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The view of Lake Union from Westward.
The view of Lake Union from Westward.
Suzi Pratt/Eater

Wander Wallingford's Quietly Comforting Restaurant Scene

Your guide to a relatively hype-free local neighborhood north of Lake Union

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The view of Lake Union from Westward.
| Suzi Pratt/Eater

When you think of Seattle's happening food neighborhoods, you're likely to skip right over Wallingford, and with good cause. The dining scene here is the antithesis of trendy. Even Wallingford's few higher-end places still maintain a homey atmosphere, the prime example being Maria Hines's Tilth, the neighborhood's special-occasion restaurant, located in a classic Seattle craftsman house.

Wallingford's strength is well-established, mid- to bargain-priced restaurants that cater primarily to customers who live within walking distance, including University of Washington students wandering over from the adjacent U District. (For the purposes of this list, Wallingford cedes the 'hood borderland along Stone Way, south of 40th Street, to Fremont, and with it the hotspots Joule, The Whale Wins, and Manolin.)

You may not find much that's cutting edge, but if you're looking for a satisfying meal, especially after a visit to the waterfront at the neighborhood's famous Gas Works Park, you can't do much better than a cruise down 45th Street, Wallingford's main commercial strip. A few blocks west of I-5 you encounter fast-food institutions Dick's and Ezell's, along with first-rate Mexican, Mediterranean, and Thai bargains. Diverse cuisines reign on 45th Street: along the 15-block stretch there are eight Japanese restaurants, five Thai, four Mexican, and two Vietnamese, as well as Afghani, Trinidadian, Turkish, Irish, Indian, and Italian. It's a surprising and satisfying scene.

Note: Map points are listed geographically and are not ranked by preference. What's your favorite restaurant in Wallingford? 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.

1. Ivar's Salmon House

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401 NE Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 632-0767
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Down along Lake Union at Wallingford’s southeast corner, the showpiece of the Ivar’s seafood chain serves a menu of tried-and-true classics, highlighted by the cedar plank salmon. The setting, in a replica longhouse, is half the fun, and in summer happy hour on the lakeside deck is a quintessential Seattle experience.

2. Westward

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2501 N Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 552-8215
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If Ivar’s is too staid for your taste, head a few stops west along the shore of Lake Union to its antithesis, Westward — Wallingford’s hippest restaurant. The nautical décor is tongue-in-cheek, but the Mediterranean-themed menu is serious about its creative seafood dishes.

3. Varsity Inn

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1801 N 34th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 547-2161
This old-school diner slings hash like it's the 1950s. Pancakes and Mexican-themed breakfast dishes are the strong suits.

4. The Essential Baking Company

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1604 N 34th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 545-0444
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Essential Baking feeds Wallingford’s hunger for artisanal breads and doubles as a classy-casual neighborhood hangout for breakfast and lunch.

5. Cantinetta

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3650 Wallingford Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-1000
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Cantinetta captures the Tuscan knack for simple yet refined cuisine, with housemade pasta the star attraction.

6. Mr Gyros

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256 NE 45th St
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 535-8841
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The menu at this local chain offers a standard lineup of Middle Eastern fast food — gyros, falafel, shawarma — but the quality and freshness are a cut above typical fare.
Matthew Lombardi/Eater

7. Rancho Bravo Tacos

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211 NE 45th St
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 830-2657
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An old Winchell’s Donut House sign still towers above this barebones takeaway joint, whose Mexican street food is about as authentic as you’ll get on the streets of Seattle.

8. Dick's Drive In

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111 NE 45th St
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 632-5125
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The first home of Seattle’s favorite fast-food burger hearkens back to another era — the company only started accepting credit cards in 2016. The joy of devouring a bag full of Dick’s never gets old.

9. 45th Stop N Shop and Poke Bar

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2323 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 708-1882
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Seattle's most surprising phenomenon is this takeout poke bar amidst the racks of candy and chips at a convenience store. With delicious, diverse bowls of Hawaii's raw fish salad at enticing prices, it's small wonder this was the readers' choice in the 2016 Eater Awards for Poke Bar of the Year. Just get in line and see for yourself what the fuss is about.
Adam H. Callaghan/Eater

10. Ezell's Famous Chicken

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2300 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 453-5250
Visit Website
Ezell's may no longer be using its original recipe since co-founder Ezell Stephens walked away with it to start Heaven Sent, but his namesake chain still makes some fine, Oprah-approved fried chicken — along with less common goodies like fried gizzards and okra. To the uninitiated: always order the spicy, which isn’t especially spicy, but is especially flavorful.
Eater

11. Kabul Afghan Cuisine

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2301 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 545-9000
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This decades-old restaurant is not only one of the few places in Seattle serving Afghan cuisine, it’s also a quintessential family-run operation, with kind, personal service and delicious home cooking from halfway around the world.
Matthew Lombardi/Eater

12. Yoroshiku

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1913 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 547-4649
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Among the numerous Japanese restaurants along 45th St, Yoroshiku winningly fills a niche as a classy place for ramen and izakaya. Prices are higher than down the street at Issian, but in return you get greater attention to detail and a warmer, less frenetic ambiance.

