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Cured black cod with Fresno chili, avocado, and lime oil on a decorative plate Eric Rivera

38 Essential Restaurants in Seattle, Fall 2021

Restaurants that have remained resilient and innovative, while offering some of the city’s best food

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The Eater 38 is an attempt to recognize the most quintessential Seattle restaurants, those that best exemplify the city’s thriving culinary scene and an answer to the question: “Can you recommend a restaurant?” In an ongoing pandemic, many local restaurants have struggled to endure, but consistently show innovation, heart, and, of course, a dedication to quality food, no matter how (or where) it’s served. Now that indoor dining can resume at full capacity in Washington, destinations around Seattle are returning to a familiar form of hospitality, while holding on to some adjustments that may last for the long term. Here are the places that display the wonders of eating in Seattle, listed from north to south. Note that removal from the list does not mean a restaurant isn’t still essential to the scene and won’t return in the future (many often do), but seasonal changes allow for new additions, keeping the 38 fresh.

Added to the 38 in October: Jackson’s Catfish Corner in the Central District, and Delish Ethiopian Cuisine in Hillman City.

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. Zylberschtein's

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11752 15th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98125
(206) 403-1202
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Pinehurst’s charming Jewish deli and bakery is the versatile, comfort food spot that every neighborhood should have. Owner Josh Grunig offers baked goods from family recipes, plus smoked meats galore, full meal pop-ups, and some of the best bagels in town. There’s still no onsite dining at the moment, but the takeout menu is robust and delivery covers most of the city.

2. Cafe Juanita

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9702 NE 120th Pl
Kirkland, WA 98034
(425) 823-1505
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Kirkland’s Northern Italian fine-dining mainstay recently reopened its warm, modern dining room for the first time in more than a year. Chef Holly Smith and her team have crafted several excellent tasting menus (including pescatarian and vegan options), as well as an exhaustive wine list. But the restaurant continues substantial takeout service, including cook-at-home braised lamb sugo and handcut tajarin.

3. Cafe Munir

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2408 NW 80th St
Seattle, WA 98117
(206) 783-4190
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This Ballard restaurant’s food, with influences from owner Rajah Gargour’s Lebanese background, is a vegetarian’s dream. The small plates of lentils ground with roasted garlic, house labneh, and sweet pears in savory tahini always impress. Patrons should also check Instagram for seasonal items that keep the menu vibrant, and the romantic dining room recently reopened.

4. Addo

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6420 24th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107

Chef Eric Rivera’s space in Ballard is more of a laboratory for different dining ideas than a standard restaurant. After experimenting throughout the pandemic with ambitious to-go options a hot sauce challenge, and forager-focused treats, the restaurant is back to offering a few sit-down tasting menu dinners, which are usually full of delightful surprises. In a move that’s not unheard of (but still a rarity), Rivera requires that all guests be vaccinated for those meals.

Cured black cod with Fresno chili, avocado, and lime oil on a decorative plate
Cured black cod with Fresno chili, avocado, and lime oil
Eric Rivera

5. Frelard Tamales

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6412 Latona Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98115
(206) 523-6654
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From a farmers market favorite to a permanent spot north of the city, this popular Mexican spot from founders Osbaldo Hernandez and Dennis Ramey (with Hernandez’s parents helping to run the operation) serves some of the most satisfying, lovingly-made tamales in Seattle. The salsa roja pork version is a must-try, best washed down with the shop’s wonderful agua de horchata.

Two tamales side-by-side topped with sour cream next to a pile of cut carrots
Frelard Tamales has given out free meals to the community during the pandemic.
Frelard Tamales/Instagram

6. Xi'an Noodles

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5259 University Way
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 522-8888
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This no-frills spot in the U District has been slinging some of the city’s best biang biang noodles — made from scratch every day — since it opened five years ago. The simplicity of hot chili oil showcases the dish best, though meat toppings are also available, with spicy cumin lamb is a notable option. Open only for takeout and delivery at the moment.

