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Seattle Food Writers Pick Their Favorite Dining Neighborhoods of 2023

Does Tacoma count as a neighborhood?

An aerial view of the Tacoma Dome and the surrounding area.
Kirby Lee/Getty Images

As 2023 is flushed down the toilet of time and 2024 comes to take its place, Eater Seattle is once again surveying a panel of food writers and industry insiders about the year that was and the future of Seattle dining.

Today we’re asking them to pick which neighborhood’s dining options excited them the most in 2023. Their answers are below. For previous entries in this series, go here.

Aimee Rizzo, senior editor at the Infatuation Seattle

Crown Hill and Greenwood showed off with some outstanding debuts (Dark Room, Alebrijes Kitchen, Miss Pho) while also reminding us about the dependable mainstays. For example, everyone needs to get to La Cabaña post-haste.

Meg van Huygen, food writer at The Stranger, Eater Seattle, and elsewhere

I’m ashamed to say it as a lifelong Seattleite, but 2023 was the year I fell in love with Tacoma. Their food scene is just murdalizing Seattle right now.

Pho with big meaty beef ribs at Lunar’s Pho. Gooey, cheesy, luscious bagel sandwiches at Howdy Bagel. Towering patty melts and Timcho’s — that’s a whole baking sheet of Tim’s Cascade chips given the nacho treatment with buffalo chicken and blue cheese — at the Valley. On-point Hawaiian lunch plates and musubis and Dole whips and Trade Vic’s–era cocktails at Da Tiki Hut. Luscious Vietnamese barbecue pork at Tho Tuong. Farm-to-table Dungeness risotto and a truly vast wine selection at Field Bar. Cuban-Asian fusion like churrasco baos at the Church Cantina, which is a goth bar with skeletons all over the place. Plus all the dive bars serve real, correct jojos made with the vintage Broaster, with the big old crank on top.

Everything costs about a third less in Tacoma too, and there’s a real sense of community that’s getting rarer in Seattle. At least thrice, I’ve walked into a Tacoma bar and the owner has come up to introduce themselves and welcome me! It feels exactly like Seattle in 1998. You can have that feeling back, folks. It’s in Tacoma.

Naomi Tomky, writer and author of The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook

I found myself in White Center quite often this year — Nacho Mama’s Fry Bread Cafe serves a terrific wojapi parfait, you have to have the tamales at El Paisano, and Crawfish House is a perennial fave.

Gabe Guarente. editor at SEAToday

I tried to get up north a little more to explore Ballard, spending time at WeRo (RIP), Rough & Tumble Pub, Hamdi, and Midnite Ramen’s roving operation (though thankfully not roving for long). It’s not all about the breweries — though they’re great, too.

Syd Suntha, owner of Kottu and host of the Seattle Restaurant Podcast

I would be broke if I lived in Wallingford. A really nice spread of fast food, casual, and upscale. Pam’s will forever be my favorite spot in Seattle. I just had a mind-blowing dinner at Atoma. Kokkaku is my favorite steak spot. One of my favorite meals is (a lot of) yakitori at Secret Fort and then walking it off with ice cream from Indigo Cow.