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Fried pieces of eggplant glistening with oil with some sliced scallion.
Little Duck is a hidden gem in the U District that focuses on the cuisine of northeastern China.
Matthew Lombardi

Where to Eat in Seattle's University District

A guide to University of Washington's neighborhood, for Huskies and visitors alike

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Little Duck is a hidden gem in the U District that focuses on the cuisine of northeastern China.
| Matthew Lombardi

With more than 40,000 students and 20,000 faculty and staff, University of Washington is one of the biggest urban universities in the country. The University District, known as the U District, functions like a big college town tucked inside a city, and The Ave (aka University Way) is its main street, where Huskies gravitate when they’re craving an off-campus meal. Most of the restaurants in the area are affordable, casual spots, and the options are eclectic with lots of good Asian food; there are regional Chinese restaurants, gyro windows, pho shops, dive bars, a brewery, and over 20 boba tea shops. Here are some favorites.

Send us a tip by emailing seattle@eater.com. As usual, this list is not ranked; it’s organized geographically.

King County requires proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours for everyone ages 12+ at indoor establishments, restaurants, and bars. Studies indicate there is a lower exposure risk when eating outdoors, and the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines. Please visit King County’s COVID website for resources and current information.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Taste of India

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5517 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 528-1575
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This Roosevelt Way standby serves a wide survey of Indian cuisine and has a large heated and covered outdoor dining area. The aloo gobi, okra masala, and Tandoori prawns are good, but don’t leave without trying the butter chicken — enough food for two hungry people, with a creamy sauce that’s the perfect balance of tangy and sweet. Open for dine-in and takeout.

2. Little Duck

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4100 Roosevelt Way NE UNIT B
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 695-2564
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This tiny, inconspicuous spot is a hidden gem serving some of the U District’s best Chinese food, with an emphasis on the cuisine of northeast China. The cabbage and pork dumplings are tender and juicy; the mapo tofu is balanced and packed with umami; and the chicken fried rice is some of the best in the city.

Matthew Lombardi/Eater Seattle

3. The Mountaineering Club

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4507 Brooklyn Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 634-2000
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The Mountaineering Club opened in 2019 on top of the new Graduate Hotel, offering some of the best views of Seattle from any bar or restaurant. The spirits and cocktail list is expansive, with good choices for Bourbon, Irish, Canadian, and Japanese whiskeys as well as brandy, tequila, gin, and rum. There’s also a list of house cocktails. The food features appetizers like shrimp cocktails as well as several sandwiches and entrees like baked lamb ziti and a boil made with shrimp, corn, potato, and sausage served with bread. Reservations are recommended.

4. Guanaco's Tacos Pupuseria

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4106 Brooklyn Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 547-2369
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This spot serves tacos, burritos, and other Mexican dishes, but the star of the menu are the pupusas, Salvadoran cheese-stuffed griddle cakes with a variety of meat and vegetable choices for fillings. The restaurant also serves fried yucca and plantains, tamales, and enchiladas.

Matthew Lombardi for Eater

5. Korean Tofu House

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4142 Brooklyn Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 632-3119
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Korean Tofu House, unsurprisingly, serves the most flavorful soondubu jjigae (spicy soft tofu stew) in the U District. The dish can be ordered with variations like seafood, beef, and kimchi. The dolsot bibimbap (served sizzling in a heated stone bowl) also makes a satisfying meal.

6. The Alley Korean Restaurant

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4129 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 545-6968

Out of the several Korean restaurants in the U District, The Alley stands out for its generous portions of banchan: the green onion pancakes are crispy; the potatoes are a perfect balance of sweet and savory; and the kimchi is crunchy while still bringing zinginess. The bibimbap, japchae, and kimchi fried rice — served sizzling in a cast iron skillet — are all excellent choices.  Open for dine-in and takeout. 

7. Big Time Brewery & Alehouse

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4133 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 545-4509
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Big Time Brewery and Alehouse is one of the best hangouts on The Ave, with a few covered outdoor tables on the street and inside tables and bar seats where UW staff and students chat or come study with a laptop (the brewery offers good wifi). The beers on tap tend to be hoppy and pair well with well-executed bar food like chicken tenders and burgers and massive portions of salad.  Open for dine-in and takeout.

