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A platter of grilled pork, perilla and lettuce leaves, with some gochujang in a metal container in the middle and some barchan on the side.
Bo ssam with mushrooms from Ohsun Banchan
Sara Upshaw

The Hottest New Restaurants in the Seattle Area, January 2023

A permanent home for Somali street food in Rainier Valley, a Pioneer Square cafe serving gluten-free Korean food, and other noteworthy new spots to try in the Seattle area

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Bo ssam with mushrooms from Ohsun Banchan
| Sara Upshaw

The Eater Seattle Heatmap aims to answer to 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 January 2023: Mama Sambusa Kitchen in Rainier Valley, Asean Street Food Hall and Chan Seattle downtown, ʔálʔal Cafe and Ohsun Banchan Deli & Cafe in Pioneer Square, and Coastal Kitchen on Capitol Hill.

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Couple Berk Güldal and Katrina Schult’s Turkish triumph Hamdi, an Eater Award winner for 2022, just transitioned from pop-up to Ballard restaurant, where you’ll find everything from meltingly tender hand-minced lamb kebabs and refreshing celery root soup kereviz corbasi to dry-aged goose with pickled chanterelles and local truffles cooked in full view with a charcoal grill or wood-fired oven. Turkish wine, cocktails, and non-alcoholic options like pickled beet juice play off the intensely flavored food. Reservations and walk-ins are exceedingly hard to come by right now; your best bet is to monitor the upscale restaurant’s Instagram page for updates.

Coastal Kitchen

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Capitol Hill classic Coastal Kitchen reopened in December after a car crashed through its entrance. The 29-year-old fish house and oyster bar boasts a new sign and black exterior, dark booths offsetting bright white walls and white-tiled floors, bar tops of dark wood and light marble, and a vibrant mural by artist Becca Fuhrman. In the kitchen, the chefs are doubling down on Northwest and Pacific Coast seafood like oysters, halibut ceviche, wild Alaskan salmon with black trumpet mushrooms and salmon roe, and shellfish risotto. Small-batch natural wines, local draft beer, and cocktails dominate the drink menu, including a spiced persimmon hot toddy and the Tahoma, which shakes up gin with yuzu liqueur and egg white.

Sushi by Scratch Restaurants: Seattle

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Sushi By Scratch Restaurants, whose California location received a Michelin star, now has a location in downtown Seattle. Reservations are currently all sold out, but more are released on the first of every month at 10 a.m. The restaurant serves a $165 17-course omakase experience, a price point that’s lower than some other omakase around town. Six of these courses are uniquely Californian takes on nigiri from owner Phillip Frankland Lee, a white chef from Los Angeles, including a hamachi nigiri brushed with sweet corn pudding and topped with sourdough bread crumbs. The other 10 courses are unique to the Seattle location and will incorporate local ingredients like geoduck, king salmon, and Dungeness crab.

Maíz Molino

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Pike Place Market’s terrific but tiny Maíz now has a much-bigger sibling in Denny Triangle, where owners Aldo Góngora, his wife Angelica, and sister-in-law Roxana Martin are showing off their nixtamalized heirloom-corn tortillas alongside a wider range of specialties, from a complex pork pozole rojo and a dish of griddled barbacoa lamb, olla beans, and consomé at brunch to chochoyote caldo (a seafood stew) and a peanutty chicken mole at dinner. The fancy sit-down Mexican restaurant Maíz Molino, which means corn mill, also serves micheladas and creative cocktails like Whitexican, which you’d best believe also features freshly ground corn in the form of pinole, plus espresso, mezcal, corn liqueur, and almond milk.

A top-down view of a light-wood table with a dark-orange bowl on it, filled with darkly colored pork pozole rojo topped with bright shredded lettuce and slices of radish.
Pork pozole rojo at Maiz Molino.
Jade Yamazaki Stewart/Eater

Kōbo Pizza

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Kōbo is star chef Shota Nakajima’s newest project, which offers chaotic pizzas that fuse elements of Detroit-style pizza and Osaka street food inside of Redhook Brewlab, right next to Nakajima’s fried chicken restaurant, Taku. Pizzas include the Dodger, topped with teriyaki brisket, and the Hot Neighbor, topped by Taku fried chicken and koji hot sauce. The restaurant is also serving drinking snacks like Japanese pickles, salt and pepper broccoli with sweet chili sauce, and corn dog nuggets with chili jam ketchup.

Ben & Esther's Vegan Jewish Deli

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In many places, Seattle included, it’s hard enough to come by a Jewish deli, and vegan Jewish delis are practically unheard of. Justin King is working to change that with Ben & Esther’s, a growing Portland-based chain that recently opened a Capitol Hill location. The shop serves its bagels with lox made from salt-roasted carrots, swaps the whitefish for brined-and-smoked hearts of palm, and bakes babka and rugelach with Earth Balance instead of butter. The space is relatively simple and small, but you can sit at a handful of tables on the ground floor and on the mezzanine, or take your sandwiches, deli items by the pound, and espresso egg creams to go.

