Food & Drink

Seattle's 11 Most Underrated Restaurants, According to Experts

Published On 10/08/2014 Published On 10/08/2014

Of all the things people from Seattle love, number one is probably... um, polar fleece (you can wear it anywhere!). But after that, it's probably restaurants. Seriously, it doesn't matter if it's one of the city's best new places to eat, or one of hundreds of teriyaki spots, people here just love restaurants, so much so you'd think there'd be enough love to go around, but sadly there's not.

That's why we asked some serious food experts, from Ethan Stowell to Renee Erickson, to help us pick places in need of more love. The result? Our list of Seattle's 11 most underrated restaurants...

Cafe Pettirosso

Linda Derschang

Owner, Linda’s Tavern (address and info), Tallulah’s (address and info), King’s Hardware (address and info)

Cafe Pettirosso (address and info)
Capitol Hill
This quaint, and semi-unfinished looking Cap Hill drinkery boasts a concrete floor and a vintage wood bar, from behind which they serve coffee/pastries in the AM, and then start slinging cocktails like the homemade caramel/bourbon/lemon Safe Word, which by the way, should probably be called SixMorePlease.
Why it's underrated: There aren't many places you can get "delicious snacks all day long, then turn into a cute date night/dinner-and-nightcaps spot." Plus, Derschang says, "Cafe Pettirosso is right under our office."

Pair

Sara Billups

Editor, Eater Seattle

Pair: (address and info)
Ravenna
Located opposite the venerable Duchess, this spot specialize in Northwest-style eats that are made with mostly local ingredients and served small plate-style.
Why it's underrated: "It's a quaint neighborhood place that's good for a first or fiftieth date. Nettle soup, roast chicken, gratin, bread pudding -- there's nowhere else I'd rather eat after the rain returns."

Restaurant Roux

Jason Stoneburner

Chef, Bastille Cafe & Bar (address and info); chef/co-owner, Stoneburner (address and info)

Restaurant Roux (address and info)
Fremont
Opened after a loooong wait in the former Fremont biker bar where a 17-year-old Heath Ledger supposedly went drinking in 10 Things I Hate About You, this 'Nawlins-style eatery is run by the dude behind Seattle's favorite food truck, Where Ya At Matt.
Why it's underrated: "These folks are cooking their asses off and taking chances -- and you can tell they're having a blast doing it. The dishes are comprised of hard work and solid technique -- Roux should be on everyone's top five list."

Flickr/Patrick Crowley

Bethany Jean Clement

Restaurant reviewer and arts editor, The Stranger

Ristorante Machiavelli (address and info)
Capitol Hill
This is always a convivial place to score sweet pasta, and while "the tables in the cozy, low-ceilinged dining room don't have red-and-white-checked tablecloths, they might as well."
Why it's underrated: "Open since 1988, Machiavelli is a reliable friend. The lasagna with spinach noodles and chicken livers is the kind of thing you think about suddenly for no apparent reason -- then you must have it that night, or the next night, or some night very soon. It is especially satisfying in the winter when passersby look cold and miserable, while inside everyone is insulated with good company, beverages, and anticipation. Machiavelli isn't fancy, it's just always good."

CHONA KASINGER/Thrillist

Rachel Yang

Chef/Owner, Joule (address and info), Revel (address and info)

Pomerol (address and info)
Fremont
Helmed by a guy who used to own the Pig 'N Whistle in Greenwood and the late-lamented June, this Fremont French-taurant is putting a composed Euro twist on Northwest ingredients via dishes like duck confit, fire-roasted beef short ribs w/ confit shallot, and more.
Why it's underrated: Maybe because "it just opened about two months ago, but Chef Vuong Loc has been around in Seattle for a while with the formal Portage restaurant on top of Queen Anne. His food is always spot-on modern French that is executed flawlessly."

Bradley Foster/Thrillist

Renee Erickson

Chef, The Walrus and the Carpenter (address and info)

The Fat Hen (address and info)
Phinney Ridge
This brick-fronted eatery in Ballard serves up locally sourced daytime eats ranging from breakfast (eggs and soldiers, baked eggs on ham w/ smoked mozz & Jarlsberg, etc.), to lunch options like the Stufato di Manzo w/ slow braised beef in red wine.
Why it's underrated: It's the perfect place for "simple clean fare, done really well with great ingredients," says to Erickson, who has regularly "been enjoying The Fat Hen for brunch and coffee."

Boat Street Cafe

Rebekah Denn

Writer, All You Can Eat at The Seattle Times

Boat Street Cafe (address and info)
Interbay
No longer actually on Boat St or in the University District, this eatery slings Provençal-style food in a casual, semi-subterranean space.
Why it's underrated: "Renee Erickson's other eateries have hour-long waits and get love-fest national reviews, but I think her first restaurant is every bit as good -- and bizarrely under-the-radar. I can never resist the pickle plate for an appetizer, the legendary bread pudding for dessert, and anything in the middle that current Chef de Cuisine Jay Guerrero (formerly of Prune in NYC) recommends."

Flickr/Curtis Cronn

Jonathan Zwickel

Senior Editor, City Arts

Maneki (address and info)
International District
It's been in business for more than 100 years, it's almost impossible to get a table, and it's a Thrillist favorite, but it's still underrated?! Yup.
Why it's underrated: "Seattle's oldest restaurant is also one of its most affordable and least pretentious restaurants. Reserve a private, shoe-free tatami room in advance or go alone and get a seat right away at the bar (and hope that Grandma's pouring the sake). Salmon nanban -- lightly breaded and fried salmon chunks served cold with ponzu sauce -- is a must-have, as is the miso black cod collar served piping hot."

