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A dosa on a metal tray with sambar and various chutneys
One of Samburna’s selection of dosas.
Madhi Oli

Seriously Underrated Restaurants in the Seattle Area

The unsung heroes of the local dining scene

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One of Samburna’s selection of dosas.
| Madhi Oli

Over the last few years, Seattle’s restaurant scene has risen to even greater national prominence. But while of the city’s best establishments and chefs attract the lion's share of media attention, while others seem to have cemented their permanent placement in the collective psyche.

What about those hidden gems, the neighborhood favorites that make outstanding food without the praise showered on the shinier spots? Maybe they're way off the beaten path, tucked away in a lesser-known corner of the neighborhood, or maybe they don't have dedicated PR teams.

Whatever the case, they deserve more love. With that in mind, here's a map highlighting 15 of Seattle's seriously underrated restaurants.

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

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

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Samburna Indian Restaurant

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20806 Bothell Everett Hwy UNIT 100
Bothell, WA 98021
(425) 408-1368
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Samburna is one of the Seattle area’s best options for Indian food, and is rare in focusing on well-executed South Indian cuisine. The owners of the restaurant grew up in Tamil Nadu, on the Southern tip of the Indian Subcontinent, where dosa is a staple, and the restaurant serves several excellent versions, including one that’s over three feet in length; all dosas are served with sambar and a variety of chutneys. The goat curry is also a must-try, and madras coffee with a milk-based dessert makes a nice end to the meal. Order Samburna to go, or enjoy a meal with quick service in the dining room.

A dosa on a metal tray with sambar and various chutneys
One of Samburna’s selection of dosas.
Madhi Oli

2. Bongos

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6501 Aurora Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 420-8548
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Despite doing brisk business, it seems this Caribbean-themed restaurant is on the radar of only those in the neighborhood; otherwise, it's not nearly as celebrated as similar shops like Un Bien and Paseo. But the sandwich and plate selection here is much broader, and the flavors just as indulgent, with ingredients like braised pork, jerk chicken, yucca fries, and fried plantains.

3. Little Duck

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4100 Roosevelt Way NE unit b
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 695-2564
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This pint-sized restaurant (with just a few tables inside) next to a laundromat in the University District serves some of the best Chinese food in the city. The focus here is on Northeastern Chinese dishes, like the braised pork ribs potatoes and green beans, but the menu also includes dishes from other parts of China, and the fried rice dishes here are consistently satisfying. It also serves particularly refreshing jellyfish salad with cucumber matchsticks. Open for indoor dining and takeout.

4. Union Saloon

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3645 Wallingford Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 547-2280
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Wallingford’s Union Saloon is flying criminally under the radar. The restaurant maintains a convivial combination of neighborhood watering hole and high-brow comfort food. The kitchen composes dishes that range from thoughtful seasonal vegetable small plates to downright delicious twists on comfort food like barbecue brisket and fried chicken. The attention to detail here makes it clear this is a labor of love.

5. Dan Gui Sichuan Cuisine

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13112 NE 20th St
Bellevue, WA 98005

This restaurant in a strip mall in Bellevue’s Bel-Red neighborhood serves some of the best Sichuan food in the Seattle area, at much lower prices than most of its competitors. The mapo tofu (made with fermented black beans and chili fava bean paste) has unparalleled depth. The cold dishes, like cucumber salad and wood-ear salad, are refreshing and satisfying. And the restaurant also serves excellent renditions of American Chinese dishes like sweet and sour chicken — something that some of the other Sichuan restaurants in the area don’t offer.

6. Omega Ouzeri

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1529 14th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 257-4515
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Omega Ouzeri's bright white and blue space on Capitol Hill transports diners to the Greek isles, where fresh seafood lands on the plate with an array of fresh ingredients from a deeply flavorful playbook. Meals can be assembled family-style, from multiple shared plates, and it all goes down smoothly with sips of ouzo.

7. Saigon Vietnam Deli

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1200 S Jackson St # 7
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 328-2357
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Saigon Vietnam Deli has a longstanding reputation for quick, inexpensive eats. Banh mi options include pork, chicken, fish, tofu, and more, all around $4.50. The deli serves other grab-and-go items like fresh spring rolls and sesame balls. Though there’s no seating area, this busy deli is the definition of a hidden gem.

