The Best Places To Eat In Seattle Right Now
If you've been sitting on the beach or road-tripping around the country, you've missed a lot of what's happening in the Seattle restaurant world this summer. The wild pace of new openings has continued on as it did in the first half of the year, meaning star chefs and storied bartenders have poured their hearts into incredible new outlets, while a few neighborhoods scored some special spots piping in some much-needed diversity and innovation to the city's bustling restaurant scene.
So if you're wondering where to go for dinner to toast to the end of the sunny season and the start of school, here are all the best places that sprang up while you were out enjoying the weather.
Orlando's donuts arrive
Florida might not seem like the likely birthplace of mochi donuts -- a marriage of the quintessential American breakfast food and the chewy Japanese rice dessert, but that's where this little shop got its start. It landed in Seattle with a bang this summer, yielding lines out the door from its storefront inside Uwajimaya for the delightfully textured treats in flavors like white chocolate with ube cake, matcha Oreo, and salted caramel with choco crisps.
Champagne wishes and diner dreams
Bryn Lumsden's perfect capture of the cocktail bar zeitgeist in 2014 has kept Damn the Weather packed and in the press since then, and now he and his same crack team look to do the same with an upscale diner with a strong bar focus. The menu reflects the casual inspiration as well as the Instagram generation: tuna melt made with Pacific cod, mussel hoagie, and a French-style omelette. Everything here, from the menu to the styling, feels like it's done with a wink of irreverence (like the Ovaltine pie on the dessert menu), and that "in on the secret" feeling gives it the same welcoming vibe of diners of yore.
Spice and secret items
Greenwood once housed some of the city's best Chinese food, with Seven Stars Pepper (now in the ID) and Sichuan Bistro (closed after arson in 2009), but those were ages ago. Greenwood's Chinese food resurgence has been a long time coming and patient eaters have been duly rewarded with this sophomore effort from the owners of Des Moines's Yummy Chinese. The menu is full of Sichuan standards and specialities from neighboring regions, including cold dishes like the sweet and crisp rock candy duck, noodles like the spicy Yibin variety, and excellent vegetables like the dry-fried eggplant. And for those looking for something new, they offer chef's specialties labeled as "Whatever," and "I don't know" on the menu.
Fancy and French, drinks and snacks
Erik Hakkinen rose to bartending fame at the Zig Zag, and was slated to occupy another Pike Place Market classic with his spot in the old Lusty Lady, but plagued by delays, he switched gears and opened a tiny piece of France in Belltown. Calvados, Chartreuse, and French wines (and aperitifs) feature prominently, but there's plenty of intriguing other drinks around simply because the staff like them (sherry and mezcal, notably). Though the bar opened in early July, the full menu from the kitchen only started at the end of August, and features charcuterie and tinned seafood.
Puerto Rican meets Northwest in a distillery
Chef Eric Rivera's rotating many-course menus and lower-key ever-changing pop-in concepts keep diners at his Ballard location on their toes. But with his new spot, Rivera gets to both put down roots with a single concept and, at the same time, dig into his own roots, marrying his Puerto Rican heritage with his Northwest upbringing for a menu that puts yucca fries right up against jo-jos. There's also the jibarito, a sandwich on two fried pieces of plantain, and the Richard, his beloved ode to the Dick's Deluxe. The casual, 21+ spot is a good introduction to Rivera's innovative style, makes a great fit as drinking food for the Batch 206 Distillery it's housed in, and, of course, houses some of Rivera's intriguing pop-ins from time to time (stay abreast via social media).
Local ingredients prepared with modern techniques and tons of whimsy
Blue-patterned wallpaper and a marble-topped bar keep this creative restaurant cool as a cucumber -- likely a cucumber that's been reinvented, given the chef's predilection for keeping diners on their toes. Pig head candy bars and cauliflower chilaquiles show off locally-sourced ingredients and globally-sourced inspiration. From geoduck to foie gras cake frosting, the menu keeps pushing cool ideas, never settling for the ordinary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Soba noodles and sake mix together for the perfect recipe
When Mutsuko Soma left her chef position at Miyabi 45th, a small, in-the-know community of noodle lovers mourned the end of easy access to her handmade soba noodles. Now they've dried their tears, as her delicate buckwheat strands have reemerged, revitalized, at her own shop. Squished into the corner space previously occupied by Art of the Table, revamped with Japanese-themed décor, Soma’s serves the same soba people knew and loved, along with the noodles’ usual partner, tempura. Natto-stuffed eggplant, beef tongue, and shiso leaf topped with uni all take a dip in the fryer. But the menu’s greatest gem at the sweetly cozy spot is neither noodle nor tempura, but the foie gras tofu with sake-poached shrimp on the appetizer menu. Really, though, it’s hard to go wrong -- especially when washing down dinner with something from the carefully curated sake menu.
Serafina1991 | Eastlake
Quietly classic Italian that flies under the radar
Many people credited Susan Kaufman's impeccable hospitality with the success of this institution, but since her passing in 2016, the restaurant has not missed a beat with its seasonal, regional Italian cuisine. Unpretentious and cozy, the kind of place that inspires cliches like "everyone feels like family," but all the goodwill and graciousness in the world still doesn't overshadow the quality of the braised octopus appetizer, lamb and pork lasagna, or lemon ricotta cheesecake.
The best prime rib in Seattle
Everything about this steakhouse is belovedly retro, upto and including the prices, the Cheez-It topped salads, and the fact that they use the steak trimmings to grind up into their house-made burgers. Whether you're in the mood for a prime rib dinner under $25 or the best prime rib French dip in town, walking through the door of this time warp to the last century is the best way to do it.
A Seattle institution that's over 100 years old
Even "Mom" the octogenarian, almost-celebrity bartender wasn't born yet when this seafood spot opened its doors. But with age comes beauty, at least on the plate: huge chunks of fresh salmon draped over sushi rice, beautifully blackened black cod collar, and bonito flakes waving from atop the takoyaki.
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