Taste Seattle History: Seattle’s Best Steaks At Daniel’s Broiler

Daniels Broiler, situated on the shores of Lake Union, has been a Seattle landmark of fine dining for what seems like forever. With its sweeping views of Lake Union, Queen Anne and Gasworks Park in addition to its incredible menu of USDA prime steaks and chops, all prepared impeccably, Daniel’s has always been the go-to venue for holiday and celebratory meals, fine craft cocktails and some of the best steaks you’ll ever enjoy.

Recently, people have been up in arms as rumors swirled regarding the possible closing of Daniel’s Lake Union location, due to Vulcan Real Estate’s plans to redevelop the pier on which it sits. Those fears were somewhat put to rest this week when the Seattle Times reported that Daniel’s on Lake Union will not close, but will merely move to a nearby location, still along the shores of South Lake Union. It seems fabulous steaks and sweeping Lake Union vistas will remain on Daniel’s menu for years to come, and we’ll drink to that!

Over the years, Daniel’s Broiler has become a local fine dining legend in the Seattle area, synonymous with delicious, high-end meals, superb craft cocktails, incredible views and live music, outstanding service and a seemingly never ending parade of Seattle’s most interesting and beautiful people to be found on any given night, enjoying a bite or a sip. However, many of us who have grown up in the Seattle area, (particularly those of us under a certain age) know very little of the famed steakhouse’s origins.

Daniel’s has been owned and operated by The Schwartz Brothers Restaurant group since 1981, and has changed very little since its beginnings at the Leschi Marina in 1980, but it’s true roots go much deeper than that. Daniel’s Broiler was started by a man named, well, Daniel, believe it or not. Daniel Jack Sandal, to be specific.

Daniel Sandal, a born and bred Seattleite, grew up in The Emerald City’s Wallingford neighborhood, graduated from the now closed Lincoln High School, and got his start in the food industry at the World-Famous Pike Place Market. Daniel’s Grandfather, Dan Zido, founded “Dan’s Better Meats” in Pike Place Market in 1910, and it was there, (in a space at the market that is now known as the home of Italian favorite, Il Bistro) that Daniel began his love affair with meat, as a third-generation butcher.

Eventually the butcher shop moved upstairs in the market, to where you will now find “Don and Joe’s Meats” (unsurprisingly, Don and Joe are related to Dan, and have kept the family tradition of quality cuts alive in Pike Place). Dan took over the family business when his father retired and decided to expand their wholesale business drastically, with their meats soon being featured at Seattle’s finest restaurant, including Canlis, The Fairmont Olympic Hotel, The Space Needle and plenty more. He also started a daily-delivered, fresh-ground meat patty service for local favorite burger joint, Dick’s Drive-In, helping to make those burgers we all know and love so darn scrumptious.

In the Early 1970’s, Dan began his foray into the restaurant world as a restaurateur himself, co-founding Benjamin’s with partner Arnold Shain. The success of Benjamin’s fueled Dan and Arnold to continue on in the restaurant game, with the opening of The Gasworks Restaurant, but eventually, they parted ways as partners.

In 1980, at the ripe, young age of 40, Daniel decided it was time to start his own place, a place for steaks and chops so terrific, people would fall in love, and that they did. The vision for the original Daniels Broiler was to be Dan’s own take on the fine dining he had grown up with in Seattle, drawing heavy inspiration from places like Canlis, but staying true to the steakhouse theme with top quality steaks and chops consistently available and prepared perfectly.

Daniel’s was a sort of experiment for Dan, as he had only ever opened and operated restaurants with partners prior to Daniel’s Broiler. He was once quoted as saying “I wanted to see if I could do it, I did it on my own so I didn’t have to deal with other’s dreams and problems and wouldn’t be at anyone else’s mercy.” And do it, he did. Daniel’s Broiler became a success from the very beginning, in its original home, located on the glistening shores of Lake Washington in the Leschi Marina.  At the time, this was a convenient location for Mercer Island and Bellevue residents, until they closed the I-90 entrance and exit on the east side of the tunnels when the second bridge was built.  Today, the original Daniel’s location serves the Mount Baker, Leschi, Madrona, Washington Park, Madison Park and Denny Blaine neighborhoods and a slew of long-time customers. 

