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A octopus tentacle on a plate and a side of greens splashed artistically with sauce
Octopus at Surrell
Harry Cheadle

13 Seattle Restaurants Ideal for Celebrating Special Occasions

Meals worth splurging on

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Octopus at Surrell
| Harry Cheadle

Any meal can be loaded with meaning. There’s no wrong way to celebrate an anniversary, a new job, a birthday, or another life-marking event — if you want to go out for a burger and fries because that fills your heart with joy, go out for a burger and fries!

What this map assumes is, maybe you feel like experiencing something a little more unique than burger and fries. Maybe you want a restaurant pushing the cutting edge of fine dining, one where the service makes you feel pampered, one where all the elements of the meal, everything from the setting to the table setting, communicates to you that yes, you are special. Maybe it will cost like, $200 a person. But that’s part of what makes it a special occasion!

If you are dropping that kind of cheddar or a single meal, you want it to not just be good, but utterly surprising and delighting, the kind of meal you’ll remember for years. These restaurants all fit the bill, whether that means exquisitely sourced local fish, a Filipino tasting menu that doubles as a cultural history lesson, or the most famous dining room in Seattle.

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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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.

Seabird

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Brendan McGill’s latest restaurant is an inventive seafood and vegetable restaurant called Seabird on Bainbridge Island (in the former Hitchcock space). 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.

Driftwood

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Dan and Jackie Mallahan’s new Alki restaurant takes “local ingredients” more seriously than most — as in, there’s no citrus in the cocktails because you can’t grow lemons and limes in Washington. This commitment means that it’s hard to describe the ever-changing menu: The pull-apart rolls are a staple, but beyond that past highlights have included fried squab and lamb leg aged in beeswax and sliced thin for carpaccio. Stay on top of the Driftwood Instagram to keep track of the specials, which are truly special here.

A plate of grits topped with a fried pigeon.
Squab at Driftwood
Harry Cheadle

White Center restaurant Tomo was highly anticipated when it opened in fall 2021 in a former adult video store. It’s serious food but done in a fun, approachable style. There is a tasting menu but you may be tempted by a la carte options like the pork ribs with honey and yuzu koshu or the salt and vinegar fried chicken.

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.

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. We don’t really need to hype this place up — it is one of Seattle’s oldest fine dining restaurants and the definition of a “big night out.” Beyond the food there’s the view from Queen Anne Hill, the live piano music, and the sense of pomp and circumstance. It’s one of the few restaurants in Seattle to have a dress code: no t-shirts, hats, or shorts allowed.

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.

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.

The Corson Building

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Located in an Italianate cottage from the early part of the 20th century, this is one of Seattle’s most beautiful restaurants. On Thursdays and Fridays the menu is a la carte and emphasizes seasonal vegetables and seafood. On Saturdays they kick it up a notch with a six-course tasting menu, and for Sunday supper they serve a four-course menu that at $100, wine included, is actually a pretty good deal.

Surrell

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Chef Aaron Tekulve’s Madison Valley restaurant in a renovated Victorian home celebrates Washington with elegance and care. The 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.

COMMUNION Restaurant & Bar

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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.” Brown’s memories of shopping at Chinatown-International District markets results in banh mi-po’ boy hybrids and a dish made with Washington clams, mussels, and Laotian sausage in a coconut milk “roux.” But Brown’s cooking shines most in her more traditional Southern dishes, like the pork neck bone stew, with smoky meat simmered in umami-packed broth with lima beans. Make reservations weeks ahead.

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, so uhhh good luck with the waiting list.

Cafe Juanita

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Holly Smith and her team have been holding down the fine dining fort in Kirkland for over two decades, and the northern Italian–influenced tasting menus haven’t lost a step. The focaccia is casually some of the best in the metro area, the little in-between-course surprises are thrilling, and the staff boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of the menu.

The Dolar Shop Seattle

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In China, hours-long hot pot parties (with lots of beer and baijiu) often mark the celebration of special events like birthdays. Though the Seattle area has many great hot pot spots, the Bellevue location of this Chinese chain is a good place to splurge on high-end ingredients like A5 Miyazaki wagyu beef from Japan, geoduck, or live prawns.

Seabird

Brendan McGill’s latest restaurant is an inventive seafood and vegetable restaurant called Seabird on Bainbridge Island (in the former Hitchcock space). 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.

Driftwood

Dan and Jackie Mallahan’s new Alki restaurant takes “local ingredients” more seriously than most — as in, there’s no citrus in the cocktails because you can’t grow lemons and limes in Washington. This commitment means that it’s hard to describe the ever-changing menu: The pull-apart rolls are a staple, but beyond that past highlights have included fried squab and lamb leg aged in beeswax and sliced thin for carpaccio. Stay on top of the Driftwood Instagram to keep track of the specials, which are truly special here.

A plate of grits topped with a fried pigeon.
Squab at Driftwood
Harry Cheadle

TOMO

White Center restaurant Tomo was highly anticipated when it opened in fall 2021 in a former adult video store. It’s serious food but done in a fun, approachable style. There is a tasting menu but you may be tempted by a la carte options like the pork ribs with honey and yuzu koshu or the salt and vinegar fried chicken.

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.

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. We don’t really need to hype this place up — it is one of Seattle’s oldest fine dining restaurants and the definition of a “big night out.” Beyond the food there’s the view from Queen Anne Hill, the live piano music, and the sense of pomp and circumstance. It’s one of the few restaurants in Seattle to have a dress code: no t-shirts, hats, or shorts allowed.

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.

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.

The Corson Building

Located in an Italianate cottage from the early part of the 20th century, this is one of Seattle’s most beautiful restaurants. On Thursdays and Fridays the menu is a la carte and emphasizes seasonal vegetables and seafood. On Saturdays they kick it up a notch with a six-course tasting menu, and for Sunday supper they serve a four-course menu that at $100, wine included, is actually a pretty good deal.

Surrell

Chef Aaron Tekulve’s Madison Valley restaurant in a renovated Victorian home celebrates Washington with elegance and care. The 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.

COMMUNION Restaurant & Bar

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.” Brown’s memories of shopping at Chinatown-International District markets results in banh mi-po’ boy hybrids and a dish made with Washington clams, mussels, and Laotian sausage in a coconut milk “roux.” But Brown’s cooking shines most in her more traditional Southern dishes, like the pork neck bone stew, with smoky meat simmered in umami-packed broth with lima beans. Make reservations weeks ahead.

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, so uhhh good luck with the waiting list.

Cafe Juanita

Holly Smith and her team have been holding down the fine dining fort in Kirkland for over two decades, and the northern Italian–influenced tasting menus haven’t lost a step. The focaccia is casually some of the best in the metro area, the little in-between-course surprises are thrilling, and the staff boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of the menu.

The Dolar Shop Seattle

In China, hours-long hot pot parties (with lots of beer and baijiu) often mark the celebration of special events like birthdays. Though the Seattle area has many great hot pot spots, the Bellevue location of this Chinese chain is a good place to splurge on high-end ingredients like A5 Miyazaki wagyu beef from Japan, geoduck, or live prawns.

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