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Pioneer Square.
Pioneer Square.
DeymosHR/Shutterstock.com

Navigating the Food of Pioneer Square, Seattle's Original Neighborhood

Your guide to the booming exposed-brick borough directly south of Downtown

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Pioneer Square.
| DeymosHR/Shutterstock.com

Once known for sordid affairs and "da clubs," Pioneer Square, the original neighborhood when Seattle was founded in the 1850s, has become the city's "It" location for restaurants over the past few years. It makes sense, given the area's proximity to Downtown, Pike Place Market, CenturyLink Field (home of the Seattle Seahawks football team and the Seattle Sounders soccer squad), and Safeco Field (where the Seattle Mariners play baseball). The landscape of this exposed-brick borough is shifting constantly.

So, here is Eater's list of current neighborhood favorites, from old standbys to new winners, from gourmet Indian food to cocktails and sake. Before a game, during lunch hour vegging out in Waterfall Garden Park, after a tour of the historical underground scene, sipping wine along the art walk route — there's no longer a time of day to avoid Pioneer Square.

Note: Map points are ordered geographically and are not ranked by preference. What's your favorite haunt in this bustling neighborhood? Show it some love in the comments, send an email, or start a forum thread in its honor.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Biscuit Bitch

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Rejoice, the Bitch has landed in Pioneer Square! That means one more place to get Seattle’s favorite breakfast-all-day biscuits while supporting female empowerment. Maybe it will make the lines shorter at the other two locations? Probably not, but at least the line leads to great rewards.

Il Corvo

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"Every neighborhood needs an Il Corvo," Eater's roving restaurant critic, Bill Addison, insists. This delightful weekday-only, lunch-only joint knocks it out of the park with three $9 plates of handmade pasta each day. The menu rotates, but never disappoints. Il Corvo has quickly become a Seattle rite of passage, so expect a line no matter when you arrive. On the plus side, this is such a well-oiled machine, the line moves quickly.

Nirmal's

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While most diners know the gut-busting beauty of endless buffets and chicken tikka masala, Nirmal's is a different type of Indian restaurant than Seattle is used to. It's based in India's rich history of food and inspired by chef and namesake Nirmal Monteiro's more than 30 years of worldwide cooking experience. What’s particularly arresting about this 90-seat destination is the experimentation that takes place in its tiny kitchen. Leave your expectations at the door.

Tat's Delicatessen

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In the land of kale and evergreens, Tat’s brings much-needed East Coast flair in the shape of delicious sammies, subs, steaks, hoagies, grinders — whatever you want to call them. Seriously, skip the trip to Philly this year and just head down to Yesler Way for the real deal.

Manu's Bodega

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In a sea of sandwich shops, some great and some forgettable, Manu Alfau's namesake bodega stands out with the Dominican delicacies of Alfau's childhood. And his empanadas will make you forget sandwiches all together. Bonus: Alfau is now also serving terrific tacos inside Flatstick Pub and from a street-level window next to the bar's entrance.

Casco Antiguo

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The Pacific Northwest meets Mexico at Casco Antiguo, another exposed-brick gem. At this locale, drinking in the alley is highly encouraged. The bar serves draft margaritas on the back patio 'til late, and hosts an impressive happy hour everyday from 3 to 6 p.m.

Damn the Weather

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This little bar has packed a big punch since day one. It feels like it would fit in on any bustling side street in NYC: The music is hip, the space is dark, and service is top-notch. The best thing about Damn The Weather is that it’s always innovating, whether creating a list of all natural wines or extending its hours to draw the lunch crowd recently.

The Sovereign

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In the grand tradition of Pioneer Square, The Sovereign is the neighborhood’s newest underground addition. This subterranean bar is Art Deco- and Art Nouveau-influenced, from decor to cocktails, and serves up an inspired collection of snacks, including a rotating deviled egg menu.

Sake Nomi

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Saké Nomi is unlike anything else in Pioneer Square. It doesn’t open for lunch hours. It doesn’t close early. it doesn’t even serve food — but you can bring your favorite from the neighborhood or have it delivered to the door. Simply put, this bar is a haven for premium saké, a place to learn about the romance and tradition of the Japanese beverage with your best nomidachis: Japanese for "drinking buddies."

Altstadt

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Altstadt has quickly grown to be a favorite in the neighborhood, what with its German specialties given the PNW-ingredient treatment, its crisp pommes frites, and its big beers from German brewers as well as locals like Chuckanut channeling the best of Deutschland. Opt for any of the usual satisfying suspects, like brats or schnitzel, but make sure to order the Maultaschen, unexpected and fantastic duck-filled chestnut pasta.

