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A pastry case containing Danish pastries.
The pastry case at Larsen’s Bakery.
Harry Cheadle

14 Great Restaurants That Make Ballard a Seattle Dining Destination

The neighborhood has everything from dive bar chili to high-end tasting menus

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The pastry case at Larsen’s Bakery.
| Harry Cheadle

Once a quiet working-class Nordic-American neighborhood, Ballard is now a nightlife, shopping, and restaurant destination. Boutiques and cocktail bars line Ballard Avenue (home to one of Seattle’s few year-round farmer’s markets), and townhomes and high-rises have taken the place of single-family homes. Some of the best restaurants and bars in the city can be found here, along with almost (almost!) too many breweries, which is why if you walk far enough inland you can literally smell the hops. Where else in Seattle can you find Danish pastries, Detroit-style pizza, and Sri Lankan cocktails?

Know of a spot that should be on our radar? Send us a tip by emailing seattle@eater.com. As usual, this list is not ranked; it’s organized geographically, west to east.

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Sunny Hill

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Sunset Hill landed this stellar pizzeria in 2020, focused on both Detroit-style square and 12-inch round pies served from a Wood Stone hearth oven. Options include the War Child, topped with mushrooms, leeks, and truffle cheese; and the Murray, which has smashed meatballs, peppers, onions, and basil. The smash burgers are sensational as well, topped with frizzled onions (don’t forget about the waffle fries, which come with umami ketchup or black garlic ranch). And the seasonal spritzes make for a refreshing cocktail best enjoyed on the comfortable back patio.

Cafe Munir

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The food at Munir, with influences from owner Rajah Gargour’s Lebanese background, is a vegetarian’s dream. The small plates of lentils ground with roasted garlic, house labneh, and sweet pears in savory tahini always impress, and Sundays at the restaurant mean an elaborate chef’s choice meal that’s sure to impress. Patrons should check Instagram for seasonal items that keep the menu vibrant.

Rupee Bar

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This Ballard bar and kitchen is led by Elizabeth Kenyon, previously of Manolin, who crafts an assortment of Sri Lankan and South Indian snacks like egg rolls stuffed with lamb and potato curry, tomato, and curry leaf, and yogurt-marinated spiced fried chicken. The cocktail menu includes South Asian ingredients like toasted coriander seeds, turmeric, and tamarind date chutney. The bar won a James Beard Award for best design for restaurants with under 75 seats in 2020, and Kenyon was a semifinalist for two other James Beards in 2020 and 2022.

Larsen's Bakery

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It doesn’t get much more classic Ballard than this Danish bakery. Larsen’s does everything from seeded bread to wedding cakes to Danish specialties like kringle (basically a big sweet pretzel). But if you’re coming here it’s probably for a little treat, like a bear claw, or a spandau (which is a bit like a Danish, only with jam or custard in the center). Don’t sleep on the humble doughnut, especially when the red velvet variety is hanging around.

A pastry case containing Danish pastries.
The pastry case at Larsen’s Bakery
Harry Cheadle

Beast and Cleaver

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At this hybrid butcher shop–restaurant from London native Kevin Smith, customers can find premium cuts of pasture-raised meat from local farms, as well as terrines, porchetta di testa, and pâté en croute. There are also fabulous tasting menu dinners under the moniker the Peasant that include well-crafted seasonal plates and plenty of beer and wine pairings. 

Secret Savory

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Don’t be thrown by the odd name or the slogan “LOOK FOR THE NOOK IT IS OFF THE HOOK” (which I guess is supposed to reference that it’s kind of tucked away?). Chef Supanut Jiratkaren is putting out some hot Thai food in every sense of the word. The menu leans into seafood, but this is a place where even basic staples are eye-opening. The Chinese broccoli is fresh and vibrant, and the panang tofu is so rich it’ll convert even devoted carnivores.

San Fermo

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The menu at this popular Ballard restaurant is minimal and lighter than one might see at more traditional Italian joints, and changes daily. Recent standouts include a chicory salad with persimmon and pomegranate molasses and a decadent saffron spaghetti bolognese with pork and veal. There’s also an outdoor deck and expanded sidewalk seating.

Rachel's Bagels & Burritos

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Formerly the much-loved Porkchop & Co, this Ballard shop was reborn as a bagel spot during the pandemic. These perfectly chewy bagels are excellent across the board, with offerings like bagels topped with za’atar and shichimi togarashi (a Japanese chili pepper and spice blend). There are also great bagel sandwich options, like the Nick and Nora, a riff on avocado toast with chili crisp. Beyond bagels, the shop serves a few satisfying one-pound breakfast burritos with fillings like Oaxacan cheese and guajillo chili salsa, and J Kenji López-Alt-approved biscuit sandwiches.