Chan Seattle

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Chef Heong Soon Park (Bacco Cafe, Meet Korean BBQ) has reopened Chan, his excellent Korean restaurant. The former Pike Place Market spot is now in a sleek space at the Paramount Hotel downtown, which used to house happy hour favorite Dragonfish Asian Cafe. You’ll find menu classics like bulgogi sliders, fried rice cakes, and Korean fried chicken; creative cocktails featuring the likes of Japanese whiskey, plum sake, and lotus root; and even lounge-only happy hour discounts from 4 to 6 p.m. Park also owns Spruce Cafe at the Paramount Hotel.

Takai by Kashiba

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Takai By Kashiba is the most exciting new sushi spot on the Eastside. It’s backed by Seattle sushi godfather Shiro Kashiba, of Sushi Kashiba, and the sushi bar is manned by one of his star apprentices, Jun Takai, who serves a 22-course omakase starting at $150, with a focus on nigiri made with aged fish. Takai represents the next generation of Seattle sushi, and will maintain the legacy of edomae-style sushi Kashiba started in Seattle, while developing his personal style. Beyond nigiri, the omakase includes kaiseki-style dishes like a piece of grilled belt fish topped with yuzu kosho, grated daikon, and salmon roe, served on a small plate with green maple leaves, or a jiggly green square of tofu made with fresh edamame instead of the usual dry soybeans.

Asean Streat Food Hall

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Level 1 of Westlake Center downtown has a new food hall called Asean Streatdecorated brightly with colorful tablecloths, chairs, milk crates hanging from the ceiling, and large video screens. The name refers to the street eats that the food hall serves from food carts representing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which comprises 10 countries, so you can order from a centralized kiosk to combine the likes of Thai and Laotian dishes such as larb from Zaab Eli with Vietnamese from Phancy Pho.

Bar Solea

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Brendan McGill’s spent 2022 shaking off a pandemic-induced focus on quick-service and takeout. Following the success of Eater Award-winning Seabird, the ocean-to-table masterpiece that replaced his acclaimed Hitchcock on Bainbridge Island, he turned downtown’s Bar Taglio into Bar Solea in November. It’s not a massive shift so much as a recommitment to excellent Italian fare through a local lens in a lively dine-in space. As such, rush over here for pizza (Neo-Neapolitan, now); wine, antipasti, and aperitivo drinks like a creamy draft Negroni (the Nitroni); seafood (wine-cooked clams), and an exploration of vegetables and Roman influences (roasted carrots with garum, or fermented fish paste).

ʔálʔal Cafe

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Chief Seattle Club, the nonprofit owner of ʔálʔal Cafe, provides support to Native people experiencing homelessness; ʔálʔal, pronounced “All-All,” is the Lushootseed word for “home” and also the name of the building itself, which contains housing for formerly unhoused, mostly Native residents. The beautiful new weekday cafe opened in late 2022 in dzidzəlalič, or Pioneer Square, showcasing Indigenous artists and dishes like wild rice bowls with berry vinaigrette and bison barbacoa tacos garnished with pickled onions. Check the website to learn more about the traditional ingredients ʔálʔal sources from many different tribes, including blue corn from the Diné (Navajo) and Ute peoples, coffee from the Squaxin Island Tribe, and wild rice from the Red Lake Nation.

Ohsun Banchan Deli & Cafe

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After showing proof of concept with a hugely popular pop-up, cookbook author Sara Upshaw has opened her highly anticipated gluten-free Korean restaurant, Ohsun Banchan Deli & Cafe. Expect about half vegan options among noodles, soups, stewed meats, and 10 or so seasonally rotating banchan, the kinds of fermented side dishes (like various styles of kimchi) that typically accompany rice at Korean meals. The counter-service spot in Pioneer Square also serves soju, wine, cider, and gluten-free beer in the evenings.

The Boat

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In Little Saigon, Pho Bac’s iconic boat-shaped restaurant has become the Boat, where siblings Yenvy and Quynh Pham are continuing to advance the city’s understanding of Vietnamese food. They’re doing so by prioritizing one incredible dish that they say represents how Vietnamese people eat at home: com ga, or chicken rice, which includes a pressure-fried chicken coated with fried garlic atop fluffy rice alongside chrysanthemum chayote salad and sup. Order it to go with some adorable banh kep, or Viet waffles, with the likes of caramelized pineapple and salty sesame peanuts, or dine in to have it with unique cocktails like a green tea martini with shochu, sherry, and fish sauce — garnished with an anchovy.

