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A pate with some grilled bread and a whole grilled quail with morels on ceramic plates with glasses of dark and light red wine on a wooden countertop.
Lamb brain pate and grilled quail served with wine at Off Alley.
Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle

The 38 Essential Restaurants in Seattle

Where to find world-class soba noodles, perfect sourdough pizza, innovative Filipino fine dining, and more

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Lamb brain pate and grilled quail served with wine at Off Alley.
| Suzi Pratt/Eater Seattle

“Where should I eat in Seattle?” Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a lifer, that question is seemingly simple but the answers are infinitely complex. Some of the main factors to consider are the type of food, price point, neighborhood, and occasion. That’s why Eater’s map of 38 essential Seattle restaurants exists. This curated list of suggestions attempts to capture the diversity of the food scene in Seattle and its suburbs, from tamale walk-up windows to 12-seat fine dining Filipino destinations, from classic French cafes to modern sushi bars, and so much more. Every place on the list has been open for at least six months or so, proving its merit.

Of course, this list is subjective and Seattle’s dining scene changes constantly, which is why the map updates every quarter — removal from the Eater 38 doesn’t mean a restaurant isn’t still awesome and won’t return in the future. If your favorite isn’t on here, email seattle@eater.com. For the newest places that food obsessives are flocking to, check out the Eater Seattle Heatmap, updated monthly.

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Ono Authentic Hawaiian Poke

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Ono, named for Oahu-born owner Steven Ono, is a seafood lover’s dream in Edmonds, offering possibly the highest-quality poke in the Seattle area on a menu that rotates depending on what’s fresh. Just as importantly, the restaurant uses a light hand with flavorings so you don’t lose the flavor of the fish itself, whether you’re eating salmon dressed with ponzu or a spicy ahi bowl.

Zylberschtein's

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Pinehurst’s Jewish deli and bakery is a versatile comfort-food spot every neighborhood needs. Owner Josh Grunig, formerly of Grand Central Bakery, offers a bounty of baked goods, including whole cakes, sourdough loaves, croissants, and challah, as well as some of the best bagels in Seattle. The covered patio, surrounded by planters, is a great place to can slurp matzo ball soup or eat what Grunig calls his “big, ridiculous sandwiches,” piles of house-smoked pastrami and corned beef between slices of rye bread or bagel halves. You can also order the smoked meat, and other Jewish deli staples like whitefish and chopped liver, by the pound, and the shop’s delivery service covers most of the Seattle area.

Cafe Juanita

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Kirkland’s Northern Italian fine dining mainstay offers several excellent seasonal tasting menus, including pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan options. Chef Holly Smith’s omnivorous tasting menus include dishes like Anderson Valley lamb chops with turnip gratin, while a vegan tasting menu features meat-free marvels like green garlic soup with fava bean toast.

FlintCreek Cattle Co

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Chef Eric Donnelly’s Greenwood steakhouse is one of the best in the city, serving simple 21-day dry-aged Washington steaks that are perfectly grilled and buttered, with options for filet mignon, New York strip, Delmonico, and tomahawk. Flintcreek Cattle Co. also stands out for incorporating game meats like elk and wild boar into the menu. Don’t overlook the stunning vegetable dishes amid all this meat, though. The drinks from the full bar are well-balanced, and dessert’s worth saving a little room for too.

Cafe Munir

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Owner Rajah Gargour’s Lebanese background informs the food at this intimate Ballard restaurant, which is particularly friendly to vegetarians with its many plant-based meze. The small plates of lentils ground with roasted garlic, house labneh, and sweet pears in savory tahini always impress, and the chef’s choice (or “Rajah roulette,” as the restaurant has called it) dinner on Sunday makes for one of the city’s best dining experiences, brimming with uncommon and seasonal dishes.

Beast and Cleaver

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London native Kevin Smith has built a cult following over the last few years for Beast and Cleaver, turning the Ballard spot into one of the city’s top destinations for carnivores. During the day, the business is simply an excellent whole-animal butcher shop serving house-made sausages and pates, local and imported steaks, and chicken, duck, and pork products, with plenty of expert recommendations for what to do with unusual cuts. But at night, the celebration of meat continues: On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the place becomes a casual wine bar serving wine with charcuterie and small plates, and on the weekends, it’s an exclusive tasting-menu restaurant under the moniker the Peasant, which serves dishes like koji-aged beef and duck confit with Yorkshire pudding waffles.

