Metro area: Seattle
Bellevue has quietly elevated its culinary game over the years, serving to complement Seattle’s storied food scene rather than compete with it. Still, even divorced from Emerald City altogether, Bellevue is a formidable and lovely example of the wide array of fresh, artisan fare that makes the Pacific Northwest so unique. And no, we’re not talking about the endlessly babbled about Sugar Factory, white chocolate burgers be damned. Here, seafood is king, with fisherman’s bounty taking a high-end turn at the vaunted Seastar, where everything from ahi to seafood stew and crabcakes commingle. Mom-and-pop shops, meanwhile, keep the seafood cheap, while the city’s rich Asian history allows for a huge number of must-try sushi spots and dumplings, with Musashi’s and an outpost of local fave Dough Zone respectively representing each beautifully. The Middle East is represented by the glorious shawarma of joints like Mediterranean Kitchen, while Daniel’s Broiler is the prime cut steakhouse with a view. Still, for all its traditional flair, Bellevue’s on top of the new trends too, as evidenced by the elevated bar fare of Lot No. 3 and the newish Lincoln South Food Hall, where burgers, bar, pizza, and poke find common ground under one roof, giving off a food cart-style experience without the need to stand in the rain.