A closeup view of a bowl filled with lamb cumin noodles and herbs, pulled with chopsticks.
Hand-pulled lamb cumin noodles.
Gabe Guarente for Eater

7. La Carta de Oaxaca

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5431 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 782-8722
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Ballard denizens frequent this lively Mexican restaurant from the Dominguez family to sample the pools of rich, savory-sweet mole over chicken, the hand-crushed guacamole, pozole, and a spirits list with more than 40 types of mezcal. The friendly atmosphere and an expanded outdoor patio with colorful decor are bonuses.

A bird’s eye view of pork and hominy stew.
Pozole filled with braised pork
La Carta de Oaxaca [Official]

8. Off The Rez Cafe

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4300 15th Avenue Northeast Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Seattle, WA 98105

Seattle’s only Native American-owned food truck opened its first restaurant in 2019 at the Burke Museum in the U District. Its menu is also as vibrant as ever, offering fluffy fry bread tacos topped with 12-hour smoked pulled pork, braised bison, or vegetarian chili, plus wild rice bowls. Diners can order on the official website for takeout and delivery; no onsite dining at the moment.

A fry bread taco topped with meat, cilantro, and pickled onions from Off the Rez Cafe
Fry bread tacos are Off the Rez’s specialty.
Off the Rez/Facebook

9. Kamonegi

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1054 N 39th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-0185
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Star chef Mutsuko Soma makes magical soba at this Fremont destination, which an Eater Best New Restaurant in 2018. Soma serves the noodles in classic styles, including seiro (cold with dipping sauce) and nanban (bathed in warm broth), alongside gratifyingly crunch tempura dishes in an intimate space. One can make a full night of it by sampling some sake and snacks at next door sibling bar Hannyatou, before heading over for dinner.

Chopsticks pulling buckwheat soba from a plate of green vegetables.
Kamonegi’s soba is a showstopper.
Kamonegi [Official]

10. Meesha

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127 N 36th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-0135
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After building a strong following as a pop-up inside Fremont’s Pomerol, the contemporary Indian tasting menu specialist Meesha became a full-fledged restaurant in 2020. Among some of the can’t-miss dishes from chef Preeti Agarwal are rarah keema pao with expertly prepared ground lamb, the fried Amritsari fish, and the paneer in cardamom tomato fenugreek sauce. Takeout is still an option, but the gorgeous dining room and patio are also open for business.

11. Joule

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3506 Stone Way N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-5685
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Chef Rachel Yang and partner Seif Chirchi offer simple, but refined dishes at their Korean-influenced Fremont restaurant, whether its deft touches on a green curry mackerel, or the famed kalbi short rib over grilled kimchi, helping to earn Yang earned a James Beard Award nomination in 2020. With an inviting, open space and easy-going service, Joule offers a special night out sans pretension.

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

12. The Whale Wins Larder and Cafe

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3506 Stone Way N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-9425
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Chef Renee Erickson’s former full-service restaurant in Fremont transformed into a fast-casual counter spot and grocer in 2020, but hasn’t lost its charm. Customers can find charcuterie, cheese, wine, and fresh pasta, as well as a selection of full made-to-order meals, including Alaskan halibut with aleppo pepper crust and gnocchi with foraged mushrooms and snap peas.

13. Canlis

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2576 Aurora Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 283-3313
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In March 2020, Brian Canlis — co-owner of the 71-year-old Queen Anne icon — said “fine dining is not what Seattle needs right now.” Since then, the restaurant wasn’t afraid to try out a host of different looks, including a burger drive-thru, but has now returned to full indoor service with new executive chef Aisha Ibrahim at the helm. The past year of creative endeavors, and a much-welcome new perspective from Ibrahim, has re-energized a classic.

The exterior of Canlis at dusk, with the brick facade moodily lit.
Canlis has been a fine-dining Seattle staple for 71 years.
Canlis/Facebook

14. Ba Sa

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101 Winslow Way E
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
(206) 565-3287
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Vietnamese siblings Trinh and Thai Nguyen— who came to the US as refugees — explore the food of their childhood at this excellent modern Bainbridge Island restaurant, with ingredients sourced locally. Those flavors find their way into succulent Viet-Cajun plates, such as King crab boil and a crawfish etoufee, alongside coconut lemongrass mussels and Rock Point oysters.

