/hot Firewater - and music that tends toward the metallic. (Co-owner Nathan Weaver plays in the black-metal band Wolves in the Throne Room.) And it's a club. Oh, and the food continues right on through midnight. Did we mention that the menu includes sauerkraut, kale and waffles? (Don't worry: Those aren't all in one dish - but for fans of unusual combinations, there is a bacon-and-chevre waffle.) {MG}

BEST DEARLY DEPARTED BAKERY

Bearded Lady Food Co.

Let's have a moment of silence for the Bearded Lady, the quirky little shop that served only desserts, savory snacks and weekend brunch. Let us dream for a moment of espresso-coriander ice cream, brownies topped with chocolate ganache, berry shortcakes, toffee sticky pudding, chocolate parfaits and pineapple upside-down cake. Let us weep for the gluten-free vegan muffins, coffee cakes and doughnuts, now no more - except perhaps in the freezers of those who raided the bakery case or co-op before the Lady left us bereft. In their farewell letter, owners Jordan Marsicek and Melanie Shelton mentioned the idea of a cookbook. We can only hope. {MG}

BEST SCANDINAVIAN FOOD

Three Magnets Brewing Co.

So far as we know, actually, Three Magnets serves the only Scandinavian food this side of IKEA - and wouldn't you rather eat in a brewpub than a megastore? It's not that Three Magnets is a Scandinavian restaurant, either; burgers and fries (gluten-free and delicious) are staples here, along with beer. But the pub's rotating offerings include smoked salmon smörgås, open-faced sandwiches and klippfisk (salt cod). And both fishes are cured and smoked in-house. Pastrami smörgås have also appeared on the menu, but pastrami is not exactly Scandinavian. {MG}

BEST EARLY-MORNING EATERY

King Solomon's Reef

Downtown Olympia has a lot more late-night eateries than it used to: Dillinger's Cocktails and Kitchen, Three Magnets Brewing Co. and Obsidian all appeared in 2014. It's a trend we applaud; please keep it coming, restaurateurs, especially when it comes to places where those under 21 are allowed. But when night turns to morning and Cinderella's coach turns into a pumpkin, there's still really only one option downtown: King Solomon's still the king. It's open till 3 a.m. The menu tends toward the retro - meatloaf, milkshakes, chicken and waffles, homemade pies. Bonus: It's a popular hangout for musicians post-gig, so keep your bleary eyes open wide. {MG}

BEST HIDDEN GEM

Peddler Bistro

The bistro, which opened in December, is part of Bread Peddler, but it's tucked around the corner and accessed from the parking lot at Capitol Way and State Avenue. On our first visit there, shortly after the restaurant-behind-the-restaurant opened, we got confused. We'd called to verify that dinner was being served, yet we arrived to find the Bread Peddler's front door locked and its interior dim. What was going on? But finding our way there still took a lot less time than jetting to France, which is where we felt like we'd arrived. The elegantly decorated space offers a menu of delicious small dishes, including beef bourguignon, and a short list of French wines. Last time we ate there, in fact, the people at the next table were from France. {MG}

BAR WITH THE BEST VIEW

Swing Wine Bar

We're speaking of the view out the window here: Which bar has the best wildlife inside is too much a matter of personal taste. Perched high above Capitol Lake, Swing offers a sweeping view of downtown that extends to Budd Inlet, yet it feels delightfully tucked away. It's particularly enchanting sitting outside on a summer evening, but the inside has a cozy feeling with the same views from some of the tables, including a tall one tucked in the corner of the bar. If you choose the right seat at the bar, though, you can see the view outside while also checking out what's happening inside - which includes an extensive wine list for which the bar has several times received Washington State Wine Awards. {MG}

SAFEST BREWERY IN THE SOUTH SOUND

Top Rung Brewing Co.

You're not going to die choking on a pretzel at Top Rung Brewing Co. You're not going to be electrocuted at the Lacey brewery. You are not going to be burned in a fire in their taproom. And you're certainly not going to drive away drunk. Top Rung founders, brewers and operators Casey Sobol and Jason Stoltz are Thurston County firefighters - and they're excellent at all their jobs, especially brewing delicious beers. [RON SWARNER}

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