Stop for the Gas, Stay for the Grub
Comfort food from Eastern Europe
For years, the Independent Pizzeria in Madison Park has been one of the last hidden gems in the city, so when its owners decided to go for a more prominent location with restaurant #2, expectations from folks in the know were high. But the second the Eastern European and Jewish food restaurant started serving its first khachapuri -- Georgian dough boats filled with eggs, cheese, and butter -- it became clear those expectations would be met and exceeded. From perfectly arranged herring salads (“under a fur coat” of grated vegetables and egg) to matzoh ball soup, they’ve got everything your inner Jewish grandmother dreams of.
Chinese hot pot gone gourmet
High-end hot pot chains are coming to the Seattle area fast and furious -- last fall saw the opening of the Dolar Shop, next fall will bring the renowned Haidilao to Pacific Place, and early this year the doors opened here. With elegantly presented meats, higher quality ingredients, and housemade pastes and balls, they take the art of the dippable dinner to fine-dining levels with their famous beef oil broth. Here, you’ll find an extensive sauce bar, premium Wagyu beef, Chinese donuts stuffed with shrimp paste, and a little spice character that will melt into your pot.
South Lake Union
A turmeric-tinted and saffron-spiced take on the coffee shop
As many things as the tech-world of South Lake Union has disastrously disrupted, this new take on the classic coffee shop is the opposite: so bright and refreshing, you’ll wonder where it’s been all your life. The product of a cross-cultural marriage, this cross-cultural shop serves yogurt-based lassis, chai made on the stove, and standard espresso drinks -- along with a few spiked with South Asian spices. Similarly, the pastry case offers standard Western pastries, but also a few Indian snacks including mini-samosas, a porridge called poha, and vada pav -- basically potato sliders slathered in chutney.
Where a wood-fired oven warms a cozy corner of the city
Far from Ballard’s busy Market Street, Samara opened to little fanfare, but wowed the folks who trotted over to the Sunset Hill shop. Chef Eric Anderson cooks the small menu of farm-driven, vaguely Mediterranean dishes out of the wood-fired oven. Having cooked at Portland’s Higgins, as well as Brunswick & Hunt and Palace Kitchen here in Seattle, he comes with a track record of long-lasting, consistent kitchens, which gives hope to folks falling in love with this adorable neighborhood spot—and its ash-baked sunchokes, crispy chicken skins, and house-baked bread served with lardo.
A restaurateur returns to his Hawaiian roots
Kekoa Chin-Hidanocan watches the daily lines wrap out the door of his nearby biscuit shop, Morsel, but with this new venture, he returns to his own Hawaiian culinary roots. He describes the restaurant on the website simply as “My favorite meals… + coffee,” and (at least so far) the restaurant is truly that simple, open at lunch only, and with just three menu items -- all classic Hawaiian lunch plates like kalua pig, Japanese curry, and eggs with rice (and optional Portuguese sausage). Each item is available in a large, medium, or small, and priced accordingly, though none are above $10.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.