15. Kedai Makan

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1802 Bellevue Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

Known pre-COVID as one of the better late-night spots around town, Capitol Hill’s Malaysian street food restaurant still conveyed its original vision through a robust takeout menu, and has recently returned to its bustling dine-in service (often with long lines). Some recent snacks worthy of the wait include ayam goreng masala, roti jala, and lamb-stuffed murtabak.

Kedai Mekan’s bright blue dining room, with dark wood stools and tables.
Kedai Mekan has a variety of Malaysian street food dishes.
Morgen Schuler

16. Spinasse

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1531 14th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 251-7673
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More than ten years in, and this romantic trattoria on Capitol Hill continues to amaze with fare from Italy’s Piedmont region. The nest of delicate tajarin pasta with butter and sage sauce is a true Seattle comfort food mainstay, but every dish from chef Stuart Lane is memorable. After a satisfying dinner at Spinasse, one might want to head over to next door sibling bar Artusi for a digestif and dessert.

tajarin pasta with butter and sage sauce on a white place.
Tajarin pasta with butter and sage sauce
Spinasse [Official]

17. Jerk Shack

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2510 1st Ave
Seattle, WA 98121
(206) 441-7817
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Chef-owner Trey Lamont crafts Jamaican dishes and other Caribbean-influenced fare at this lively Belltown spot. The namesake jerk chicken has a sneaky kick, while the remoulade sauce on the fried white fish is a star on its own — and the portions are always generous. Don’t forget about the many potent rum cocktails on the menu, which enhance the party vibes.

18. Taurus Ox

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1523 E Madison St suite 101
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 972-0075
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Expertly-made Laotian dishes shine at this Capitol Hill restaurant from three chefs, Sydney Clark, Khampaeng Panyathong, and Jenessa Sneva, with strong Seattle dining pedigrees. Items such as thom khem and chicken laap utilize produce from local farms and a whole animal approach to butchery. Meanwhile, the smash burger made with pork jowl bacon and jaew tomato sauce may be the best patty in the city.

A collection of Laotian dishes at the new restaurant, Taurus Ox.
Taurus Ox specializes in Laotian dishes.
Taurus Ox/Instagram

19. Stateside

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300 E Pike St #1200
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 557-7273
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This upscale but approachable Capitol Hill restaurant specializing in Southeast Asian cuisine has won over diners with items such as chili cumin pork ribs, fried master stock chicken, crispy duck rolls, and turmeric rockfish. In addition to reopening for dine-in, it’s also bottling some sauces for retail (the Sriracha made with Alvarez Farms chilis should be a staple in any pantry), and the well-conceived cocktails typically pack a punch.

A selection of colorful plates from Stateside, including cumin ribs
Stateside has both dine-in and takeout options.
Stateside/Instagram

20. Plum Bistro

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1429 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 838-5333
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Capitol Hill’s vegan restaurant from celebrated chef Makini Howell is as versatile as it is magnificent. Some of the biggest hits include “chicken” fried seitan, a mac and cheese spin called Mac and Yease (made with alternative milk), and sweet potato gnocchi. Takeout orders go through Toast, delivery is available via Caviar and Doordash, and there’s now onsite dining in the lovely dining room.

Plum Bistro’s mac ‘n’ cheese twist known as Mac & Yease against a green turf background.
Mac and Yease from Plum Bistro
Plum Bistro [Official Photo]

21. Communion Restaurant and Bar

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2350 E Union St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 391-8140
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Chef Kristi Brown — who runs the successful catering operation That Brown Girl Cooks — calls the food at her nationally praised Central District restaurant “Seattle soul.” Southern influences show up in the shrimp and grits, while Brown’s memories of shopping at Chinatown-International District markets results in creative banh mi-po boy hybrids and a mind-blowing catfish sushi roll. For those looking to experience the splendor of the magnificent space in the historic Liberty Bank Building, Communion’s first indoor dining service starts July 14.

