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Classic Restaurants Every Seattleite Must Try

Including some truly enduring specimens

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With a seemingly constant stream of buzzy new restaurants in Seattle, diners might forget some of the old, reliable spots. Here are 12 classic Seattle restaurants that have stood the test of time, operating for twenty years or more — and still going strong. Time to get nostalgic.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Beth's Cafe

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What's more timeless than a 24-hour diner churning out enormous omelets? Beth's Cafe in Phinney Ridge has been doing it — and doing it well — since 1954, with the endless fan-drawn art on the walls a testament to true popularity. Beyond the 12-egg omelets, more edible Americana comes in the form of burgers, hot dogs, chili, BLTs, and massive milkshakes.

The Grand Poobah of Seattle's fine-dining scene, Queen Anne’s Canlis has been serving outstanding multi-course meals since the 1950s, changing its menu enough with the times to stay relevant as more than a blast from the past. The fact that these meals unfurl in a mid-century-modern building with a view further cements the restaurant's lofty position.

Serafina

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Eastlake’s enduring Italian restaurant, Serafina, and its sibling Venetian-style bar, Cicchetti, have long been cornerstones of the Seattle restaurant scene. Both have lovely courtyards for warm-weather dining and excellent service, with many staff boasting multi-year tenures here. Whether you come for a rose and Italian-inspired tapas on the patio of Cicchetti or a multi-course meal of handmade pasta at Serafina, there’s no wrong way to dine here.

Colin Bishop/Serafina

Cafe Flora

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Madison Valley’s lovely Cafe Flora has been holding down the vegetarian fort in Seattle since the early ‘90s. The food here has always been outstanding, and it continues to impress. Dishes are polished, with a sincere focus on organic and sustainable growing methods, whether as part of creamy polenta with seasonal vegetables or pizza topped with the likes of squash and squash blossoms. It’s all lovingly prepared and served in one of Seattle’s most welcoming dining rooms.

Dick's Drive-In

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Born in 1953, the throwback-style drive-in slings scores of burgers and shakes at its locations around Seattle, creating a well-loved local brand along the way. The company also fundraises for numerous charities, which further cements its place in the community.

Dahlia Lounge

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This is the restaurant that launched Tom Douglas and his restaurant empire into Seattle fame. The downtown standby has served Pacific Northwest fare with an Asian twist since 1989, and the kitchen has continued to churn out well-executed dishes for adoring fans who pack the busy dining room. And the triple coconut cream pie is one of Seattle’s most recognizable desserts.

Emmett Watson's Oyster Bar

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Named for the legendary Seattle newspaper columnist who was once the restaurant’s co-owner, this Pike Place Market staple has drawn long lines for decades and even won an America’s Classics Award from the prestigious James Beard Foundation. The cramped, no-frills restaurant doesn’t mess around with fancy mignonettes for its raw bivalves, which come simply garnished with a lemon wedge and cocktail sauce. The broiled oysters are also a solid pick.

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Rumor has it that Vito’s on First Hill was once where Seattle’s mobsters once gathered. The East Coast-style Italian restaurant still feels like a place where shady deals might slide under the table, thanks to touches like a grand piano, vinyl booths, and mid-century decor. The martinis are fab here, as is the spaghetti and meatballs.

Shuckers

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Shuckers, downtown, is one of the city's oldest oyster bars, providing a delightful opportunity to slurp raw oysters inside a former 1930s haberdashery with original oak paneling. Diners shouldn't overlook the outstanding menu of seafood dishes like seafood chowder, halibut fish and chips, and seasonal specials, either.

A James Beard America’s Classic and Seattle's oldest Japanese restaurant, Maneki originally opened in the International District in 1904. It shuttered during World War II's dark period of internment, but its owners reopened the business against all odds in 1946, and the place is always busy. The storied venue serves an array of Japanese dishes, including sushi, comfort food, and traditional small plates.

Huong Binh Vietnamese Cuisine

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Perennial Eater 38 member Huong Binh has been an International District staple since 1993, serving up hard-to-find Vietnamese specialties. Weekends are prime time, when the already-strong menu expands to include even more impressive dishes. The broth in the various soups is always lovely and complex, and any dishes with pork are worth a purchase.

Loretta's Northwesterner

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Whether patrons choose to huddle in a booth inside the dimly lit bar or enjoy some sun on the back patio, they’ll get a sense of grungy, bygone Seattle at Loretta’s in South Park. This institution dispenses with any vestiges of modern, hip hotspots. There is no white subway tile, no exposed beams, and certainly no delicate plating. Instead, sticky floors and rusty bar stools pass for Northwest chic. The burgers are still as legit as always — and cheap, too.

