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A stew in a hot stone pot topped with melted cheese and surrounded by side dishes.
The kalbijjim at Daeho Bellevue.
Harry Cheadle

The Hottest New Restaurants in the Seattle Area, February 2024

New entries include a hype-worthy Korean stew spot, a Mexican restaurant from a rising chef, and exceptional bagels

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The kalbijjim at Daeho Bellevue.
| Harry Cheadle

The Eater Seattle Heatmap aims to answer the question, “Where should I eat right now?” for people trying to keep up with the city’s constantly changing dining landscape. It focuses on newer restaurants — typically opened or revamped significantly within the last six months or so — that are reshaping Seattle’s food scene for the better.

Restaurants have endured enormous challenges the last several years, forced to contend with a pandemic that’s made restaurant work more dangerous, caused supply chain disruptions, and contributed, in some part, to labor shortages. Still, each month chefs continue to navigate uncertainty and open restaurants that expand the possibilities for dining in the city. Know of a spot that should be on our radar? Send us a tip by emailing seattle@eater.com.

New to the map in February 2024: Old Salt Ballard, Stevie’s Famous at the Clock-Out Lounge, Daeho Bellevue, and Pancita.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Ballard Beer Box

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We’re confused by Ballard Beer Box. It sells a dazzling and well-curated array of beer in bottles and cans and on tap, there’s sometimes a DJ hosting a trivia night or bumping the music unexpectedly loud, but it also has pizza with immaculate crust. Im. Ma. Cu. Late. Chewy and foldable but not burnt or too crisp, the ideal vessel for well-executed though not unique topping combos like hot honey and pepperoni. Pizza like this is way beyond the soak-up-your-beer fare you’d expect. If you treated it like a pizza place that just happened to sell beer, you wouldn’t be disappointed.

Old Salt Ballard

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When a pandemic hands you a lockdown, make bagels. That’s what Manolin chef Liz Kenyon did in 2020, and her Fremont bagel shop Old Salt has become so successful its spawned a second location in Ballard in January. The bagels have a crispy and blistered crust that gives away to an incredibly light interior, and even a plain bagel has a jolt of welcome saltiness on the outside. The Kippered Salmon Sandwich, with its briny pickled onions and capers, is a work of art, but the bagels are good enough you could just eat them as-is, like bready apples.

A bagel sandwich with salmon and cream cheese.
The Kippered Salmon Sandwich at Old Salt.
Harry Cheadle

Beast and Cleaver at 49th Street

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In September, renowned butcher shop and impossible-to-get-into tasting menu restaurant Beast and Cleaver opened an outpost inside Ballard’s Fair Isle Brewing. This adults-only saison-focused taproom is a little fancier than most of the spots in the brewery district, and the steaks and charcuterie on the menu here are more upscale than the food truck cuisine you get in the area. But the real draw here is the burger, which the Seattle Times has called the best in Seattle. It’s made from beef that’s been aged 100 days, always cooked medium rare, topped simply with American cheese and ketchup, no substitutions or changes allowed — unless you want to add bacon, which you should. The meat is juicy and rich, the ketchup adds a bit of sweetness that balances the umami quality of the aged beef, and the toasted bun holds up incredibly well. The only problem is that there are usually around 50 or fewer of these burgs available every day, so plan to come by early.

A burger with ketchup, bacon, and bright yellow cheese. Harry Cheadle

The owners of Post Alley Pizza and Saint Bread launched this Fremont pizza-and-sandwiches spot in August, and whatdyaknow, it’s terrific. The pizza crust here is crisp but chewy and foldable, not technically sourdough but with a slight tang to it; the sauce is rich and flavorful; and the toppings change based on seasonal availability, just as they do at Post Alley. Tivoli makes its own bread, and the focaccia here makes any sandwich a worthy lunch. Grab some cookies if you want to treat yourself, or grab a spritz or a beer if you’re trying to treat yourself in a different way.