22. Sushi Kashiba

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86 Pine St #1
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 441-8844
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Diners have long flocked to the upscale Pike Place restaurant to watch master sushi chef Shiro Kashiba at work, with seats at the bar among the most coveted. Its meticulous attention to detail remains a big draw, as the restaurant reopens for onsite dining. First-timers should choose the omakase option and embrace each seasonal offering, although Kashiba’s popular black cod off the a la carte menu is also stellar.

A selection of orange-colored nigiri on a plate
Chef Shiro Kashiba studied under the legendary Jiro Ono.
Sushi Kashiba [Official]

23. Cafe Campagne

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1600 Post Alley
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 728-2233
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This longtime Pike Place wonder from chef Daisley Gordon is well-regarded for its dedication to classic Parisian fare, served in a warmly lit dining room. Ingredients from the market go into preparations for the restaurant’s most popular dishes, such as the crispy duck leg confit and beef bourguignon. The quiches (available at lunch) also earn raves, and the chocolate cognac mousse is a delightful end to any meal.

24. Meskel

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2605 E Cherry St
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 860-1724
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This relaxed Central District Ethiopian restaurant, with excellent injera and generous piles of flavorful spiced legumes and meats, is just as ideal for date night as a group dinner. The vegetable combination and the barbecue special (strips of beef and sliced peppers simmered in oil) are easy wins, but the menu also has plenty of other outstanding menu options, including kitfo, a tartare-like raw minced beef with cheese.

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

25. Nirmal’s

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106 Occidental Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 683-9701
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Pioneer Square’s Indian food destination restaurant 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 usually adds a sparkle to the meal.

A selection of Indian plates at Nirmal’s with the low-lit dining room in the background.
Nirmal’s serves a wide variety of well-crafted Indian fare.
Nirmal’s/Facebook

26. Maneki

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304 6th Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104
(503) 662-2814
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Seattle’s oldest sushi bar has been open since 1904, and remains as resilient as ever. The Japantown restaurant offered online takeout orders for the first time on its large menu of sushi rolls, udon, and sukiyaki dishes, and will soon resume dine-in service. A revamp of the beloved tatami rooms, as well as other recent upgrades, should be a treat for newcomers and longtime customers alike.

A top-down view of a seafood dish from Maneki with bright green and pink colors.
Maneki has been a mainstay in the International District since the early 1900s.
Maneki [Official Photo]

27. Pho Bac Sup Shop

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1240 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 568-0882
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The Pham family’s Pho Bac “boat” restaurant was a pioneer in the Vietnamese dining scene — and the more modern Pho Bac Sup Shop continues its legacy with aplomb in LIttle Saigon. Tenderized slow-cooked beef chunks fall right off the bone for a spiritual Seattle pho experience, and the restaurant also has an excellent bun bo hue. Chilling at the bar with a steaming bowl of noodle soup, washed down with any number of the terrific cocktails or wine, is the way to go.

A bowl of pho at Pho Bac Sup Shop with iced coffee on the side.
Pho and iced coffee at Pho Bac Sup Shop
Pho Bac Sup Shop [Official]

28. Jackson’s Catfish Corner

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2218 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 420-1911
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It’s difficult to find a restaurant more representative of Seattle’s Central District than Jackson’s Catfish Corner. Woodrow and Rosemary Jackson opened the original Catfish Corner in 1985 in the Central District on East Cherry Street and MLK Way. When the restaurant closed in 2014, their grandson Terrell Jackson took on the business. After some short-lived incarnations on the South End, Jackson reopened in the Central District on Juneteenth in 2021. Try the fried catfish, prawns, hush puppies, or the Ohbama Burger to get your fix of comfort food.

29. Phnom Penh Noodle House

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913 S Jackson St suite A
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 785-6936
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After a two-year hiatus, this beloved Cambodian restaurant from the Ung family got a revival in 2020 at a slick new location in Little Saigon. The menu is pared down, but longtime staples, including the honey-black pepper chicken wings, mee katang (wide rice noodles in gravy), and beef lok lac (marinated steak cubes), are still on point. And the cheerful new digs are perfect for settling in for a leisurely comfort meal.

