clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
A view of Pike Place Market at night, with the iconic sign in red neon.
There are plenty of great dining spots at Pike Place Market, for those willing to fight the crowds.
Shutterstock

10 Seattle Tourist Trap Restaurants That Are Actually Good

Yes, the seafood is legit at the Market, and Ezell’s has Oprah-worthy fried chicken

View as Map
There are plenty of great dining spots at Pike Place Market, for those willing to fight the crowds.
| Shutterstock

Seattle lucked out when they were handing out regional cuisines. Pacific Northwest seafood is hard to mess up, and it also helps that the city’s biggest tourist attraction happens to be a world-class fish market. For those visiting the city, the options may seem overwhelming across many of the neighborhoods, but even the most well known dining spots live up to the hype. Here’s a handful of favorites from Seattle’s biggest tourist zones.

Note: These places are ordered geographically from north to south, not ranked by preference. If you think we missed a spot or want us to consider adding something for a later update, send us a tip.

For all the latest Seattle dining intel, subscribe to Eater Seattle’s newsletter.

Read More
Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Freya Café

Copy Link

Named after the Norse goddess of love (who rides a chariot pulled by two cats!), this bistro inside Ballard’s National Nordic Museum is getting nationwide press for its modern take on Nordic cuisine. The streamlined, light-flooded dining room is veldig skandinavisk, and dishes like the juniper-smoked salmon smørrebrød (open-faced sandwich) and aquavit cocktails go the extra mile to drive the point home.

Suzi Pratt for Eater

Ivar's Salmon House

Copy Link

All Ivar’ses are good Ivar’ses, but the crown jewel among them is the Salmon House on Lake Union, hands down. All of the seafood will astound, especially the chowder and salmon, naturally — but the special holiday brunch buffets are true spectacles to behold, with six different chef stations and dozens of options, including crab legs, clams, mussels, prime rib, and a full-on chocolate fountain. Read more on Ivar’s history here.

El Gaucho

Copy Link

Seattle’s answer to NYC’s Peter Luger, El Gaucho and its mink-upholstered booths has a rep as a ritzy, unaffordable-to-the-common-man chophouse. Although the current Belltown location isn’t the original one from the ’50s, it’s tricked out with enough showstopping Rat Pack style to fool anyone who didn’t know that: a live pianist, a flaming bananas Foster cart, candles, martinis, and flamboyant, dazzling cuts of meat. Service is next-level, as well.

Dahlia Lounge

Copy Link

This was the restaurant that skyrocketed Tom Douglas into becoming one of Seattle’s first celebrity chefs, and it’s honestly still worth the hype, almost 30 years later. Dahlia serves Pacific Northwestern cuisine at its most quintessential — dishes are based on local seafood, meat, and produce, often with an Asian influence. The dining room is usually packed at night, but the bar isn’t, and an early evening there with a plate of Puget Sound oysters is a serene pleasure.

Pike Place Chowder

Copy Link

Pike Place Chowder really does have the best chowder in town, and it comes in clam, salmon, scallop, and crab and oyster varieties, all served in the iconic sourdough bread bowl. Despite the fact this is a Pacific Northwest original, the two most heralded menu items are, in fact, New England classics — the Maine lobster roll being the other one.

The Crumpet Shop

Copy Link

On First and Pike Place, a bit outside of the main tourist fray, the Crumpet Shop has been slinging up English-inspired sweet and savory crumpets for more than 40 years, and it does what it does very well. Everything’s organic, right down to the loose-leaf teas, and one of those piled-up crumpets can serve as a cheap, smallish lunch. Favorite crumpets include the maple butter, the pesto and ricotta, and the egg and wild smoked salmon with cream cheese.

The Athenian Inn

Copy Link

Yes, this 110-year-old place is in the absolute center of Seattle tourism, located not only in Pike Place Market but actually inside the main arcade, so one couldn’t be blamed for being skeptical about the food. But the Athenian’s oysters are as fresh as any you’ll find at Taylor Shellfish, and the fish and chips are a strong contender for best in the city. Plus, the draft beers are served in the frostiest mugs ever, and oh, that perfect, sweeping view.

Alibi Room

Copy Link

In contrast to the gross old gum wall outside of the Alibi Room’s Post Alley location, this cozy upscale pizzeria/cocktail lounge is always clean and snazzy. Locals and tourists alike rave over the rustic brick-oven pies, which range from traditional styles like margherita or sausage and basil to fancy ones like Truffle Tre Funghi (three mushrooms with truffle oil drizzled on top) and grapes and bleu cheese (finished with arugula and a balsamic reduction).

Ezell's Famous Chicken

Copy Link

The names Ezell and Oprah are forever inextricably linked — as the story goes, Oprah has Ezell’s Famous Chicken imported whenever she has a craving — but Ezell’s doesn’t need to name-drop her anymore. There’s always a line at the original takeaway-only shop in the Central District for good reason: The fried chicken is exactly balanced among crispy, juicy, and greasy, and it’s all hand-floured and seasoned seconds before it hits the fryer.