13. Pam's Kitchen

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1715 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 696-7010
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Curried goat, jerk chicken, callaloo, fried plantains — the Trinidadian cuisine at Pam’s is rich, spicy, earthy, and decadent. The location is one of the biggest dining rooms in Wallingford, where previous restaurants have struggled to fill seats. After more than a year here, Pam’s seems to be making it work.

14. Harvest Beat

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1711 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 547-1348
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The vegan prix fixe menu at Harvest Beat is arguably Seattle’s finest meat-free meal. Dishes change with the micro-season and are consistently creative and delicious.

15. Jhanjay Vegetarian Thai Cuisine

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1718 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-1484
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For straightforward, reasonably priced Thai, Jhanjay is Wallingford’s best bet. The fact that it’s vegetarian turns out to be an asset — the Thai flavors seem sharper and fresher in the meat-free preparations.

16. Issian Stone Grill

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1618 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-7010
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Issian specializes in ishiyaki — meat skewers grilled on a hot stone, a Japanese tradition — but its wide-ranging menu includes sushi and a variety of izakaya as well. The place’s greatest appeal is its youthful buzz. It’s usually packed with college-age diners sharing plates of grilled pork belly and pitchers of Sapporo.

17. May

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1612 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 675-0037
Visit Website
Atmosphere is everything here: The two-story building is decorated with remnants of a century-old house that were shipped over from Thailand, and the result is elegant and transportive. The food is pricier than Wallingford’s Thai competition and can be hit-or-miss, but the distinctive pad thai wrapped in banana leaf is unusual and tasty. If nothing else, stop in at the downstairs bar to take in the ambience.

18. Tilth

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1411 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 633-0801
Visit Website
For the past decade, Maria Hines’ Tilth has been a standard bearer for sophisticated farm-to-table cuisine in Seattle, served in a homey craftsman bungalow. It’s Wallingford’s favorite special-occasion destination.
Tilth/FB

19. Musashi's

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1400 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 633-0212
This tiny sushi bar has the biggest cult following of any restaurant in Wallingford. Day in and day out diners wait patiently for their chance to indulge in chirashi bowls and substantial nigiri at bargain prices.

20. Bizzarro Italian Cafe

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1307 N 46th St
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 632-7277
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The wacky décor is part-flea market, part-artist’s studio, but the menu is serious Italian, mixing comfort food with a touch of sophistication. Your uncle from Rome and your aunt from Des Moines will both find things to like here.

21. Rocking Wok Taiwanese Cuisine

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4301 Interlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 545-4878
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This Taiwanese gem, hidden away on a residential block, may be Wallingford’s most hotly debated restaurant. It’s regularly packed with UW exchange students happily chowing down on stinky tofu and oyster pancakes, while the food may be more weird than wonderful for some western palates.

1. Ivar's Salmon House

401 NE Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98105
Down along Lake Union at Wallingford’s southeast corner, the showpiece of the Ivar’s seafood chain serves a menu of tried-and-true classics, highlighted by the cedar plank salmon. The setting, in a replica longhouse, is half the fun, and in summer happy hour on the lakeside deck is a quintessential Seattle experience.
401 NE Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98105

2. Westward

2501 N Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98103
If Ivar’s is too staid for your taste, head a few stops west along the shore of Lake Union to its antithesis, Westward — Wallingford’s hippest restaurant. The nautical décor is tongue-in-cheek, but the Mediterranean-themed menu is serious about its creative seafood dishes.
2501 N Northlake Way
Seattle, WA 98103

3. Varsity Inn

1801 N 34th St, Seattle, WA 98103
This old-school diner slings hash like it's the 1950s. Pancakes and Mexican-themed breakfast dishes are the strong suits.
1801 N 34th St
Seattle, WA 98103

4. The Essential Baking Company

1604 N 34th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Essential Baking feeds Wallingford’s hunger for artisanal breads and doubles as a classy-casual neighborhood hangout for breakfast and lunch.
1604 N 34th St
Seattle, WA 98103

5. Cantinetta

3650 Wallingford Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103
Cantinetta captures the Tuscan knack for simple yet refined cuisine, with housemade pasta the star attraction.
3650 Wallingford Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103