Phnom Penh Noodle House’s soup, with prawns, sliced pork, fish cakes, and calamari, topped with cilantro.
Phnom Penh Noodle House’s prawn, sliced pork, and fish cake soup
Kong Lu

30. Musang

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2524 Beacon Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 708-6871
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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, adobong baboy, arroz Valenciana, and smoked oysters. The homey space makes diners feel like they’re eating in a beloved family member’s living room, and Miranda has also stepped up big time to help those in need, launching a community kitchen.

31. Il Nido

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2717 61st Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
(206) 466-6265
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Acclaimed chef Mike Easton turned the historic Alki Homestead into a classic Seattle dining experience, with his famed pastas and pleasing entrees, such as the coveted seared ribeye. Easton also recently added Roman-style pizza to the menu, and aims to make the restaurant more accessible with a new “aperitivo hour” that doesn’t require reservations, as well as a patio. But the main dinner service continues to be one of the more sought-after tickets in town.

32. Bar del Corso

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3057 Beacon Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 395-2069
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Chef and owner Jerry Corso’s expert Neapolitan-style pizzas are the primary draw for this Beacon Hill hideaway, thanks to their light, airy, and slightly salty crusts. The garlic mussels, baccala fritters, and grilled octopus with corona beans are also exceptional, and reservations often go fast — although the restaurant recently added some additional sidewalk seating, great for people watching on Beacon Avenue.

Pizza with roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, Walla Walla onions, and prosciutto di Parma
Pizza with roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, Walla Walla onions, and prosciutto di Parma
Bar del Corso [Official]

33. Super Six

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3714 S Hudson St
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 420-1201
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Marination co-owners Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison created a hit in this Columbia City Korean-Hawaiian restaurant housed in a former auto repair shop. Spam sliders, loco moco, and pancakes with toasted macadamia butter always hit the spot, and the malasadas are among Seattle’s best sugary treats. Lines are typically long on weekends to secure a table, but with a large, sunny patio, there’s a festival-like atmosphere that makes the time pass quickly.

Pulehu ribs with kimchi mac ‘n’ cheese and bottled cocktails in the background
Pulehu ribs with kimchi mac and cheese
Super Six/Instagram

34. Archipelago

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5607 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118

Hillman City’s acclaimed Philippine fine dining restaurant recently restarted its intimate tasting menu dinners, known for their ingenuity, storytelling, and passion. Husband-and-wife team Aaron Verzosa and Amber Manuguid execute wonderfully inventive dishes that weave the narrative of their personal journeys growing up in the area, and that of Filipino immigrants to the Pacific Northwest, combining a meal and a compelling history lesson in each 10-to-12 course sitting.

35. Delish Ethiopian Cuisine

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5701 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 723-3821
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Run by husband and wife duo Delish Lemma and Amy Abera, both hailing from Addis Ababa, Delish Ethiopian Cuisine features recipes passed down from Abera’s mother and grandmother. A relative newcomer to the vibrant Hillman City Ethiopian restaurant scene, Delish has a comfortable, classy atmosphere with a bar area. Try the veggie combo, which includes 10 vegan selections (most veggie combos offer about five), or the beef tibs, slices of beef pan-fried in garlic, butter, onion and spices. Delish also offers a coffee ceremony with three rounds of coffee, served with popcorn or a sweet bread, and incense.

36. Tony's Bakery

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6020 Martin Luther King Jr Way S
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 722-8800
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Many Seattleites likely have their own preferred banh mi destination, but it’s hard to beat this South Seattle spot for its perfectly flaky baguettes and juicy grilled pork (though the fried catfish version is a favorite as well). No sit-down service here — Tony’s is a small deli and market, but many of the other prepared foods (like steamed hum bao) are worth a look for a takeout feast, washed down with any of the boba tea options.

37. Taqueria la Fondita

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9811 15th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98106
(206) 551-0529
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This enormously popular food truck in White Center (with two locations in the neighborhood and one in North Seattle) 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 versions, and a special request for extra grilled mini-onions and spicy Serrano peppers is key. There’s also a small covered patio next to the truck that provides a comfortable place to dig in while the plates are piping hot.

