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The blackboard coffee menu and counter at Volunteer Park Cafe with white flowers in the foreground.
Volunteer Park Cafe and Pantry features baked goods and other items from Canlis alums.
Gabe Guarente

The Hottest New Restaurants in the Seattle Area, September 2021

Including an exciting cafe revival on Capitol Hill, critically lauded Cuban sandwiches in Shoreline, and stellar dumplings in Federal Way

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Volunteer Park Cafe and Pantry features baked goods and other items from Canlis alums.
| Gabe Guarente

During the pandemic, chefs and owners have needed to stay nimble as they start their ventures in an uncertain landscape. But many places around the area have managed to emerge with exciting new offerings, and a few longtime favorites have even found a way to expand to different neighborhoods. Here are some of the most intriguing destinations in the Seattle dining scene to open over the past six months, listed from north to south.

Added this month: The revival of Capitol Hill’s popular Volunteer Park Cafe and Pantry, Shoreline’s new sandwich specialist El Cubano, and the Federal Way edition of LA’s star MyungIn Dumplings.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. El Cubano

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19920 Aurora Ave N
Shoreline, WA 98133
(206) 629-4443
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A new Shoreline sandwich maker recently opened its doors for mainly takeout and delivery. As the name suggests, on the menu are a couple of different takes on the Cuban, including a “Tampa” version (with Genoa salami), plus some roasted pork platters, ropa vieja, and tamales. Seattle Times restaurant critic Tan Vinh recently raved about it, and the small counter service spot draws long lines on the weekends.

A closeup of a Cuban sandwich, with ham, roast pork, pickles, and mustard.
El Cubano serves up sandwiches that has already drawn critical raves.
El Cubano

2. Seatango Argentine Bakery & Cafe

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12728 Lake City Way NE
Seattle, WA 98125
(206) 327-9787
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This Argentinian business started as a catering service, with a kiosk in Tukwila’s Spice Bridge, and now has a fixed location on Lake City Way. It sells a variety of wonderful sweet and savory pastries, including beef, chicken, and vegetable empanadas; crepes; monster bolas; Argentinian-style pizza; and some sandwiches, such as pork sausage with chimichurri. 

3. Autumn

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6726 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 789-8231
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Pasta pro Brian Clevenger — of restaurants Haymaker, Vendemmia, and Raccolto — has opened Autumn in Phinney Ridge. The new place has a similar vibe to Clevenger’s other locales, with an emphasis on well-crafted pasta dishes, as well as entrees that highlight three main seasonal ingredients, such as duck breast with potatoes, apples, and swiss chard, and black cod with charred allium, puffed grains, and spring greens.

Doppio ravioli with cultured butter and foraged purple herbs on a white plate, topdown view
Doppio ravioli with cultured butter and foraged purple herbs.
General Harvest Restaurant Group

4. Cycle Dogs

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5410 17th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 372-8510
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The former food truck has opened its first-ever restaurant in Ballard, with a menu of longtime favorites, including meatless hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches loaded with enticing toppings. There are the usual meat-and-dairy-free spins on Whataburger and Dick’s burgers, and must-try brunch items include breakfast burritos and tofu “eggy” sandwiches. In addition to takeout, the shop is also selling its “Best Damn Ranch” and other sauces for retail.

5. Volunteer Park Cafe & Pantry

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1501 17th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98112
(206) 822-6566
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This Capitol Hill mainstay recently reopened under new ownership as an all-day hybrid coffee shop, bottleshop, and corner market. The popular pastry case is still in place with a variety of intriguing treats from head baker Crystal Chiu (formerly of Canlis), and there are seasonal toasts galore, plus a hearty breakfast sandwich influenced by East Coast delis, a concoction from manager and fellow Canlis alum Melissa Johnson.

6. Blotto

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1830 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 403-1809
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After building a strong following for its naturally leavened sourdough pies as a pop-up, Blotto has set down more permanent roots on Capitol Hill with a cozy restaurant and corner market. While the menu changes often, it’s hard to go wrong with the simple cheese pie, served hot out of the oven with aged mozzarella and just the right amount of grease. The retail area includes rare items from local purveyors, plus a great selection of beer and wine.

7. Ltd Edition Sushi

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1641 Nagle Pl Suite 006
Seattle, WA 98122

For those still not fully comfortable having a dine-in experience, Ltd Edition Sushi is here to meet omakase takeout needs. The wooden boxes are filled with 13 pieces of thoughtfully curated edomae-style sushi, with add-ons that include sake flights and bottles (there are kids’ meals, too, consisting of seafood rice bowls). Private dining and subscription services will arrive eventually, and preorders are available via Tock.