8. Byrek and Baguette

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4209 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 632-3864
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Byrek and Baguette is a popular study spot. There are live succulents or vines on every table, and a small room to the side of the entrance has a couch and two teal armchairs. The namesake byrek, the Albanian word for a typically savory filo dough pastry popular in the Balkans and Central and Eastern Europe, makes for a satisfying snack. And the baguette sandwiches come with creative fillings like honey-cured ham between baguette halves slathered in mascarpone and apricot jam.

Matthew Lombardi for Eater

9. Earl's on the Ave

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4333 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 525-4493
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Earl’s is a classic college dive bar, always packed on weekends with students playing pool, drinking inexpensive, strong drinks and singing along to songs they put on the jukebox. The food, served out of a window at the back of the bar, is surprisingly delicious, with a value that can’t be beat. Most of the sandwiches (like the turkey and the grilled cheese), served with fries, are around $10. And for $18, you can order the Super Combo — a tray with four onion rings, four jalapeño poppers, four mozzarella sticks, two chicken strips, two corn dogs, and the equivalent of two large servings of waffle fries.  Open for dine-in and takeout.

10. Red Pepper

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4545 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 906-9679
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This small restaurant on The Ave focuses on food from China’s Sichuan province. The lazi chicken, popcorn chicken covered in an equal amount of chopped dried chili peppers, is electrified by generous amounts of ground Sichuan peppercorn. The griddle-cooked meat pots, filled with vegetables and a choice of meat, are fragrant with cumin and chili powder. But the star dish here is the boiled fish with green pepper oil — made with soft fish filets, snappy bean sprouts, crunchy slices of lotus root, slippery glass noodles, and more — in a light Sichuan peppercorn broth. With a couple of sides of rice, the dish is a full meal for two or three people. Open for dine-in and takeout.

Fish filets in broth with vegetables.
The boiled fish with green pepper oil at Red Pepper.
Jade Yamazaki Stewart

11. Udon

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4515 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 453-3788
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Choose your own toppings as you work your way through the cafeteria line at the bustling U District outpost of Seattle’s handmade udon mini chain, served with a variety of hot and cold broths and sauces. The chewy noodles are delicious with the classic bukkake sauce, made with a balanced soy-sauce-based broth or in hot broth with thinly sliced beef. There are some worthy deep-fried dishes, too, including the tempura chikuwa, a fishcake in the shape of a tube, and snacks like spam musubi and salmon onigiri.

12. Xi'an Noodles

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5259 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 522-8888
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Diners come to Xi’an for one thing: wide, chewy biang biang noodles, made by hand every morning, at their best when adorned simply with chili oil. The pork dumplings and cucumber salad also make for excellent starters. Open for outdoor seating and takeout.

13. Samurai Noodle

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4138 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 547-1798
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Samurai Noodle is to go-to spot for ramen in the U District, with broth choices like tonkotsu, miso, and shoyu, with spicy versions of the miso and shoyu tonkotsu ramen broths. The restaurant also serves snacks like takoyaki, gyoza, and kaarage, as well as rice and meat bowls and Japanese-style shaved ice.

14. Sultan Gyros Grill

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4222 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 632-7844

Most UW students have an opinion on the best late-night gyro spot on The Ave, but it’s hard to beat Sultan Gyros Grill for its Falafel Super sandwiches, loaded with feta, hummus, vegetables, and falafel that’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The greek fries, served with feta and tzatziki sauce, are a satisfying snack after a couple of drinks. Open for dine-in and takeout.