Cookies Country Chicken

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It’s only fitting that Cookie’s Country Chicken has found a home in Ballard, a neighborhood with strong nautical ties. Owner Brian Chandler spent 10 years in the maritime industry, including a stint spent perfecting his fried chicken recipe while feeding oil industry crews in Louisiana. Top sides include mashed potatoes with gravy, mac and cheese, and collard greens.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

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Renee Erickson owns a shoal of sea-themed restaurants, but none more iconic than this oyster bar, located in the back of one of Ballard Avenue’s historic brick buildings. The seasonal small plates menu doesn’t miss, and first-timers should order the always-in-season fried oysters, crunchy on the outside and rich and creamy on the inside — a treat even if you’re not an oyster person. If you want to become an oyster person, you’re in the right place, since not only are the oysters high-quality, but the staff is happy to talk you through the varieties and differences. There are no reservations here; to guarantee yourself a seat show up when it opens at 4 p.m. to get on the waiting list, or try arriving late on an off night.

Delancey

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Diners know this spot for its thin-crust wood-fired pizza and lovely salads. Two-day-fermented dough is the base for the likes of zesty tomato sauce, spicy salami, and onions. The Jersey salad with red cabbage, crispy lettuce, and croutons is a crunchy treat. Don’t leave without a couple of the chocolate chip cookie with gray salt, or buy some of the cookie dough to bake at home.

The Fat Hen

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There’s brunch for days on Ballard Avenue but nothing that tops the skillets and Benedicts at this small but constantly bustling cafe. The shakshuka is rich and creamy and literally heartwarming, and that’s before you add lamb meatballs to it. This is an ideal place to take your parents or a romantic partner just as things are getting serious and when you don’t need to do flashy dates anymore — it’s for adults, in other words.

A bowl of shakshuka with a side of bread.
The shakshuka at the Fat Hen
Harry Cheadle

Brimmer and Heeltap

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Set in a beautiful brick building on Market Street with an airy dining room and leafy patio, this neighborhood bistro serves creative dishes like radishes with salmon roe and creme fraiche, Manila clams in cider broth, and pork chops with fermented greens. It also has a deep and complex cocktail menu. Owner Jen Doak also has a small cafe called Red Arrow Coffee in the backyard and a small-but-mighty wine shop in Half Seas, which is set to expand to a space across the street.

Stumbletown Ballard

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Opened in late 2021, Stumbletown is named after the strip of 65th Avenue Northwest where people used to “stumble” for predawn drinks or coffee. There’s a small beer and wine selection here, but you come to Stumbletown for the “Italian-inspired” sandwiches, hand-held symphonies of cured meat, sun-dried tomato spread, hot or sweet peppers, and arugula, all on warm bread from Sea Wolf bakery.

Sunny Hill

Sunset Hill landed this stellar pizzeria in 2020, focused on both Detroit-style square and 12-inch round pies served from a Wood Stone hearth oven. Options include the War Child, topped with mushrooms, leeks, and truffle cheese; and the Murray, which has smashed meatballs, peppers, onions, and basil. The smash burgers are sensational as well, topped with frizzled onions (don’t forget about the waffle fries, which come with umami ketchup or black garlic ranch). And the seasonal spritzes make for a refreshing cocktail best enjoyed on the comfortable back patio.

Cafe Munir

The food at Munir, with influences from owner Rajah Gargour’s Lebanese background, is a vegetarian’s dream. The small plates of lentils ground with roasted garlic, house labneh, and sweet pears in savory tahini always impress, and Sundays at the restaurant mean an elaborate chef’s choice meal that’s sure to impress. Patrons should check Instagram for seasonal items that keep the menu vibrant.

Rupee Bar

This Ballard bar and kitchen is led by Elizabeth Kenyon, previously of Manolin, who crafts an assortment of Sri Lankan and South Indian snacks like egg rolls stuffed with lamb and potato curry, tomato, and curry leaf, and yogurt-marinated spiced fried chicken. The cocktail menu includes South Asian ingredients like toasted coriander seeds, turmeric, and tamarind date chutney. The bar won a James Beard Award for best design for restaurants with under 75 seats in 2020, and Kenyon was a semifinalist for two other James Beards in 2020 and 2022.

Larsen's Bakery

It doesn’t get much more classic Ballard than this Danish bakery. Larsen’s does everything from seeded bread to wedding cakes to Danish specialties like kringle (basically a big sweet pretzel). But if you’re coming here it’s probably for a little treat, like a bear claw, or a spandau (which is a bit like a Danish, only with jam or custard in the center). Don’t sleep on the humble doughnut, especially when the red velvet variety is hanging around.

