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A plate of grilled berbere-spiced chicken next to a bowl of rice and other sides
Berbere grilled chicken with sides at Communion Restaurant and Bar
Amber Hall

15 Great Places to Eat in the Central District

From Ethiopian to Vietnamese to “Seattle soul food,” and beyond

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Berbere grilled chicken with sides at Communion Restaurant and Bar
| Amber Hall

Like much of Seattle, the Central District faces tensions between its past and the rapid influx of new development. But this neighborhood’s diverse influences continue to carve out footholds, particularly in the food and drink scene. Whether diners are seeking Ethiopian cuisine, barbecue, Vietnamese fare, “Seattle soul food,” or outstanding pastries, the Central District has them covered. Here are some of the best places to eat, listed from north to south.

Though all the restaurants and bars on the list offer takeout, a number have resumed limited outdoor or indoor dining as well. The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here. Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Communion Restaurant & Bar

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2350 E Union St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 391-8140
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Mother-and-son team Kristi and Damon Brown are behind this gorgeous new “Seattle soul food” restaurant, which recently received national acclaim. The praise is well deserved, with outstanding and inventive takes on items such as hummus laced with Ethiopian spices, fried catfish banh mi, barbecue shrimp and grits, and peach cobbler. And there’s an excellent cocktail list to boot. Open for patio dining, delivery, and takeout.

2. Lowrider Baking Company

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2407 E Union St suite c
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 485-7266
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Cookie specialist Lowrider sells its sweets from a small counter on Union Street. The staples, like brown butter chocolate chunk and s’mores, are great places to start, but there are also rotating stuffed cookies, which are loaded with fillings like Nutella and brownie batter. The bakery sells everything to go, with online pre-ordering available and some delivery options.

3. Feed Co. Burgers

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1190 24th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 726-6000
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Patties at this popular burger destination come topped with ingredients like caramelized onions, blue cheese, and watercress, and they’re served with classic fries or onion rings or seasonal tempura vegetables. The menu is rounded out with a fantastic buffalo fried chicken sandwich, and well constructed salads and vegetable bowls. Open for dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

4. Raised Doughnuts

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1101 23rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 945-2353
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Standing in the (fast moving) weekend line here has become something of a Central District rite of passage, and for good reason. The menu includes standout staples like maple bars and apple fritters, and each month brings exciting new creations, such as lemon thyme and guava coconut. There’s also a savory Everything Bagel doughnut, mochi varieties, and cakes sold whole and by the slice. Open for pickup only.

5. Fat's Chicken and Waffles

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2726 E Cherry St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 602-6863
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The Southern food specialist on Cherry Street draws a line on weekends for good reasons, chief among them the fried chicken, brined in pickle juice and buttermilk. There’s also frito pie, chicken wings, red beans and rice, a honey butter chicken sandwich, and fried green tomatoes, all worth trying (even if it requires multiple visits). The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, and is currently open for takeout only.

6. Cherry Street Thai

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2724 E Cherry St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 325-6660
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This busy spot — currently open only for takeout and delivery — keeps its woks perpetually hot, serving stir-fried noodle dishes like pad kee mao and pad see ew. Beyond that, the menu runs the gamut from soups to curries to fried rice. It’s a well-oiled machine that deftly manages an extensive menu despite the small kitchen.

7. Meskel Restaurant

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2605 E Cherry St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 860-1724
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A sure bet amid an impressive crop of Ethiopian restaurants — many sitting within a block or two of each other — Meskel is beloved for its large portions of classics like the vegetable combination and the barbecue special (strips of beef and sliced peppers simmered in oil). It’s currently open only for takeout.

Meskel’s injera topped with vegetables and meat, next to a bottle of beer.
Meskel serves wonderful injera topped with vegetables and meat.
Meskel/Facebook

8. Ba Bar

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550 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 328-2030
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Vietnamese street food specialist Ba Bar now has three locations spun off the Central District original. The restaurant has an excellent happy hour, with discounts on the rotating slushie cocktail, fried oysters with green pepper sauce, pork and rice tamales, and sweet-spicy Sài Gòn chicken wings. Dinner dishes include vermicelli noodle bowls, rotisserie-cooked meats, and soup noodles. Open for dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

9. Peloton Cafe

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1220 E Jefferson St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 569-4265
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Hiding in this bike shop is a sneakily fantastic food counter dishing up breakfast burritos, a kimchi breakfast sandwich, hashes, and a vegan pastrami sandwich. The extensive breakfast and lunch options include ample vegetarian and vegan options — in fact, more than two-thirds of the menu is meatless. Right now the cafe is doing to-go orders only.