8. Reckless Noodle House and Cocktails

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2519 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 329-5499
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This Central District restaurant specializes in bold flavors wielded expertly in dishes like roast duck crispy rolls with sambal hoisin, papaya salad, caramelized pork fresh rolls with Hanoi fish sauce, curry vermicelli bowl, and the tingly ma la braised beef noodles. Nothing about this place feels particularly reckless, just plain dialed in — ditto the original cocktails.

9. Humble Pie

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525 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144
(206) 329-5133
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Humble Pie, tucked off of Rainier Avenue, sports outdoor seating and an enticing selection of wood-fired pizza using local and organic ingredients like Beecher’s Cheese, Uli’s Sausage, and Washington apples. The pizzeria, constructed of two shipping containers and built following LEED standards, also grows some of its ingredients, draws power from solar panels, and raises chickens on-site. There’s also a great selection of local beer and wine.

10. La Medusa

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4857 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 723-2192
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Holding steady in Columbia City for 20 years, La Medusa's Sicilian cuisine is a neighborhood favorite yet doesn't get the attention it deserves. Beautiful from-scratch pastas and other southern Italian specialties make good use of local ingredients in a welcoming setting. Check out its latest addition, Persephone — a bar and southern Italian grocery — next door.

11. Island Soul Rum Bar & Soul Shack

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4869 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 329-1202
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Long-running Columbia City restaurant Island Soul melds Caribbean and Southern soul food dishes. Standouts include the jerk chicken, oxtail, and goat curry combo bowl, and the prawn gumbo. The rum-heavy cocktail list focuses on a colorful array of mojitos and daiquiris, with the right balance of sweet and boozy.

12. Amy's Merkato Eritrean & Ethiopian Restaurant and Deli

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5710 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118
(206) 324-2527
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Amy’s Merkato in Hillman City offers an impressive selection of Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Mediterranean dishes, as well as a coffee bar and market. Standouts include the veggie combo, beef or lamb tibs, foul, and falafel plate.

13. Salvadorean Bakery and Restaurant Inc.

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1719 SW Roxbury St
Seattle, WA 98106
(206) 762-4064
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Sisters Ana Castro and Aminta Elgin opened this beloved White Center institution in 1996, and ever since it’s been a destination for baked goods, cakes, and an impressive menu of traditional dishes like pupusas, sopas, and sandwiches. The bakery has a small market for Salvadorean goods, and plenty of seasonal specials.

14. El Cabrito

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14631 Ambaum Blvd SW
Burien, WA 98166
(206) 849-5449

After five years as a food truck, El Cabrito became a brick-and mortar-restaurant in Burien’s Ambaum Boulevard in 2019. Chef-owner Leticia Sánchez started making moles with her grandmother in Oaxaca when she was five years old, and the years of experience show in the expertly balanced mole coloradito that pools around her pork enchiladas, and in dishes like the molotes (fried masa dumplings filled with potato and chorizo), drowned in smoky morita pepper and avocado salsas, all served on brightly hued ceramics. Sanchez also serves weekly specials like rockfish ceviche, and banana-leaf green mole tamales are available during the winter. There’s a few indoor seats at El Cabrito and a few tables on a covered patio behind the restaurant.

Molotes (fried corn dough dumplings) drizzled with red and green salsa and topped with cabbage and cheese.
The molotes at El Cabrito Restaurant.
Jade Yamazaki Stewart

15. Antigua Guatemala Restaurant

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120 Washington Ave N
Kent, WA 98032
(253) 236-4437
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Wilfredo and Elvi Reyes opened the Seattle area’s only full-service Guatemalan restaurant in a Kent strip mall in 2019, which they decorated with bright photos of symbols of their home country: a yellow clocktower on an arch in the country’s old capital, the volcanic lake Atitlán, and the turquoise-colored national bird (the resplendent quetzal). Since then, diners have flocked to the restaurant to eat comforting pre-colonial dishes like banana-leaf tamales made with loroco and chipilín (both indigenous Central American plants) while upbeat salsa music plays. The Spanish-influenced, slow-grilled churrasco chapin strip steak, marinated with tomato and garlic, is one of the best steaks in Seattle, and the tostada topped with chow mein (a popular Guatemalan street food) provides a satisfying contrast of crispy tostada and soft noodle. The restaurant also serves Guatemalan breakfast foods, a comforting atol de elote, and fried plantains stuffed with a sweet bean mixture.