The Chicken Supply

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This casual Filipino fried chicken shop in Phinney Ridge was Eater Seattle’s pick for Best New Restaurant in 2022, and one of Eater’s favorite fried chicken restaurants in the country. The gluten-free batter on the chicken — wings, drumsticks, or 10-inch-long cylinders of white meat on sticks — crackles under the teeth and has the puffy texture of Rice Krispies or Frosted Flakes. The meat is packed with flavor from soy sauce and garlic. The restaurant’s owners, Paolo Campbell and Donald Adams, had wanted to start a fried chicken restaurant for years while working in fine dining, and now serve the fried birds with Filipino sides like collard greens served with coconut milk, marinated vegetables, and garlic rice.

Frelard Tamales

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From a farmers market favorite to a permanent tamale window near Green Lake, this popular Mexican spot from founders Osbaldo Hernandez and Dennis Ramey (with Hernandez’s parents helping run the operation) serves half-pound tamales packed with rich flavors. The salsa roja pork and the salsa verde chicken versions are as dreamy as you’d expect but don’t miss out on vegan and vegetarian options too, including tamales filled with sweet potato and mole and salsa roja and jackfruit. Everything comes with pickled onions and carrots and goes great with house-made agua de horchata. You can even stock up on bags of frozen tamales to steam at home.

Pestle Rock

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Among Seattle’s many neighborhood Thai restaurants, Ballard’s Pestle Rock stands out for using only local meat in its dishes and for staying laser-focused on Isan (Northeast) Thai cuisine. The flavors here are bold and unadulterated, with bright lemongrass and spicy chile enlivening the house-made sausage and funky, earthy shrimp paste covering the green beans and caramelized pork belly in the tua phad kapee. There’s no wrong pick from the list of “tossed” dishes, which come with lime juice and toasted rice powder, though the pork larb and nam tok (grilled wild boar collar) are particularly memorable. Try the wings at next-door sibling Sen Noodle Bar too.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

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James Beard Award-winning chef Renee Erickson has had a major hand in the evolution of Seattle’s dining scene, and her Sea Creatures restaurant group owns many of Seattle’s top restaurants, from steakhouse Bateau to Westward on Lake Union. But Erickson has never let her original Ballard bar slip. The Walrus and the Carpenter serves several varieties of Washington oysters, seafood dishes like raw albacore tuna with Meyer lemon sauce and blood oranges, and snacks like beef tartare, beef shank terrine, and plates of sliced cheese, along with a long wine list and a thoughtful cocktail menu. The dining room is bright and airy, and the heated, covered patio sparkles with string lights. Be warned that you can’t make reservations at this perennial favorite; on the upside, this is one of the few Seattle-area date-night restaurants open on Mondays.

Off The Rez Cafe

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Seattle’s only Native American-owned food truck opened its first restaurant in 2019 at the revamped Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus. Its menu is vibrant as ever, drawing on traditions that co-owner Mark McConnell’s mom shared from her upbringing on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana. Indian tacos showcase fluffy fry bread topped with 12-hour-smoked pulled pork, braised bison, or vegetarian chili, while wild rice bowls feature the likes of braised bison and seasonal vegetables; pair it all with house-made cedar blackberry tea. You can dine in, sit at benches outside while you eat, and order takeout or delivery online.

A growing number of excellent independent pizzerias in Seattle represent pizza nerds’ obsessive quests for the perfect pie, all a little different but often built on a base of local grains and seasonal toppings. Fremont’s Lupo stands out for its chewy, blistered sourdough pies with powerful but perfectly balanced flavors, like the burrata and soppressata pizza topped with sharp Calabrian chile peppers, hot honey, and grand cheese. Lupo also has a full bar and a solid list of natural wines. For a more casual experience with the same attention to the craft, check out the owners’ new sibling, Stevie’s Famous, in Burien.