10. L'Oursin

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1315 E Jefferson St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 485-7173
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French food and natural wine pair perfectly at this welcoming spot on Jefferson Street. Since early 2020, the restaurant has been operating as a burger and fried chicken takeout window and market, but full table service returns May 23, and indoor dining will return after a brief respite on June 2. The robust retail market will remain in place, though.

11. The Barbeque Pit

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1816 E Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 325-3205
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At this longtime fixture, pitmaster Ed “Pookey” Whitfield presides over a wonderful array of pulled pork, beef, brisket, chicken, and ribs. The smoked meats are served alongside sides such as candied yams, mac and cheese, potato salad — all the classics, made to perfection. Open for takeout and limited onsite dining.

A close-up image of barbecued ribs at the Barbeque Pit
Ribs are one specialty at the Barbeque Pit.
The Barbeque Pit [Official Photo]

12. Temple Pastries

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2524 S Jackson St #104
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 408-4131
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The glorious array of baked goods at this bright bakery includes familiar items such as cookies, croissants, Kouign Amann, macarons, and breads, with flavors that are exceptional. Patrons might encounter combinations like black sesame yuzu, Jasmine green tea, and guava cream cheese, and the cruffin (croissant baked into a muffin mold) is a dream, particularly the cinnamon variety. Open for takeout orders.

13. Wood Shop BBQ

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2513 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 485-7381
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Owners Matt Davis and James Barrington bring flavors from their Texas and Kansas childhoods to the masses via food truck and this fixed location in the Central District. The meat is hickory-smoked in a custom Texas-built smoker named Brad Pit. Must-have sides include the mac and cheese topped with 12-hour pulled pork and jalapeño cornbread, and the cocktails are top-notch, too. Open for takeout and delivery via Chownow.

14. Reckless Noodle House and Cocktails

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2519 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 329-5499
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This Central District restaurant features bold flavors wielded expertly in dishes like roast duck crispy rolls with sambal hoisin, papaya salad, caramelized pork fresh rolls with Hanoi fish sauce, curry vermicelli bowl, and the tingly ma la braised beef noodles. Nothing about this place feels particularly reckless, just plain dialed in — ditto the original cocktails. Open for onsite dining and takeout.

15. Seattle Fish Guys

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411 23rd Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 485-7388
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This is primarily a seafood market (and an excellent one at that), but it also has a robust menu of made-to-order plates. There are poke bowls served with mac salad, clam chowder, oyster shooters, and Dungeness crab cocktail, perfect for leisurely warm weather days. It’s all available for takeout.

1. Communion Restaurant & Bar

2350 E Union St, Seattle, WA 98122

Mother-and-son team Kristi and Damon Brown are behind this gorgeous new “Seattle soul food” restaurant, which recently received national acclaim. The praise is well deserved, with outstanding and inventive takes on items such as hummus laced with Ethiopian spices, fried catfish banh mi, barbecue shrimp and grits, and peach cobbler. And there’s an excellent cocktail list to boot. Open for patio dining, delivery, and takeout.

2350 E Union St
Seattle, WA 98122

2. Lowrider Baking Company

2407 E Union St suite c, Seattle, WA 98122

Cookie specialist Lowrider sells its sweets from a small counter on Union Street. The staples, like brown butter chocolate chunk and s’mores, are great places to start, but there are also rotating stuffed cookies, which are loaded with fillings like Nutella and brownie batter. The bakery sells everything to go, with online pre-ordering available and some delivery options.

2407 E Union St suite c
Seattle, WA 98122

3. Feed Co. Burgers

1190 24th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

Patties at this popular burger destination come topped with ingredients like caramelized onions, blue cheese, and watercress, and they’re served with classic fries or onion rings or seasonal tempura vegetables. The menu is rounded out with a fantastic buffalo fried chicken sandwich, and well constructed salads and vegetable bowls. Open for dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

1190 24th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

4. Raised Doughnuts

1101 23rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

Standing in the (fast moving) weekend line here has become something of a Central District rite of passage, and for good reason. The menu includes standout staples like maple bars and apple fritters, and each month brings exciting new creations, such as lemon thyme and guava coconut. There’s also a savory Everything Bagel doughnut, mochi varieties, and cakes sold whole and by the slice. Open for pickup only.

1101 23rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

5. Fat's Chicken and Waffles

2726 E Cherry St, Seattle, WA 98122

The Southern food specialist on Cherry Street draws a line on weekends for good reasons, chief among them the fried chicken, brined in pickle juice and buttermilk. There’s also frito pie, chicken wings, red beans and rice, a honey butter chicken sandwich, and fried green tomatoes, all worth trying (even if it requires multiple visits). The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, and is currently open for takeout only.

