Updated: February 14, 2017
Tips and Recommendations
- Seattle’s a laid-back place. Casual attire is suitable just about anywhere (except Canlis).
- Most of the best restaurants in Seattle take reservations, so call ahead if there’s a spot you really want to to try.
- Seattle’s best brunch is at Toulouse Petit and Portage Bay Cafe.
- The best restaurant for a fancy splurge is Canlis.
- Seattle’s best restaurant patio can be found at Westward.
- The best Chinese restaurants in Seattle are Harbor City and Din Tai Fung.
- Seattle’s best Mexican restaurant is La Carta de Oaxaca.
- The best vegetarian restaurants in Seattle is Café Flora.
- The best spots for dinner and a show in Seattle are The Pink Door and Teatro Zinzani.
- Seattle’s best sushi is at Shiro’s.
- Seattle’s best Japanese restaurant is Maneki.
- Seattle’s best sandwich is at Salumi.
- The best restaurant in Pike Place Market is Matt’s in the Market.
- The best clam chowder in Seattle is at Pike Place Chowder.
- The best bakery in Seattle is Macrina. Their Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter might be the best cookie on the planet.
- Seattle’s best restaurants on the water are Elliot’s Oyster House and Ray’s Boathouse.
- Seattle’s best view restaurant is Sky City at the top of the Space Needle.
- The best pasta in Seattle is at Spinasse.
- Seattle’s best steakhouse is El Gaucho.
- The best late night eateries are Green Leaf and Ba Bar.
- The best seafood in Seattle is at Etta’s and Rock Creek.
- Seattle’s best burger is at Red Mill. The best in downtown is at Lil Woody’s.
- The best dessert in Seattle is the coconut cream pie at Dahlia Bakery. (But all Tom Douglas restaurants have it – if it’s not on the menu, just ask.)
The 15 Best Restaurants in Seattle
- Westward – $$ – Reviews
Phone: (206) 552-8215
Westward serves up seafood and Mediterranean/new American cuisine in a charming lakeside location on the north shore of Lake Union. A popular spot for dinner and weekend brunch, their evolving coastally-inspired menu includes vegetarian options, fish and seafood, and heartier meat and poultry options. Emphasis is placed on fresh and local ingredients. If you’re in a hurry, the attached Little Gull Oyster Bar’s menu includes a generous selection of snacks, and their knowledgeable bartenders are happy to teach you everything you never knew you wanted to know about oysters. Both Westward and Little Gull offer signature cocktails, as well as tap beer and a sizable wine list.
The atmosphere in Westward’s main dining area is casual and cool, decorated in a hip and modern maritime theme that manages not to cross the line into nauseatingly nautical. If the weather is agreeable, however, the place to be is outside. Share a meal while overlooking Lake Union, snack on oysters and gaze at city views from an Adirondack chair, or sip champagne around the bonfire; the beachy atmosphere of Westward’s patio area is truly unique and delightful.
Reservations are recommended (and only taken through their website), especially for dinner and in the warmer months. Parking is free in the small lot, with additional free street and lot parking nearby. Valet service is offered on Friday and Saturday nights for $12. Boaters are welcome to use Westward’s dock or pull kayaks up onto the beach.
- Serious Pie – $$ – Reviews
Phone: (206) 838-7388
There’s pizza, and then there’s Serious Pie. In 2006, iconic Seattle chef, Tom Douglas, turned the culinary spotlight onto this often humble food – forever elevating the form with his thin, amazingly crispy-crusted and delectable pies. Serious Pie’s pizzas are baked in an apple wood-fired oven and crafted using fresh, local ingredients, house-cured meats, and innovative toppings such as smoked duck and Penn Cove clams. Prelude your pizza with a marinated kale salad, bruschetta, or charcuterie board, and save room for dessert – their seasonal housemade ice creams and fresh cannoli provide a perfectly sweet ending to an amazing meal. Serious Pie has a generous selection of local and regional beers and ciders (seven on tap), as well as a variety of wines and house-crafted sodas. Happy hour is from 3-5pm on weekdays, with discounts on beer and wine, and all regular menu pizzas offered in half-sizes for $6.