Beth's Cafe

What's more timeless than a 24-hour diner churning out enormous omelets? Beth's Cafe in Phinney Ridge has been doing it — and doing it well — since 1954, with the endless fan-drawn art on the walls a testament to true popularity. Beyond the 12-egg omelets, more edible Americana comes in the form of burgers, hot dogs, chili, BLTs, and massive milkshakes.

Canlis

The Grand Poobah of Seattle's fine-dining scene, Queen Anne’s Canlis has been serving outstanding multi-course meals since the 1950s, changing its menu enough with the times to stay relevant as more than a blast from the past. The fact that these meals unfurl in a mid-century-modern building with a view further cements the restaurant's lofty position.

Serafina

Colin Bishop/Serafina

Eastlake’s enduring Italian restaurant, Serafina, and its sibling Venetian-style bar, Cicchetti, have long been cornerstones of the Seattle restaurant scene. Both have lovely courtyards for warm-weather dining and excellent service, with many staff boasting multi-year tenures here. Whether you come for a rose and Italian-inspired tapas on the patio of Cicchetti or a multi-course meal of handmade pasta at Serafina, there’s no wrong way to dine here.

Colin Bishop/Serafina

Cafe Flora

Madison Valley’s lovely Cafe Flora has been holding down the vegetarian fort in Seattle since the early ‘90s. The food here has always been outstanding, and it continues to impress. Dishes are polished, with a sincere focus on organic and sustainable growing methods, whether as part of creamy polenta with seasonal vegetables or pizza topped with the likes of squash and squash blossoms. It’s all lovingly prepared and served in one of Seattle’s most welcoming dining rooms.

Dick's Drive-In

Born in 1953, the throwback-style drive-in slings scores of burgers and shakes at its locations around Seattle, creating a well-loved local brand along the way. The company also fundraises for numerous charities, which further cements its place in the community.

Dahlia Lounge

This is the restaurant that launched Tom Douglas and his restaurant empire into Seattle fame. The downtown standby has served Pacific Northwest fare with an Asian twist since 1989, and the kitchen has continued to churn out well-executed dishes for adoring fans who pack the busy dining room. And the triple coconut cream pie is one of Seattle’s most recognizable desserts.

Emmett Watson's Oyster Bar

Shutterstock

Named for the legendary Seattle newspaper columnist who was once the restaurant’s co-owner, this Pike Place Market staple has drawn long lines for decades and even won an America’s Classics Award from the prestigious James Beard Foundation. The cramped, no-frills restaurant doesn’t mess around with fancy mignonettes for its raw bivalves, which come simply garnished with a lemon wedge and cocktail sauce. The broiled oysters are also a solid pick.

Shutterstock

Vito's

Rumor has it that Vito’s on First Hill was once where Seattle’s mobsters once gathered. The East Coast-style Italian restaurant still feels like a place where shady deals might slide under the table, thanks to touches like a grand piano, vinyl booths, and mid-century decor. The martinis are fab here, as is the spaghetti and meatballs.

Shuckers

Shuckers, downtown, is one of the city's oldest oyster bars, providing a delightful opportunity to slurp raw oysters inside a former 1930s haberdashery with original oak paneling. Diners shouldn't overlook the outstanding menu of seafood dishes like seafood chowder, halibut fish and chips, and seasonal specials, either.

Maneki

A James Beard America’s Classic and Seattle's oldest Japanese restaurant, Maneki originally opened in the International District in 1904. It shuttered during World War II's dark period of internment, but its owners reopened the business against all odds in 1946, and the place is always busy. The storied venue serves an array of Japanese dishes, including sushi, comfort food, and traditional small plates.

Huong Binh Vietnamese Cuisine

Perennial Eater 38 member Huong Binh has been an International District staple since 1993, serving up hard-to-find Vietnamese specialties. Weekends are prime time, when the already-strong menu expands to include even more impressive dishes. The broth in the various soups is always lovely and complex, and any dishes with pork are worth a purchase.

Loretta's Northwesterner

Whether patrons choose to huddle in a booth inside the dimly lit bar or enjoy some sun on the back patio, they’ll get a sense of grungy, bygone Seattle at Loretta’s in South Park. This institution dispenses with any vestiges of modern, hip hotspots. There is no white subway tile, no exposed beams, and certainly no delicate plating. Instead, sticky floors and rusty bar stools pass for Northwest chic. The burgers are still as legit as always — and cheap, too.

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