Courtesy of Altstadt

E. Smith Mercantile

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Is there anything more delightfully Seattle than a shop that sells mustache pomade and also has a dozen-seat, top-notch craft cocktail bar? Naturally, legendary barman Murray Stenson did a stint here. E. Smith Mercantile is impeccably decorated and surprisingly earnest — the tender little bar invokes a Cheers-like vibe as you and your seatmates "ooh" and "ahh" together over the handcrafted drinks.

The London Plane

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Matt Dillon’s beautiful cafe/bakery/florist transcends genre and has become a quintessential Pioneer Square experience. Sit down for brunch or pick up a pre-ordered lunch box during the week. Whatever else you're after, the London Plane is providing something special in this neighborhood: subtle, city elegance and really, really great baked goods.

Good Bar

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With its seasonal, handcrafted cocktail menu, strong draft list, and killer happy hour offerings, the name Good Bar is a bit of a misnomer — "Great Bar" would be more accurate. Almost as good as the drinks is the setting, a 114-year-old building that once housed a bank. Its marble bar top and open, high ceilings are a wonderful accompaniment to the bitter-lovers menu and tasty small bites.

Once Tinello, now Radici, this restaurant is a food lover’s Southern Italian dream. The family-owned joint pairs handmade pastas and locally-sourced ingredients to create a blissful marriage between Seattle and Calabria.

Like its neighbor Il Corvo, Salumi boasts long waits and lunch-only, weekday-only hours. Tourists and locals alike stand in a substantial line for a taste of the house-cured meats and legendary meatballs made at the shop founded by Mario Batali's father and now run by Mario's sister, Gina, and her husband. Amidst nationwide accolades, this little meat shop continues to quietly and successfully do exactly what it wants.

Rain Shadow Meats Squared

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Leave your vegetarian friends at home and enjoy the entire animal at Rain Shadow Meats Squared, one of the community-focused butcher shop's two locations (the other is in Capitol Hill). Truly nothing is wasted here: Some parts are more obvious than others — like the unbelievably good meats on any of the sandwiches — but Rain Shadow utilizes even the bones to make stock.

Intermezzo Carmine

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Intermezzo Carmine’s got the look: large, leather banquets, a mirrored bar filled with goodies, bird cages adorning the ceiling. It’s the kind of place you’d go even if the food wasn’t good — luckily, the food is great, and the drinks are even better.

Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar

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Is there anything more Seattle than slurping down Shigoku oysters and getting rowdy on local beer and wine before a Seahawks game? Venerable Taylor Shellfish Farms’ Pioneer Square bar is the perfect pre-game haven, weekday happy hour, or weekend destination for the freshest seafood on the West Coast.

Biscuit Bitch

Rejoice, the Bitch has landed in Pioneer Square! That means one more place to get Seattle’s favorite breakfast-all-day biscuits while supporting female empowerment. Maybe it will make the lines shorter at the other two locations? Probably not, but at least the line leads to great rewards.

Il Corvo

"Every neighborhood needs an Il Corvo," Eater's roving restaurant critic, Bill Addison, insists. This delightful weekday-only, lunch-only joint knocks it out of the park with three $9 plates of handmade pasta each day. The menu rotates, but never disappoints. Il Corvo has quickly become a Seattle rite of passage, so expect a line no matter when you arrive. On the plus side, this is such a well-oiled machine, the line moves quickly.

Nirmal's

While most diners know the gut-busting beauty of endless buffets and chicken tikka masala, Nirmal's is a different type of Indian restaurant than Seattle is used to. It's based in India's rich history of food and inspired by chef and namesake Nirmal Monteiro's more than 30 years of worldwide cooking experience. What’s particularly arresting about this 90-seat destination is the experimentation that takes place in its tiny kitchen. Leave your expectations at the door.

Tat's Delicatessen

In the land of kale and evergreens, Tat’s brings much-needed East Coast flair in the shape of delicious sammies, subs, steaks, hoagies, grinders — whatever you want to call them. Seriously, skip the trip to Philly this year and just head down to Yesler Way for the real deal.

Manu's Bodega

In a sea of sandwich shops, some great and some forgettable, Manu Alfau's namesake bodega stands out with the Dominican delicacies of Alfau's childhood. And his empanadas will make you forget sandwiches all together. Bonus: Alfau is now also serving terrific tacos inside Flatstick Pub and from a street-level window next to the bar's entrance.