Kamonegi

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Star chef Mutsuko Soma makes soba from scratch at this petite Fremont destination, which was one of Eater’s Best New Restaurant in America in 2018. Soma serves traditional soba shop dishes like seiro soba (cold with dipping sauce) and super-crunchy tempura, but also more creative dishes like soba with oysters and gochujang broth and oreo tempura accompanied by mini toasted marshmallows. Make a full night of it by sampling some sake and snacks at next-door sibling bar Hannyatou as well.

Chopsticks pulling buckwheat soba from a plate of green vegetables.
Kamonegi’s soba.
Kamonegi

After building a strong following as a pop-up inside Fremont’s Pomerol, contemporary Indian specialist Meesha took over the space and became a full-fledged restaurant in 2020, complete with a covered and heated patio around the back. Chef Preeti Agarwal's can’t-miss dishes include rarah keema pao with expertly prepared ground lamb, fried Amritsari fish, and paneer in tomato sauce with black cardamom. The restaurant also features a robust drink menu with wine, beer, and original mocktails and cocktails like Mughal Empress, a creamy gin sour with pomegranate, rose, and sumac.

Chefs Rachel Yang and partner Seif Chirchi offer simple, refined dishes at their Korean-influenced Fremont restaurant, from smoked mackerel kedgeree and succulent kalbi short rib over grilled kimchi to smoked tofu with mushrooms and geoduck black rice modeled after paella. With easy-going service and an inviting, open space as well as a patio, the restaurant provides a special night out sans pretension. Sit at the bar and watch chefs plating dishes while you sip on one of Joule’s creative cocktails, like the Jalisco Campfire, which blends a lapsang souchong-infused tequila with lime and Thai chile agave.

A closeup shot of the kalbi beef short ribs with grilled kimchi at Joule.
Kalbi beef short ribs with grilled kimchi at Joule.
Bill Addison

Sushi Kappo Tamura

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Of all the sushi chefs in Seattle, Taichi Kitamura may know the most about local fish, and at his Eastlake destination, Sushi Kappo Tamura, he provides an experience you couldn’t replicate in any other part of the country. He sources seafood, sometimes exclusive items like bairdi (aka tanner) crab, from Pacific Northwest producers like Taylor Shellfish and Skagit River Ranch as well as individual fishers, and grows some of the restaurant’s produce in a garden on the roof. You can taste the results by way of a full a la carte menu featuring sushi and hot dishes as well omakase showcasing seasonal specialties, perfect with a seasonal sake flight.

Executive chef Aisha Ibrahim helms this Queen Anne icon, owned and operated by the Canlis family for over 70 years. The gorgeous restaurant overlooking Lake Union has won several James Beard Awards in recent years, including for its design and its wine program, and serves as a study in how to do fine dining without stuffiness, including excellent service whether you walk into the piano lounge or sit for a multi-course meal. Ibrahim energizes the historic establishment with a super-seasonal approach inspired by Japanese kaiseki cooking, and options might include duck with bitter chicory, celeriac, and blood orange; grilled sablefish with abalone, dashi, and daikon; and dark chocolate sorbet with koji and spruce tips.

Dan Gui Sichuan Cuisine

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Among the many Sichuan restaurants in the Seattle area, Bellevue’s Dan Gui stands out for its balanced flavors and consistently high quality. The cold plates, like the sliced pig ears shimmering with chile oil and the refreshing wood ear salad, are excellent with cold glasses of beer. The beef with vine peppers leaves the tongue buzzing with Sichuan peppercorn and jalapenos. No meal at Dan Gui is complete, however, without an order of tea-smoked duck, richly layered and cooked until just tender. Even the restaurant’s take on Chinese American dishes like orange chicken hit the spot.

Taurus Ox

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Often lumped in with food from neighboring Thailand when it makes the cut at all, the cuisine of Laos takes center stage at Capitol Hill’s Taurus Ox thanks to three chefs, Sydney Clark, Khampaeng Panyathong, and Jenessa Sneva, with strong Seattle dining pedigrees. The tiny counter-service shop recently upgraded to this full-service home, where dishes such as thom khem and chicken laap continue to benefit from local produce and a whole-animal approach to butchery. Don’t miss the Lao pork sausage, fragrant with lemongrass and lime leaf, or one of the city’s best patties, a smash burger made with pork jowl bacon and jaew tomato sauce. For another rare treat, pair it with a locally made sato, or Laotian rice wine, from Village Ghost.