Tacos with sides in a white container from Taqueria la Fondita
Taqueria La Fondita serves a variety of wonderful Mexican plates to go.
Teresa Lam

38. May Kitchen and Bar

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17614 Vashon Hwy SW
Vashon, WA 98070
(206) 408-7196
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Vashon Island’s celebrated Thai restaurant is so good that many Seattleites don’t mind making the trek over by ferry just to sample the food. Dishes from chef-owner May Chaleoy, such as the fried whole fried trout with mango salad and twice-cooked spare ribs, are a delight for any occasion, and worth repeat visits. May Kitchen also has a handsome dining room with rustic elements that fit the island’s easy-going atmosphere.

A group of small metal bowls containing an array of colorful dishes and sauces.
May Kitchen and Bar delivers beautiful Thai dishes on Vashon Island.
May Kitchen and Bar/Facebook

1. Zylberschtein's

11752 15th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98125

Pinehurst’s charming Jewish deli and bakery is the versatile, comfort food spot that every neighborhood should have. Owner Josh Grunig offers baked goods from family recipes, plus smoked meats galore, full meal pop-ups, and some of the best bagels in town. There’s still no onsite dining at the moment, but the takeout menu is robust and delivery covers most of the city.

11752 15th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98125

2. Cafe Juanita

9702 NE 120th Pl, Kirkland, WA 98034

Kirkland’s Northern Italian fine-dining mainstay recently reopened its warm, modern dining room for the first time in more than a year. Chef Holly Smith and her team have crafted several excellent tasting menus (including pescatarian and vegan options), as well as an exhaustive wine list. But the restaurant continues substantial takeout service, including cook-at-home braised lamb sugo and handcut tajarin.

9702 NE 120th Pl
Kirkland, WA 98034

3. Cafe Munir

2408 NW 80th St, Seattle, WA 98117

This Ballard restaurant’s food, with influences from owner Rajah Gargour’s Lebanese background, is a vegetarian’s dream. The small plates of lentils ground with roasted garlic, house labneh, and sweet pears in savory tahini always impress. Patrons should also check Instagram for seasonal items that keep the menu vibrant, and the romantic dining room recently reopened.

2408 NW 80th St
Seattle, WA 98117

4. Addo

6420 24th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
Cured black cod with Fresno chili, avocado, and lime oil on a decorative plate
Cured black cod with Fresno chili, avocado, and lime oil
Eric Rivera

Chef Eric Rivera’s space in Ballard is more of a laboratory for different dining ideas than a standard restaurant. After experimenting throughout the pandemic with ambitious to-go options a hot sauce challenge, and forager-focused treats, the restaurant is back to offering a few sit-down tasting menu dinners, which are usually full of delightful surprises. In a move that’s not unheard of (but still a rarity), Rivera requires that all guests be vaccinated for those meals.

6420 24th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107

5. Frelard Tamales

6412 Latona Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115
Two tamales side-by-side topped with sour cream next to a pile of cut carrots
Frelard Tamales has given out free meals to the community during the pandemic.
Frelard Tamales/Instagram

From a farmers market favorite to a permanent spot north of the city, this popular Mexican spot from founders Osbaldo Hernandez and Dennis Ramey (with Hernandez’s parents helping to run the operation) serves some of the most satisfying, lovingly-made tamales in Seattle. The salsa roja pork version is a must-try, best washed down with the shop’s wonderful agua de horchata.

6412 Latona Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98115

6. Xi'an Noodles

5259 University Way, Seattle, WA 98105
A closeup view of a bowl filled with lamb cumin noodles and herbs, pulled with chopsticks.
Hand-pulled lamb cumin noodles.
Gabe Guarente for Eater

This no-frills spot in the U District has been slinging some of the city’s best biang biang noodles — made from scratch every day — since it opened five years ago. The simplicity of hot chili oil showcases the dish best, though meat toppings are also available, with spicy cumin lamb is a notable option. Open only for takeout and delivery at the moment.

