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A dining room with zig zagging marble floors, arched ceilings, and a large chandelier.
The George restaurant is the final part of a $25 million renovation of the downtown Fairmont Olympic Hotel’s lobby and dining areas.
Brandon Barré

Seattle Restaurants Ideal for Celebrating a Special Occasion

Meals worth splurging on in the Seattle area

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The George restaurant is the final part of a $25 million renovation of the downtown Fairmont Olympic Hotel’s lobby and dining areas.
| Brandon Barré

Seattle is packed with fine dining restaurants, and more seem to spring up every week. So deciding where to go to celebrate an anniversary, a promotion, a birthday, or just to go treat yourself after a difficult few years, can be difficult, especially when many of the Northwest fine-dining restaurants in Seattle seem to offer variations of the same menu: a big steak, a halibut dish, some oysters, a seasonal vegetable dish, and maybe some salmon crudo. The following list offers restaurants from a selection of cuisines that provide a celebratory atmosphere while also offering something unique to the scene, whether it’s exquisitely sourced local fish, a sharply designed granite-floored dining room, or a Filipino tasting menu that doubles as a cultural history lesson.

As usual, this list is not ranked; it’s organized geographically. Know of a spot that should be on our radar? Send us a tip by emailing seattle@eater.com.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Cafe Juanita

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At Kirkland’s Northern Italian fine-dining mainstay, chef Holly Smith and her team have crafted several excellent tasting menus (including pescatarian and vegan options), as well as an exhaustive wine list. The warm, tastefully decorated dining room is more approachable than a lot of high-end restaurants.

2022 James Beard Award finalists chefs Rachel Yang and partner Seif Chirchi offer simple but refined dishes at their Korean-influenced Fremont restaurant, including a smoked mackerel kedgeree and a succulent kalbi short rib over grilled kimchi. Expect inventive dishes too, like smoked tofu with mushrooms or the dash grits, rich with umami and perfect topped with some bright house-made kimchi (to be ordered separately). With an inviting, open space and easy-going service, Joule offers a special night out sans pretension. Sit at the bar and watch chefs plating dishes, and sip on one of Joule’s creative cocktails, like the lapsang souchong tequila drink with lime and Thai chili agave. 

Sushi Kappo Tamura

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Renowned chef Taichi Kitamura (a 2018 James Beard Award semifinalist) provides a wide variety of fantastic meal options at his Eastlake destination restaurant. It has a full sushi menu, as well as a nigiri omakase, which includes 12 pieces of seasonal selections and brunch on the weekends. Sushi Kappo Tamura sources its seafood from Pacific Northwest producers like Taylor Shellfish and Skagit River Ranch and has a rooftop garden that provides produce for some of its dishes. Of all the sushi chefs in Seattle, Kitamura may know the most about local fish, providing a sushi experience that couldn’t be replicated in any other part of the country.

Executive chef Aisha Ibrahim helms this 71-year-old Queen Anne icon, owned by the Canlis family. Ibrahim energizes the historic establishment with a super-seasonal approach inspired by Japanese kaiseki cooking. A recent four course menu offered options like duck with bitter chicory, celeriac, and blood orange; striploin with Walla Walla onions and wild rice; and grilled sablefish with abalone, dashi, and daikon.

Eden Hill Restaurant

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This upscale Queen Anne favorite (with a more casual sibling restaurant nearby) has resumed onsite dining with tasting menu options as well as shared plates. Dishes include a delectable cider-braised rabbit, scallops with caviar, and the restaurant’s famed foie gras cake batter for dessert, while a newly constructed patio is a welcome addition in the warmer months.

Seabird

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Brendan McGill’s newest restaurant converted the former Hitchcock restaurant space on Bainbridge Island into an inventive seafood and vegetable restaurant called Seabird. Grant Rico, the executive chef, is bringing some Japanese techniques (like using local kelp-based broths) to bring out the best flavors in local seafood. The space features a granite-covered raw bar where oysters are shucked and crab legs are displayed. Menu highlights include “seacuterie” boards loaded with cured local fish, like boquerones made with Columbia river smelt, and large dishes to share like a whole roasted rockfish. For lovers of seafood, this is easily a contender for the best restaurant in the area for enjoying the Puget Sound’s bounty.

Surrell

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Chef Aaron Tekulve’s Madison Valley restaurant in a renovated Victorian home celebrates Washington with elegance and care. The 10-course tasting menus, made with the best seasonal Washington ingredients, start with a bouquet of flowers grown by Tekulve’s mother in the summertime, and some of the herbs come from beds growing next to a leafy covered patio. Surrell is also the world’s only restaurant with a Washington-wine-only wine list, and Tekulve prides himself on turning die-hard Francophiles into Washington wine lovers with an impressive bottle list built through close relationships with local winemakers and collectors.

In 2018, chef Hiro Tawara opened this fantastic Japanese restaurant devoted to the art of kaiseki, a traditional multi-course meal featuring meticulously plated dishes with an emphasis on seasonality. Some notable recent items have included deep fried smelt in sweet vinegar sauce, lingcod with eggplant and plum, and wagyu rice bowls.