Monsoon Seattle

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Eric and Sophie Banh’s Vietnamese restaurants — Monsoon, the original, and Ba Bar, the hip younger sibling — are some of Seattle’s best in part because they prioritize local ingredients. Though you can find casual favorites like imperial rolls with vermicelli on the menu, Monsoon focuses on fine dining with Chinese influences served family-style. Highlights include the wok-cooked Anderson Ranch lamb with chile and cumin, the catfish steamed in a clay pot with coconut juice, and a perfectly balanced green papaya salad with charred prawns. In addition to the Capitol Hill restaurant with its rooftop patio, Monsoon has a Bellevue location.

Spinasse

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More than 10 years in, this romantic trattoria on Capitol Hill continues to entrance diners with food from Italy’s Piedmont region. The nest of delicate tajarin pasta with butter and sage sauce is a Seattle mainstay, but every dish from chef Stuart Lane is memorable. After a satisfying dinner at Spinasse, head to next-door sibling bar Artusi for a digestif and dessert, or stop by the bar another night for snacks like beef tongue with salsa tonnata (tuna sauce) and burrata with pomegranate seeds and toasted pistachios.

tajarin pasta with butter and sage sauce on a white place.
Tajarin pasta with butter and sage sauce at Spinasse.
Spinasse

Communion Restaurant and Bar

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Chef Kristi Brown — who made her name running the catering operation That Brown Girl Cooks — calls the food at her Central District restaurant “Seattle Soul.” At Communion, fusions like the Hood Sushi Bowl featuring fried catfish and seaweed salad come from Brown’s memories of shopping at Asian markets in the neighboring Chinatown-International District. But the dishes that shine brightest are her more traditional Southern ones, like a pork neck-bone stew, with smoky meat simmered in umami-packed broth with lima beans. It’s hard to get a seat at this Eater Award-winner in the renovated Liberty Bank Building, a mixed-use affordable housing, retail, and resource hub for the Black community in the historically Black Central District. Make reservations weeks ahead, or show up right when the restaurant opens on a weekday to vie for a spot.

Le Pichet

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At the outskirts of Pike Place Market, Le Pichet is as close as you can get to a classic Parisian bistro in Seattle, an intimate nook for an unbelievably pillowy quiche or croissant and a cafe au lait in the morning, chicken liver terrine with bread and simple salad for lunch, a roast chicken or steak frites for dinner, and a glass of wine anytime in between. The late Anthony Bourdain counted it among his favorites and it remains a refuge for local food writers, off-duty chefs, and Francophiles.

Sushi Kashiba

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Seattle’s most influential sushi chef, Shiro Kashiba studied under Jiro Ono and brought edomae-style sushi to the city decades ago; he’s had a hand in some of the area’s top sushi restaurants, including Shiro’s in Belltown. Kashiba retired several years ago before making a triumphant return with Sushi Kashiba, this modern stunner in Pike Place Market. Diners rightly covet the first-come, first-served seats at the chef’s counter as they guarantee face time with Kashiba’s masterful team, but even if you can’t score a spot there, you should embrace the seasonal approach with an omakase menu, which will likely include local delicacies like geoduck. You can also explore octogenarian Kashiba’s legacy at restaurants like 2022 Eater Award-winner Takai By Kashiba, a Bellevue newcomer run by Jun Takai, one of Kashiba’s many proteges.

A selection of orange-colored nigiri on a plate
Nigiri at Sushi Kashiba.
Sushi Kashiba

Cafe Campagne

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This longtime Pike Place Market wonder from chef Daisley Gordon is well-regarded for its dedication to classic Parisian fare, served in a warmly lit dining room. Start dinner with escargot or calamari, order the white bean stew with lamb, pork, and duck confit for an entree, and finish with a delightful chocolate cognac mousse. Lunch and weekend brunch menus offer house-made croissants and a popular quiche with Comté cheese, which you can also take to go.