2726 E Cherry St
Seattle, WA 98122

6. Cherry Street Thai

2724 E Cherry St, Seattle, WA 98122

This busy spot — currently open only for takeout and delivery — keeps its woks perpetually hot, serving stir-fried noodle dishes like pad kee mao and pad see ew. Beyond that, the menu runs the gamut from soups to curries to fried rice. It’s a well-oiled machine that deftly manages an extensive menu despite the small kitchen.

2724 E Cherry St
Seattle, WA 98122

7. Meskel Restaurant

2605 E Cherry St, Seattle, WA 98122
Meskel’s injera topped with vegetables and meat, next to a bottle of beer.
Meskel serves wonderful injera topped with vegetables and meat.
Meskel/Facebook

A sure bet amid an impressive crop of Ethiopian restaurants — many sitting within a block or two of each other — Meskel is beloved for its large portions of classics like the vegetable combination and the barbecue special (strips of beef and sliced peppers simmered in oil). It’s currently open only for takeout.

2605 E Cherry St
Seattle, WA 98122

8. Ba Bar

550 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

Vietnamese street food specialist Ba Bar now has three locations spun off the Central District original. The restaurant has an excellent happy hour, with discounts on the rotating slushie cocktail, fried oysters with green pepper sauce, pork and rice tamales, and sweet-spicy Sài Gòn chicken wings. Dinner dishes include vermicelli noodle bowls, rotisserie-cooked meats, and soup noodles. Open for dine-in, takeout, and delivery.

550 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

9. Peloton Cafe

1220 E Jefferson St, Seattle, WA 98122

Hiding in this bike shop is a sneakily fantastic food counter dishing up breakfast burritos, a kimchi breakfast sandwich, hashes, and a vegan pastrami sandwich. The extensive breakfast and lunch options include ample vegetarian and vegan options — in fact, more than two-thirds of the menu is meatless. Right now the cafe is doing to-go orders only.

1220 E Jefferson St
Seattle, WA 98122

10. L'Oursin

1315 E Jefferson St, Seattle, WA 98122

French food and natural wine pair perfectly at this welcoming spot on Jefferson Street. Since early 2020, the restaurant has been operating as a burger and fried chicken takeout window and market, but full table service returns May 23, and indoor dining will return after a brief respite on June 2. The robust retail market will remain in place, though.

1315 E Jefferson St
Seattle, WA 98122

11. The Barbeque Pit

1816 E Yesler Way, Seattle, WA 98122
A close-up image of barbecued ribs at the Barbeque Pit
Ribs are one specialty at the Barbeque Pit.
The Barbeque Pit [Official Photo]

At this longtime fixture, pitmaster Ed “Pookey” Whitfield presides over a wonderful array of pulled pork, beef, brisket, chicken, and ribs. The smoked meats are served alongside sides such as candied yams, mac and cheese, potato salad — all the classics, made to perfection. Open for takeout and limited onsite dining.

1816 E Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98122

12. Temple Pastries

2524 S Jackson St #104, Seattle, WA 98144

The glorious array of baked goods at this bright bakery includes familiar items such as cookies, croissants, Kouign Amann, macarons, and breads, with flavors that are exceptional. Patrons might encounter combinations like black sesame yuzu, Jasmine green tea, and guava cream cheese, and the cruffin (croissant baked into a muffin mold) is a dream, particularly the cinnamon variety. Open for takeout orders.

2524 S Jackson St #104
Seattle, WA 98144

13. Wood Shop BBQ

2513 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98144

Owners Matt Davis and James Barrington bring flavors from their Texas and Kansas childhoods to the masses via food truck and this fixed location in the Central District. The meat is hickory-smoked in a custom Texas-built smoker named Brad Pit. Must-have sides include the mac and cheese topped with 12-hour pulled pork and jalapeño cornbread, and the cocktails are top-notch, too. Open for takeout and delivery via Chownow.

2513 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144

14. Reckless Noodle House and Cocktails

2519 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98144

This Central District restaurant features bold flavors wielded expertly in dishes like roast duck crispy rolls with sambal hoisin, papaya salad, caramelized pork fresh rolls with Hanoi fish sauce, curry vermicelli bowl, and the tingly ma la braised beef noodles. Nothing about this place feels particularly reckless, just plain dialed in — ditto the original cocktails. Open for onsite dining and takeout.

2519 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144

15. Seattle Fish Guys

411 23rd Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

This is primarily a seafood market (and an excellent one at that), but it also has a robust menu of made-to-order plates. There are poke bowls served with mac salad, clam chowder, oyster shooters, and Dungeness crab cocktail, perfect for leisurely warm weather days. It’s all available for takeout.

411 23rd Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144

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