Rick Nelsen

Owner of Ricardo’s Kitchen + Bar

If anyone understands the Thurston County restaurant scene, it’s Olympia native Rick Nelsen. The grandson of restaurateur Dave Wilson — owner of Olympia’s famed Dirty Dave’s Pizza Parlor — Nelsen was primed for success in the South Sound restaurant industry. Nelsen started Ricardo’s Kitchen + Bar in 2003, and since then it’s established itself as an award-winning fine dining experience with menu items like duck confit with white cheddar grits and cranberry gastrique. We chatted with this purveyor of fine food and found out about his favorite places to eat, travel, and more.


Favorite Places

To be Inspired
Roller skating at Skateland

For Dinner
La Petite Maison, Olympia

For Breakfast
Forza Bistro, Lacey

For Coffee or Tea
Olympia Coffee Roasters

Rick Nelsen

Photo by Dave Sizer, Creative Commons

To Travel
Ocean Shores

To Relax
Hicks Lake

To Work Out
My bedroom

Inspiration Board

Favorite Quote
“Go big or go home.”

Currently Reading

Favorite Movie
Coming to America


Favorite TV Show

Favorite Musician
Michael Jackson


What’s the first meal you remember eating?
Probably Dirty Dave’s Pizza

Andrew Kim, Creative Commons

What is the best restaurant you’ve ever visited?
That’s got to be Canlis in Seattle.

When did you first know you wanted to open a restaurant?
Around 2002

What projects are you working on right now?
Family, always working on that. And then we’re working on a gastropub and a coffee shop.

What do you do when you’re not in the restaurant?
I like to dance, and I like to be a dad. 


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