Nirmal’s

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Nirmal’s demonstrated that Seattle had an appetite for upscale Indian food; the Pioneer Square destination serves soups, biryani, and curries from a variety of regions and happily caters to pescatarians and vegetarians with items like paneer-stuffed bell pepper with spicy tomato sauce. Owners Oliver and Gita Bangera have always made sure the takeout service is as robust as the dine-in experience, although seeing the gregarious Oliver in person adds a spark to the meal.

Pho Bac Sup Shop

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The Pham family’s boat-shaped Pho Bac restaurant (now called the Boat and focusing on chicken and rice) was a pioneer in Seattle’s Vietnamese dining scene. The next generation, sisters Yenvy and Quynh-Vy, have carried on the family’s legacy with aplomb at places like coffee roaster Hello Em, inspired bar Phocific Standard Time, and Pho Bac Sup Shop, which kicked off the family’s current era of expansion with modern twists to the formula in Little Saigon. Tender beef falls off the bone in aromatic bowls of pho or bun bo hue, while pho fries form a satisfying base for brisket and gravy. And the fruity and herbaceous cocktails are every bit as fragrant as the soups, leaning on mango, passionfruit, Thai basil, and Vietnamese coriander.

Marination Ma Kai

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It’s not just the view that makes Marination Ma Kai so popular, though its location on a water taxi route certainly helps. But flavorful Hawaiian-Korean fusion defines Roz Edison and Kamala Saxton’s restaurant, which also has siblings in South Lake Union and Columbia City. Unforgettable dishes include tacos filled with kalua pork or kalbi beef and signature Nunya sauce, kimchi fried rice with tofu, fish and chips with miso ginger tartar sauce, and loco moco. Order online to beat the lines and sit at the lovely patio or stroll with your food along the water toward Alki Beach.

Since opening in early 2020, Beacon Hill’s innovative Filipinx restaurant from star chef Melissa Miranda has developed a dynamic menu with items such as succulent short rib kare kare, smoked oysters, and mussels cooked with moringa. The homey space makes diners feel like they’re eating in a beloved family member’s living room, albeit one with killer cocktails, world-class food, and reservations that fill up quickly. Musang also gives back with charitable endeavors like a community kitchen and youth program Little Wildcats, which provides education about Filipinx recipes and culture.

Bar del Corso

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Owner Jerry Corso’s expert Neapolitan-style pizzas are the primary draw for this Beacon Hill hideaway; simple toppings like spicy salami harmonize with light, airy, and slightly salty crusts. The garlic mussels, baccala fritters, and grilled octopus with corona beans are also exceptional, and reservations tend to go fast — although the restaurant recently added more sidewalk seating, great for people-watching on Beacon Avenue.

Off Alley

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No single restaurant can please everyone; at Off Alley, a 14-seat brick-walled restaurant in Columbia City, chef Evan Leichtling and partner Meghna Prakash embrace that truth. You don’t always find a meticulously seasonal chef’s-choice cooking style and a hand-written list of cool natural wines paired with punk music and attitude, but that approach is working here. The menu changes daily, so check the website to see what you might encounter, from juicy smoked mussels with celery on sourdough and whole quail with nettles in a cream sauce to salt cod with squid ink rice and a burning-hot Scotch bonnet ice cream.

Archipelago

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Hillman City’s nationally acclaimed Filipino American fine dining restaurant hosts intimate tasting-menu experiences that showcase the ingenuity, storytelling ability, and passion of husband-and-wife team Aaron Verzosa and Amber Manuguid. Inventive takes on anything from pandesal to sinigang and banana ketchup weave local ingredients together with the duo’s personal journeys in the area as well as those of Filipino immigrants to the Pacific Northwest, creating a unique history lesson with each dinner. The tiny restaurant’s 12 seats are normally booked out months ahead, but you can sign up for a waiting list on the website.

Delish Ethiopian Cuisine

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A relative newcomer to the vibrant Hillman City Ethiopian scene, Delish Ethiopian Cuisine has a bar area and a comfortable atmosphere in which husband and wife Delish Lemma and Amy Abera of Addis Ababa share recipes passed down from Abera’s mother and grandmother. Run the meat-free section of the menu with the 10-item veggie combo or try succulent beef tibs pan-fried in garlic, butter, onion, and berbere spice. Delish also offers an Ethiopian coffee ceremony for five or more diners.

