It’s that time again. Seattle Restaurant Week is a twice-annual event when many restaurants across the area offer customers wallet-friendly prix fixe menus — and the fall session begins Sunday, October 27, running through November 7. There are more than 165 restaurants participating, charging $35 per person for three-course dinners and $20 for two-course lunches (prices do not include, beverage, tax and tip). According to the Seattle Times — which is a sponsor — participating restaurants “are required to provide prix fixe dinner options regularly valued at $42 or more.” In other words, there are some bargains to hunt.
But not all seasoned diners love Restaurant Week. From clogged reservation lines, to limited menu options, to crowds of tourists packing neighborhood favorites, there are some downsides. And remember that most places suspend the promotion on Fridays and Saturdays, and during Sunday brunch.
The Seattle Times offers a user-friendly way to sift through everything by neighborhood and cuisine. But let’s whittle it down even more, giving you some Eater Seattle-approved options to consider as you brave the coming restaurant storm. (It’s also worth looking at Eater’s spring Restaurant Week guide, since all of those restaurants are participating again, albeit with different, seasonal menus.)
Why check it out: For those who like to go green when they dine, Bamboo Sushi (which debuts October 30 in the U District) is all about sustainable seafood. The menu includes a glossary of terms that explains how each nigiri was caught, whether it’s the ocean net steelhead trout from Washington’s shores or deep set longline tuna from Hawaii. And the 142-seat dining room should be spacious enough to accommodate crowds.
What’s on the Restaurant Week menu: A chef’s choice nigiri, along with a variety of rolls and tempura vegetables.
El Gaucho (Belltown)
Why check it out: This may be one of the last chances to take in El Gaucho’s Belltown location, since the restaurant will close next year (moving to a location near Pike Place). It’s among the city’s best steakhouses, but usually isn’t too difficult to get a reservation during Restaurant Week, since most regulars would rather opt in for weekend date night.
What’s on the Restaurant Week menu: While there are no dry-aged porterhouses to be found, the fillet medallions with red chimichurri and braised lamb with saffron risotto should provide a decent bang for the buck.
Why check it out: Star chef Brian Clevenger’s (of the acclaimed Vendemmia, East Anchor Seafood, and Le Messe) opened this inviting West Seattle restaurant in August, with an emphasis on simplicity: each dish usually highlights just three main ingredients. It’s also in a neighborhood that’s a healthy distance from the fall tourist scene.
What’s on the Restaurant Week menu: Clevenger’s Italian roots should shine through the risotto with parmesan, chive, and wild mushroom, while the duck confit with stonefruit, celeriac, and herbs heads up the entree list.
Why check it out: Chef Anthony Sinsay brings his Filipino heritage to this downtown restaurant, with Northwest ingredients incorporated in the seasonal offerings. Good spot to land after work, when many are trying to beat the traffic out to the neighborhoods.
What’s on the Restaurant week menu: Grilled endive and crispy tripe highlight the appetizer section, while a braised short rib with potato pave, marrow carrots, and horseradish creme fraiche beckons on the entree list.
Why check it out: James Beard-award winning chef Maria Hines has been a pioneer in Seattle’s organic food movement, highlighted by her relaxed Wallingford restaurant, which continues to impress 13 years after it first opened (yet surprisingly still flies under the radar).
What’s on the Restaurant Week menu: A soothing cauliflower-apple soup, along with an excellent arctic char with buckwheat and mustard greens, and Theo’s chocolate cake, all highlights of the regular fall menu (it would run you about twice as much, usually).