It's Worth Getting Sloppy For This Grilled Cheese Taco
An eclectic mix of foods, all excellently executed
Taking over the sprawling space previously occupied by Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen, former Lark chef de cuisine Mitch Mayers made his solo debut starring creative crossovers like a combination pho and bone marrow matzo ball soup. The space retains the rustic feel of the exposed beams and big windows looking out over industrial Old Ballard, but fun use of patterns, colors, and seating give it a quirky, modern feel that matches the menu, which zigs and zags all over the place. The fluffy, warm flatbread that comes with the porchetta is among the best breads in town, and the impeccable execution on standards like that give Mayers and his team the freedom to go a little off the wall with the rest of the menu, stuffing the cheesy bread with ‘nduja and pimento cheese, and topping their Dungeness crab roll with everything spice and lox. This spot brings a sense of fun -- along with homemade dilly bars and choco-tacos for dessert -- that the Seattle scene was desperately in need of.
Handmade tortillas and heartfelt tacos
A rare breath of affordable, fresh food air in a season filled with bigger-budget openings comes in the form of a tiny taco counter. When the teriyaki vendor vacated the kitchen space inside Hillcrest Market, it didn’t take long for Carmelo Gaspar to notice and ask the owner if he could take it over with a taco stand. And it took, perhaps, even less time for locals to notice that the run-of-the-mill shop was suddenly sporting some seriously good tacos. The tiny menu offers Mexico City’s usual styles of tacos -- al pastor, asada, and campechano (mixed meat), along with a potato-based vegetarian option. The fresh corn tortillas -- a rarity in these parts -- take this spot soaring above the (rather low) Seattle-standard, bringing in crowds each day to fill the fewer than a dozen stools.
Soft serve and sumac in a charming space
If you haven’t heard about Homer’s soft-serve ice cream, you may have been hiding under some sort of terrible rock that hates good things, but you could be forgiven for not having heard about the incredible restaurant from which it came (it’s hard to pay attention past the colorful swirls of fig leaf and nectarine ice cream). The Mediterranean spot from former Sitka and Spruce sous chef Logan Cox and his wife, Sarah Knowles, also serves a menu full of hummus, wood-fire-roasted meats, and eclectically-spiced delightful small plates. But beyond a spread of charred cabbage with cheese and salmon with chanterelle stew, this spot is known for its warm, friendly service that matches the welcome of the adorably patterned wallpaper and bright ocean-blue accents.
South Lake Union
High-quality pasta at everyday low prices!
Seattle has shown time and again that it loves pasta (see also: Ethan Stowell’s empire, Il Corvo), and particularly pasta that is served by Brian Clevenger, whose upscale spots around town -- Raccolto, Vendemmia, Le Messe -- have earned deserving praise. Now, Clevenger gives Amazonia the spot it always wanted: a casual place to get a fresh pasta lunch for under $10. The clean, simple, subway-tiled space keeps the focus on the food, which includes a half-dozen pasta options, plus an equal number of pasta-friendly sides like burrata, garlic bread, and salad. Tagliatelle with mushrooms, bucatini with clams, and gemelli with braised pork pepper the seasonal menu with a wide variety of pasta shapes and their seasonal sauce pairing -- including ample vegetarian options. It's everything the lunch crowd could want… other than maybe a few more seats in the small space.
Sky-high sandwiches and a cure for what ails you
On and off for say, the last decade or two, Seattleites have kvetched about the lack of a good Jewish deli in town. Caterers Vance Dingfelder and Stephanie Hemsworth heard the cries, and in looking for a new kitchen for their business, solved two problems at once. While the full sit-down restaurant just opened, the walk-up window has sated the community starving for a good pastrami sandwich. Chopped liver, whitefish salad, and matzo ball soup bring in the crowds to Dingfelder’s during their standard business hours, and their late-night menu calls out to the bar crowds with corned beef hash. While the debate rages on around town (and online) if a pastrami sandwich should cost $18, the lines chomping at the bit for another bite seem to have had their say on the matter.
Italian fine dining from a couple that met at the Dick's down the street
You won’t always be sure what all the ingredients are (finger limes?), or how the dish was made. But just trust chef Nathan Lockwood: he’s working miracles on incredibly innovative foods. If you’re celebrating an anniversary, a birthday, or are just randomly flush with cash, the tasting menu at Altura will leave you full, impressed, satisfied... and a bit lighter in the wallet.
A lively oyster bar and favorite of locals
Sorry, you didn’t discover this place -- the Times got here first. But finally (five years later), the lines have died down, and now the cool, beautiful marble bar has been given back over to locals slurping oysters and spreading sardines on toast.
Beautiful seafood in a bright, fun space
Manolin flows out from the U-shaped bar as if there were a beach in front, which would explain the top-notch ceviches and other raw fish/bivalve specialties (including oysters from Hood Canal and Case Inlet) that dominate the menu.
Pike Place Market
A legendary sushi chef's downtown destination
Shiro Kashiba's name has long been synonymous with great sushi in Seattle, first at Shiro's in Belltown, and now at his own spot in the Market. The freshly flown-in tuna and expertly sourced local shellfish are masterfully prepared by the septuagenarian chef and his most dependable lieutenants.
Small Greek plates with big flavors in Pike/Pine
Though it was already doing a fairly good impression of Greek island life before, this new-ish spot is sporting a menu upgrade thanks to an infusion of energy from chef Zoi Antonitsas, formerly of Westward. From octopus appetizers to fluffy doughnuts, Omega is delicious, and worthy of date night.
Omakase on what might be Seattle's best restaurant street
Small and quiet, tucked away on what's quickly becoming Seattle's hottest dining 'hood (Junebaby is down the block and Salare, which made this list last year, is nextdoor), this sushi spot is the tortoise to Sushi Kashiba's showy Downtown hare. Even after receiving three stars from the Seattle Times, it seems that the secret of Seattle's best sushi stays quiet.
Seattle's best tapas restaurant has a stunning new space
For most of a decade Belltown's Pintxo operated out of a charming, small space on 2nd Avenue, but last year they moved into a much larger, but still intimate, space a couple of blocks away that not only looks amazing, but makes for a more welcoming dining experience, and also boasts one of Seattle's best new bars off the alley in back.
One of the country's best new restaurants of 2017
Apparently not satisfied with running one of the best restaurants in Seattle (nearby Salare was on the last version of this list) the increasingly recognizable chef behind this elevated Southern establishment opened Junebaby less than a year ago and started serving his unique take on decidedly non-elevated dishes, ranging from Swamp Cabbage to oxtails, to very long lines of happy Seattle diners.
Chef Jason Wilson's stylish, new Eastside endeavor
One of Seattle's leading chefs hasn't quite decamped to Bellevue (Downtown steakhouse Miller's Guild is also worth a visit), but he has taken over a large portion of the new Lincoln Square expansion. There's a speakeasy-style bar called Civility & Unrest and The Lakehouse, which boasts a stunning black and white dining room, one of Seattle's best brunch menus, and seasonally driven dishes (deviled local ranch eggs, seared Alaskan scallops, etc.) that look as good as they taste.
One of the best "small" restaurants in America gets some big new digs
For a decade, Art of the Table turned out a constantly changing seven- to ten-course tasting menu in a cozy space that felt a lot like eating in the chef's home, but not any more. Now they're serving the same hyperlocal farm-to-table food -- though they've added an a la carte menu -- in a sweeping new space that is finally large enough to match the restaurant's outsized reputation.