Taqueria la Fondita

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This enormously popular White Center food truck (with additional locations in Greenwood and Tacoma) has been a steady presence for years that gives a lot of bang for the buck. Plates pile up with carne asada, adobada, and lengua tacos; be sure to add to the experience by requesting extra grilled mini-onions and spicy serrano peppers. There’s also a small covered patio next to the truck that provides a comfortable place to dig in while the food’s piping hot.

Tacos with sides in a white container from Taqueria la Fondita.
Tacos at Taqueria La Fondita.
Teresa Lam

The name Tomo means “friend” in Japanese and pays homage to Tomoko Ishiwata Bristol, the grandmother of former Canlis chef Brady Williams. Book a seat inside the lauded chef’s intimate White Center restaurant for coursed dinners of hyper-seasonal Pacific Northwest cuisine like pork collar with squash, fermented radish chawanmushi, and sweet potato with miso caramel. No reservation? The patio and bar welcome walk-ins for a la carte bites like vegetable curry buns and an excellent selection of wine and cocktails.

El Cabrito

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After five years as a food truck, El Cabrito became a brick-and-mortar restaurant on Burien’s Ambaum Boulevard in 2019, with a few seats indoors and some covered tables on a back patio. Chef-owner Leticia Sánchez started making moles with her grandmother in Oaxaca when she was 5 years old, and these years of experience show in dishes like the expertly balanced mole coloradito that pools around pork enchiladas and the molotes (fried masa dumplings filled with potato and chorizo) drowned in smoky morita pepper and avocado salsas, all presented on brightly hued ceramics. El Cabrito also serves specials like rockfish ceviche, tamales, and blue crab empanadas.

Molotes (fried corn dough dumplings) drizzled with red and green salsa and topped with cabbage and cheese.
Molotes at El Cabrito.
Jade Yamazaki Stewart/Eater Seattle

May Kitchen and Bar

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Vashon Island’s celebrated Thai restaurant is so good that many Seattleites take the ferry over just to sample the food. Chef-owner May Chaleoy’s flavors shine brightly in entrees like whole fried trout alongside mango salad flecked with mint and cashews as well as satisfying appetizers like grilled pork skewers marinated in yellow curry. She also offers versions of ubiquitous Thai dishes with elegant twists, like pad thai served with turnips and banana blossom or tom yum soup with oyster mushrooms.

Antigua Guatemala Restaurant

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Wilfredo and Elvi Reyes run Antigua, Seattle area’s only full-service Guatemalan restaurant, decorated with bright photos of their home country: a yellow clocktower on an arch in the country’s old capital, the volcanic lake Atitlán, and the resplendent national bird, the quetzal. Since then, diners have flocked to this Kent strip mall to drink micheladas and eat comforting pre-colonial dishes like banana leaf-wrapped corn tamales filled with loroco and chipilín (indigenous Central American plants) while upbeat salsa music plays. The Spanish-influenced, slow-grilled churrasco chapin strip, marinated with tomato and garlic, is one of the best steaks around, and the tostada topped with chow mein (a popular Guatemalan street food) neatly contrasts crispy tostada and soft noodle. You’ll also find Guatemalan breakfast foods, a comforting atol de elote in the colder months, and fried plantains stuffed with a sweet bean mixture.

Ono Authentic Hawaiian Poke

Ono, named for Oahu-born owner Steven Ono, is a seafood lover’s dream in Edmonds, offering possibly the highest-quality poke in the Seattle area on a menu that rotates depending on what’s fresh. Just as importantly, the restaurant uses a light hand with flavorings so you don’t lose the flavor of the fish itself, whether you’re eating salmon dressed with ponzu or a spicy ahi bowl.

Zylberschtein's

Pinehurst’s Jewish deli and bakery is a versatile comfort-food spot every neighborhood needs. Owner Josh Grunig, formerly of Grand Central Bakery, offers a bounty of baked goods, including whole cakes, sourdough loaves, croissants, and challah, as well as some of the best bagels in Seattle. The covered patio, surrounded by planters, is a great place to can slurp matzo ball soup or eat what Grunig calls his “big, ridiculous sandwiches,” piles of house-smoked pastrami and corned beef between slices of rye bread or bagel halves. You can also order the smoked meat, and other Jewish deli staples like whitefish and chopped liver, by the pound, and the shop’s delivery service covers most of the Seattle area.

