Tom Sprague owns and runs Big T’s Moonshine BBQ. He grew up in Edmonds. He played and coached hockey here for years before moving to LA.
After successfully running a restaurant there for about 10 years, he sold it and returned to the Pacific Northwest. That’s when he put together the idea for Moonshine BBQ in a space that had been the Pizza Hut on 196th Street Southwest.
He opened about five years ago, and people have been beating a path to his door ever since.
“Our idea was to create a warm and friendly place; basically, it’s an upscale dive bar,” Sprague quipped.
But that description sells the place short. It’s rustic by design. With rough wood paneling accented by giant video screens pumping in all the current sports feeds. Hockey sticks and sports memorabilia grace the walls. (People around here are pretty stoked about the announcement that Seattle will be getting an NHL franchise.)
It’s an unpretentious, industrial-sized man-cave, where sports fans and lovers of great food can hang out, eat to their hearts’ content, and have a good time.
Old-school, all-American, quality food and service will pack ‘em in every time. We were lucky to find a seat on a rainy Tuesday night at 6 p.m.
There’s a lot of parking, but I got the second-to-last space. “We’ve found that when the lot is full, the restaurant is too,” Sprague said. If you can’t find a place to park, you probably won’t be able to find a seat either. Still, that didn’t stop the hopeful from pouring in after I arrived.
Moonshine clearly has mass appeal. It’s not just a place for sports fans with hearty appetites. The table behind us had six young women home from college, and the table across from us was inhabited by a young family of four. I speculated that it was dad’s night to choose the restaurant.
This place is comfort food heaven. The menu is literally a written invitation to consume all your favorite guilty pleasures. This would be a great place to go just for the appetizers and drinks. Items like poutine, quesadillas, pulled pork nachos, spicy chicken wings and fried pickles — Canada, Mexico and the deep South all rolled into one menu.
The collard greens were one of the great surprises of the evening’s meal. Personally, I have never been able to produce anything with collard greens that I would describe as edible, but I’d order Moonshine’s version again in a heartbeat.
“I was skeptical when the cook suggested we add collard greens to the menu — then I tasted them,” said Sprague.
Served in a spicy ham hock broth, the spicy heat and rich ham hock flavor overcomes what would otherwise be too bitter for me.
I also ordered the beef brisket. It was sensational. After 14 hours of slow roasting, it was smoked, melt-in-your mouth perfection.
I had trouble deciding which of the three barbecue sauces available at our table was my favorite. Ultimately, I think it’s the sweet, although spicy and tangy were right up there.
Another nice surprise was their corn bread, which came out with with a healthy scoop of whipped honey butter. I do love me some good corn bread! I saved mine for last, and was lucky to finish it, given the generous portions at Moonshine.
Steve Ono is right. I’m glad I found this place. You should check them out. I’ve got to return to try their new green chili burger, the poutine and the fried pickles.
4911 196th St. S.W.
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Here’s an idea that might spice up your holiday dessert. Edmonds’ own Steve Kaiser has created Core Hero Hard Ciders and Sorbet.
“It might sound over the top, but the apple cinnamon hard sorbet tastes awesome with apple pie,” says Kaiser.
It’s a tasty alternative to ice cream that’s for adults only, since it contains 5.5 percent alcohol. It has the advantages of being fat free, gluten free, and cholesterol free. It’s made with Washington apples, sweetened with honey, and contains one-third to one-half fewer calories than most ice creams and other sorbets.
You can find Core Hero Hard Ciders and Sorbet at the Lynnwood Whole Foods and Edmonds PCC. The hard cider (but not the sorbet) is also available at the Edmonds QFC.
Learn more at www.coreherohardcider.com.
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If you love dumplings like I do, you might want to check out Dumpling Generation at 238thand Highway 99. It’s a great place to satisfy your dumpling craving. With seven different dumpling choices, a steamed pork bun option, seven soup dishes, six fried rice options, seven choices of hot pot, numerous noodle dishes and chow mein, there’s plenty of good food to explore here.
Owner Hui Su started in the restaurant business when she and her husband opened China Town in Anchorage, Alaska. After about 10 years there, they decided to move to Washington to be near their daughter, Nancy Shao, who would be attending the University of Washington. Hui Su opened Dumpling Generation as Shao began her freshman year at UW. That was almost five years ago.
Either because of confusion, or because it’s just easier, Hui Su goes by “Sue” at the restaurant. Social media is full of comments about how kind and helpful Su and her staff are. We encountered that ourselves.
The décor is bright, clean and attractive, with large photographic images of menu choices lining the walls.
Noodles are made from scratch each day, along with any dumpling varieties that are getting close to being used up. On the day I spoke with Su and Shao, they were whipping up a new batch of pork and chive dumplings.
Right out of the gate, we decided to order some bubble tea. It’s a whipped, sweet green milk tea that comes in a variety of flavors that reminds me of a combination milkshake/slushee.
After a short wait, the food began to appear. The entrées came out first – an order of pork in soybean sauce with noodles and a dish full of shrimp and vegetables. I enjoyed the enoki and shiitake mushrooms and the generous amount of large shrimp. I managed to nab a taste of the fresh noodles from my son’s bowl — they were great.
And then, the moment we’d been waiting for — the steamed dumplings and buns arrived. The particular dumplings that Dumpling Generation makes are similar to what one might find in northern China, often made for New Year’s celebrations. According to Shao, the north has more flour-based dumplings since rice is not as easily grown or readily available in the northern regions. That’s fine with a gluten glutton such as myself. The pescatarian among us was pleased to see the shrimp mushroom and cabbage option. I ordered pork and mushroom dumplings and my son, who currently has a thing for buns, ordered the steamed pork buns. Dumplings came 12 to the order, while the buns numbered three.
Fortunately for me, my son was stuffed by the time the buns arrived, so after I polished off my dumplings, I scored one of his buns. The dipping sauce has a sweet thick soy sauce with sesame seeds that reminded me of Hunan sauce.
I’m guessing we’ll be back to this place frequently to satisfy our dumpling addiction.
23830 Highway 99, Suite 115
The furthest thing from a finicky eater, James Spangler insisted on trying everything on the table from the earliest age. At 13, he prepared Baked Alaska for an entire classroom and has had an insatiable appetite for good food ever since. On his days off, he’s rather be in the kitchen cooking for the people he loves than doing just about anything. If you catch him reading a book at his bookstore on 4th Avenue in Edmonds, there’s a good chance it’ll have something to do with food.