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1. Samburna Indian Restaurant

20806 Bothell Everett Hwy UNIT 100, Bothell, WA 98021
A dosa on a metal tray with sambar and various chutneys
One of Samburna’s selection of dosas.
Madhi Oli

Samburna is one of the Seattle area’s best options for Indian food, and is rare in focusing on well-executed South Indian cuisine. The owners of the restaurant grew up in Tamil Nadu, on the Southern tip of the Indian Subcontinent, where dosa is a staple, and the restaurant serves several excellent versions, including one that’s over three feet in length; all dosas are served with sambar and a variety of chutneys. The goat curry is also a must-try, and madras coffee with a milk-based dessert makes a nice end to the meal. Order Samburna to go, or enjoy a meal with quick service in the dining room.

20806 Bothell Everett Hwy UNIT 100
Bothell, WA 98021

2. Bongos

6501 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

Despite doing brisk business, it seems this Caribbean-themed restaurant is on the radar of only those in the neighborhood; otherwise, it's not nearly as celebrated as similar shops like Un Bien and Paseo. But the sandwich and plate selection here is much broader, and the flavors just as indulgent, with ingredients like braised pork, jerk chicken, yucca fries, and fried plantains.

6501 Aurora Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103

3. Little Duck

4100 Roosevelt Way NE unit b, Seattle, WA 98105

This pint-sized restaurant (with just a few tables inside) next to a laundromat in the University District serves some of the best Chinese food in the city. The focus here is on Northeastern Chinese dishes, like the braised pork ribs potatoes and green beans, but the menu also includes dishes from other parts of China, and the fried rice dishes here are consistently satisfying. It also serves particularly refreshing jellyfish salad with cucumber matchsticks. Open for indoor dining and takeout.

4100 Roosevelt Way NE unit b
Seattle, WA 98105

4. Union Saloon

3645 Wallingford Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103

Wallingford’s Union Saloon is flying criminally under the radar. The restaurant maintains a convivial combination of neighborhood watering hole and high-brow comfort food. The kitchen composes dishes that range from thoughtful seasonal vegetable small plates to downright delicious twists on comfort food like barbecue brisket and fried chicken. The attention to detail here makes it clear this is a labor of love.

3645 Wallingford Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103

5. Dan Gui Sichuan Cuisine

13112 NE 20th St, Bellevue, WA 98005

This restaurant in a strip mall in Bellevue’s Bel-Red neighborhood serves some of the best Sichuan food in the Seattle area, at much lower prices than most of its competitors. The mapo tofu (made with fermented black beans and chili fava bean paste) has unparalleled depth. The cold dishes, like cucumber salad and wood-ear salad, are refreshing and satisfying. And the restaurant also serves excellent renditions of American Chinese dishes like sweet and sour chicken — something that some of the other Sichuan restaurants in the area don’t offer.

13112 NE 20th St
Bellevue, WA 98005

6. Omega Ouzeri

1529 14th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

Omega Ouzeri's bright white and blue space on Capitol Hill transports diners to the Greek isles, where fresh seafood lands on the plate with an array of fresh ingredients from a deeply flavorful playbook. Meals can be assembled family-style, from multiple shared plates, and it all goes down smoothly with sips of ouzo.

1529 14th Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

7. Saigon Vietnam Deli

1200 S Jackson St # 7, Seattle, WA 98144

Saigon Vietnam Deli has a longstanding reputation for quick, inexpensive eats. Banh mi options include pork, chicken, fish, tofu, and more, all around $4.50. The deli serves other grab-and-go items like fresh spring rolls and sesame balls. Though there’s no seating area, this busy deli is the definition of a hidden gem.

1200 S Jackson St # 7
Seattle, WA 98144

8. Reckless Noodle House and Cocktails

2519 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98144

This Central District restaurant specializes in bold flavors wielded expertly in dishes like roast duck crispy rolls with sambal hoisin, papaya salad, caramelized pork fresh rolls with Hanoi fish sauce, curry vermicelli bowl, and the tingly ma la braised beef noodles. Nothing about this place feels particularly reckless, just plain dialed in — ditto the original cocktails.