Cafe Juanita

Kirkland’s Northern Italian fine dining mainstay offers several excellent seasonal tasting menus, including pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan options. Chef Holly Smith’s omnivorous tasting menus include dishes like Anderson Valley lamb chops with turnip gratin, while a vegan tasting menu features meat-free marvels like green garlic soup with fava bean toast.

FlintCreek Cattle Co

Chef Eric Donnelly’s Greenwood steakhouse is one of the best in the city, serving simple 21-day dry-aged Washington steaks that are perfectly grilled and buttered, with options for filet mignon, New York strip, Delmonico, and tomahawk. Flintcreek Cattle Co. also stands out for incorporating game meats like elk and wild boar into the menu. Don’t overlook the stunning vegetable dishes amid all this meat, though. The drinks from the full bar are well-balanced, and dessert’s worth saving a little room for too.

Cafe Munir

Owner Rajah Gargour’s Lebanese background informs the food at this intimate Ballard restaurant, which is particularly friendly to vegetarians with its many plant-based meze. The small plates of lentils ground with roasted garlic, house labneh, and sweet pears in savory tahini always impress, and the chef’s choice (or “Rajah roulette,” as the restaurant has called it) dinner on Sunday makes for one of the city’s best dining experiences, brimming with uncommon and seasonal dishes.

Beast and Cleaver

London native Kevin Smith has built a cult following over the last few years for Beast and Cleaver, turning the Ballard spot into one of the city’s top destinations for carnivores. During the day, the business is simply an excellent whole-animal butcher shop serving house-made sausages and pates, local and imported steaks, and chicken, duck, and pork products, with plenty of expert recommendations for what to do with unusual cuts. But at night, the celebration of meat continues: On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the place becomes a casual wine bar serving wine with charcuterie and small plates, and on the weekends, it’s an exclusive tasting-menu restaurant under the moniker the Peasant, which serves dishes like koji-aged beef and duck confit with Yorkshire pudding waffles.

The Chicken Supply

This casual Filipino fried chicken shop in Phinney Ridge was Eater Seattle’s pick for Best New Restaurant in 2022, and one of Eater’s favorite fried chicken restaurants in the country. The gluten-free batter on the chicken — wings, drumsticks, or 10-inch-long cylinders of white meat on sticks — crackles under the teeth and has the puffy texture of Rice Krispies or Frosted Flakes. The meat is packed with flavor from soy sauce and garlic. The restaurant’s owners, Paolo Campbell and Donald Adams, had wanted to start a fried chicken restaurant for years while working in fine dining, and now serve the fried birds with Filipino sides like collard greens served with coconut milk, marinated vegetables, and garlic rice.

Frelard Tamales

From a farmers market favorite to a permanent tamale window near Green Lake, this popular Mexican spot from founders Osbaldo Hernandez and Dennis Ramey (with Hernandez’s parents helping run the operation) serves half-pound tamales packed with rich flavors. The salsa roja pork and the salsa verde chicken versions are as dreamy as you’d expect but don’t miss out on vegan and vegetarian options too, including tamales filled with sweet potato and mole and salsa roja and jackfruit. Everything comes with pickled onions and carrots and goes great with house-made agua de horchata. You can even stock up on bags of frozen tamales to steam at home.

Pestle Rock

Among Seattle’s many neighborhood Thai restaurants, Ballard’s Pestle Rock stands out for using only local meat in its dishes and for staying laser-focused on Isan (Northeast) Thai cuisine. The flavors here are bold and unadulterated, with bright lemongrass and spicy chile enlivening the house-made sausage and funky, earthy shrimp paste covering the green beans and caramelized pork belly in the tua phad kapee. There’s no wrong pick from the list of “tossed” dishes, which come with lime juice and toasted rice powder, though the pork larb and nam tok (grilled wild boar collar) are particularly memorable. Try the wings at next-door sibling Sen Noodle Bar too.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

James Beard Award-winning chef Renee Erickson has had a major hand in the evolution of Seattle’s dining scene, and her Sea Creatures restaurant group owns many of Seattle’s top restaurants, from steakhouse Bateau to Westward on Lake Union. But Erickson has never let her original Ballard bar slip. The Walrus and the Carpenter serves several varieties of Washington oysters, seafood dishes like raw albacore tuna with Meyer lemon sauce and blood oranges, and snacks like beef tartare, beef shank terrine, and plates of sliced cheese, along with a long wine list and a thoughtful cocktail menu. The dining room is bright and airy, and the heated, covered patio sparkles with string lights. Be warned that you can’t make reservations at this perennial favorite; on the upside, this is one of the few Seattle-area date-night restaurants open on Mondays.