A pastry case containing Danish pastries.
The pastry case at Larsen’s Bakery
Harry Cheadle

Beast and Cleaver

At this hybrid butcher shop–restaurant from London native Kevin Smith, customers can find premium cuts of pasture-raised meat from local farms, as well as terrines, porchetta di testa, and pâté en croute. There are also fabulous tasting menu dinners under the moniker the Peasant that include well-crafted seasonal plates and plenty of beer and wine pairings. 

Secret Savory

Don’t be thrown by the odd name or the slogan “LOOK FOR THE NOOK IT IS OFF THE HOOK” (which I guess is supposed to reference that it’s kind of tucked away?). Chef Supanut Jiratkaren is putting out some hot Thai food in every sense of the word. The menu leans into seafood, but this is a place where even basic staples are eye-opening. The Chinese broccoli is fresh and vibrant, and the panang tofu is so rich it’ll convert even devoted carnivores.

San Fermo

The menu at this popular Ballard restaurant is minimal and lighter than one might see at more traditional Italian joints, and changes daily. Recent standouts include a chicory salad with persimmon and pomegranate molasses and a decadent saffron spaghetti bolognese with pork and veal. There’s also an outdoor deck and expanded sidewalk seating.

Rachel's Bagels & Burritos

Formerly the much-loved Porkchop & Co, this Ballard shop was reborn as a bagel spot during the pandemic. These perfectly chewy bagels are excellent across the board, with offerings like bagels topped with za’atar and shichimi togarashi (a Japanese chili pepper and spice blend). There are also great bagel sandwich options, like the Nick and Nora, a riff on avocado toast with chili crisp. Beyond bagels, the shop serves a few satisfying one-pound breakfast burritos with fillings like Oaxacan cheese and guajillo chili salsa, and J Kenji López-Alt-approved biscuit sandwiches.

Cookies Country Chicken

It’s only fitting that Cookie’s Country Chicken has found a home in Ballard, a neighborhood with strong nautical ties. Owner Brian Chandler spent 10 years in the maritime industry, including a stint spent perfecting his fried chicken recipe while feeding oil industry crews in Louisiana. Top sides include mashed potatoes with gravy, mac and cheese, and collard greens.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Renee Erickson owns a shoal of sea-themed restaurants, but none more iconic than this oyster bar, located in the back of one of Ballard Avenue’s historic brick buildings. The seasonal small plates menu doesn’t miss, and first-timers should order the always-in-season fried oysters, crunchy on the outside and rich and creamy on the inside — a treat even if you’re not an oyster person. If you want to become an oyster person, you’re in the right place, since not only are the oysters high-quality, but the staff is happy to talk you through the varieties and differences. There are no reservations here; to guarantee yourself a seat show up when it opens at 4 p.m. to get on the waiting list, or try arriving late on an off night.

Delancey

Diners know this spot for its thin-crust wood-fired pizza and lovely salads. Two-day-fermented dough is the base for the likes of zesty tomato sauce, spicy salami, and onions. The Jersey salad with red cabbage, crispy lettuce, and croutons is a crunchy treat. Don’t leave without a couple of the chocolate chip cookie with gray salt, or buy some of the cookie dough to bake at home.

The Fat Hen

There’s brunch for days on Ballard Avenue but nothing that tops the skillets and Benedicts at this small but constantly bustling cafe. The shakshuka is rich and creamy and literally heartwarming, and that’s before you add lamb meatballs to it. This is an ideal place to take your parents or a romantic partner just as things are getting serious and when you don’t need to do flashy dates anymore — it’s for adults, in other words.

A bowl of shakshuka with a side of bread.
The shakshuka at the Fat Hen
Harry Cheadle

Brimmer and Heeltap

Set in a beautiful brick building on Market Street with an airy dining room and leafy patio, this neighborhood bistro serves creative dishes like radishes with salmon roe and creme fraiche, Manila clams in cider broth, and pork chops with fermented greens. It also has a deep and complex cocktail menu. Owner Jen Doak also has a small cafe called Red Arrow Coffee in the backyard and a small-but-mighty wine shop in Half Seas, which is set to expand to a space across the street.

Stumbletown Ballard

Opened in late 2021, Stumbletown is named after the strip of 65th Avenue Northwest where people used to “stumble” for predawn drinks or coffee. There’s a small beer and wine selection here, but you come to Stumbletown for the “Italian-inspired” sandwiches, hand-held symphonies of cured meat, sun-dried tomato spread, hot or sweet peppers, and arugula, all on warm bread from Sea Wolf bakery.

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