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A take-out container full of different kinds of fish and Hawaiian sides.
Poke from Ono Authentic Hawaiian Poke
Harry Cheadle

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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Poke from Ono Authentic Hawaiian Poke
| Harry Cheadle

“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 the Seattle metro area, 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. Note that this map is organized geographically, south to north.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process. If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

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. 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.

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. Owner Leticia Sánchez started making moles with her grandmother in Oaxaca when she was five 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

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. In 2023, Tomo launched an a la carte menu for diners who wanted a slightly more casual experience.

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

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.

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.

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.

MOTO West Seattle

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This Detroit-style, Filipino-influenced pizza place in West Seattle (now with locations in Edmonds and Belltown) was once best known for the insatiable demand its pies generated — customers ordered months in advance. Now that Moto is open for walk-ins, we can stop obsessing over that wait and focus on the pizza, which lives up to the hype. The thick crust is crispy and caramelized and the toppings include off-the-beaten-path items like including pork belly and crab. As a bonus, in the summer Moto does soft serve in freshly baked cones.

A square Detroit-style pizza crossed with a variety of sauces.
The Mr. Pig at Moto
Harry Cheadle

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.

This chill Beacon Hill Mediterranean spot is named after a dog but it could just as well be named after the Greek poet because we want to write epics about its wood-fired vegetables. Or it could be named after the Simpsons character, because the “d’oh” it uses for its pitas is fantastic! Sorry, sorry, but these pitas — fluffy, warm, and fresh, are must-orders, as is the soft-serve, which comes in flavors like strawberry–lime leaf. The menu constantly changes, but one recent standout is mackerel with nduja, cultured cream, and smoked potatoes. Except for large parties, Homer is walk-in only, so prepare to have to go someplace else for a drink while you wait for a spot to open. This is no great sacrifice, as Homer is surrounded by great bars, including its sister restaurant, Milk Drunk.

Driftwood

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This restaurant from Dan and Jackie Mallahan is a kind of manifesto for contemporary PNW cuisine. A lot of restaurants SAY they focus on “seasonal and local fish and produce,” but how many places eschew citrus because it doesn’t grow in Washington? How many menus have local paw paw (sort of like a more savory passionfruit)? How many chefs are foraging in their neighbors’ backyards for edible flowers? Not that Driftwood makes a big deal about its sometimes obsessive sourcing practices or its constantly-changing menu. It doesn’t need to. Dishes like the pull-apart rolls served with flavored butter or the black cod — fished by members of the Makah Nation and accompanied by a symphony of vegetables — speak loud and clear.

A piece of fish topped with thin-sliced radishes and sitting on a bed of vegetables and broth.
Black cod at Driftwood
Harry Cheadle

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.

Quick Pack Food Mart

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If you haven’t been inside this Central District convenience store you might scoff at the sign declaring it the “the BEST fried chicken in town!” Well, we challenge you to find a better way to spend $3 than buying a drumstick here. The dark meat is juicy and bursting with flavor, the skin is crispy and hot and laced with some kind of spice — cardamom? Cumin? This is more complex than mini mart chicken has any right to be. A couple pieces makes great road trip comfort food; a dozen pieces is a Sunday dinner.  If you have a few minutes to wait, get a sambusa, which will be fresh and flaky and full of spice and warmth.

The exterior of Quick Pack Food Mart Harry Cheadle

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.

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.

Oriental Mart

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If you want to impress the tourists you (inevitably) have to take to Pike Place Market, skip pass the fish-throwers and overcrowded waterfront view joints, cross the street, and take them to this restaurant inside a grocery store. The salmon collar sinigang and succulent longanisa have made this place into an American classic. Literally, the James Beard Foundation gave Oriental Mart an America’s Classics award in 2020, and you can see why — sitting here eating adobo dishes makes you part of a long lineage of people of all classes, creeds, and colors who have eaten adobo dishes at this stainless steel lunch counter. While you ponder this, you can look at the handwritten signs cluttering the kitchen. One of them reads, “WIFI PASSWORD: TALK TO EACH OTHER” 

A bunch of handwritten signs in a commercial kitchen Harry Cheadle

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 fresh croissants and a popular quiche with Comté cheese, which you can also take to go.

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. Make reservations weeks ahead, or show up right when the restaurant opens on a weekday to vie for a spot.

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

Ltd Edition Sushi

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This tiny omakase place on Capitol Hill first achieved fame for being so good it made the Seattle Times restaurant tear up. But you’re more likely to be laughing than crying at Keiji Tsukasaki’s counter. The former DJ cheerfully ditches the air of mystique some highly skilled sushi chefs seem to cultivate. He’ll drink a beer while he’s working, tell you which sake to drink with which course (and refill your glass with a heavy hand), all while abso-fucking-lutely wowing you with his food. The menu changes with the seasons but past highlights include sea snails served in their shells, toro topped with mushrooms for added depth of flavor, and a monkfish liver so rich and velvety it’s literally a dessert course.

