Seattle sits at the forefront of foodie culture, so options here are endless when it comes to finding local flavor. This proves excellent news for residents and visitors alike, especially those who are particularly fond of seafood. In order to direct travelers toward sure-bet eateries, 10Best narrows the options to those places with the most appeal and the best reputations. In case time is of the essence, we present our Best Restaurants list, a special selection of 10 places that promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that represents the essence of Seattle dining.
While some venues showcase the region’s local bounty of seafood, meats, cheeses, produce, wines and more, others bring exotic ethnic cuisines to this corner of the country. Whether you are an adventurous diner or one who likes to stick within your comfort zone, you will find options that suit your fancy. Master chefs here introduce us to flavors ranging from sushi and curries to barbecue and jambalaya, and many restaurants have recently upped their patio and takeout game. Be sure to call ahead or look online for the latest updates on openings and hours.
Expertly prepared Vietnamese cuisine consistently draws a hungry crowd to this family-run restaurant with locations in Bellevue and Seattle. The menu changes seasonally and offers an extensive selection, ranging from fresh, rotating oysters to crispy vegetarian rolls and barbecued Carlton Farms pork spare ribs. Vegetarians relish the lemongrass tofu, while omnivores delight in the rich flavors unleashed in banana leaf-wrapped halibut, lemongrass clay pot chicken and crispy, Washington-grown drunken chicken (a true show-stopper). Efficient service and reasonable prices add to the appeal. If you enjoy the welcoming outposts of this flavorful restaurant, be sure to also visit its local “siblings,” Ba Bar (with locations open in Capitol Hill and University Village).
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Monsoon features traditional Vietnamese cuisine made with Northwest ingredients, served in a contemporary setting that’s ideal for a cozy indoor or fresh-aired, patio meal.
Corinne’s expert tip: If you enjoy the Seattle and Bellevue outposts of this delicious restaurant, be sure to visit its local “siblings”, Ba Bar in Capitol Hill and University Village.
Read more about Monsoon →
Photo courtesy of The Whale Wins
The Whale Wins is the Stone Way gem of award-winning chef Renee Erickson and partners Jeremy Price and Chad Dale (renowned throughout Seattle, thanks to their other masterpiece, Ballard’s acclaimed The Walrus and the Carpenter). At this welcoming Fremont venue, the culinary team draws inspiration from the cuisine of some of Erickson’s favorite places in southern Europe and England, and they promise their “wood-fired, vegetable-focused menu will feature the very best foods from local beaches, gardens and farms prepared simply and served casually in a lively, light-filled, cottage-like space.” Diners should expect ripe, seasonal vegetables, wood-oven fired meats and fish, and pickled treats in a bright, beautiful setting. Seafood lovers should be sure to order the Hama Hama clams, halibut pate and Matiz sardines on toast. Order breakfast, lunch,and dinner from the kitchen to be enjoyed at home (daily), or make dinner reservations (from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.).
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: At this Stone Way gem of award-winning chef Renee Erickson, enjoy locally-sourced, wood-fired fare for on-site dinners, or take home treats from the counter-style cafe.
Corinne’s expert tip: The Whale Wins Lard & Cafe is a new concept “offering James Beard Award winning wood-fired fare and casual counter-style service all day, daily from 8am to 8pm.”
Read more about The Whale Wins →
Photo courtesy of Cafe Flora
One of the country’s oldest vegetarian restaurants, and a Seattle institution for 30 years, this neighborhood venue is innovative and flavorful enough to win over even the most ardent carnivores. Enjoy brunch in the sunny atrium and enjoy the soothing sounds of the indoor waterfall. Dishes such as cornmeal pancakes in pomegranate sauce or beignets with berries and ginger cream anglaise are served with complimentary fresh-squeezed orange juice. You’ll also find plenty of specialty teas and juice blends to choose from as well. The lunch and dinner menu offers must-try items from superfood salads and grain bowls to Oaxaca tacos, and mushroom and fennel risotto (The venue offers dine-in service in its outdoor tent and indoor atrium; takeout and delivery are also available.)
