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Close-up of shaomai from Din Tai Fung.
Shaomai from Din Tai Fung.
Jay Friedman for Eater

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

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Shaomai from Din Tai Fung.
| Jay Friedman for Eater

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.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Bamboo Sushi

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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.

A small bowl filled with clam sashimi, next to a napkin and a pair of chopsticks.
Atlantic surf clam sashimi.
Suzi Pratt for Eater

Din Tai Fung

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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

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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

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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.

A bowl of pho with chopsticks.
Ba Bar has some of the best pho in Seattle.
Ba Bar/Official

Rachel's Ginger Beer U Village

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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.

Three Rachel’s Ginger Beer drinks and two Ma’ono fried chicken sandwiches with fries.
RGB serves Ma’ono fried chicken sandwiches.
Rachel’s Ginger Beer/Facebook

Dough Zone Dumpling House

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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).

Pictured are dumplings from Dough Zone Dumpling House
Dough Zone’s steamed and fried dumplings.
Dough Zone/Facebook

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.

Rider’s dining room and chef’s counter look into the open kitchen and grill.
Rider’s spacious dining room at the Hotel Theodore.
Courtesy of Rider

Ben Paris

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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.

Ricotta pancakes with berries on a white plate at Ben Paris.
Ricotta pancakes with berries.
Courtesy of Ben Paris

Shaker and Spear

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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.

A metal bowl filled with sage-roasted turkey at Shaker and Spear.
Sage-roasted turkey.
Shaker and Spear/Facebook

Trophy Cupcakes

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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

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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.

Black Bottle

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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

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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.

A white bowl filled with fried rice, broccoli, cucumber, and other vegetables.
Araya’s Place focuses on vegan Thai cuisine.
Araya’s Place/Official

John Howie Steak

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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.

A view of a medium-rare cooked sirloin steak from John Howie Steak in Bellevue.
Sirloin steak.
Courtesy of John Howie Steak

Facing East | Taiwanese Restaurant

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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.

Facing East’s pork burger in a bao bun on a white plate.
Pork burger in a bao bun
Facing East/Official

Bamboo Sushi

A small bowl filled with clam sashimi, next to a napkin and a pair of chopsticks.
Atlantic surf clam sashimi.
Suzi Pratt for Eater

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.

A small bowl filled with clam sashimi, next to a napkin and a pair of chopsticks.
Atlantic surf clam sashimi.
Suzi Pratt for Eater

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

A bowl of pho with chopsticks.
Ba Bar has some of the best pho in Seattle.
Ba Bar/Official

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.

A bowl of pho with chopsticks.
Ba Bar has some of the best pho in Seattle.
Ba Bar/Official

Rachel's Ginger Beer U Village

Three Rachel’s Ginger Beer drinks and two Ma’ono fried chicken sandwiches with fries.
RGB serves Ma’ono fried chicken sandwiches.
Rachel’s Ginger Beer/Facebook

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.

Three Rachel’s Ginger Beer drinks and two Ma’ono fried chicken sandwiches with fries.
RGB serves Ma’ono fried chicken sandwiches.
Rachel’s Ginger Beer/Facebook

Dough Zone Dumpling House

Pictured are dumplings from Dough Zone Dumpling House
Dough Zone’s steamed and fried dumplings.
Dough Zone/Facebook

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).

Pictured are dumplings from Dough Zone Dumpling House
Dough Zone’s steamed and fried dumplings.
Dough Zone/Facebook

Rider

Rider’s dining room and chef’s counter look into the open kitchen and grill.
Rider’s spacious dining room at the Hotel Theodore.
Courtesy of Rider

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.

Rider’s dining room and chef’s counter look into the open kitchen and grill.
Rider’s spacious dining room at the Hotel Theodore.
Courtesy of Rider

Ben Paris

Ricotta pancakes with berries on a white plate at Ben Paris.
Ricotta pancakes with berries.
Courtesy of Ben Paris

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.

Ricotta pancakes with berries on a white plate at Ben Paris.
Ricotta pancakes with berries.
Courtesy of Ben Paris

Shaker and Spear

A metal bowl filled with sage-roasted turkey at Shaker and Spear.
Sage-roasted turkey.
Shaker and Spear/Facebook

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.

A metal bowl filled with sage-roasted turkey at Shaker and Spear.
Sage-roasted turkey.
Shaker and Spear/Facebook

Trophy Cupcakes

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.

Black Bottle

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

A white bowl filled with fried rice, broccoli, cucumber, and other vegetables.
Araya’s Place focuses on vegan Thai cuisine.
Araya’s Place/Official

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.

A white bowl filled with fried rice, broccoli, cucumber, and other vegetables.
Araya’s Place focuses on vegan Thai cuisine.
Araya’s Place/Official

John Howie Steak

A view of a medium-rare cooked sirloin steak from John Howie Steak in Bellevue.
Sirloin steak.
Courtesy of 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.

A view of a medium-rare cooked sirloin steak from John Howie Steak in Bellevue.
Sirloin steak.
Courtesy of John Howie Steak

Facing East | Taiwanese Restaurant

Facing East’s pork burger in a bao bun on a white plate.
Pork burger in a bao bun
Facing East/Official

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.

Facing East’s pork burger in a bao bun on a white plate.
Pork burger in a bao bun
Facing East/Official

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