The atmosphere at this Belltown pizzeria is cozy and boisterous, with most of the seating at communal tables. There’s usually a wait, but the staff at Serious Pie ensure that it’s a pleasant one – they’re happy to call or text you when your table is ready, so you’re free to poke around inside neighboring shops or catch a cocktail nearby. Large parties can call ahead and reserve the “Kitchen Table,” which is exactly what it sounds like (it’s where they shape their pizza dough), and enjoy full menu access and a truly behind-the-scenes experience.
Serious Pie is easily accessible by Metro Bus and Link Light Rail (Westlake station), with metered street parking and pay lots nearby.
- Shiro’s Sushi – $$$ – Reviews
Phone: (206) 443-9844
Any fan of traditional Japanese sushi would do well to visit Shiro’s, considered for over 20 years the gold standard of Seattle Sushi restaurants. Located in Seattle’s bustling Belltown neighborhood, Shiro’s highly-trained chefs use local and seasonally-available seafood to craft their sushi in the edomae method, traditional to Tokyo. This unique blend of Eastern tradition and ultra-fresh Northwest seafood will impress both sushi connoisseurs and novices alike. Don’t expect any flashy décor — the simplicity of this small and casual space allows the flavors of the expertly-prepared food to truly shine.
Seats at the sushi bar are hard to come by, but guarantee a great view and the only way to order an open-ended chef’s-choice omakase — customers line up before opening to snag these coveted seats. If waiting in line isn’t for you, get a table reservation and order one of Shiro’s two omakase tasting menus, along with exquisitely fresh appetizers, broiled entrees (Shiro’s original black cod recipe is a stand-out and has been featured in the New York Times), soups, and tempura dishes. A variety of hot and cold sake, as well as beer and wine are available.
Shiro’s Sushi is easily accessible by bus. Metered street parking is available, though hard to come by in this busy neighborhood. Reservations are highly recommended for table service, though not available for seats at the sushi bar.
- Steelhead Diner – $$ – Reviews
Phone: 206) 625-0129
Perched above Pike Place, with a view of the Market and Puget Sound, Steelhead Diner offers contemporary comfort food with a Pacific Northwest twist. The atmosphere here is family friendly and casual, but don’t let the placemat menus fool you – Steelhead Diner is serious about serving up thoughtfully upscale renditions of the classics we all know and love. Modern seafood standards like beer battered fish & chips, cioppino, and crab and shrimp tater tots are standouts in Steelhead’s menu, which also includes signature soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as more sophisticated options like grilled whole trout and coffee-crusted New York Steak. Steelhead Diner has a full bar and offers an extensive selection of Northwest wines and beers. Their commitment to local and sustainably-sourced ingredients means that even the soda hails from nearby.
Reservations can be made online or by phone, and are recommended for dinner and for large lunch groups. Steelhead’s market location makes it easily accessible by Metro bus or Link light rail (Westlake station). Parking is amply available in nearby garages and lots, while street parking around the market is metered and can be hard to come by.
- Armandino’s Salumi – $$ – Reviews
Monday 11am-1:30pm (take out only)
Phone: (206) 621-8772
The best cured meats this side of Manhattan can be found at Armandino’s Salumi in historic Pioneer Square. Locals simply call this spot “Salumi,” and know that time served waiting in line here will be amply rewarded with mouth-watering, hand-cured Italian goodness. The wide variety of meats and salamis is amazing on its own, but it’s their stand-out sandwiches that really make this small restaurant worth a stop if you’re in the neighborhood and worth the trip if you’re not. A variety of cold deli-style sandwiches and 3-4 hot sandwiches are offered daily (the meatball and porchetta being particular crowd favorites), along with a daily soup, pasta and veggie side. House wines, Italian beer, and soft-drinks complete the menu.
Armandino’s Salumi is a small, family owned operation (and what a family: Armandino is Armandino Batali, Mario’s dad), so hours are abbreviated: it’s open exclusively for weekday lunch, and Mondays are take-out only, with a limited menu of their most popular sandwiches. Come early to avoid the long lines, or call before 10am with your sandwich order (cold sandwiches only) and skip the line altogether. Armandino’s Salumi is easily accessible by Metro bus and Link light rail (Pioneer Square station), with street parking and pay-lots available nearby.
