Food & Drink

An editor's guide to eating around town

Published On 04/18/2013 Published On 04/18/2013
Editor Bradley Foster chows down on a huge sandwich

If you're always like, "I can't figure out where to eat, and I don't even know of any sandwiches named after Shawn Kemp", rest easy, because Seattle editor Bradley Foster is about to drop recommendations for his favorite restaurants/dishes around town faster than Shawn Kemp can say, "Please stop suing me for back child support payments and give me some of that sandwich I've been hearing so much about."
Favorite Restaurant: Hidden behind another pretty sweet restaurant in a still-sort-of-industrial section of Ballard, the Walrus and the Carpenter is a laid-back oyster bar that's rocketed to the top of everyone's "Best Of" lists for their approachable take on the world's best bi-valves

Best Late-Night Eats: The proliferation of sweet pizza joints makes this category almost impossible, but you can't go wrong at Big Mario's, a dive-y pie slinger in the heart of Pike/Pine, coincidentally the City's go-to nightlife corridor.

Best Cheap Eats: Anyone who doesn't tell you to hit iconic drive-in and Sir Mix-a-Lot favorite Dick's probably is one and wants to keep all the deliciously greasy $1.50 cheeseburgers to themselves

Best Sandwich: Yes, it's also a laid-back bar, an experimental kitchen, and a wine shop, but, at it's heart, Delicatus is an unparalleled sandwich slinger specializing in oven-roasted behemoths like the roast beef/horseradish aioli Reign Man.

Best Dish: In a city of constantly rotating seasonal menus, super-chef Tom Douglas is nice enough to keep his Plin, a Piedmontese-style ravioli filled w/ roast pork in a sage butter sauce, on the Palace Kitchen menu year-round

Best Seafood: Posted up in a Magnolia alleyway, the 35-seat Tanglewood Supreme sets itself apart from the rest of Seattle's excellent seafood spots by sourcing only the most premium ingredients from a handful of individual fisherman

Best Italian: Maybe it's the surprisingly quiet residential location, maybe it's the evocative flavors of the seasonal Northern Italian menu, or maybe it's just the restaurant's sepia-toned lighting, but dinner at Cantinetta has an almost unreal quality. Don't miss it.

Best Chinese: Arranged in seven old-fashioned train cars, Orient Express would be awesome even if it weren't slinging legitimately tasty pan-Asian eats

Best Food Truck: There're too many food trucks serving too much delicious food (po' boys, Native American frybreads, BBQ, grilled cheeses...) to pick just one, but a tour of our mobile eateries should probably start with a stuffed waffle on a stick from My Sweet Lil' Cakes

Best Mexican: Possessed of one of the city's sweetest patios, as well as one of The Town's better bartender margarita's, cozy, brightly colored El Camino specializes in handmade South-of-the-Border classics with occasional nods to the Northwest via ingredients like wild king salmon

Best Burger: Places like Lil Woody's, Marjorie, and Uneeda Burger all do a great job, but Seattle's best burger might just be found at Bellevue's John Howie Steak, where a 60/40 prime chuck & Kurobuta bacon Juicy Lucy is stuffed w/ cheddar & jack, then topped w/ sweet onion jam mayo & crispy fried onions

Most Gut-Busting Dish: On the principle that the only thing better than meat is fried meat, Katsu Burger's assembled a sandwich of deep-fried beef, chicken, and pork patties, plus three types of cheese & bacon, called the Mt. Fuji, probably because it works so well on film

Best Fine Dining: The finest of Seattle's relatively few fine dining destinations, Canlis is worth it for its unusual views alone, but it also brings it with an unbeatable version of Seattle's signature Dungeness crab cakes, and possibly the city's best steak

Most Romantic: Once you enter from an alley through an unmarked door, would you rather duck into a subterranean dining room where burlesque dancers swing above your head, or rise to a roof-top deck overlooking Pike Place Market and Elliot Bay? That choice is the first that will confront you at The Pink Door

Best Lunch: Lunchtime is your only chance to score some of the sweet handmade pastas at Pioneer Square's Il Corvo, where the menu changes daily, but you can expect stuff along the lines of tagliatelle with wild boar ragu

Best for Partying: It might seem like just a boisterous after-work spot in burgeoning South Lake Union, but the spacious, brick-walled Re:public is also one of the city's sweetest restaurants, with a small line-up of can't-miss gastropub-style eats

Best for Work: Impress your boss/co-workers by picking a bottle of something red from RN74's giant mechanical menu board, then tuck into some Hudson Valley foie gras sliders and duck-fat-poached filets on the expense account

Best Brunch: A ton of places do a great weekend brunch (heck, Ba Bar has a sweet one everyday), but La Bete gets top billing because of it's French toast, and because it hosts a pop-up called JuiceBox that'll either help cleanse the previous night away with its delicious fruit and vegetable concoctions, or serve you some market-fresh hair of the dog

Weirdest Food: Sure, Maneki serves some of the best sushi around, but it's also the place to go for Asian oddities like octopus-stuffed donut holes

Best Wings: Well-worn sports hang The Attic is famous for being just steps away from the beach at Madison Park, and for its deep-fried wings w/ buffalo sauce topped with a smattering of sesame seeds/chives, and served with the classic -- blue cheese & celery sticks

Most Local Food: You should actually be concerned if the restaurant you're in doesn't brag about its local ingredients, but there are some places that go further than others. Local 360 sources most things from within 360mi of the city, and Matt's in the Market gets almost everything from the stalls in Pike Place Market downstairs

Best Donuts: Local institution Daily Dozen Doughnuts may only make four varieties of its bite-size treats (plain cake, powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, and chocolate frosting w/ sprinkles), but the super-thin crust formed by their extremely hot oil and the fact that they're always super-fresh more than makes up for it.