A piece of sushi with mushrooms on it.
Nigiri at LTD Edition Sushi
Harry Cheadle

Surrell

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Behind a relatively anonymous new-build door on a busy stretch of Madison, chef Aaron Tekulve and his team are doing exceptional things. This two-seating-a-night tasting menu spot should be on every fine-dining fan’s radar, not just for the impeccable service — a meal comes with a welcome sangria at the door, a poem written to celebrate the menu, even a bouquet made by Tekulve’s mom — but for the inventive food. The menu shifts constantly based on the seasons and turns over completely every several weeks, but recent highlights include a porcini macaron and fantastically tender octopus cooked with bay leaf and splashed with fish sauce. Sitting at the chef’s counter really makes you feel like you’re at a dinner party hosted by an incredibly thoughtful, inclusive host.

A plate with an octopus tentacle splashed with sauce next to greens
The octopus at Surrell
Harry Cheadle

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 dishes 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.

Taurus Ox

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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. (This burger became so popular the team opened a burger-only place, Ox Burger.) For another rare treat, pair it with a locally made sato, or Laotian rice wine, from Village Ghost.

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.

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 (a.k.a. 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.

Chefs Rachel Yang and 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 easygoing 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

Saint Bread

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Calling Saint Bread a bakery is like calling Notre Dame a church. Yes, it is a bakery — a damn good one that has great cardamom knots, black sesame seed rolls, and Norwegian-style school buns. But what Saint Bread really specializes in is merging Seattle’s many different culinary cultures. You can get a breakfast sandwich on Japanese melonpan to add a layer of sweetness above the egg, or a smashed cheeseburger topped with “hoisin island dressing,” or an okonomiyaki-style Spanish tortilla. Its out-of-the-way location on Jensen Marina belies its importance; eat the whole menu and you’ll get a sense of what Seattle cuisine is all about. In 2023 it added a waterside food truck called Hinoki and a bar called Heave Ho.

Made In House

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Lunch is sometimes the ignored stepchild of the meal family. Not as hyped as dinner, not as luxurious as brunch, sometimes a lunch is just a sandwich or a wrap eaten thoughtlessly on the go. Not at Made in House! This Fremont Korean deli and cafe — from the team behind Bopbox — serves a pared-down menu of bento and bibimbop; either way you get a joyous assembly of crunch and pickled treats and marinated meats or tofu. The seaweed tastes oceanic, the japchae noodles provide a umami note, and the bulgogi ribeye will have you looking forward to the middle part of your day. (Oh, and they do dinner on the weekends too.)

A stone bowl of bibimbap.
Bibimbap at Made in House
Harry Cheadle

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 Restaurants 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 noodles topped with tri tips or oreo tempura. Make a full night of it by sampling some sake and snacks at next-door sibling bar Hannyatou.

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

Chef Berk Güldal and Katrina Schult worked at literally the best restaurants in the country (Single Thread, the French Laundry, 11 Madison Park) before hosting pop-ups at Fair Isle Brewing, where they made their reputation roasting entire lambs over a wood fire. So when the couple opened their brick-and-mortar in Frelard in 2022, it immediately became a buzzed-about dinner destination. The restaurant they’ve created is dark and theatrical, with a long chef’s counter facing the open kitchen, where you can watch Güldal cooking meat over an open flame. Lamb is still the star of the show: The kebap — an upscale version of the kebab everyone knows — is fatty and luxurious, and the lamb ribs are crunchy on the outside and somehow creamy on the inside. Not that Hamdi only caters to carnivores: The roasted cauliflower with tahini sauce and a sunflower seed dukkah is one of the most decadent gluten-free and vegan dishes in the whole city.

An elegantly plated appetizer of bulgar patties on green leaves.
Çiğ köfte, a mixture of bulgar, onion, and herbs served with lemon and mint on lettuce
Harry Cheadle

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 this is still arguably the flagship of her fleet. 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.

Un Bien

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We don’t need to get into the Shakespearean drama that resulted in the demise of the old Paseo, that legendary Caribbean sandwich shop run by Lorenzo Lorenzo. Suffice it to say that Un Bien, run by Lorenzo’s sons, is carrying on that legacy, and more importantly the marinade. Sweet, tangy, dripping from the slow-cooked pork (or chicken thighs), you could make a whole meal out of the marinade itself. The onions are so tender and flavor-packed you should be able to get a sandwich that’s just onions, and in fact, you can. Don’t tell anyone but sometimes we’ll buy a little container of their black beans and eat spoonfuls in the car while we do errands.