La Rustica Restaurant

Jason Lajeunesse

Co-owner, Lost Lake Cafe & Lounge (address and info)

La Rustica (address and info)
Alki
One of Seattle's classic date-spots, this boot-foodery slings equally classic pasta dishes.
Why it's underrated: "I LOVE La Rustica in West Seattle, especially in the summer. The outdoor patio at sunset is one of a kind, cute, romantic, and the menu offers great consistent Italian comfort food. I also love that it's family owned and run, and they are always there to greet guests and offer tips on wines and specials in addition to the already great staff. Bellissimo!"

Nell's Restaurant

Ethan Stowell

Chef/owner, Staple & Fancy (address and info), How to Cook a Wolf (address and info), Chippy’s (address and info), etc. 

Nell's Restaurant (address and info)
Greenlake
The casually sophisticated eatery opposite Green Lake offers their locally sourced seasonal fare a la carte or as part of a five-course tasting menu seven nights a week.
Why it's underrated: "Seattle's most underrated restaurant is Nell's on Green Lake. Chef Philip Mihalski is a great chef who produces consistently high quality food, and they also have one of the best wine lists in town. And the patio is super-fun in the summertime."

Chona Kasinger/Thrillist

Meeru Dhalwala

Co-owner/chef, Shanik (address and info)

Golden Beetle (address and info)
Ballard
The second restaurant from the Iron Chef contestant behind Tilth, this Ballard eatery specializes in Middle Eastern/Mediterranean eats inspired by Chef Maria Hines' travels to Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey.
Why it's underrated: Not as lauded as Hines' original spot, the Golden Beetle's still one of Dhalwala's "favorite restaurants in Seattle. I am always in a state of flavor amazement when I eat here, and the bonus for us all is that everything is organic and the dining room is cozy with a perfect combination of Middle Eastern elegant and exotic. The last time I ate here, I tried to convince Maria to open one in Vancouver, BC!"

Sign up here for our daily Seattle email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Cafe Pettirosso 1101 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122 (Capitol Hill)

Cafe Pettirosso serves up quaint homestyle eats like Shepard's Pie layered w/ seasonal veggies, taters & Painted Hill ground chuck, as well as grilled quail w/ radicchio & olives, and a Bolito Misto stew w/ beef brisket, chicken leg & sausage. Cocktails include the classics (Old Fashioned, Moscow Mule), plus more inventive tipples like the the vodka- and Creme de Viollette-based Purple Rain.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
2. Pair 5501 30th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105 (Ravenna)

This quaint neighborhood place is good for a first or fiftieth date. The menu's got nettle soup, roast chicken, gratin, bread pudding, and more.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
3. Restaurant Roux 4201 N Fremont Ave, Seattle, WA 98103 (Fremont)

Helmed by the guy who brought the po boy to Seattle with the Where Ya at Matt? food truck, Restaurant Roux is Matt Lewis' brick-and-mortar extension offering up even more Southern and French Creole eats in Fremont. His New Orleans roots, French culinary training, and Pacific Northwestern location all come together in the form of comforting dishes like buttermilk fried chicken, grilled trout, and ham-brined pork chops. And with names like Red-Footed Baby, Purple Skirt, and Doctor Boggs, even the handful of affordable cocktails carry on this spot's Louisiana spirit.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
4. Ristorante Machiavelli 1215 Pine St, Seattle, WA 98101

Open since 1988, this is a great Italian joint to get some sweet pasta. Definitely try the lasagna with spinach noodles and chicken livers.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Pomerol 127 N 36th St, Seattle, WA 98103 (Fremont)

Helmed by a guy who used to own the Pig 'N Whistle in Greenwood and the late-lamented June, this Fremont Frenchtaurant is putting a composed Euro twist on Northwest ingredients via dishes like duck confit, fire-roasted beef short ribs with confit shallot, and more.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. The Fat Hen 1418 NW 70th St, Seattle, WA 98117 (Ballard)

Serving up locally sourced daytime eats ranging from breakfast (eggs and soldiers, baked eggs on ham w/ smoked mozz & Jarlsberg, etc.), to lunch (the Stufato di Manzo w/ slow braised beef in red wine, and focaccia topped w/ stuff like pancetta, scamorza & rosemary), this brick-fronted eatery has taken up residence in the old Caprice Kitchen, which probably closed because you could only eat there if you were a Big Boy.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Boat Street Cafe 3131 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

No longer actually on Boat St or in the University District, this eatery slings Provençal-style food in a casual, semi-subterranean space.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
8. Maneki 304 6th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104 (Downtown)

Maneki is the last surviving restaurant from Seattle’s once bustling Japantown, so you know they must be doing something right. The family-owned restaurant has established itself as a local favorite. Fun—almost unbelievable—fact: in the 1930s, one of Maneki’s dishwashers was Takeo Miki, who later served as Japan’s prime minister. What’s even more unbelievable is how good Maneki’s sushi is.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. La Rustica 4100 Beach Dr SW, Seattle, WA 98116

One of Seattle's classic date-spots, this boot-foodery slings equally classic pasta dishes. Plus, it's got a great outdoor patio.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
10. Nell's Restaurant 6804 E Green Lake Way N, Seattle, WA 98115

The casually sophisticated eatery opposite Green Lake offers their locally sourced seasonal fare a la carte or as part of a five-course tasting menu.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
11. Golden Beetle 1744 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107 (Ballard)

Golden Beetle serves Eastern Mediterranean eats (that're a staggering 95% certified wild/organic) in a 90-seat blue-trimmed space that's lit by custom-cut glass lanterns.

Clickbait