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: In Madison Valley, enjoy the welcoming hospitality and seasonal fare of one of the country’s oldest vegetarian restaurants.
Corinne’s expert tip: The newest addition to this restaurant family, Beacon Hill’s Flora Bakehouse serves freshly baked sweet and savory pastries, croissants, muffins, pies, quiches, brownies, cookies and many gluten-free and vegan options, too, including Cafe Flora’s beloved vegan cinnamon rolls.
Read more about Café Flora →
Photo courtesy of Shiro’s Sushi
If the crowd a restaurant draws is a measure of its standing, Shiro’s reputation is assured. The unadorned space is one of Seattle’s premier sushi spots, often filled with loyal local patrons, including sports stars, business executives and the rest of the city’s ravenous raw-fish fans. White tablecloths drape the tables, but the prime spot can be found at the sushi bar, where the blade-wielding chefs slice fresh fish with utmost skill. Sitting here, you never know what kind of extra treats might come your way. The understated restaurant also features an extensive and well-chosen sake list. Shiro’s sets the bar for fresh fish and friendly hospitality, even in a town overflowing with top-notch sushi venues. Takeout is now also available for pick-up between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and 4:30 and 8:30 p.m. (Order online or by calling 206.443.9844.)
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Shiro’s Sushi (the first Edomae-style restaurant in Seattle) draws loyal fans to its Belltown space, one of the city’s premier sushi spots; enjoy takeout too!
John’s expert tip: Shiro’s is known for offering samples that aren’t on the menu. Each of the chefs here learned the essence of “Edomae” sushi preparation, which was developed and localized by original founder Shiro Kashiba.
Read more about Shiro’s Sushi →
This once-tiny restaurant, greatly expanded in 2007, offers incredible views of Pike Place Market and the Puget Sound, courtesy of huge, semicircular windows. Flawless seafood is the name of the game, and it’s collected fresh from vendors set up in the bustling market below. Some past favorite dishes include: Oyster sandwiches, much-coveted at lunchtime, and dinnertime delicacies like tortilla-crusted Alaskan halibut, pan-roasted wild salmon and mussels steamed with chorizo, chermoula and cava. These days, the restaurant is offering a monthly subscription to its Supper Club, which means a weekly, seasonally-inspired three-course meal straight from their kitchen to be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Matt’s in the Market brings mouth-watering fare to a welcoming space above Pike Place Market; join the Supper Club for take-home weekly meals!
John’s expert tip: The restaurant is currently offering a monthly subscription to its Supper Club, which means a weekly three-course meal straight from their kitchen to yours.
Read more about Matt’s in the Market →
While there are no wolves being braised here, just the thought â” How would one cook a wolf, where would you start? â” gets to the core of chef-owner Ethan Stowell’s philosophy for this branch of his Seattle foodie empire (Tavolata, Staple & Fancy, etc). He breaks things down to their base elements, deconstructing dishes to the bare essence of their perfectly-chosen ingredients. Stowell achieves this through a simple and rustic take on Italian-inspired plates, served in a sleek, urban-lodge space, outfitted in rough-stacked stone and unfinished vertical wood paneling. Start with the some Sea Wolf sourdough, soft-cooked eggs and seared cauliflower before moving onto mains like the sea scallops, potato gnocchi and roasted lamb leg.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Ethan Stowell “wows” crowds at How to Cook a Wolf (in both Queen Anne and Madison Park), where rustic, Italian-inspired plates steal the show.
John’s expert tip: Also check out How to Cook a Wolf Madison Park, which offers both indoor and outdoor dining options (as well as takeout).
