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The bar at Tomo, lined with bottles and glasses, with orange accent lighting and dark paint on the walls. Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle

The Hottest New Restaurants in the Seattle Area, October 2021

Including Japanese barbecue, a downtown steakhouse, White Center’s eclectic new dining experience, and more

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Despite the pandemic, chefs and owners have stayed nimble as they started their ventures in an uncertain landscape. 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: North Seattle’s Niku Niku Japanese Barbecue, downtown’s Bourbon Steak, and White Center’s Tomo.

All restaurants listed offer takeout and indoor dining. As of October 25, King County will require proof of vaccination for everyone ages 12+ at indoor establishments, restaurants, and bars. Studies indicate there is a lower exposure risk when eating outdoors, and the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines. Please visit King County’s COVID website for resources and current information.

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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. Niku Niku Japanese Barbecue

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13200 Aurora Ave N Suite G
Seattle, WA 98133
(206) 588-1027
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North Seattle’s Niku Niku Japanese Barbecue features Wagyu beef, Kurobuta pork, lamb, chicken, seafood, and other Japanese dishes. One of the few Japanese barbecue restaurants in Seattle, Niku Niku offers a relaxed dining experience with a grill-it-yourself option. It’s the perfect spot for a special occasion.

A tray of tender beef slices with a cut lime and sauce ramekin sit on top of an artful display against a black backdrop.
Niku Niku Japanese Barbecue prides itself on its Wagyu beef selections.
Annette Chu

3. 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. 

4. 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

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. 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

7. 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).

8. 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.

9. Bourbon Steak Seattle

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1433 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 741-1044
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Chef Michael Mina opened Bourbon Steak on October 1, in the former location of his French steakhouse RN74, which closed during the pandemic. Bourbon Steak is a modern American steakhouse, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients from local farms like Redmond’s Sound Sustainable Farms, and hormone-free beef from Double R Ranch. Check out the happy hour, Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., featuring the Bourbon Burger. 

10. 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

11. TOMO

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9811 16th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98106

The much-anticipated White Center restaurant Tomo opened at the beginning of September with eclectic menu offerings reflecting Japanese and Venezuelan influences. Chef Brady Williams is big on creativity and improvisation with locally-sourced ingredients. The seasonal five-course dinner menu (lunch is served on the weekend) includes albacore tuna, pork collar, pluots, and summer squash, with a vegetarian option as well. The name Tomo means “friend” in Japanese, and is also an homage to Williams’ grandmother, Tomoko Ishiwata Bristol.

The bar at Tomo, lined with bottles and glasses, with orange accent lighting and dark paint on the walls.
Opening recently in White Center, Tomo is a restaurant big on creativity, with a distinctly Seattle flair.
Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle

12. MyungIn Dumplings

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33310 Pacific Hwy S Suite 408
Federal Way, WA 98003
(253) 838-1180
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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. Niku Niku Japanese Barbecue

13200 Aurora Ave N Suite G, Seattle, WA 98133
A tray of tender beef slices with a cut lime and sauce ramekin sit on top of an artful display against a black backdrop.
Niku Niku Japanese Barbecue prides itself on its Wagyu beef selections.
Annette Chu

North Seattle’s Niku Niku Japanese Barbecue features Wagyu beef, Kurobuta pork, lamb, chicken, seafood, and other Japanese dishes. One of the few Japanese barbecue restaurants in Seattle, Niku Niku offers a relaxed dining experience with a grill-it-yourself option. It’s the perfect spot for a special occasion.

13200 Aurora Ave N Suite G
Seattle, WA 98133

3. 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

4. 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

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. 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

7. 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

8. 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

9. Bourbon Steak Seattle

1433 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101

Chef Michael Mina opened Bourbon Steak on October 1, in the former location of his French steakhouse RN74, which closed during the pandemic. Bourbon Steak is a modern American steakhouse, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients from local farms like Redmond’s Sound Sustainable Farms, and hormone-free beef from Double R Ranch. Check out the happy hour, Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., featuring the Bourbon Burger. 

1433 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

10. 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

11. TOMO

9811 16th Ave SW, Seattle, WA 98106
The bar at Tomo, lined with bottles and glasses, with orange accent lighting and dark paint on the walls.
Opening recently in White Center, Tomo is a restaurant big on creativity, with a distinctly Seattle flair.
Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle

The much-anticipated White Center restaurant Tomo opened at the beginning of September with eclectic menu offerings reflecting Japanese and Venezuelan influences. Chef Brady Williams is big on creativity and improvisation with locally-sourced ingredients. The seasonal five-course dinner menu (lunch is served on the weekend) includes albacore tuna, pork collar, pluots, and summer squash, with a vegetarian option as well. The name Tomo means “friend” in Japanese, and is also an homage to Williams’ grandmother, Tomoko Ishiwata Bristol.

9811 16th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98106

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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