Off The Rez Cafe

Seattle’s only Native American-owned food truck opened its first restaurant in 2019 at the revamped Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus. Its menu is vibrant as ever, drawing on traditions that co-owner Mark McConnell’s mom shared from her upbringing on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana. Indian tacos showcase fluffy fry bread topped with 12-hour-smoked pulled pork, braised bison, or vegetarian chili, while wild rice bowls feature the likes of braised bison and seasonal vegetables; pair it all with house-made cedar blackberry tea. You can dine in, sit at benches outside while you eat, and order takeout or delivery online.

Lupo

A growing number of excellent independent pizzerias in Seattle represent pizza nerds’ obsessive quests for the perfect pie, all a little different but often built on a base of local grains and seasonal toppings. Fremont’s Lupo stands out for its chewy, blistered sourdough pies with powerful but perfectly balanced flavors, like the burrata and soppressata pizza topped with sharp Calabrian chile peppers, hot honey, and grand cheese. Lupo also has a full bar and a solid list of natural wines. For a more casual experience with the same attention to the craft, check out the owners’ new sibling, Stevie’s Famous, in Burien.

Kamonegi

Star chef Mutsuko Soma makes soba from scratch at this petite Fremont destination, which was one of Eater’s Best New Restaurant in America in 2018. Soma serves traditional soba shop dishes like seiro soba (cold with dipping sauce) and super-crunchy tempura, but also more creative dishes like soba with oysters and gochujang broth and oreo tempura accompanied by mini toasted marshmallows. Make a full night of it by sampling some sake and snacks at next-door sibling bar Hannyatou as well.

Chopsticks pulling buckwheat soba from a plate of green vegetables.
Kamonegi’s soba.
Kamonegi

Meesha

After building a strong following as a pop-up inside Fremont’s Pomerol, contemporary Indian specialist Meesha took over the space and became a full-fledged restaurant in 2020, complete with a covered and heated patio around the back. Chef Preeti Agarwal's can’t-miss dishes include rarah keema pao with expertly prepared ground lamb, fried Amritsari fish, and paneer in tomato sauce with black cardamom. The restaurant also features a robust drink menu with wine, beer, and original mocktails and cocktails like Mughal Empress, a creamy gin sour with pomegranate, rose, and sumac.

Joule

Chefs Rachel Yang and partner Seif Chirchi offer simple, refined dishes at their Korean-influenced Fremont restaurant, from smoked mackerel kedgeree and succulent kalbi short rib over grilled kimchi to smoked tofu with mushrooms and geoduck black rice modeled after paella. With easy-going service and an inviting, open space as well as a patio, the restaurant provides a special night out sans pretension. Sit at the bar and watch chefs plating dishes while you sip on one of Joule’s creative cocktails, like the Jalisco Campfire, which blends a lapsang souchong-infused tequila with lime and Thai chile agave.

A closeup shot of the kalbi beef short ribs with grilled kimchi at Joule.
Kalbi beef short ribs with grilled kimchi at Joule.
Bill Addison

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Sushi Kappo Tamura

Of all the sushi chefs in Seattle, Taichi Kitamura may know the most about local fish, and at his Eastlake destination, Sushi Kappo Tamura, he provides an experience you couldn’t replicate in any other part of the country. He sources seafood, sometimes exclusive items like bairdi (aka tanner) crab, from Pacific Northwest producers like Taylor Shellfish and Skagit River Ranch as well as individual fishers, and grows some of the restaurant’s produce in a garden on the roof. You can taste the results by way of a full a la carte menu featuring sushi and hot dishes as well omakase showcasing seasonal specialties, perfect with a seasonal sake flight.