Read more about How to Cook a Wolf →
Photo courtesy of Revel
This Fremont gem is owned by husband and wife chef duo Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, who met while cooking at New York’s Alain Ducasse at the Essex House. According to their website, even though “both chefs have a distinctly different point of view, their tastes blend together to create modern, creative and seamless cuisine in their restaurants.” (They also own nearby Joule.) The successful result of their merged talents? Urban-style Korean comfort food (small plates perfect for sharing) that ranges from dumplings and pancakes with pork belly, kimchi and bean sprouts to scrumptious dishes of noodles (think Dungeness crab, seaweed noodle, creme fraiche, spicy red curry) and rice (try the short rib, sambal daikon and mustard greens). Diners delight in the charming ambience, too, and a brand-new heated patio makes outdoor dining accessible in any weather.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: This Fremont gem offers elevated Korean comfort food that’s perfect for sharing at home or on the restaurant’s heated, covered patio.
Corinne’s expert tip: Make reservations ahead of time; a brand-new heated patio makes outdoor dining popular here in any season.
Read more about Revel →
Dining at The Herbfarm is an event. In fact, just getting in can be a process, since this culinary jewel is booked months in advance for its legendary prix-fixe feast of Pacific Northwest fare. The nine-course meal plays out over four or five hours, with perfect regional wine pairings poured along with each dining selection. According to travel guides, this is diamond-level dining. With a strictly regional focus, each meal is seasonally themed, whether Copper River salmon in spring or root vegetables in winter. The greens and herbs that augment main dishes come from the restaurant’s own garden, picked by one of your servers. Along with each course comes dialogue from the chef, who informs diners about the specifics of what’s on their plates. (Check online or call the restaurant for the most up-to-date information.)
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The Herbfarm, which books up months in advance, serves delectable prix-fixe feasts that showcase Pacific Northwest fare and last four to five hours.
John’s expert tip: This is probably the most detailed and extravagant multi-course dining experience in a three-state radius, and it should be on the bucket list of any true foodie. If you want to make an evening out of it (and fully indulge in the venue’s alluring wine pairings), book a room at Willows Lodge, located a stone’s throw from the restaurant’s front door.
Read more about Herbfarm Restaurant →
No Seattle food guide would be complete without a mention of Canlis, for generations a stalwart standby for special occasions and memorable dining experiences. For years, the traditional, white-tablecloth dining room has let visitors take in serene views of beautiful and busy Lake Union below while enjoying sensational, sensational “New American fare. These days, the fine-dining venue enjoys a variety of innovate pivots, all anchored in good food, good drink and community. Fun fact: Canlis is one of only 85 restaurants worldwide to have received the “Grand Award” for its wine collection. Check out a recent addition: the restaurant’s four-course family menu, one of the latest, flavorful creations that’s designed to be enjoyed at home
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Canlis has become an institution, beloved for its fine fare, impeccable service and stunning views; recently, innovative pivots have become the talk of the town.
John’s expert tip: Check out the restaurant’s four-course family menu, one of their latest inventions that’s designed to be enjoyed at home. After dinner at Canlis, you will have enjoyed wine from one of the most awarded wine collections anywhere (as proven by its win of the 2017 James Beard Outstanding Wine Program Award).
Read more about Canlis →
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Price/The Walrus and the Carpenter
Award-winning Chef Renee Erickson (The Whale Wins, Bateau, Barnacle, Bar Melusine) partnered with Business Manager Jeremy Price and Developer Chad Dale to realize her longtime vision for an oyster bar. It makes perfect sense then, that she would do it in her own neighborhood. The Walrus and the Carpenter blends the elegance of France with the casual comfort of a local fishing pub. “The idea is to serve the highest quality food and drink in a space that is stripped of pretense and feels like home.” Opened in 2010, The Walrus and The Carpenter proves one of the city’s most delicious and popular culinary scenes (and for good reason). Expect tallboys, Muscadet, piles of chubby oysters, a delightful array of local cheeses, meat delights like steak tartare and smart plates served in a lively, approachable space in Old Ballard. Takeout is available now, too.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The Walrus and the Carpenter is a charming Ballard spot to enjoy (or take home!) icy-cold piles of oysters, tasty seasonal plates and creative beverages.
Corinne’s expert tip: The restaurant has recently added extra outdoor seating, reservations can be made on OpenTable, and takeout is available from 4-9 p.m. (find an ordering link on their website).
Read more about The Walrus and the Carpenter →