- The Pink Door – $$ – Reviews
(Lounge area always open until 1am)
Phone: (206) 443-3241
******** PLEASE NOTE that The Pink Door is temporarily closed for remodeling, re-opening in Spring 2017.
Equal parts enchanting, delicious, and entertaining, The Pink Door is an Italian food lover’s dream. Inside this unassuming gray building near Pike Place Market lies a whimsically romantic trattoria that serves up delicious Italian standards with a view. Perfect for lunch and dinner al fresco, The Pink Door’s charming dining deck overlooks Elliot Bay, and inside is all about entertainment. Diners delight in the jazz musicians, tarot-card readers, and magicians that perform nightly within the high-ceilinged dining room, with trapeze artists appearing on Sunday and Monday evenings. On Saturday nights, head back after dinner into the lounge area to enjoy The Pink Door’s weekly late night cabaret/burlesque show (with separate cover charge). All this razzle-dazzle is grounded by a deliciously simple, seasonal menu of homestyle Italian favorites that manage to hit all the right notes, as well as full bar service and a sizable selection of Italian and Northwest wines.
It’s easy to miss this gem – there’s no sign, so look for the pink door in Post Alley between Stewart and Virginia Streets. Reservations are strongly recommended for dinner – especially if you’re looking to catch the trapeze show. Note that online reservations are for deck seating only, call to reserve a spot in the dining room.
The Pink Door can be easily accessed by Metro bus and Link Light Rail (Pioneer Square station). Metered street parking can be difficult to come by, but there are many pay lots and parking ramps nearby.
- The Walrus and the Carpenter – $$$ – Reviews
Phone: (206) 395-9227
Since opening in 2010, the small menu and small plates at this humble Ballard oyster bar have garnered huge amounts of national praise — Bon Appetit has called The Walrus and the Carpenter one of the 20 most important restaurants in America – and it’s easy to see why. Only the freshest local oysters are served here, along with regional clams and mussels, house smoked fish, specialty meats (including a killer steak tartare), and fresh vegetable sides prepared to perfection. Amid the accolades, however, The Walrus and the Carpenter has retained the friendly feel and casual charm of an old neighborhood fishing pub. Expect to rub elbows with your neighbors within this bustling and light-filled space — the dining room seats only around 40, and it’s always chock-full.
It’s walk-in only at this popular spot, so line up before opening or be prepared for a wait, though there are plenty of inviting shops and watering holes nearby to explore while you do, and the staff is happy to call when your table is ready. Visit during “progressive happy hour” (Monday-Thursday from 4-6pm) and enjoy ½ off market price on select oysters for the first hour, and ¼ off from 5-6. Oysters prefer sparkling wine, of course, and an ample selection is offered here, as well as French reds and whites, regional and European beer, and specialty cocktails.
The Walrus and the Carpenter is easily accessed by Metro Bus, with RapidRide service from downtown (D Line). Metered street parking is available nearby, but hard to come by during peak dining hours in this busy neighborhood.
- Trove – $$ – Reviews
Noodle 12pm-11pm daily
Parfait 12-11pm daily
Bar 4-11pm daily
BBQ Sunday-Thursday 5-10pm
Friday and Saturday 5-11pm
Phone: (206) 457-4622
Capitol Hill’s Trove is four restaurants in one – each featuring the big, bold flavors of chef Rachel Yang’s inventive take on modern Korean cuisine. Trove’s Noodle bar offers quick and casual counter service and a front row view of the noodle chefs at work preparing a handful of knock-out seasonal dishes. Their Rice Cake with Lamb Curry was named one of Bon Appetit Magazine’s five best pasta dishes of 2015. Portions are generous, and twice daily happy hours (at 4-6 and 10-11pm) will kick $2 off any noodle dish. These happy hour specials extend into Trove’s intimate and enclosed Bar, where hungry patrons are welcome to enjoy food service from the noodle bar, as well as custom cocktails, six local beers on tap, and a variety of international beers, wines, and sake.