A slice of white pizza topped with onions and sausage. Harry Cheadle

Paper Cake Shop

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Rachel Yang (of Joule and Revel) and Gabby Park (of Saint Bread) have a simple idea here at this Fremont shop, which opened in September: Let’s make cake. That’s what’s on the menu here, classic cake and nothing else, though what else would you need? The creations here often feature flavors traditionally used in Asian cuisines, and there are some delightful combos that result, like Blube, which is (duh) blueberry and ube. The standout jawn we’ve had here so far is the Big Bang, which is a chocolate cake with a layer of tahini that gets a boost of unexpected umami from the miso caramel. Every slice sold here is gorgeous, so go forth and make your followers jealous.

Former Canlis executive sous chef Johnny Courtney and his wife Sarah have moved their buzzed-about pop-up into a converted Wallingford house and hoo boy, Atoma does incredible things with vegetables. There’s meat on the seasonal menu, but the real stars are joints like the Winter Luxury, which is squash done three ways: tempura-fried, roasted, and thinly sliced and pickled, served on a luxurious pepita salsa macha. There’s even vegetables for dessert — Atoma’s take on the hoary old baked Alaska features parsnip ice cream, fennel, dehydrated carrot chips, and carrot cake. Like so much of what they do here, it’s quirky, ambitious, and a delight when you realize how well the kitchen has pulled it off. 

An elegantly plated assortment of squash.
Squash at Atoma
Harry Cheadle

Little Jaye

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The story here is that a while back Charlie Garrison, co-owner of West Seattle barbecue joint Lady Jaye, started a side project selling over-the-top baked goods on Sundays — think Rice Krispies treats only made out of Ruffles, or massive shokupan doughnuts. This was so successful, and the lines got so long, that Garrison and co. opened an entire bakery in South Park in October. The location has changed, but the more-is-more baking style hasn’t — the brownies are chocolate squared, the cookies are huge, and there’s this thing that’s like a cross between a Rice Krispies treat and a s’more that is too much for two people, let alone one. Check it out. They also have sandwiches and coffee.

A pile of Rice Krispies treats with Fruity Pebbles inside. Little Jaye

Gold Coast Ghal Kitchen

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Chef Tina Fahnbulleh literally built this First Hill restaurant, doing many of the renovations on the high-ceilinged, welcoming dining room herself. It’s a labor of love, the product of Fahnbulleh’s mission to bring West African food to Seattle. If Seattle knows what’s good for it, the city will embrace the cuisine with open arms — the peanut soup with goat is elegantly spiced and perfect for rainy days, especially soaked up with fufu, a traditional dish that is similar to mashed potatoes, only stretchier and meant to be eaten with your hands. Try it, you’ll love it.

A plate of West African food.
Jollof rice with ribs suya, shito, plantains, and slaw at Gold Coast Ghal Kitchen
Gold Coast Ghal

Chef Melissa Miranda’s new International District bar and restaurant is just so much fun. Opened in October, it’s filled with light and bold colors, the walls are covered in shelves nodding to Miranda’s Filipino heritage, and the menu is no more complicated than it needs to be. Over here you have a few different kinds of pancit (Filipino noodle dishes), and over here you have bulalo, a slow-cooked beef soup. (For the vegetarians, there’s also a mushroom version.) That bulalo broth is so beefy and decadent that you’ll want to have a shot of it, and you can, paired with a shot of cognac. In January, after water damage forced Miranda’s Musang to close temporarily, Kilig expanded its dinner service.

A bowl of noodles and vegetables next to a bowl of beef and vegetable soup. Suzi Pratt

This Chophouse Row space used to be home to Marmite and is now the second restaurant from Vietnamese immigrant Cuong Nguyen. Like Nguyen’s first spot, Ong Lam Bistro, the pho here comes with fresh noodles, which are wider and chewier than the usual noodles. There’s plenty of other attractions here, too. Like bun thit nuong, which is a combo of grilled pork, egg rolls, vermicelli, and lettuce and other greens. Or bo ne, the Vietnamese answer to steak and eggs, with pate added to the mix. Or the fried baby scallops, which may be the perfect appetizer. On weekends Xom serves sweet and savory croffles for brunch, and the cocktail list is extensive and full of Vietnamese influence.