Mama Sambusa Kitchen

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Halal food cart Mama Sambusa Kitchen has made the leap to a permanent home in Rainier Valley for the Somali street foods that Marian Ahmed (aka Mama Sambusa) and her daughter Chef Mohammed have perfected over the decades. Crispy sambusas filled with beef or veggies are obviously the star, but you’ll also find spaghetti, lamb and rice bowls, and decadent cheesecakes. The late-night hero typically stays open until 4 a.m., and will still focus primarily on to-go business as it only seats four for now; keep an eye out for brunch in the future as well.

Hamdi

Couple Berk Güldal and Katrina Schult’s Turkish triumph Hamdi, an Eater Award winner for 2022, just transitioned from pop-up to Ballard restaurant, where you’ll find everything from meltingly tender hand-minced lamb kebabs and refreshing celery root soup kereviz corbasi to dry-aged goose with pickled chanterelles and local truffles cooked in full view with a charcoal grill or wood-fired oven. Turkish wine, cocktails, and non-alcoholic options like pickled beet juice play off the intensely flavored food. Reservations and walk-ins are exceedingly hard to come by right now; your best bet is to monitor the upscale restaurant’s Instagram page for updates.

Coastal Kitchen

Capitol Hill classic Coastal Kitchen reopened in December after a car crashed through its entrance. The 29-year-old fish house and oyster bar boasts a new sign and black exterior, dark booths offsetting bright white walls and white-tiled floors, bar tops of dark wood and light marble, and a vibrant mural by artist Becca Fuhrman. In the kitchen, the chefs are doubling down on Northwest and Pacific Coast seafood like oysters, halibut ceviche, wild Alaskan salmon with black trumpet mushrooms and salmon roe, and shellfish risotto. Small-batch natural wines, local draft beer, and cocktails dominate the drink menu, including a spiced persimmon hot toddy and the Tahoma, which shakes up gin with yuzu liqueur and egg white.

Sushi by Scratch Restaurants: Seattle

Sushi By Scratch Restaurants, whose California location received a Michelin star, now has a location in downtown Seattle. Reservations are currently all sold out, but more are released on the first of every month at 10 a.m. The restaurant serves a $165 17-course omakase experience, a price point that’s lower than some other omakase around town. Six of these courses are uniquely Californian takes on nigiri from owner Phillip Frankland Lee, a white chef from Los Angeles, including a hamachi nigiri brushed with sweet corn pudding and topped with sourdough bread crumbs. The other 10 courses are unique to the Seattle location and will incorporate local ingredients like geoduck, king salmon, and Dungeness crab.

Maíz Molino

Pike Place Market’s terrific but tiny Maíz now has a much-bigger sibling in Denny Triangle, where owners Aldo Góngora, his wife Angelica, and sister-in-law Roxana Martin are showing off their nixtamalized heirloom-corn tortillas alongside a wider range of specialties, from a complex pork pozole rojo and a dish of griddled barbacoa lamb, olla beans, and consomé at brunch to chochoyote caldo (a seafood stew) and a peanutty chicken mole at dinner. The fancy sit-down Mexican restaurant Maíz Molino, which means corn mill, also serves micheladas and creative cocktails like Whitexican, which you’d best believe also features freshly ground corn in the form of pinole, plus espresso, mezcal, corn liqueur, and almond milk.

A top-down view of a light-wood table with a dark-orange bowl on it, filled with darkly colored pork pozole rojo topped with bright shredded lettuce and slices of radish.
Pork pozole rojo at Maiz Molino.
Jade Yamazaki Stewart/Eater

Kōbo Pizza

Kōbo is star chef Shota Nakajima’s newest project, which offers chaotic pizzas that fuse elements of Detroit-style pizza and Osaka street food inside of Redhook Brewlab, right next to Nakajima’s fried chicken restaurant, Taku. Pizzas include the Dodger, topped with teriyaki brisket, and the Hot Neighbor, topped by Taku fried chicken and koji hot sauce. The restaurant is also serving drinking snacks like Japanese pickles, salt and pepper broccoli with sweet chili sauce, and corn dog nuggets with chili jam ketchup.

Ben & Esther's Vegan Jewish Deli

In many places, Seattle included, it’s hard enough to come by a Jewish deli, and vegan Jewish delis are practically unheard of. Justin King is working to change that with Ben & Esther’s, a growing Portland-based chain that recently opened a Capitol Hill location. The shop serves its bagels with lox made from salt-roasted carrots, swaps the whitefish for brined-and-smoked hearts of palm, and bakes babka and rugelach with Earth Balance instead of butter. The space is relatively simple and small, but you can sit at a handful of tables on the ground floor and on the mezzanine, or take your sandwiches, deli items by the pound, and espresso egg creams to go.