Since being purchased by the Schwartz Brothers in late 1981, they have made very few changes to Dan Sandal’s original concept for the restaurant. The Schwartz Brothers did expand the Daniel’s brand to include locations in Bellevue (opening in 1989) and the location we all know and love, on the shores of Lake Union (since 1999), where Dan and Arnold’s first venture, Benjamin’s, once lived.

Dan Sandal passed away in 2012, but left behind a much loved and delicious legacy in Daniel’s Broiler. While many people find success in the Seattle restaurant scene, few reach the iconic status of Daniel’s Broiler, nor do they stand the test of time, untarnished and as beloved as ever the way Daniel’s has.

Daniel’s Broiler has been a Seattle staple for over 35 years, in 3 different locations, and it doesn’t appear that that will be changing anytime soon. While the Lake Union location may be moved slightly to make way for the inevitable growth and changes of a bustling city, it’s good to know it won’t be going far.

Music in Madrona Summer Concert Series

Every Thursday during the month of August, the Madrona Community Council and Ewing & Clark will host a free concert series starting at 6pm in the Madrona Playfield.

This is an great way to soak up these lovely summer evenings and really take advantage of the wonderful weather we are getting. Grab a blanket, pack a picnic and come unwind to the tunes of Seattle’s most talented musicians.


Series Line Up:

August 6thAzanga Marimba, Check out this awesome and lively African marimba one of their performances here

“Our ensemble plays using eight marimbas – three Sopranos, three tenors, a baritone, and a base – and hoshos, or gourd shakers. The marimbas are handcrafted xylophones made from various hardwoods. The keys are fine-tuned to reflect tones playing African societies. Each key sits above a resonator with a vibrating membrane to amplify the sound and add a unique “buzz” to the music.”

August 13th – Lucile Street

A five person band that includes Christopher Magee on trombone, Mark Aaron on bass, Damien Garcia on drums, Peter O’Neil on guitar, and featuring Becky Lewis on vocals.

August 20thAlkali Earth, youth metal band from Washington Middle School

“Formed in 4th grade in 2013, Alkali Earth consists of four pre-teens with a passion for 80’s thrash metal and its predecessors. In addition to covers from Rush, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Black Sabbath and the like, they play a few original songs, loosely focused on what their parents are currently doing to the planet.”

You can hear more of their great tracks here

August 27th – The Professors – SPU Professors (& Betsy Erving’s owner of the Arts Aloft’s, husband) featuring 60’s rock and roll.

These professions are going to teach you a thing or two about good old rock ‘n roll. You’re homework assignment for the evening…. boogie!


A Look Back at Madrona School Desegregation

What did the Madrona neighborhood look like fifty years ago when desegregation was first implemented in Seattle School districts? According to the Seattle Times, a group of folks who were actively involved, either as parents, kids or teachers gathered together to reminisce and preserve their memories so that we can learn from what worked and what was difficult to know.

The group gathered at a residence in Capitol Hill to watch a film that presented the struggles constantly evolving desegregation efforts, which was the plan that was implemented in 1962, geared to attract middle class white families to accept integration. In 1968 the Madrona neighborhood experienced the Madrona-Lowell exchange, which some of the folk attending expressed “caused alot of grief from  the white parents when children were bussed though the mostly black neighborhood,” (The Madrona Elementary School was 87% black at the time). At a time when Seattle School districts were taking a stance to end segregation, the Madrona neighborhood was at the heart of the experimental phase. To learn more about what the historical neighborhood experienced, take a look at the full article here.

Famous Sculptor of Madrona’s Peaceable Kingdom Dies at 86

Madrona LibraryMost know the Seattle sculptor Richard Beyer for his public artwork: “Waiting for the Interurban.”  The Fremont sculpture features five adults, one with a baby in her arms, and a dog with the face of the Fremont civic leader who opposed the placement of the statute.  The sculpture has delighted Seattlelites on the corner of North 34th Street and Fremont Avenue North since 1979.