Rice, lettuce, grilled pork, and fish sauce on a plate.
Bun thit nuong at Xom
Harry Cheadle

Stevie’s Famous at the Clock-Out Lounge

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Apparently, the Clock-Out Lounge is some kind of music venue? Coulda fooled us — last time we stepped into this Beacon Hill bar it was a crowded, surprisingly family-friendly pizza restaurant. That’s the Stevie’s Famous effect: The Burien-based pizzeria (founded by the Lupo team) has been drawing raves for its slices, and as of January you can get them here, within Seattle city limits. The star here is the crust, which is sturdy but pliable enough to fold New York-style, and has a slight sourdough-y tang. If you can only get one pie here, make it the Normie MacDonald, which combines burrata, hot honey, and coppa for a sweet-creamy-spicy combo that makes you reconsider any “hot honey has jumped the shark” takes you may have.

A pizza topped burrata and coppa.
The Normie MacDonald at Stevie’s Famous
Harry Cheadle

Pancita

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In August, Janet Becerra’s Pancita went from being the pop-up in residence at Sarah Penn’s Pair to a full-fledged restaurant in the space. The upscale Mexican dinner destination features rich mole, handmade tortillas, Caesar salad spiked playfully with serrano chiles, and albacore tostadas that deserve their own sentence. The tuna is lightly cooked and complements the crisp tortilla, and the kewpie mayo and fried leeks add just the right amount of bite and flavor. No wonder Becerra is a semifinalist for a James Beard Award.

Two tuna tostadas topped with crispy leeks.
Albacore tostadas at Pancita.
Harry Cheadle

Daeho Kalbijjim & Beef Soup Bellevue

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When we say the Bellevue location of the San Francisco-based Korean chain is “hot” we mean it in every possible sense. For one thing, the star dish — the thing you’re probably ordering when you come here — is kalbijjim, a beef stew served in a sizzling stone pot and often topped with cheese that is melted at your table with a blowtorch (everyone get out your phones). For another, when they ask if you want it to be spicy they mean spicy by Korean standards. Finally, even though Daeho is in a fairly highway-ish area of Bellevue, the restaurant was packed even during its January soft opening — there’s no reservations, so expect a wait. But expect the succulent stew, loaded with spicy, savory, and umami flavors, to live up to the wait, and the hype. Bring some friends to help you eat the top-notch banchan (sides).

A beef soup in a hot stone pot topped with melted cheese surrounded by side dishes.
Kalbijjim at Daeho.
Harry Cheadle

Ballard Beer Box

We’re confused by Ballard Beer Box. It sells a dazzling and well-curated array of beer in bottles and cans and on tap, there’s sometimes a DJ hosting a trivia night or bumping the music unexpectedly loud, but it also has pizza with immaculate crust. Im. Ma. Cu. Late. Chewy and foldable but not burnt or too crisp, the ideal vessel for well-executed though not unique topping combos like hot honey and pepperoni. Pizza like this is way beyond the soak-up-your-beer fare you’d expect. If you treated it like a pizza place that just happened to sell beer, you wouldn’t be disappointed.

Old Salt Ballard

When a pandemic hands you a lockdown, make bagels. That’s what Manolin chef Liz Kenyon did in 2020, and her Fremont bagel shop Old Salt has become so successful its spawned a second location in Ballard in January. The bagels have a crispy and blistered crust that gives away to an incredibly light interior, and even a plain bagel has a jolt of welcome saltiness on the outside. The Kippered Salmon Sandwich, with its briny pickled onions and capers, is a work of art, but the bagels are good enough you could just eat them as-is, like bready apples.