15. Thanh Vị

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4226 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
(206) 633-7867
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Thanh Vi is among a number of Vietnamese restaurants on The Ave, including an outpost of Pho Thanh Brothers, but it stands out for options not available at the others, like banh xeo (Vietnamese crepes) and tom nuong (charbroiled shrimp) served with spring-roll wrappers, vermicelli, and vegetables to make DIY rolls on a tray. The banh xeo, made with rice flour, coconut cream, and turmeric, has a wonderfully crisp crust and soft, airy interior and is studded with pieces of shrimp, filled with bean sprouts, and served with sprigs of cilantro and basil. Open for dine-in and takeout.

shrimp, bean sprouts, spring roll wrappers, sliced cucumber, shredded carrots, a bowl of fish sauce, and cilantro and Thai basil on a tray.
Charbroiled shrimp with DYI springroll ingredients at Thanh Vi.
Jade Yamazaki Stewart

1. Taste of India

5517 Roosevelt Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

This Roosevelt Way standby serves a wide survey of Indian cuisine and has a large heated and covered outdoor dining area. The aloo gobi, okra masala, and Tandoori prawns are good, but don’t leave without trying the butter chicken — enough food for two hungry people, with a creamy sauce that’s the perfect balance of tangy and sweet. Open for dine-in and takeout.

5517 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

2. Little Duck

4100 Roosevelt Way NE UNIT B, Seattle, WA 98105
Matthew Lombardi/Eater Seattle

This tiny, inconspicuous spot is a hidden gem serving some of the U District’s best Chinese food, with an emphasis on the cuisine of northeast China. The cabbage and pork dumplings are tender and juicy; the mapo tofu is balanced and packed with umami; and the chicken fried rice is some of the best in the city.

4100 Roosevelt Way NE UNIT B
Seattle, WA 98105

3. The Mountaineering Club

4507 Brooklyn Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105

The Mountaineering Club opened in 2019 on top of the new Graduate Hotel, offering some of the best views of Seattle from any bar or restaurant. The spirits and cocktail list is expansive, with good choices for Bourbon, Irish, Canadian, and Japanese whiskeys as well as brandy, tequila, gin, and rum. There’s also a list of house cocktails. The food features appetizers like shrimp cocktails as well as several sandwiches and entrees like baked lamb ziti and a boil made with shrimp, corn, potato, and sausage served with bread. Reservations are recommended.

4507 Brooklyn Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98105

4. Guanaco's Tacos Pupuseria

4106 Brooklyn Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105
Matthew Lombardi for Eater

This spot serves tacos, burritos, and other Mexican dishes, but the star of the menu are the pupusas, Salvadoran cheese-stuffed griddle cakes with a variety of meat and vegetable choices for fillings. The restaurant also serves fried yucca and plantains, tamales, and enchiladas.

4106 Brooklyn Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98105

5. Korean Tofu House

4142 Brooklyn Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Korean Tofu House, unsurprisingly, serves the most flavorful soondubu jjigae (spicy soft tofu stew) in the U District. The dish can be ordered with variations like seafood, beef, and kimchi. The dolsot bibimbap (served sizzling in a heated stone bowl) also makes a satisfying meal.

4142 Brooklyn Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98105

6. The Alley Korean Restaurant

4129 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Out of the several Korean restaurants in the U District, The Alley stands out for its generous portions of banchan: the green onion pancakes are crispy; the potatoes are a perfect balance of sweet and savory; and the kimchi is crunchy while still bringing zinginess. The bibimbap, japchae, and kimchi fried rice — served sizzling in a cast iron skillet — are all excellent choices.  Open for dine-in and takeout. 

4129 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

7. Big Time Brewery & Alehouse

4133 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Big Time Brewery and Alehouse is one of the best hangouts on The Ave, with a few covered outdoor tables on the street and inside tables and bar seats where UW staff and students chat or come study with a laptop (the brewery offers good wifi). The beers on tap tend to be hoppy and pair well with well-executed bar food like chicken tenders and burgers and massive portions of salad.  Open for dine-in and takeout.

4133 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

8. Byrek and Baguette

4209 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105
Matthew Lombardi for Eater

Byrek and Baguette is a popular study spot. There are live succulents or vines on every table, and a small room to the side of the entrance has a couch and two teal armchairs. The namesake byrek, the Albanian word for a typically savory filo dough pastry popular in the Balkans and Central and Eastern Europe, makes for a satisfying snack. And the baguette sandwiches come with creative fillings like honey-cured ham between baguette halves slathered in mascarpone and apricot jam.