2519 S Jackson St
Seattle, WA 98144

9. Humble Pie

525 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98144

Humble Pie, tucked off of Rainier Avenue, sports outdoor seating and an enticing selection of wood-fired pizza using local and organic ingredients like Beecher’s Cheese, Uli’s Sausage, and Washington apples. The pizzeria, constructed of two shipping containers and built following LEED standards, also grows some of its ingredients, draws power from solar panels, and raises chickens on-site. There’s also a great selection of local beer and wine.

525 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98144

10. La Medusa

4857 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

Holding steady in Columbia City for 20 years, La Medusa's Sicilian cuisine is a neighborhood favorite yet doesn't get the attention it deserves. Beautiful from-scratch pastas and other southern Italian specialties make good use of local ingredients in a welcoming setting. Check out its latest addition, Persephone — a bar and southern Italian grocery — next door.

4857 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118

11. Island Soul Rum Bar & Soul Shack

4869 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

Long-running Columbia City restaurant Island Soul melds Caribbean and Southern soul food dishes. Standouts include the jerk chicken, oxtail, and goat curry combo bowl, and the prawn gumbo. The rum-heavy cocktail list focuses on a colorful array of mojitos and daiquiris, with the right balance of sweet and boozy.

4869 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118

12. Amy's Merkato Eritrean & Ethiopian Restaurant and Deli

5710 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

Amy’s Merkato in Hillman City offers an impressive selection of Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Mediterranean dishes, as well as a coffee bar and market. Standouts include the veggie combo, beef or lamb tibs, foul, and falafel plate.

5710 Rainier Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118

13. Salvadorean Bakery and Restaurant Inc.

1719 SW Roxbury St, Seattle, WA 98106

Sisters Ana Castro and Aminta Elgin opened this beloved White Center institution in 1996, and ever since it’s been a destination for baked goods, cakes, and an impressive menu of traditional dishes like pupusas, sopas, and sandwiches. The bakery has a small market for Salvadorean goods, and plenty of seasonal specials.

1719 SW Roxbury St
Seattle, WA 98106

14. El Cabrito

14631 Ambaum Blvd SW, Burien, WA 98166
Molotes (fried corn dough dumplings) drizzled with red and green salsa and topped with cabbage and cheese.
The molotes at El Cabrito Restaurant.
Jade Yamazaki Stewart

After five years as a food truck, El Cabrito became a brick-and mortar-restaurant in Burien’s Ambaum Boulevard in 2019. Chef-owner Leticia Sánchez started making moles with her grandmother in Oaxaca when she was five years old, and the years of experience show in the expertly balanced mole coloradito that pools around her pork enchiladas, and in dishes like the molotes (fried masa dumplings filled with potato and chorizo), drowned in smoky morita pepper and avocado salsas, all served on brightly hued ceramics. Sanchez also serves weekly specials like rockfish ceviche, and banana-leaf green mole tamales are available during the winter. There’s a few indoor seats at El Cabrito and a few tables on a covered patio behind the restaurant.

14631 Ambaum Blvd SW
Burien, WA 98166

15. Antigua Guatemala Restaurant

120 Washington Ave N, Kent, WA 98032

Wilfredo and Elvi Reyes opened the Seattle area’s only full-service Guatemalan restaurant in a Kent strip mall in 2019, which they decorated with bright photos of symbols of their home country: a yellow clocktower on an arch in the country’s old capital, the volcanic lake Atitlán, and the turquoise-colored national bird (the resplendent quetzal). Since then, diners have flocked to the restaurant to eat comforting pre-colonial dishes like banana-leaf tamales made with loroco and chipilín (both indigenous Central American plants) while upbeat salsa music plays. The Spanish-influenced, slow-grilled churrasco chapin strip steak, marinated with tomato and garlic, is one of the best steaks in Seattle, and the tostada topped with chow mein (a popular Guatemalan street food) provides a satisfying contrast of crispy tostada and soft noodle. The restaurant also serves Guatemalan breakfast foods, a comforting atol de elote, and fried plantains stuffed with a sweet bean mixture.

120 Washington Ave N
Kent, WA 98032

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