For those braving the maddening retails crowds from Black Friday all the way through the post-holiday sales, food is an essential part of the process, providing energy, comfort, and joy. In the Seattle area, there are many places to shop till one drops, but three in particular have a high concentration of stores and malls — the U Village, Downtown, and Bellevue — so that’s where this guide will focus its recommendations. The restaurants are grouped by neighborhood from north to south and then east.Read More
Where to Eat Around Seattle’s Busiest Holiday Shopping Hubs
U Village, Downtown, and Bellevue have plenty of options for quality food among the sales
The Portland-based sustainable sushi chain opened its first outpost in Seattle in October, showcasing seafood sourced from environmentally-friendly fisheries. The highlights are the nigiri, which are prepared with yakumi (light accompanying toppings), to enhance the flavor of each fish. But don’t miss the extensive vegetarian options, including the popular Green Machine roll, with tempura fried long bean, green onion, avocado, and cilantro sweet chile aioli.
Din Tai Fung
This glossy-looking dumpling chain conveniently has outposts in all three of the shopping regions covered here, but this may be the most laid-back spot of them all. Even if there’s a long wait, the swirly teardrop-shaped dumplings, filled with either pork or crab and hot, heavenly broth, are worth it.
Mr. West Cafe Bar University Village
For those needing a jolt of caffeine while braving the holiday hordes (or a stiff drink), this all-day cafe delivers. There’s a variety of breakfast and brunch bites, such as egg sandwiches and curried avocado toast, along with plenty of cocktails. But the restaurant is pretty family-friendly, too, with some popular kid-approved options like grilled cheese sandwiches and soda floats.
Ba Bar University Village
Some consider this the finest bowl of pho in town, but the menu goes beyond beef noodle soup. There’s Vietnamese coffee with pastries in the morning, along with rotisserie meats and rice vermicelli or broken rice in the evening. Ba Bar’s got a casual-cool street-food feel all day long, extending late into the night, even after other U Village spots have closed.
Rachel's Ginger Beer U Village
This location of the iconic Seattle soda chain serves up not only its signature fizzy beverages (refreshing for those parched after hours sifting through sales racks), but also the wildly popular fried chicken from Ma’ono. There are also hot toddies, soft serve, floats, and various Moscow mules, along with other cocktails on tap.
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Dough Zone Dumpling House
Dough Zone’s soup dumpling gives the legendary Din Tai Fung option a run for its money, but the fried version is a true highlight here, too. The sheng jian bao are crispy, but still juicy. It’s easy to make a meal of the reasonably priced dumplings and noodles at this dough specialist, which continues to expand with this Downtown location, which is usually less packed than DTF’s Pacific Place outpost (but still pretty packed).
In the bottom floor of the Hotel Theodore, Rider looks like a standard-issue upscale downtown hotel restaurant — but the menu is full of delightful surprises. Dishes center around Pacific Northwest cuisine, particularly seafood; everything’s locally sourced and put together in out-of-the-box ways. Standouts include the citrus salmon coho with gin cured roe and Ellenos Greek yogurt, and seared black cod with tokyo turnips and brown butter kohlrabi mousseline.
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For those strolling around Target or Pike Place, this hotel bar and restaurant on Pike and Second Ave could be a convenient stop for brunch. Well-crafted boozy concoctions pair well with dishes like ricotta pancakes with berries, pastrami hash with poached eggs and potatoes, and a fried chicken sandwich with kimchi.
Shaker and Spear
This sleek, intimate dining room at the Palladian Hotel has a playful approach to cocktails, with a rotating selection usually following a common theme (there was recently a drink named Deliver Me From L.L. Bean from the movie “Beetlejuice,” although it could easily apply across the shopping season). The sage sausage-fried Scotch olives make for a great opener. But the seafood dishes — such as Arctic char with braised leeks and lemon butter — are the main event.
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There’s a lot of construction going on at Pacific Place, but on the bottom level, this outpost of the popular sweets chain is holding down the fort. The small stand has plenty of wonderful baked goods to choose from, including a selection of alluring macarons — and its conveniently located near the entrance to the parking garage, so you can grab something sweet to go.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
Those shopping in either Bellevue or the U Village have this respected Japanese chain available for a soothing refueling spot. Rich tonkotsu broth complements braised cha-shu pork and other savory ingredients, and those with an appetite can grab the ramen combo with the crispy dumplings and soft-boiled egg.
This trendy bar in downtown Bellevue, a sibling to the Belltown location, specializes in communal dining. Unique small plates, like Kolkata pepper-glazed cauliflower fritters and lamb meatballs with sumac hummus, paired with creative cocktails make Black Bottle a great place for either a quick lunch or a lingering dinner while processing all the mall loot.
Araya's Place Bellevue
Located right off Bellevue’s main drag, Araya’s Place Eastside location is one of the few all-vegan Thai restaurants you’ll find around town. Dishes such as drunken mushroom noodles and tom kah with tofu are so fantastic that even committed carnivores should give it a chance, all for a $10 to $15 price tag. There’s also a lunch buffet that runs daily.
John Howie Steak
When it comes to lavish dining on the Eastside, John Howie Steak is a local classic. The steakhouse’s upscale menu has plenty of prime steaks, wagyu beef, and an award-winning wine list. Though the pricing may seem steep, the extensive meat selection and daily happy hours are enough to justify the extravagance for those who want to treat themselves after a successful shopping excursion.
Facing East | Taiwanese Restaurant
This is downtown Bellevue’s hotspot for imaginative Taiwanese fare, from Hakka-style chow fun and pork bao burgers to prawns with honey mustard mayonnaise. Facing East’s profile will only go up now that star comic Ali Wong revealed she’s a big fan. Impatient diners, beware: There’s almost always a wait.
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