The largest (and priciest) jewel in Trove’s crown is the BBQ. Adventurous diners can sear their own expertly-marinated beef, pork, and prawn platters on built-in tabletop grills within this vibrant and club-like Korean-style barbecue. The sides and starters (salt and pepper squid, crispy cauliflower, and sautéed kale sprouts, in particular) are top-notch and perfect for sharing – come with a group and order a variety. Diners preferring a less hands-on experience can sit at one of the many non-grill tables and leave the cooking to the chefs, or pick a perch at the bar and watch the show in the open kitchen. Desserts are from Parfait, Trove’s street-side “ice cream truck” window. Restaurant guests and walk-ups alike enjoy a rotating menu of multilayered custard creations, based on traditional Korean desserts and served in individual mason jars.
Reservations are taken for parties of four or more in the BBQ area, and recommended for weekend night dining. Trove is Metro bus-accessible, with ample nearby metered street parking.
- Cascina Spinasse – $$$ – Reviews
Phone: (206) 251-7673
Cascina Spinasse is the place to go for classic Northern Italian cuisine in Seattle. This casual and quaint trattoria in Capitol Hill serves authentic Piedmontese dinner fare, crafted from local and seasonal ingredients. The menu at Cascina Spinasse is small – a handful each of antipasti, primi, and secondi plates – but every dish is pitch-perfect. While guests reliably rave about the braised rabbit and salt cod bruschetta everyone flocks here for the pasta. Rich, eggy, and hand-crafted daily, chef Stuart Lane’s pasta has been called “transformative,” particularly the finely-cut tajarin, whether ordered enveloped in a rich ragu or divinely dressed in butter and sage. Those in the mood for a real treat would do well to arrive with an empty stomach and a full wallet: Cascina Spinasse’s Menu Degustazione allows you to try it all – each antipasti, primi, and secondi on the menu for $100 a person. Full bar service and a well-curated Italian wine list complement your meal.
Like the food served within, the atmosphere at Cascina Spinasse is rustic and warm, with worn wooden tables, soft lighting, and lace curtains framing the windows. Such inspired Italian in an intimate setting makes those rustic tables hard to come by, though — call (or book online) well in advance for reservations. Procrastinators, however, need not despair: bar seating overlooking the open kitchen is reserved for walk-in guests, so come early and try your luck.
Cascina Spinasse is accessible by Metro bus, with ample metered street parking nearby.
- Café Campagne – $$ – Reviews
Weekday breakfast is offered from 8am between Memorial Day and Labor Day
Phone: (206) 728-2233
A picture perfect Parisian-style brasserie comfortably nestled into Post Alley in Pike Place Market, Café Campagne consistently delivers French classics, flawlessly prepared. Divine egg dishes like their velvety quiche, brioche French toast, and an impeccable croque madame have made this spot particularly popular for weekend brunch, while the legendary lamb burger, handcrafted charcuterie, steak frites, and roast trout regularly draw crowds at lunch and dinner. Café Campagne offers a wide selection of French wines, European beers, and full bar service to complement your meal. Small plate specials and discounted drinks are available at weekday happy hour, from 4-6pm.
Snag a window seat or a table on the sidewalk terrace to enjoy the frenetic energy of the market, or leave the bustle behind – the simple and classic décor of Café Campagne’s large dining space provides a cozy respite and feels intimate, despite the crowds. Reservations are recommended, especially during weekend brunch, and can be made online or over the phone.
Café Campagne is Metro bus and Light Rail accessible (Westlake station), with garage, lot, and limited metered street parking nearby.
- Green Leaf Vietnamese Restaurant – $ – Reviews
Phone: (206) 448-3318
A local favorite for authentic and exquisite Vietnamese cuisine, Belltown’s Green Leaf boasts generous portion sizes, exciting flavors, and hole-in-the-wall prices. This jewel of a restaurant takes some digging to find – its basement location is marked only by an unassuming green sign – but is well worth the trip. Fresh and vibrant soups, salads, noodle, and rice dishes abound in Green Leaf’s comprehensive menu, with many vegetarian options and too many standouts to count. (Locals know you can’t go wrong with the fresh spring rolls. And the savory banh xeo crepes. And the lotus root salad. And their sumptuous pho. And…) Casual and friendly, Green Leaf’s grand-sized dining area is made intimate by carved wooden furniture and Vietnamese décor. Full bar service is available, and the cozy and comfortable lounge area is the perfect spot for sipping a kumquat cocktail, or any other specialty cocktail from Green Leaf’s extensive drink menu. Perhaps best of all, this hidden gem is open until 2am nightly, making it the perfect spot for a late night bite.