6. Mr Gyros

256 NE 45th St, Seattle, WA 98105
Matthew Lombardi/Eater
The menu at this local chain offers a standard lineup of Middle Eastern fast food — gyros, falafel, shawarma — but the quality and freshness are a cut above typical fare.
256 NE 45th St
Seattle, WA 98105

7. Rancho Bravo Tacos

211 NE 45th St, Seattle, WA 98105
An old Winchell’s Donut House sign still towers above this barebones takeaway joint, whose Mexican street food is about as authentic as you’ll get on the streets of Seattle.
211 NE 45th St
Seattle, WA 98105

8. Dick's Drive In

111 NE 45th St, Seattle, WA 98105
The first home of Seattle’s favorite fast-food burger hearkens back to another era — the company only started accepting credit cards in 2016. The joy of devouring a bag full of Dick’s never gets old.
111 NE 45th St
Seattle, WA 98105

9. 45th Stop N Shop and Poke Bar

2323 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Adam H. Callaghan/Eater
Seattle's most surprising phenomenon is this takeout poke bar amidst the racks of candy and chips at a convenience store. With delicious, diverse bowls of Hawaii's raw fish salad at enticing prices, it's small wonder this was the readers' choice in the 2016 Eater Awards for Poke Bar of the Year. Just get in line and see for yourself what the fuss is about.
2323 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103

10. Ezell's Famous Chicken

2300 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Eater
Ezell's may no longer be using its original recipe since co-founder Ezell Stephens walked away with it to start Heaven Sent, but his namesake chain still makes some fine, Oprah-approved fried chicken — along with less common goodies like fried gizzards and okra. To the uninitiated: always order the spicy, which isn’t especially spicy, but is especially flavorful.
2300 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103

11. Kabul Afghan Cuisine

2301 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Matthew Lombardi/Eater
This decades-old restaurant is not only one of the few places in Seattle serving Afghan cuisine, it’s also a quintessential family-run operation, with kind, personal service and delicious home cooking from halfway around the world.
2301 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103

12. Yoroshiku

1913 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Among the numerous Japanese restaurants along 45th St, Yoroshiku winningly fills a niche as a classy place for ramen and izakaya. Prices are higher than down the street at Issian, but in return you get greater attention to detail and a warmer, less frenetic ambiance.
1913 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103

13. Pam's Kitchen

1715 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Curried goat, jerk chicken, callaloo, fried plantains — the Trinidadian cuisine at Pam’s is rich, spicy, earthy, and decadent. The location is one of the biggest dining rooms in Wallingford, where previous restaurants have struggled to fill seats. After more than a year here, Pam’s seems to be making it work.
1715 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103

14. Harvest Beat

1711 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103
The vegan prix fixe menu at Harvest Beat is arguably Seattle’s finest meat-free meal. Dishes change with the micro-season and are consistently creative and delicious.
1711 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103

15. Jhanjay Vegetarian Thai Cuisine

1718 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103
For straightforward, reasonably priced Thai, Jhanjay is Wallingford’s best bet. The fact that it’s vegetarian turns out to be an asset — the Thai flavors seem sharper and fresher in the meat-free preparations.
1718 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103

Related Maps

16. Issian Stone Grill

1618 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Issian specializes in ishiyaki — meat skewers grilled on a hot stone, a Japanese tradition — but its wide-ranging menu includes sushi and a variety of izakaya as well. The place’s greatest appeal is its youthful buzz. It’s usually packed with college-age diners sharing plates of grilled pork belly and pitchers of Sapporo.
1618 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103

17. May

1612 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Atmosphere is everything here: The two-story building is decorated with remnants of a century-old house that were shipped over from Thailand, and the result is elegant and transportive. The food is pricier than Wallingford’s Thai competition and can be hit-or-miss, but the distinctive pad thai wrapped in banana leaf is unusual and tasty. If nothing else, stop in at the downstairs bar to take in the ambience.
1612 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103

18. Tilth

1411 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Tilth/FB
For the past decade, Maria Hines’ Tilth has been a standard bearer for sophisticated farm-to-table cuisine in Seattle, served in a homey craftsman bungalow. It’s Wallingford’s favorite special-occasion destination.
1411 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103

19. Musashi's

1400 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103
This tiny sushi bar has the biggest cult following of any restaurant in Wallingford. Day in and day out diners wait patiently for their chance to indulge in chirashi bowls and substantial nigiri at bargain prices.
1400 N 45th St
Seattle, WA 98103

20. Bizzarro Italian Cafe

1307 N 46th St, Seattle, WA 98103
The wacky décor is part-flea market, part-artist’s studio, but the menu is serious Italian, mixing comfort food with a touch of sophistication. Your uncle from Rome and your aunt from Des Moines will both find things to like here.
1307 N 46th St
Seattle, WA 98103

21. Rocking Wok Taiwanese Cuisine

4301 Interlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103