Casco Antiguo

The Pacific Northwest meets Mexico at Casco Antiguo, another exposed-brick gem. At this locale, drinking in the alley is highly encouraged. The bar serves draft margaritas on the back patio 'til late, and hosts an impressive happy hour everyday from 3 to 6 p.m.

Damn the Weather

This little bar has packed a big punch since day one. It feels like it would fit in on any bustling side street in NYC: The music is hip, the space is dark, and service is top-notch. The best thing about Damn The Weather is that it’s always innovating, whether creating a list of all natural wines or extending its hours to draw the lunch crowd recently.

The Sovereign

In the grand tradition of Pioneer Square, The Sovereign is the neighborhood’s newest underground addition. This subterranean bar is Art Deco- and Art Nouveau-influenced, from decor to cocktails, and serves up an inspired collection of snacks, including a rotating deviled egg menu.

Sake Nomi

Saké Nomi is unlike anything else in Pioneer Square. It doesn’t open for lunch hours. It doesn’t close early. it doesn’t even serve food — but you can bring your favorite from the neighborhood or have it delivered to the door. Simply put, this bar is a haven for premium saké, a place to learn about the romance and tradition of the Japanese beverage with your best nomidachis: Japanese for "drinking buddies."

Altstadt

Courtesy of Altstadt

Altstadt has quickly grown to be a favorite in the neighborhood, what with its German specialties given the PNW-ingredient treatment, its crisp pommes frites, and its big beers from German brewers as well as locals like Chuckanut channeling the best of Deutschland. Opt for any of the usual satisfying suspects, like brats or schnitzel, but make sure to order the Maultaschen, unexpected and fantastic duck-filled chestnut pasta.

Courtesy of Altstadt

E. Smith Mercantile

Is there anything more delightfully Seattle than a shop that sells mustache pomade and also has a dozen-seat, top-notch craft cocktail bar? Naturally, legendary barman Murray Stenson did a stint here. E. Smith Mercantile is impeccably decorated and surprisingly earnest — the tender little bar invokes a Cheers-like vibe as you and your seatmates "ooh" and "ahh" together over the handcrafted drinks.

The London Plane

Matt Dillon’s beautiful cafe/bakery/florist transcends genre and has become a quintessential Pioneer Square experience. Sit down for brunch or pick up a pre-ordered lunch box during the week. Whatever else you're after, the London Plane is providing something special in this neighborhood: subtle, city elegance and really, really great baked goods.

Good Bar

With its seasonal, handcrafted cocktail menu, strong draft list, and killer happy hour offerings, the name Good Bar is a bit of a misnomer — "Great Bar" would be more accurate. Almost as good as the drinks is the setting, a 114-year-old building that once housed a bank. Its marble bar top and open, high ceilings are a wonderful accompaniment to the bitter-lovers menu and tasty small bites.

Radici

Once Tinello, now Radici, this restaurant is a food lover’s Southern Italian dream. The family-owned joint pairs handmade pastas and locally-sourced ingredients to create a blissful marriage between Seattle and Calabria.

Salumi

Like its neighbor Il Corvo, Salumi boasts long waits and lunch-only, weekday-only hours. Tourists and locals alike stand in a substantial line for a taste of the house-cured meats and legendary meatballs made at the shop founded by Mario Batali's father and now run by Mario's sister, Gina, and her husband. Amidst nationwide accolades, this little meat shop continues to quietly and successfully do exactly what it wants.

Related Maps

Rain Shadow Meats Squared

Leave your vegetarian friends at home and enjoy the entire animal at Rain Shadow Meats Squared, one of the community-focused butcher shop's two locations (the other is in Capitol Hill). Truly nothing is wasted here: Some parts are more obvious than others — like the unbelievably good meats on any of the sandwiches — but Rain Shadow utilizes even the bones to make stock.

Intermezzo Carmine

Intermezzo Carmine’s got the look: large, leather banquets, a mirrored bar filled with goodies, bird cages adorning the ceiling. It’s the kind of place you’d go even if the food wasn’t good — luckily, the food is great, and the drinks are even better.

Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar

Is there anything more Seattle than slurping down Shigoku oysters and getting rowdy on local beer and wine before a Seahawks game? Venerable Taylor Shellfish Farms’ Pioneer Square bar is the perfect pre-game haven, weekday happy hour, or weekend destination for the freshest seafood on the West Coast.

Related Maps