Green Leaf is easily accessed by Metro bus, with plenty of metered street parking nearby. Reservations can be made by phone, and are recommended during busy lunch and dinner hours.
- Matt’s in the Market – $$$ – Reviews
5pm-7pm Happy Hour
Phone: (206) 467-7909
For a quintessentially Seattle dining experience, one can do no better than Matt’s, serving new American lunch and dinner in the heart of Pike Place Market. Tourists and locals both flock to this charming bistro, and with good reason. The lunch menu is brief but outstanding, with inventive salads, sandwiches, and light entrees showcasing ultra-fresh ingredients and spot-on flavors — the catfish and pulled-pork sandwiches are two dependable favorites. Matt’s dinner menu changes regularly, determined by what’s available from the market stalls below, and offers both small plates and heartier entrees. The considerable wine list is composed of regional and European vintages, and the full bar offers daily happy hour specials between 5 and 7pm.
With high timber-beamed ceilings and checkerboard floors, Matt’s feels light and airy during the day, and romantic after the sun goes down. Large demi-lune windows frame postcard-perfect views of the iconic market sign, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains beyond.
You won’t get a table at Matt’s without a reservation, taken both online and by phone. Book well in advance and ask for a seat with a view. Matt’s is Metro bus and Light Rail accessible (Westlake station), with garage, lot, and limited metered street parking nearby.
- Toulouse Petit – $$$ – Reviews
Daily happy hours at 4pm-6pm and 10pm-1am, weekday happy hours 8am-11am
Phone: (206) 432-9069
Located near Seattle Center in the Queen Anne neighborhood, Toulouse Petit will win the heart of any fan of Cajun cuisine and French Quarter-style excess. Their beignets, fried chicken gumbo, and shrimp and grits are on par with the best that New Orleans has to offer, and they’ll serve you a mean Sazerac at any time of day. This brasserie’s voluminous menu extends beyond New Orleans inspired fare, however, into impeccably-prepared rustic European, Mediterranean, and steakhouse-style offerings. It can be difficult to choose, so it’s good that Toulouse Petit’s three daily happy hour menus (two on weekend days) proffer a plethora of their most popular menu items for under $10 apiece – bring friends and share. The bar offers New Orleans and European beers, a comprehensive wine list, and a good variety of top-shelf liquors.
As a backdrop to all this excess, the décor at Toulouse Petit is fittingly rich and ornate – velvet-clad booths, hand-cut tile floors, and inlaid-wood tables set a perfectly decadent scene. It’s a popular spot, and the vibrant atmosphere can get loud, especially after the sun goes down, when the late night drink and food specials attract the young, local crowd.
Toulouse Petit accepts reservations only for dinner – these are recommended and can be made by phone or online. Breakfast and lunch are walk-in only, so expect a line on busy weekend days. Toulouse Petit is Metro bus accessible, with plenty of garage and metered street parking nearby.
- Canlis – $$$$ – Reviews
Phone: (206) 283-3313
Everything is perfect at Canlis. Since 1950, this revered restaurant has been universally considered the apex of fine dining in Seattle: The warm and polished midcentury interior, with sweeping views of Lake Union, downtown Seattle and the Cascade Mountains. The impeccable service, at the same time gracious and unpretentious. The unique and much-celebrated cuisine that chef Jason Franey calls “comfort geek” — modernist and molecular without being unapproachable. These superb elements combine to create evenings that guests consider more an experience than a meal.
It’s special occasion, blow-your-paycheck dining at Canlis, and you are expected to dress the part – this is the only restaurant in Seattle which requires a suit or sport coat for men. And leave your Levis at home, there’s no denim allowed. A la carte meals are offered in three or four courses, with a seven-course chef-determined tasting menu, and award-winning sommeliers that will assist you in pairing the perfect wine to your meal. With nightly live piano music and plush décor, Canlis’ lounge area provides a luxurious spot to wait for your table or enjoy an expertly-crafted cocktail and snacks from the a la carte bar menu.
Reservations in the dining room are a must, and should be booked (online or over the phone) well in advance, though lounge seating is available for walk-in guests. Canlis is not easily accessible via public transit, so you’ll want to drive or hire a cab/Uber. Parking is valet only.