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. As a bonus, this fried chicken is gluten-free and dairy-free.

Layers Green Lake

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Ashley and Avery Hardin’s restaurant will expand your notions of what a sandwich can be. A grilled cheese with jalapenos and dates? Crispy pork belly paired with Fresno pepper jelly and chicories? A banh mi riff that features Fra’Mani’s high-end salami as the star ingredient? The menu and its ever-changing specials contain multitudes — and you don’t even need to get a sandwich here. Just drop in the morning for the freshest, flakiest biscuits in town and enjoy a moment of zen within sight of Green Lake. 

A sandwich piled high with meat and greens.
The Peace, Love, and Salame from Layers
Ashley Hardin

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. On weekends, the celebration of meat kicks up another gear, when it turns into an exclusive tasting-menu restaurant under the moniker the Peasant, which serves dishes like koji-aged beef and duck confit with Yorkshire pudding waffles. In 2023, Beast and Cleaver expanded with a new location inside Fair Isle Brewing where it serves its famous burgers.

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.

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 duck breast with charred strawberries and English pea pignoli tartelette, while vegan and pescatarian options showcase what the talented team here can do with fish and mushrooms.

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. (Ono sources a lot of his fish directly from the Honolulu Fish Auction.) 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.

A take-out container full of different kinds of fish and Hawaiian sides.
A selection of fish from Ono Poke
Harry Cheadle

May Kitchen and Bar

Vashon Island’s celebrated Thai restaurant is so good that many Seattleites take the ferry over just to sample the food. 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.

El Cabrito

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. Owner Leticia Sánchez started making moles with her grandmother in Oaxaca when she was five 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

Tomo

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. In 2023, Tomo launched an a la carte menu for diners who wanted a slightly more casual experience.

Taqueria la Fondita

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

Delish Ethiopian Cuisine

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.

Archipelago

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.

Off Alley

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.

MOTO West Seattle

This Detroit-style, Filipino-influenced pizza place in West Seattle (now with locations in Edmonds and Belltown) was once best known for the insatiable demand its pies generated — customers ordered months in advance. Now that Moto is open for walk-ins, we can stop obsessing over that wait and focus on the pizza, which lives up to the hype. The thick crust is crispy and caramelized and the toppings include off-the-beaten-path items like including pork belly and crab. As a bonus, in the summer Moto does soft serve in freshly baked cones.

A square Detroit-style pizza crossed with a variety of sauces.
The Mr. Pig at Moto
Harry Cheadle

Bar del Corso

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.

Homer

This chill Beacon Hill Mediterranean spot is named after a dog but it could just as well be named after the Greek poet because we want to write epics about its wood-fired vegetables. Or it could be named after the Simpsons character, because the “d’oh” it uses for its pitas is fantastic! Sorry, sorry, but these pitas — fluffy, warm, and fresh, are must-orders, as is the soft-serve, which comes in flavors like strawberry–lime leaf. The menu constantly changes, but one recent standout is mackerel with nduja, cultured cream, and smoked potatoes. Except for large parties, Homer is walk-in only, so prepare to have to go someplace else for a drink while you wait for a spot to open. This is no great sacrifice, as Homer is surrounded by great bars, including its sister restaurant, Milk Drunk.

Driftwood

This restaurant from Dan and Jackie Mallahan is a kind of manifesto for contemporary PNW cuisine. A lot of restaurants SAY they focus on “seasonal and local fish and produce,” but how many places eschew citrus because it doesn’t grow in Washington? How many menus have local paw paw (sort of like a more savory passionfruit)? How many chefs are foraging in their neighbors’ backyards for edible flowers? Not that Driftwood makes a big deal about its sometimes obsessive sourcing practices or its constantly-changing menu. It doesn’t need to. Dishes like the pull-apart rolls served with flavored butter or the black cod — fished by members of the Makah Nation and accompanied by a symphony of vegetables — speak loud and clear.

A piece of fish topped with thin-sliced radishes and sitting on a bed of vegetables and broth.
Black cod at Driftwood
Harry Cheadle

Musang

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.

Quick Pack Food Mart

If you haven’t been inside this Central District convenience store you might scoff at the sign declaring it the “the BEST fried chicken in town!” Well, we challenge you to find a better way to spend $3 than buying a drumstick here. The dark meat is juicy and bursting with flavor, the skin is crispy and hot and laced with some kind of spice — cardamom? Cumin? This is more complex than mini mart chicken has any right to be. A couple pieces makes great road trip comfort food; a dozen pieces is a Sunday dinner.  If you have a few minutes to wait, get a sambusa, which will be fresh and flaky and full of spice and warmth.