The Fisherman's Restaurant & Bar

Copy Link

Eating seafood on the waterfront always feels a little hokey, but for out-of-towners who want to do the thing in the place, this spot on Alaskan Way is the right kind of hokey. Fisherman’s is basically a fancier version of its cousin, the Crab Pot, down the street — they do a great touristy crab boil with prettier, higher-quality shellfish, and they don’t dump it all over the table. Which is fun too, don’t get us wrong.

Loading comments...

Freya Café

Suzi Pratt for Eater

Named after the Norse goddess of love (who rides a chariot pulled by two cats!), this bistro inside Ballard’s National Nordic Museum is getting nationwide press for its modern take on Nordic cuisine. The streamlined, light-flooded dining room is veldig skandinavisk, and dishes like the juniper-smoked salmon smørrebrød (open-faced sandwich) and aquavit cocktails go the extra mile to drive the point home.

Suzi Pratt for Eater

Ivar's Salmon House

All Ivar’ses are good Ivar’ses, but the crown jewel among them is the Salmon House on Lake Union, hands down. All of the seafood will astound, especially the chowder and salmon, naturally — but the special holiday brunch buffets are true spectacles to behold, with six different chef stations and dozens of options, including crab legs, clams, mussels, prime rib, and a full-on chocolate fountain. Read more on Ivar’s history here.

El Gaucho

Seattle’s answer to NYC’s Peter Luger, El Gaucho and its mink-upholstered booths has a rep as a ritzy, unaffordable-to-the-common-man chophouse. Although the current Belltown location isn’t the original one from the ’50s, it’s tricked out with enough showstopping Rat Pack style to fool anyone who didn’t know that: a live pianist, a flaming bananas Foster cart, candles, martinis, and flamboyant, dazzling cuts of meat. Service is next-level, as well.

Dahlia Lounge

This was the restaurant that skyrocketed Tom Douglas into becoming one of Seattle’s first celebrity chefs, and it’s honestly still worth the hype, almost 30 years later. Dahlia serves Pacific Northwestern cuisine at its most quintessential — dishes are based on local seafood, meat, and produce, often with an Asian influence. The dining room is usually packed at night, but the bar isn’t, and an early evening there with a plate of Puget Sound oysters is a serene pleasure.

Pike Place Chowder

Pike Place Chowder really does have the best chowder in town, and it comes in clam, salmon, scallop, and crab and oyster varieties, all served in the iconic sourdough bread bowl. Despite the fact this is a Pacific Northwest original, the two most heralded menu items are, in fact, New England classics — the Maine lobster roll being the other one.

The Crumpet Shop

On First and Pike Place, a bit outside of the main tourist fray, the Crumpet Shop has been slinging up English-inspired sweet and savory crumpets for more than 40 years, and it does what it does very well. Everything’s organic, right down to the loose-leaf teas, and one of those piled-up crumpets can serve as a cheap, smallish lunch. Favorite crumpets include the maple butter, the pesto and ricotta, and the egg and wild smoked salmon with cream cheese.

The Athenian Inn

Yes, this 110-year-old place is in the absolute center of Seattle tourism, located not only in Pike Place Market but actually inside the main arcade, so one couldn’t be blamed for being skeptical about the food. But the Athenian’s oysters are as fresh as any you’ll find at Taylor Shellfish, and the fish and chips are a strong contender for best in the city. Plus, the draft beers are served in the frostiest mugs ever, and oh, that perfect, sweeping view.

Alibi Room

In contrast to the gross old gum wall outside of the Alibi Room’s Post Alley location, this cozy upscale pizzeria/cocktail lounge is always clean and snazzy. Locals and tourists alike rave over the rustic brick-oven pies, which range from traditional styles like margherita or sausage and basil to fancy ones like Truffle Tre Funghi (three mushrooms with truffle oil drizzled on top) and grapes and bleu cheese (finished with arugula and a balsamic reduction).

Ezell's Famous Chicken

The names Ezell and Oprah are forever inextricably linked — as the story goes, Oprah has Ezell’s Famous Chicken imported whenever she has a craving — but Ezell’s doesn’t need to name-drop her anymore. There’s always a line at the original takeaway-only shop in the Central District for good reason: The fried chicken is exactly balanced among crispy, juicy, and greasy, and it’s all hand-floured and seasoned seconds before it hits the fryer.

The Fisherman's Restaurant & Bar

Eating seafood on the waterfront always feels a little hokey, but for out-of-towners who want to do the thing in the place, this spot on Alaskan Way is the right kind of hokey. Fisherman’s is basically a fancier version of its cousin, the Crab Pot, down the street — they do a great touristy crab boil with prettier, higher-quality shellfish, and they don’t dump it all over the table. Which is fun too, don’t get us wrong.

Related Maps