Sushi Kashiba

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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 does chef Kashiba, who is credited for bringing edomae-style sushi to Seattle and has opened some of the city’s most-respected sushi restaurants, including the self-titled Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant in Belltown. First-timers should choose the omakase option and embrace each seasonal offering. Now 80 years old, Kashiba is focusing on his legacy and helping the next generation of Seattle sushi chefs continue the tradition with their own restaurants.

The George

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The George is the new full-service restaurant at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, part of a $25 million renovation of the historic hotel’s bar and restaurant areas. The menu, by chef Thomas Cullen, formerly an executive chef for Ethan Stowell Restaurants, is ambitious (he says he wants it to be the “top restaurant” in Seattle). Cullen is serving huge seafood boils, dry-aged Carman Ranch steaks, sashimi, grilled octopus, among other dishes for dinner, using almost entirely ingredients from local farms, ranches, and fisheries. And the restaurant space, with its vaulted ceilings and granite tile floors, is stunning. The prices are generally high here, but the experience feels undeniably celebratory.

NIRMAL'S

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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. The high-ceilings and brick walls offer a quintessential Seattle atmosphere, and luxurious dishes like a $60 Dungeness crab curry make the restaurant probably the best Indian option for a celebration. The service, often provided by gregarious owner Oliver Bangera, is attentive and friendly.

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. This year, Miranda was nominated for a James Beard Award for her cooking. The homey space makes diners feel like they’re eating in a beloved family member’s living room, though the food is worthy of any celebration . Miranda also launched a community kitchen, which serves free meals every Monday and Tuesday, and a program to teach children Filipinx recipes. 

Il Nido

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Acclaimed chef Mike Easton turned the historic Alki Homestead into a classic Seattle dining experience, with meaty entrees and his famed handcrafted pastas that rotate regularly. He also 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 a special treat.

The Corson Building

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Located in an Italianate cottage from the early part of the 20th century, this restaurant-catering operation has won over diners for years. It’s seasonal, multi-course dinners include items such as corn soup with spot prawns, roasted lingcod, and grilled guinea hen with porcini, dandelions, hazelnuts, and cherries. Open for onsite dining, including patio seating.

Archipelago

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In 2021, Hillman City’s nationally acclaimed Filipino American fine dining restaurant restarted its intimate tasting menu dinners, known for their ingenuity, storytelling, and passion. Husband-and-wife team Aaron Verzosa and Amber Manuguid create inventive dishes that weave in their personal journeys growing up in the area and those of Filipino immigrants to the Pacific Northwest, creating a compelling history lesson through each 9-to-12-course sitting. The 12-seat restaurant is normally booked out months ahead, but there’s a waiting list on the website.

White Center restaurant Tomo was highly anticipated when it opened in fall 2021 with a menu of micro-seasonal Pacific Northwest cuisine served in a creative five-course dinner. The space is intimate with a wall of vertical ash slats, and the dishes change regularly, but a sample menu on the website includes pork collar with squash, fermented radish chawanmushi, and sweet potato with miso caramel. The restaurant was a 2022 James Beard Award semifinalist for its outstanding wine program, which features of plenty of great low-intervention options.

Cafe Juanita

At Kirkland’s Northern Italian fine-dining mainstay, chef Holly Smith and her team have crafted several excellent tasting menus (including pescatarian and vegan options), as well as an exhaustive wine list. The warm, tastefully decorated dining room is more approachable than a lot of high-end restaurants.

Joule

2022 James Beard Award finalists chefs Rachel Yang and partner Seif Chirchi offer simple but refined dishes at their Korean-influenced Fremont restaurant, including a smoked mackerel kedgeree and a succulent kalbi short rib over grilled kimchi. Expect inventive dishes too, like smoked tofu with mushrooms or the dash grits, rich with umami and perfect topped with some bright house-made kimchi (to be ordered separately). With an inviting, open space and easy-going service, Joule offers a special night out sans pretension. Sit at the bar and watch chefs plating dishes, and sip on one of Joule’s creative cocktails, like the lapsang souchong tequila drink with lime and Thai chili agave. 

Sushi Kappo Tamura

Renowned chef Taichi Kitamura (a 2018 James Beard Award semifinalist) provides a wide variety of fantastic meal options at his Eastlake destination restaurant. It has a full sushi menu, as well as a nigiri omakase, which includes 12 pieces of seasonal selections and brunch on the weekends. Sushi Kappo Tamura sources its seafood from Pacific Northwest producers like Taylor Shellfish and Skagit River Ranch and has a rooftop garden that provides produce for some of its dishes. Of all the sushi chefs in Seattle, Kitamura may know the most about local fish, providing a sushi experience that couldn’t be replicated in any other part of the country.

Canlis

Executive chef Aisha Ibrahim helms this 71-year-old Queen Anne icon, owned by the Canlis family. Ibrahim energizes the historic establishment with a super-seasonal approach inspired by Japanese kaiseki cooking. A recent four course menu offered options like duck with bitter chicory, celeriac, and blood orange; striploin with Walla Walla onions and wild rice; and grilled sablefish with abalone, dashi, and daikon.