A bagel sandwich with salmon and cream cheese.
The Kippered Salmon Sandwich at Old Salt.
Harry Cheadle

Beast and Cleaver at 49th Street

In September, renowned butcher shop and impossible-to-get-into tasting menu restaurant Beast and Cleaver opened an outpost inside Ballard’s Fair Isle Brewing. This adults-only saison-focused taproom is a little fancier than most of the spots in the brewery district, and the steaks and charcuterie on the menu here are more upscale than the food truck cuisine you get in the area. But the real draw here is the burger, which the Seattle Times has called the best in Seattle. It’s made from beef that’s been aged 100 days, always cooked medium rare, topped simply with American cheese and ketchup, no substitutions or changes allowed — unless you want to add bacon, which you should. The meat is juicy and rich, the ketchup adds a bit of sweetness that balances the umami quality of the aged beef, and the toasted bun holds up incredibly well. The only problem is that there are usually around 50 or fewer of these burgs available every day, so plan to come by early.

A burger with ketchup, bacon, and bright yellow cheese. Harry Cheadle

Tivoli

The owners of Post Alley Pizza and Saint Bread launched this Fremont pizza-and-sandwiches spot in August, and whatdyaknow, it’s terrific. The pizza crust here is crisp but chewy and foldable, not technically sourdough but with a slight tang to it; the sauce is rich and flavorful; and the toppings change based on seasonal availability, just as they do at Post Alley. Tivoli makes its own bread, and the focaccia here makes any sandwich a worthy lunch. Grab some cookies if you want to treat yourself, or grab a spritz or a beer if you’re trying to treat yourself in a different way.

A slice of white pizza topped with onions and sausage. Harry Cheadle

Paper Cake Shop

Rachel Yang (of Joule and Revel) and Gabby Park (of Saint Bread) have a simple idea here at this Fremont shop, which opened in September: Let’s make cake. That’s what’s on the menu here, classic cake and nothing else, though what else would you need? The creations here often feature flavors traditionally used in Asian cuisines, and there are some delightful combos that result, like Blube, which is (duh) blueberry and ube. The standout jawn we’ve had here so far is the Big Bang, which is a chocolate cake with a layer of tahini that gets a boost of unexpected umami from the miso caramel. Every slice sold here is gorgeous, so go forth and make your followers jealous.

Atoma

Former Canlis executive sous chef Johnny Courtney and his wife Sarah have moved their buzzed-about pop-up into a converted Wallingford house and hoo boy, Atoma does incredible things with vegetables. There’s meat on the seasonal menu, but the real stars are joints like the Winter Luxury, which is squash done three ways: tempura-fried, roasted, and thinly sliced and pickled, served on a luxurious pepita salsa macha. There’s even vegetables for dessert — Atoma’s take on the hoary old baked Alaska features parsnip ice cream, fennel, dehydrated carrot chips, and carrot cake. Like so much of what they do here, it’s quirky, ambitious, and a delight when you realize how well the kitchen has pulled it off. 

An elegantly plated assortment of squash.
Squash at Atoma
Harry Cheadle

Little Jaye

The story here is that a while back Charlie Garrison, co-owner of West Seattle barbecue joint Lady Jaye, started a side project selling over-the-top baked goods on Sundays — think Rice Krispies treats only made out of Ruffles, or massive shokupan doughnuts. This was so successful, and the lines got so long, that Garrison and co. opened an entire bakery in South Park in October. The location has changed, but the more-is-more baking style hasn’t — the brownies are chocolate squared, the cookies are huge, and there’s this thing that’s like a cross between a Rice Krispies treat and a s’more that is too much for two people, let alone one. Check it out. They also have sandwiches and coffee.

A pile of Rice Krispies treats with Fruity Pebbles inside. Little Jaye

Gold Coast Ghal Kitchen

Chef Tina Fahnbulleh literally built this First Hill restaurant, doing many of the renovations on the high-ceilinged, welcoming dining room herself. It’s a labor of love, the product of Fahnbulleh’s mission to bring West African food to Seattle. If Seattle knows what’s good for it, the city will embrace the cuisine with open arms — the peanut soup with goat is elegantly spiced and perfect for rainy days, especially soaked up with fufu, a traditional dish that is similar to mashed potatoes, only stretchier and meant to be eaten with your hands. Try it, you’ll love it.