Chan Seattle

Chef Heong Soon Park (Bacco Cafe, Meet Korean BBQ) has reopened Chan, his excellent Korean restaurant. The former Pike Place Market spot is now in a sleek space at the Paramount Hotel downtown, which used to house happy hour favorite Dragonfish Asian Cafe. You’ll find menu classics like bulgogi sliders, fried rice cakes, and Korean fried chicken; creative cocktails featuring the likes of Japanese whiskey, plum sake, and lotus root; and even lounge-only happy hour discounts from 4 to 6 p.m. Park also owns Spruce Cafe at the Paramount Hotel.

Takai by Kashiba

Takai By Kashiba is the most exciting new sushi spot on the Eastside. It’s backed by Seattle sushi godfather Shiro Kashiba, of Sushi Kashiba, and the sushi bar is manned by one of his star apprentices, Jun Takai, who serves a 22-course omakase starting at $150, with a focus on nigiri made with aged fish. Takai represents the next generation of Seattle sushi, and will maintain the legacy of edomae-style sushi Kashiba started in Seattle, while developing his personal style. Beyond nigiri, the omakase includes kaiseki-style dishes like a piece of grilled belt fish topped with yuzu kosho, grated daikon, and salmon roe, served on a small plate with green maple leaves, or a jiggly green square of tofu made with fresh edamame instead of the usual dry soybeans.

Asean Streat Food Hall

Level 1 of Westlake Center downtown has a new food hall called Asean Streatdecorated brightly with colorful tablecloths, chairs, milk crates hanging from the ceiling, and large video screens. The name refers to the street eats that the food hall serves from food carts representing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which comprises 10 countries, so you can order from a centralized kiosk to combine the likes of Thai and Laotian dishes such as larb from Zaab Eli with Vietnamese from Phancy Pho.

Bar Solea

Brendan McGill’s spent 2022 shaking off a pandemic-induced focus on quick-service and takeout. Following the success of Eater Award-winning Seabird, the ocean-to-table masterpiece that replaced his acclaimed Hitchcock on Bainbridge Island, he turned downtown’s Bar Taglio into Bar Solea in November. It’s not a massive shift so much as a recommitment to excellent Italian fare through a local lens in a lively dine-in space. As such, rush over here for pizza (Neo-Neapolitan, now); wine, antipasti, and aperitivo drinks like a creamy draft Negroni (the Nitroni); seafood (wine-cooked clams), and an exploration of vegetables and Roman influences (roasted carrots with garum, or fermented fish paste).

ʔálʔal Cafe

Chief Seattle Club, the nonprofit owner of ʔálʔal Cafe, provides support to Native people experiencing homelessness; ʔálʔal, pronounced “All-All,” is the Lushootseed word for “home” and also the name of the building itself, which contains housing for formerly unhoused, mostly Native residents. The beautiful new weekday cafe opened in late 2022 in dzidzəlalič, or Pioneer Square, showcasing Indigenous artists and dishes like wild rice bowls with berry vinaigrette and bison barbacoa tacos garnished with pickled onions. Check the website to learn more about the traditional ingredients ʔálʔal sources from many different tribes, including blue corn from the Diné (Navajo) and Ute peoples, coffee from the Squaxin Island Tribe, and wild rice from the Red Lake Nation.

Ohsun Banchan Deli & Cafe

After showing proof of concept with a hugely popular pop-up, cookbook author Sara Upshaw has opened her highly anticipated gluten-free Korean restaurant, Ohsun Banchan Deli & Cafe. Expect about half vegan options among noodles, soups, stewed meats, and 10 or so seasonally rotating banchan, the kinds of fermented side dishes (like various styles of kimchi) that typically accompany rice at Korean meals. The counter-service spot in Pioneer Square also serves soju, wine, cider, and gluten-free beer in the evenings.

The Boat

In Little Saigon, Pho Bac’s iconic boat-shaped restaurant has become the Boat, where siblings Yenvy and Quynh Pham are continuing to advance the city’s understanding of Vietnamese food. They’re doing so by prioritizing one incredible dish that they say represents how Vietnamese people eat at home: com ga, or chicken rice, which includes a pressure-fried chicken coated with fried garlic atop fluffy rice alongside chrysanthemum chayote salad and sup. Order it to go with some adorable banh kep, or Viet waffles, with the likes of caramelized pineapple and salty sesame peanuts, or dine in to have it with unique cocktails like a green tea martini with shochu, sherry, and fish sauce — garnished with an anchovy.

Mama Sambusa Kitchen

Halal food cart Mama Sambusa Kitchen has made the leap to a permanent home in Rainier Valley for the Somali street foods that Marian Ahmed (aka Mama Sambusa) and her daughter Chef Mohammed have perfected over the decades. Crispy sambusas filled with beef or veggies are obviously the star, but you’ll also find spaghetti, lamb and rice bowls, and decadent cheesecakes. The late-night hero typically stays open until 4 a.m., and will still focus primarily on to-go business as it only seats four for now; keep an eye out for brunch in the future as well.

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