A top-down view of a wooden box filled with various nigiri and other sushi selections
Ltd Edition Sushi focuses on omakase boxes for takeout.
Ltd Edition Sushi/Tock

8. Pho Bac

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1923 7th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 538-0194
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Seattle’s Vietnamese stalwart has expanded with a new location downtown with the usual lineup of noodle soups — and some banh mi, too. The restaurant bakes bread for the sandwiches onsite and showcases a few different types, including salted egg meatballs in a pho tomato broth and a tofu pate offering. There will soon be a speakeasy-style bar upstairs slinging Vietnamese cocktails.

9. Karachi Cowboys

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1517 12th Ave Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98122

Acclaimed former pop-up Karachi Cowboys has a full-fledged location in the Ballou Wright building, with dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Chef Nasir Zubair mixes Pakistani and Indian flavors along with some influences from his Houston roots in dishes such as aloo sliders with tamarind barbecue sauce and kheema served over lemon rice, all great for sharing. Vaccination proof required for indoor dining (there’s limited sidewalk seating as well).

10. Taku

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706 E Pike St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 829-9418
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Not long after star chef Shota Nakajima opened his Osaka-influenced street food spot Taku in March 2020, he had to close it again due to the pandemic. Now it’s back, with a menu that revolves around karaage, available as nuggets and wings, with other small sides on offer, such as watermelon salads. On the drinks side are Jell-O shots, kegged cocktails, boilermakers, and highballs carbonated with a special machine. Proof of vaccination required for entry.

11. Jackson’s Catfish Corner

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2218 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144

Born in 1985, this longtime Central District favorite made a triumphant return to the Central District in June. The new outpost has a full menu featuring staples such as the much-coveted fried catfish, snapper, burgers, and chicken sandwiches. Diners should expect beer and wine offerings down the line, as well as community events, including musical performances.

A crowd celebrates with sprays of champagne outside Jackson’s Catfish Corner on Jackson Street in the Central District.
Jackson’s Catfish Corner celebrated its return to the Central District in June.
Courtesy of Terrell Jackson

12. MyungIn Dumplings

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33310 Pacific Hwy S Suite 408
Federal Way, WA 98003
(253) 838-1180
Visit Website

Los Angeles’s Koreatown star Myung In Dumplings opened its first location outside of California, serving a variety of its popular handmade boiled, fried, and steamed offerings that were once featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show “Parts Unknown” (all the recipes are the same, says owner Yu Jin, who is personally overseeing the expansion). The king dumplings are appropriately enormous, and diners shouldn’t sleep on the fantastic fried chicken, either.

A collection of steamed dumplings on a slatted wooden tray, seen close up.
MyungIn Dumplings in Federal Way is an expansion of a popular LA restaurant.
MyungIn Dumplings

1. El Cubano

19920 Aurora Ave N, Shoreline, WA 98133
A closeup of a Cuban sandwich, with ham, roast pork, pickles, and mustard.
El Cubano serves up sandwiches that has already drawn critical raves.
El Cubano

A new Shoreline sandwich maker recently opened its doors for mainly takeout and delivery. As the name suggests, on the menu are a couple of different takes on the Cuban, including a “Tampa” version (with Genoa salami), plus some roasted pork platters, ropa vieja, and tamales. Seattle Times restaurant critic Tan Vinh recently raved about it, and the small counter service spot draws long lines on the weekends.

19920 Aurora Ave N
Shoreline, WA 98133

2. Seatango Argentine Bakery & Cafe

12728 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98125

This Argentinian business started as a catering service, with a kiosk in Tukwila’s Spice Bridge, and now has a fixed location on Lake City Way. It sells a variety of wonderful sweet and savory pastries, including beef, chicken, and vegetable empanadas; crepes; monster bolas; Argentinian-style pizza; and some sandwiches, such as pork sausage with chimichurri. 

12728 Lake City Way NE
Seattle, WA 98125

3. Autumn

6726 Greenwood Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
Doppio ravioli with cultured butter and foraged purple herbs on a white plate, topdown view
Doppio ravioli with cultured butter and foraged purple herbs.
General Harvest Restaurant Group

Pasta pro Brian Clevenger — of restaurants Haymaker, Vendemmia, and Raccolto — has opened Autumn in Phinney Ridge. The new place has a similar vibe to Clevenger’s other locales, with an emphasis on well-crafted pasta dishes, as well as entrees that highlight three main seasonal ingredients, such as duck breast with potatoes, apples, and swiss chard, and black cod with charred allium, puffed grains, and spring greens.