A plate of West African food.
Jollof rice with ribs suya, shito, plantains, and slaw at Gold Coast Ghal Kitchen
Gold Coast Ghal

Kilig

Chef Melissa Miranda’s new International District bar and restaurant is just so much fun. Opened in October, it’s filled with light and bold colors, the walls are covered in shelves nodding to Miranda’s Filipino heritage, and the menu is no more complicated than it needs to be. Over here you have a few different kinds of pancit (Filipino noodle dishes), and over here you have bulalo, a slow-cooked beef soup. (For the vegetarians, there’s also a mushroom version.) That bulalo broth is so beefy and decadent that you’ll want to have a shot of it, and you can, paired with a shot of cognac. In January, after water damage forced Miranda’s Musang to close temporarily, Kilig expanded its dinner service.

A bowl of noodles and vegetables next to a bowl of beef and vegetable soup. Suzi Pratt

Xom

This Chophouse Row space used to be home to Marmite and is now the second restaurant from Vietnamese immigrant Cuong Nguyen. Like Nguyen’s first spot, Ong Lam Bistro, the pho here comes with fresh noodles, which are wider and chewier than the usual noodles. There’s plenty of other attractions here, too. Like bun thit nuong, which is a combo of grilled pork, egg rolls, vermicelli, and lettuce and other greens. Or bo ne, the Vietnamese answer to steak and eggs, with pate added to the mix. Or the fried baby scallops, which may be the perfect appetizer. On weekends Xom serves sweet and savory croffles for brunch, and the cocktail list is extensive and full of Vietnamese influence.

Rice, lettuce, grilled pork, and fish sauce on a plate.
Bun thit nuong at Xom
Harry Cheadle

Stevie’s Famous at the Clock-Out Lounge

Apparently, the Clock-Out Lounge is some kind of music venue? Coulda fooled us — last time we stepped into this Beacon Hill bar it was a crowded, surprisingly family-friendly pizza restaurant. That’s the Stevie’s Famous effect: The Burien-based pizzeria (founded by the Lupo team) has been drawing raves for its slices, and as of January you can get them here, within Seattle city limits. The star here is the crust, which is sturdy but pliable enough to fold New York-style, and has a slight sourdough-y tang. If you can only get one pie here, make it the Normie MacDonald, which combines burrata, hot honey, and coppa for a sweet-creamy-spicy combo that makes you reconsider any “hot honey has jumped the shark” takes you may have.

A pizza topped burrata and coppa.
The Normie MacDonald at Stevie’s Famous
Harry Cheadle

Pancita

In August, Janet Becerra’s Pancita went from being the pop-up in residence at Sarah Penn’s Pair to a full-fledged restaurant in the space. The upscale Mexican dinner destination features rich mole, handmade tortillas, Caesar salad spiked playfully with serrano chiles, and albacore tostadas that deserve their own sentence. The tuna is lightly cooked and complements the crisp tortilla, and the kewpie mayo and fried leeks add just the right amount of bite and flavor. No wonder Becerra is a semifinalist for a James Beard Award.

Two tuna tostadas topped with crispy leeks.
Albacore tostadas at Pancita.
Harry Cheadle

Daeho Kalbijjim & Beef Soup Bellevue

When we say the Bellevue location of the San Francisco-based Korean chain is “hot” we mean it in every possible sense. For one thing, the star dish — the thing you’re probably ordering when you come here — is kalbijjim, a beef stew served in a sizzling stone pot and often topped with cheese that is melted at your table with a blowtorch (everyone get out your phones). For another, when they ask if you want it to be spicy they mean spicy by Korean standards. Finally, even though Daeho is in a fairly highway-ish area of Bellevue, the restaurant was packed even during its January soft opening — there’s no reservations, so expect a wait. But expect the succulent stew, loaded with spicy, savory, and umami flavors, to live up to the wait, and the hype. Bring some friends to help you eat the top-notch banchan (sides).

A beef soup in a hot stone pot topped with melted cheese surrounded by side dishes.
Kalbijjim at Daeho.
Harry Cheadle

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