4209 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

9. Earl's on the Ave

4333 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Earl’s is a classic college dive bar, always packed on weekends with students playing pool, drinking inexpensive, strong drinks and singing along to songs they put on the jukebox. The food, served out of a window at the back of the bar, is surprisingly delicious, with a value that can’t be beat. Most of the sandwiches (like the turkey and the grilled cheese), served with fries, are around $10. And for $18, you can order the Super Combo — a tray with four onion rings, four jalapeño poppers, four mozzarella sticks, two chicken strips, two corn dogs, and the equivalent of two large servings of waffle fries.  Open for dine-in and takeout.

4333 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

10. Red Pepper

4545 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105
Fish filets in broth with vegetables.
The boiled fish with green pepper oil at Red Pepper.
Jade Yamazaki Stewart

This small restaurant on The Ave focuses on food from China’s Sichuan province. The lazi chicken, popcorn chicken covered in an equal amount of chopped dried chili peppers, is electrified by generous amounts of ground Sichuan peppercorn. The griddle-cooked meat pots, filled with vegetables and a choice of meat, are fragrant with cumin and chili powder. But the star dish here is the boiled fish with green pepper oil — made with soft fish filets, snappy bean sprouts, crunchy slices of lotus root, slippery glass noodles, and more — in a light Sichuan peppercorn broth. With a couple of sides of rice, the dish is a full meal for two or three people. Open for dine-in and takeout.

4545 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

11. Udon

4515 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Choose your own toppings as you work your way through the cafeteria line at the bustling U District outpost of Seattle’s handmade udon mini chain, served with a variety of hot and cold broths and sauces. The chewy noodles are delicious with the classic bukkake sauce, made with a balanced soy-sauce-based broth or in hot broth with thinly sliced beef. There are some worthy deep-fried dishes, too, including the tempura chikuwa, a fishcake in the shape of a tube, and snacks like spam musubi and salmon onigiri.

4515 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

12. Xi'an Noodles

5259 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Diners come to Xi’an for one thing: wide, chewy biang biang noodles, made by hand every morning, at their best when adorned simply with chili oil. The pork dumplings and cucumber salad also make for excellent starters. Open for outdoor seating and takeout.

5259 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

13. Samurai Noodle

4138 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Samurai Noodle is to go-to spot for ramen in the U District, with broth choices like tonkotsu, miso, and shoyu, with spicy versions of the miso and shoyu tonkotsu ramen broths. The restaurant also serves snacks like takoyaki, gyoza, and kaarage, as well as rice and meat bowls and Japanese-style shaved ice.

4138 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

14. Sultan Gyros Grill

4222 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105

Most UW students have an opinion on the best late-night gyro spot on The Ave, but it’s hard to beat Sultan Gyros Grill for its Falafel Super sandwiches, loaded with feta, hummus, vegetables, and falafel that’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The greek fries, served with feta and tzatziki sauce, are a satisfying snack after a couple of drinks. Open for dine-in and takeout.

4222 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

15. Thanh Vị

4226 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105
shrimp, bean sprouts, spring roll wrappers, sliced cucumber, shredded carrots, a bowl of fish sauce, and cilantro and Thai basil on a tray.
Charbroiled shrimp with DYI springroll ingredients at Thanh Vi.
Jade Yamazaki Stewart

Thanh Vi is among a number of Vietnamese restaurants on The Ave, including an outpost of Pho Thanh Brothers, but it stands out for options not available at the others, like banh xeo (Vietnamese crepes) and tom nuong (charbroiled shrimp) served with spring-roll wrappers, vermicelli, and vegetables to make DIY rolls on a tray. The banh xeo, made with rice flour, coconut cream, and turmeric, has a wonderfully crisp crust and soft, airy interior and is studded with pieces of shrimp, filled with bean sprouts, and served with sprigs of cilantro and basil. Open for dine-in and takeout.

4226 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105

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