Eden Hill Restaurant

This upscale Queen Anne favorite (with a more casual sibling restaurant nearby) has resumed onsite dining with tasting menu options as well as shared plates. Dishes include a delectable cider-braised rabbit, scallops with caviar, and the restaurant’s famed foie gras cake batter for dessert, while a newly constructed patio is a welcome addition in the warmer months.

Seabird

Brendan McGill’s newest restaurant converted the former Hitchcock restaurant space on Bainbridge Island into an inventive seafood and vegetable restaurant called Seabird. Grant Rico, the executive chef, is bringing some Japanese techniques (like using local kelp-based broths) to bring out the best flavors in local seafood. The space features a granite-covered raw bar where oysters are shucked and crab legs are displayed. Menu highlights include “seacuterie” boards loaded with cured local fish, like boquerones made with Columbia river smelt, and large dishes to share like a whole roasted rockfish. For lovers of seafood, this is easily a contender for the best restaurant in the area for enjoying the Puget Sound’s bounty.

Surrell

Chef Aaron Tekulve’s Madison Valley restaurant in a renovated Victorian home celebrates Washington with elegance and care. The 10-course tasting menus, made with the best seasonal Washington ingredients, start with a bouquet of flowers grown by Tekulve’s mother in the summertime, and some of the herbs come from beds growing next to a leafy covered patio. Surrell is also the world’s only restaurant with a Washington-wine-only wine list, and Tekulve prides himself on turning die-hard Francophiles into Washington wine lovers with an impressive bottle list built through close relationships with local winemakers and collectors.

Wa'z

In 2018, chef Hiro Tawara opened this fantastic Japanese restaurant devoted to the art of kaiseki, a traditional multi-course meal featuring meticulously plated dishes with an emphasis on seasonality. Some notable recent items have included deep fried smelt in sweet vinegar sauce, lingcod with eggplant and plum, and wagyu rice bowls.

Sushi Kashiba

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 does chef Kashiba, who is credited for bringing edomae-style sushi to Seattle and has opened some of the city’s most-respected sushi restaurants, including the self-titled Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant in Belltown. First-timers should choose the omakase option and embrace each seasonal offering. Now 80 years old, Kashiba is focusing on his legacy and helping the next generation of Seattle sushi chefs continue the tradition with their own restaurants.

The George

The George is the new full-service restaurant at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, part of a $25 million renovation of the historic hotel’s bar and restaurant areas. The menu, by chef Thomas Cullen, formerly an executive chef for Ethan Stowell Restaurants, is ambitious (he says he wants it to be the “top restaurant” in Seattle). Cullen is serving huge seafood boils, dry-aged Carman Ranch steaks, sashimi, grilled octopus, among other dishes for dinner, using almost entirely ingredients from local farms, ranches, and fisheries. And the restaurant space, with its vaulted ceilings and granite tile floors, is stunning. The prices are generally high here, but the experience feels undeniably celebratory.

NIRMAL'S

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. The high-ceilings and brick walls offer a quintessential Seattle atmosphere, and luxurious dishes like a $60 Dungeness crab curry make the restaurant probably the best Indian option for a celebration. The service, often provided by gregarious owner Oliver Bangera, is attentive and friendly.

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. This year, Miranda was nominated for a James Beard Award for her cooking. The homey space makes diners feel like they’re eating in a beloved family member’s living room, though the food is worthy of any celebration . Miranda also launched a community kitchen, which serves free meals every Monday and Tuesday, and a program to teach children Filipinx recipes. 

Il Nido

Acclaimed chef Mike Easton turned the historic Alki Homestead into a classic Seattle dining experience, with meaty entrees and his famed handcrafted pastas that rotate regularly. He also 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 a special treat.

The Corson Building

Located in an Italianate cottage from the early part of the 20th century, this restaurant-catering operation has won over diners for years. It’s seasonal, multi-course dinners include items such as corn soup with spot prawns, roasted lingcod, and grilled guinea hen with porcini, dandelions, hazelnuts, and cherries. Open for onsite dining, including patio seating.

Archipelago

In 2021, Hillman City’s nationally acclaimed Filipino American fine dining restaurant restarted its intimate tasting menu dinners, known for their ingenuity, storytelling, and passion. Husband-and-wife team Aaron Verzosa and Amber Manuguid create inventive dishes that weave in their personal journeys growing up in the area and those of Filipino immigrants to the Pacific Northwest, creating a compelling history lesson through each 9-to-12-course sitting. The 12-seat restaurant is normally booked out months ahead, but there’s a waiting list on the website.

Related Maps

TOMO

White Center restaurant Tomo was highly anticipated when it opened in fall 2021 with a menu of micro-seasonal Pacific Northwest cuisine served in a creative five-course dinner. The space is intimate with a wall of vertical ash slats, and the dishes change regularly, but a sample menu on the website includes pork collar with squash, fermented radish chawanmushi, and sweet potato with miso caramel. The restaurant was a 2022 James Beard Award semifinalist for its outstanding wine program, which features of plenty of great low-intervention options.

Related Maps