Many probably do not know of Beyer’s other work in Madrona near the other 34th – 34th Avenue.  The Peaceable Kingdom in front of the Madrona Library (on 33rd actually) was created by Beyer in 1984.  The aluminum sculpture was to show how our Madrona neighborhood could live together as one in some turbulent time in our history.  The theme is roughly based on biblical passage, Isaiah 11:6-9, with each animal representing a part of Madrona: the pig = the police, the panther = the Black Panthers, the wolf = the aggressive street youth, and the sheep = the neighborhood elderly.

Beyer shaped creative art that could be enjoyed by everyone, but with special meaning when you learned a little about its history.  Click the link to read more about Beyer’s life in the Seattle Times.

Madrona Area Then & Now

Madrona HistoryThe Seattle P.I. has featured several Seattle neighborhoods with a photo shoot of then & now pictures of local buildings.  Recently they featured the “Madrona and Mann Neighborhoods.”  To be honest, I have lived in the area my whole life and I did not know exactly where the Mann neighborhood was – but I looked it up and determined that the Mann neighborhood is part of what is commonly known as the Central District.  No matter what you call the area, there are some cool old photos of Seattle real estate.  I was personally disappointed because none of the pictures are what I consider Madrona – but it is still interesting nonetheless.  The photos I found the most interesting are the photos of the old Madrona Theatre which was located near the corner of Cherry and Martin Luther King Jr Way – although back when the building was still in existence Martin Luther King was still called Empire Way.

Note:  If you click on the link to the Seattle P.I. and hover over the pictures in the film strip below the large photo, descriptions will pop up about each building.  Enjoy.

Madrona Building Featured in Seattle Times

Madrona Gas Auto StationOn the front page of the Seattle Times Local Section today was a good article about the old gas station on the corner of 34th and Pike that will be torn down this Wednesday.  It will be replaced by mixed-use building named the “Pike Station” with retail on the ground floor and townhomes above.

The article’s theme was: sometimes it is okay to see local Seattle “landmarks” go.  (The building is not an official landmark).  The article spoke about how the Madrona neighborhood has been accepting of the change to its real estate unlike other Seattle neighborhoods such as Green Lake with the “Twin Teepees trama” or Ballard with the “Sunset Bowl bluster.”  The Seattle Times also gave a good history of the Madrona property with interviews with the current owner Tom Flood (owner since 2002) and previous owner Marjorie Lutton (owner from 1966-2002).

Check out the first link above to the Seattle Times’ article to learn about a sliver of Madrona’s history and to get ready for the newest addition to the Madrona Business District.

Fun Fact: Rhododendrons Close Relatives of Madrona

Madrona Tree SculptureI came across this gardening article by Ciscoe when something caught my eye: rhododendrons are close relatives of madrona.  I never thought about it, but it makes sense.  I also came to the realization that Ciscoe is much more entertaining on television than in print.

Seattle’s Madrona neighborhood was named after the madrona trees in the woods across from Madrona Beach.

Where the Rivalry Began…

UW CrewThis weekend will be the 100th regular season dual race between University of Washington and Cal when the two schools’ varsity eight boats line up.  The race, that will begin this Saturday around 10:20 AM at the Montlake Cut, is one of the most storied rivalries in college rowing and it all began in 1903 just down the hill from Madrona at Leschi Park (map).

Back then Seattle was still a young city, and Madrona was even a younger neighborhood.  Madrona, which was platted in 1889, was considered way out of town and the developer had to create a trolley car and entertainment at the beach to draw prospective residents to the neighborhood.  (Click here to read the history of Madrona.)  A little over a decade later, in 1901, the University of Washington formed their crew team and in 1903 Cal came to Seattle by steamship to race them.  I can only assume Cal, who had a crew team since 1868 was the favorite to win.  The race was delayed because the UW equipment failed, and the Cal crew did a 1.5 mile exhibition run in which I assume went in front of Madrona since that is where more people would have lived.  Eventually, UW fixed their equipment and won the race and the rivalry began.

This weekend, UW and Cal will meet for the 100th time.  Cal, ranked #2 nationally, will arrive by plane and with a team made up of people from across the globe, facing the #1 Huskies ….. and all of this started 108 years ago on the shores of Lake Washington in front of the Madrona / Leschi area.

Click here for tomorrow’s schedule of crew events.