5259 University Way
Seattle, WA 98105

7. La Carta de Oaxaca

5431 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107
A bird’s eye view of pork and hominy stew.
Pozole filled with braised pork
La Carta de Oaxaca [Official]

Ballard denizens frequent this lively Mexican restaurant from the Dominguez family to sample the pools of rich, savory-sweet mole over chicken, the hand-crushed guacamole, pozole, and a spirits list with more than 40 types of mezcal. The friendly atmosphere and an expanded outdoor patio with colorful decor are bonuses.

5431 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107

8. Off The Rez Cafe

4300 15th Avenue Northeast Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Seattle, WA 98105
A fry bread taco topped with meat, cilantro, and pickled onions from Off the Rez Cafe
Fry bread tacos are Off the Rez’s specialty.
Off the Rez/Facebook

Seattle’s only Native American-owned food truck opened its first restaurant in 2019 at the Burke Museum in the U District. Its menu is also as vibrant as ever, offering fluffy fry bread tacos topped with 12-hour smoked pulled pork, braised bison, or vegetarian chili, plus wild rice bowls. Diners can order on the official website for takeout and delivery; no onsite dining at the moment.

4300 15th Avenue Northeast Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Seattle, WA 98105

9. Kamonegi

1054 N 39th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Chopsticks pulling buckwheat soba from a plate of green vegetables.
Kamonegi’s soba is a showstopper.
Kamonegi [Official]

Star chef Mutsuko Soma makes magical soba at this Fremont destination, which an Eater Best New Restaurant in 2018. Soma serves the noodles in classic styles, including seiro (cold with dipping sauce) and nanban (bathed in warm broth), alongside gratifyingly crunch tempura dishes in an intimate space. One can make a full night of it by sampling some sake and snacks at next door sibling bar Hannyatou, before heading over for dinner.

1054 N 39th St
Seattle, WA 98103

10. Meesha

127 N 36th St, Seattle, WA 98103

After building a strong following as a pop-up inside Fremont’s Pomerol, the contemporary Indian tasting menu specialist Meesha became a full-fledged restaurant in 2020. Among some of the can’t-miss dishes from chef Preeti Agarwal are rarah keema pao with expertly prepared ground lamb, the fried Amritsari fish, and the paneer in cardamom tomato fenugreek sauce. Takeout is still an option, but the gorgeous dining room and patio are also open for business.

127 N 36th St
Seattle, WA 98103

11. Joule

3506 Stone Way N, Seattle, WA 98103
A closeup shot of the kalbi beef short ribs with grilled kimchi at Joule.
Kalbi beef short ribs with grilled kimchi
Bill Addison

Chef Rachel Yang and partner Seif Chirchi offer simple, but refined dishes at their Korean-influenced Fremont restaurant, whether its deft touches on a green curry mackerel, or the famed kalbi short rib over grilled kimchi, helping to earn Yang earned a James Beard Award nomination in 2020. With an inviting, open space and easy-going service, Joule offers a special night out sans pretension.

3506 Stone Way N
Seattle, WA 98103

12. The Whale Wins Larder and Cafe

3506 Stone Way N, Seattle, WA 98103

Chef Renee Erickson’s former full-service restaurant in Fremont transformed into a fast-casual counter spot and grocer in 2020, but hasn’t lost its charm. Customers can find charcuterie, cheese, wine, and fresh pasta, as well as a selection of full made-to-order meals, including Alaskan halibut with aleppo pepper crust and gnocchi with foraged mushrooms and snap peas.

3506 Stone Way N
Seattle, WA 98103

13. Canlis

2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
The exterior of Canlis at dusk, with the brick facade moodily lit.
Canlis has been a fine-dining Seattle staple for 71 years.
Canlis/Facebook

In March 2020, Brian Canlis — co-owner of the 71-year-old Queen Anne icon — said “fine dining is not what Seattle needs right now.” Since then, the restaurant wasn’t afraid to try out a host of different looks, including a burger drive-thru, but has now returned to full indoor service with new executive chef Aisha Ibrahim at the helm. The past year of creative endeavors, and a much-welcome new perspective from Ibrahim, has re-energized a classic.