6726 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103

4. Cycle Dogs

5410 17th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107

The former food truck has opened its first-ever restaurant in Ballard, with a menu of longtime favorites, including meatless hot dogs, burgers, and sandwiches loaded with enticing toppings. There are the usual meat-and-dairy-free spins on Whataburger and Dick’s burgers, and must-try brunch items include breakfast burritos and tofu “eggy” sandwiches. In addition to takeout, the shop is also selling its “Best Damn Ranch” and other sauces for retail.

5410 17th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107

5. Volunteer Park Cafe & Pantry

1501 17th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112

This Capitol Hill mainstay recently reopened under new ownership as an all-day hybrid coffee shop, bottleshop, and corner market. The popular pastry case is still in place with a variety of intriguing treats from head baker Crystal Chiu (formerly of Canlis), and there are seasonal toasts galore, plus a hearty breakfast sandwich influenced by East Coast delis, a concoction from manager and fellow Canlis alum Melissa Johnson.

1501 17th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98112

6. Blotto

1830 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

After building a strong following for its naturally leavened sourdough pies as a pop-up, Blotto has set down more permanent roots on Capitol Hill with a cozy restaurant and corner market. While the menu changes often, it’s hard to go wrong with the simple cheese pie, served hot out of the oven with aged mozzarella and just the right amount of grease. The retail area includes rare items from local purveyors, plus a great selection of beer and wine.

1830 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

7. Ltd Edition Sushi

1641 Nagle Pl Suite 006, Seattle, WA 98122
A top-down view of a wooden box filled with various nigiri and other sushi selections
Ltd Edition Sushi focuses on omakase boxes for takeout.
Ltd Edition Sushi/Tock

For those still not fully comfortable having a dine-in experience, Ltd Edition Sushi is here to meet omakase takeout needs. The wooden boxes are filled with 13 pieces of thoughtfully curated edomae-style sushi, with add-ons that include sake flights and bottles (there are kids’ meals, too, consisting of seafood rice bowls). Private dining and subscription services will arrive eventually, and preorders are available via Tock.

1641 Nagle Pl Suite 006
Seattle, WA 98122

8. Pho Bac

1923 7th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

Seattle’s Vietnamese stalwart has expanded with a new location downtown with the usual lineup of noodle soups — and some banh mi, too. The restaurant bakes bread for the sandwiches onsite and showcases a few different types, including salted egg meatballs in a pho tomato broth and a tofu pate offering. There will soon be a speakeasy-style bar upstairs slinging Vietnamese cocktails.

1923 7th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

9. Karachi Cowboys

1517 12th Ave Suite 100, Seattle, WA 98122

Acclaimed former pop-up Karachi Cowboys has a full-fledged location in the Ballou Wright building, with dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Chef Nasir Zubair mixes Pakistani and Indian flavors along with some influences from his Houston roots in dishes such as aloo sliders with tamarind barbecue sauce and kheema served over lemon rice, all great for sharing. Vaccination proof required for indoor dining (there’s limited sidewalk seating as well).

1517 12th Ave Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98122

10. Taku

706 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122

Not long after star chef Shota Nakajima opened his Osaka-influenced street food spot Taku in March 2020, he had to close it again due to the pandemic. Now it’s back, with a menu that revolves around karaage, available as nuggets and wings, with other small sides on offer, such as watermelon salads. On the drinks side are Jell-O shots, kegged cocktails, boilermakers, and highballs carbonated with a special machine. Proof of vaccination required for entry.

706 E Pike St
Seattle, WA 98122

11. Jackson’s Catfish Corner

2218 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98144
A crowd celebrates with sprays of champagne outside Jackson’s Catfish Corner on Jackson Street in the Central District.
Jackson’s Catfish Corner celebrated its return to the Central District in June.
Courtesy of Terrell Jackson

Born in 1985, this longtime Central District favorite made a triumphant return to the Central District in June. The new outpost has a full menu featuring staples such as the much-coveted fried catfish, snapper, burgers, and chicken sandwiches. Diners should expect beer and wine offerings down the line, as well as community events, including musical performances.

2218 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144

12. MyungIn Dumplings

33310 Pacific Hwy S Suite 408, Federal Way, WA 98003
A collection of steamed dumplings on a slatted wooden tray, seen close up.
MyungIn Dumplings in Federal Way is an expansion of a popular LA restaurant.
MyungIn Dumplings

Los Angeles’s Koreatown star Myung In Dumplings opened its first location outside of California, serving a variety of its popular handmade boiled, fried, and steamed offerings that were once featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show “Parts Unknown” (all the recipes are the same, says owner Yu Jin, who is personally overseeing the expansion). The king dumplings are appropriately enormous, and diners shouldn’t sleep on the fantastic fried chicken, either.

33310 Pacific Hwy S Suite 408
Federal Way, WA 98003

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