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A view of a dish with ground pork, served with a fried egg on top of white rice.
A ground pork with rice dish at Mark Thai Food Box.
Jay Friedman/Eater Seattle

14 Outstanding Restaurants in Seattle's University District

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

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A ground pork with rice dish at Mark Thai Food Box.
| Jay Friedman/Eater Seattle

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 (many of which pop-up in Eater Seattle’s boba map). Here are some favorites.

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

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Taste of India

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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.

Xi'an Noodles

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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.

This U District biscuit shop offers the kind of folkloric biscuits that breakfast lovers dream of — warm, pillowy interior, crispy exterior, flaky bite — but ups the ante by making everything on the menu, including its staple baked good, gluten-free. The “fast break,” Morsel’s primary breakfast sandwich, is a behemoth stack of eggs, fatty bacon, and cheddar cheese on a biscuit of your choice that’s smeared with earthy tomato jam. You can also opt to grab one of its buttermilk biscuits plain with butter and jam on the side; there’s strawberry balsamic jam, chocolate hazelnut jam, and raspberry jam, among others. The restaurant has not reopened its dining room since the start of the pandemic; takeout hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Red Pepper

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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

The Mountaineering Club

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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 and oysters on the half shell as well as several sandwiches (including a wagyu and Dungeness crab hot dog), and seasonally rotating entrees. Reservations are recommended.

Earl's on the Ave

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Earl’s is the perfect college bar. The drinks are strong and affordable. There are multiple pool tables. And the food offers some of the best value of any Seattle restaurant, with a super combo of four onion rings, four jalapeno poppers, four mozzarella sticks, two chicken strips, two full-size corn dogs, and an enormous pan of waffle fries for just $19. The sandwiches here are also always a good bet for a satisfying, affordable meal.

Off The Rez Cafe

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Seattle’s only Native American-owned food truck opened its first restaurant in 2019 at the Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus. Its menu is vibrant as ever, offering fluffy fry bread tacos topped with 12-hour smoked pulled pork, braised bison, or vegetarian chili, plus wild rice bowls. Diners can order on the official website for takeout or delivery or eat the food on site.

Mark Thai Food Box

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This U District counter-service gem serves many popular dishes, from the mellow khao mun gai, with its poached chicken over ginger rice, to the fiery pad krapow gai kai dao, with its minced chicken, Thai basil, and chilis. The restaurant is open for takeout and delivery and also serves sealed bento boxes of popular dishes and pantry items like a house-made chili oil.

A view of a dish with ground pork, served with a fried egg on top of white rice.
A ground pork with rice dish at Mark Thai Food Box.
Jay Friedman/Eater Seattle

Thanh Vị

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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

Sultan Gyros Grill

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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.

Korean Tofu House

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Korean Tofu House, as the name implies, serves the best sundubu-jjigae (spicy soft tofu stew) in the University district, with options for various meats and seafood added in. Beyond the various tofu stews, the kalbi (beef short ribs) and kimchi fried rice here hit the spot. Hot barley tea, a variety of banchan (side dishes), and rice is complementary with each meal.

Big Time Brewery & Alehouse

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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.

The Alley Korean Restaurant

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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. 

Little Duck

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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

Taste of India

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.

Xi'an Noodles

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.

Morsel

This U District biscuit shop offers the kind of folkloric biscuits that breakfast lovers dream of — warm, pillowy interior, crispy exterior, flaky bite — but ups the ante by making everything on the menu, including its staple baked good, gluten-free. The “fast break,” Morsel’s primary breakfast sandwich, is a behemoth stack of eggs, fatty bacon, and cheddar cheese on a biscuit of your choice that’s smeared with earthy tomato jam. You can also opt to grab one of its buttermilk biscuits plain with butter and jam on the side; there’s strawberry balsamic jam, chocolate hazelnut jam, and raspberry jam, among others. The restaurant has not reopened its dining room since the start of the pandemic; takeout hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Red Pepper

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.

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

The Mountaineering Club

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 and oysters on the half shell as well as several sandwiches (including a wagyu and Dungeness crab hot dog), and seasonally rotating entrees. Reservations are recommended.

Earl's on the Ave

Earl’s is the perfect college bar. The drinks are strong and affordable. There are multiple pool tables. And the food offers some of the best value of any Seattle restaurant, with a super combo of four onion rings, four jalapeno poppers, four mozzarella sticks, two chicken strips, two full-size corn dogs, and an enormous pan of waffle fries for just $19. The sandwiches here are also always a good bet for a satisfying, affordable meal.

Off The Rez Cafe

Seattle’s only Native American-owned food truck opened its first restaurant in 2019 at the Burke Museum on the University of Washington campus. Its menu is vibrant as ever, offering fluffy fry bread tacos topped with 12-hour smoked pulled pork, braised bison, or vegetarian chili, plus wild rice bowls. Diners can order on the official website for takeout or delivery or eat the food on site.

Mark Thai Food Box

A view of a dish with ground pork, served with a fried egg on top of white rice.
A ground pork with rice dish at Mark Thai Food Box.
Jay Friedman/Eater Seattle

This U District counter-service gem serves many popular dishes, from the mellow khao mun gai, with its poached chicken over ginger rice, to the fiery pad krapow gai kai dao, with its minced chicken, Thai basil, and chilis. The restaurant is open for takeout and delivery and also serves sealed bento boxes of popular dishes and pantry items like a house-made chili oil.

A view of a dish with ground pork, served with a fried egg on top of white rice.
A ground pork with rice dish at Mark Thai Food Box.
Jay Friedman/Eater Seattle

Thanh Vị

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.

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

Sultan Gyros Grill

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.

Korean Tofu House

Korean Tofu House, as the name implies, serves the best sundubu-jjigae (spicy soft tofu stew) in the University district, with options for various meats and seafood added in. Beyond the various tofu stews, the kalbi (beef short ribs) and kimchi fried rice here hit the spot. Hot barley tea, a variety of banchan (side dishes), and rice is complementary with each meal.

Big Time Brewery & Alehouse

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.

The Alley Korean Restaurant

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. 

Little Duck

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.

Matthew Lombardi/Eater Seattle

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