2576 Aurora Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109

14. Ba Sa

101 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

Vietnamese siblings Trinh and Thai Nguyen— who came to the US as refugees — explore the food of their childhood at this excellent modern Bainbridge Island restaurant, with ingredients sourced locally. Those flavors find their way into succulent Viet-Cajun plates, such as King crab boil and a crawfish etoufee, alongside coconut lemongrass mussels and Rock Point oysters.

101 Winslow Way E
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110

15. Kedai Makan

1802 Bellevue Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
Kedai Mekan’s bright blue dining room, with dark wood stools and tables.
Kedai Mekan has a variety of Malaysian street food dishes.
Morgen Schuler

Known pre-COVID as one of the better late-night spots around town, Capitol Hill’s Malaysian street food restaurant still conveyed its original vision through a robust takeout menu, and has recently returned to its bustling dine-in service (often with long lines). Some recent snacks worthy of the wait include ayam goreng masala, roti jala, and lamb-stuffed murtabak.

1802 Bellevue Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

Related Maps

16. Spinasse

1531 14th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
tajarin pasta with butter and sage sauce on a white place.
Tajarin pasta with butter and sage sauce
Spinasse [Official]

More than ten years in, and this romantic trattoria on Capitol Hill continues to amaze with fare from Italy’s Piedmont region. The nest of delicate tajarin pasta with butter and sage sauce is a true Seattle comfort food mainstay, but every dish from chef Stuart Lane is memorable. After a satisfying dinner at Spinasse, one might want to head over to next door sibling bar Artusi for a digestif and dessert.

1531 14th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

17. Jerk Shack

2510 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

Chef-owner Trey Lamont crafts Jamaican dishes and other Caribbean-influenced fare at this lively Belltown spot. The namesake jerk chicken has a sneaky kick, while the remoulade sauce on the fried white fish is a star on its own — and the portions are always generous. Don’t forget about the many potent rum cocktails on the menu, which enhance the party vibes.

2510 1st Ave
Seattle, WA 98121

18. Taurus Ox

1523 E Madison St suite 101, Seattle, WA 98122
A collection of Laotian dishes at the new restaurant, Taurus Ox.
Taurus Ox specializes in Laotian dishes.
Taurus Ox/Instagram

Expertly-made Laotian dishes shine at this Capitol Hill restaurant from three chefs, Sydney Clark, Khampaeng Panyathong, and Jenessa Sneva, with strong Seattle dining pedigrees. Items such as thom khem and chicken laap utilize produce from local farms and a whole animal approach to butchery. Meanwhile, the smash burger made with pork jowl bacon and jaew tomato sauce may be the best patty in the city.

1523 E Madison St suite 101
Seattle, WA 98122

19. Stateside

300 E Pike St #1200, Seattle, WA 98122
A selection of colorful plates from Stateside, including cumin ribs
Stateside has both dine-in and takeout options.
Stateside/Instagram

This upscale but approachable Capitol Hill restaurant specializing in Southeast Asian cuisine has won over diners with items such as chili cumin pork ribs, fried master stock chicken, crispy duck rolls, and turmeric rockfish. In addition to reopening for dine-in, it’s also bottling some sauces for retail (the Sriracha made with Alvarez Farms chilis should be a staple in any pantry), and the well-conceived cocktails typically pack a punch.

300 E Pike St #1200
Seattle, WA 98122

20. Plum Bistro

1429 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122
Plum Bistro’s mac ‘n’ cheese twist known as Mac & Yease against a green turf background.
Mac and Yease from Plum Bistro
Plum Bistro [Official Photo]

Capitol Hill’s vegan restaurant from celebrated chef Makini Howell is as versatile as it is magnificent. Some of the biggest hits include “chicken” fried seitan, a mac and cheese spin called Mac and Yease (made with alternative milk), and sweet potato gnocchi. Takeout orders go through Toast, delivery is available via Caviar and Doordash, and there’s now onsite dining in the lovely dining room.

1429 12th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122