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1. The Walrus and the Carpenter 4743 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107 (Ballard)

This chic oyster bar serves neither walrus nor houses carpenters (that we know of) but it does dish out mounds of delicious shellfish in a comfortable atmosphere. Additionally, this cozy, neighborhood spot -- which has been recognized by The New York Times also serves incredible desserts, with highlights being maple bread pudding and roasted Medjool dates.

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2. Big Mario's Pizza 1009 E Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122 (Capitol Hill)

There aren't many places in Seattle where you can slug an Olde English 40 and bask in the glory of true New York-style pizza, but Big Mario's is one of them. Located in Capitol Hill, this is one of the best spots for quality, thin-crust pie. Hipsters flock to Mario's for its retro style and late-night deals.

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3. Delicatus 103 1st Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104

Delicatus has plenty to offer -- including an experimental kitchen, a full bar and a vino shop -- but at the end of the day, they do sandwiches best. By using ingredients from the Northwest bought from local farms, they ensure that your food is as fresh as possible.

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4. Palace Kitchen 2030 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121 (Belltown)

From renowned restaurateur Tom Douglas, Palace Kitchen is a casual Belltown spot bursting with flavor. You'll want to start off with the tangy goat cheese lavender fondue (wood grilled bread, apples, pears) before moving onto the famed Palace Royale burger, made with hand-ground Washington natural chuck, house-made Dijon aioli, thinly sliced white onion, dill pickles, and served on a Dahlia Bakery bun. Be sure to pair it with a drink from the extensive, wine, beer, and cocktail lists, and top it all off with an order of the plum cobbler. All of the ingredients here are as fresh as it gets -- some are even sourced from Douglas' own farm.

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5. Tanglewood Supreme 3216 W Wheeler St, Seattle, WA 98199 (Magnolia)

The only way you could get fresher seafood would be if you were on a boat in the Pacific. Tanglewood Supreme practices a “fisherman to table” philosophy that relies on only a handful of local anglers to snag premium ingredients and deliver them to your dinner plate.

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6. Cantinetta 3650 Wallingford Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103 (Wallingford)

An Italian restaurant with strong Tuscan roots, Cantinetta calls Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood home. And you will feel at home once you're dining on hand-made pasta and sipping on wine with origins the Alps of Northwestern Italy, within the restaurant's tastefully modest, wood-furnished abode.

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7. Orient Express 2963 4th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98134 (Sodo)

Orient Express, located in Seattle's SODO neighborhood, is designed to resemble to the interior of overnight train cars. It's not often you are served gourmet Chinese food in an unmoving vehicle.

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8. El Camino 607 N 35th St, Seattle, WA 98103 (Fremont)

El Camino has been serving some of the best traditional Mexican food around for more than 15 years. Making regular trips across the border and sourcing ingredients from local, independent farms, its owners deliver a double roundhouse of flavor and freshness on a daily basis.

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9. John Howie Steak 11111 NE 8th St, Ste 125, Bellevue, WA 98004 (Bellevue)

Grab lunch at John Howie Steak and let your taste buds score one of the best prime beef bacon cheeseburgers in the country. For dinner, this restaurant is the go-to for dry-aged steaks. Also try the foie gras with caramelized honeycrisp apples and, for dessert, the Grand Marnier crème brulee.

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10. Katsu Burger 6538 4th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108 (Sodo)

Japanese Katsu-style fried meats and the American-style hamburger unite to form Katsu Burger, a colorful counter-service joint. They have signature burgers like the Wabi Wasabi (grass-fed beef katsu, pepper jack, wasabi mayo, and tonkatsu sauce) and mega-burgers that practically require a strategy to eat, like the Mt. Fuji (beef, chicken, and pork patties, plus three types of cheese and bacon). If you have room, be sure to add a side of fries with nori (roasted seaweed flakes).

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11. Canlis 2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109 (Queen Anne)

The finest of Seattle's relatively few fine dining destinations, Canlis is worth it alone for its gorgeous views of Lake Union and unusual setting inside a refurbished mid century modern home. But Canlis also brings the heat with an unbeatable version of Seattle's signature Dungeness crab cakes, and possibly the city's best steak.

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12. The Pink Door 1919 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101 (Belltown)

Once you enter from an alley through an unmarked door, would you rather duck into a subterranean dining room where burlesque dancers swing above your head, or rise to a roof-top deck overlooking Pike Place Market and Elliot Bay? That choice is the first that will confront you at The Pink Door.

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13. Il Corvo 217 James St, Seattle, WA 98104 (Downtown)

Lunchtime is your only chance to score some of the incredible handmade pastas at Pioneer Square's Il Corvo, where the menu changes daily. Guests can expect entrees along the lines of tagliatelle with wild boar ragu, gigli with broccolini, chilies, and garlic, and other similarly sophisticated pasta dishes. Be sure to check out Il Corvo's website for daily offerings.

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14. re:public 429 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109

It might seem like just a boisterous after-work spot in burgeoning South Lake Union, but the spacious, brick-walled Re:public is also one of the city's sweetest restaurants, with a small line-up of can't-miss gastropub-style eats.

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15. RN74 1433 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101 (Downtown)

Restaurateur Michael Mina reproduces a version of his San Franciso original in Downtown Seattle with RN74, bearing the same name as a highway in Burgundy. The French bistro menu has upscale international touches (seen in signatures like ahi tuna tartare, roasted foie gras, seared halibut, steak frites au poivre) that are enjoyed under a dramatic row of yellow and orange cylindrical lamps hanging form the high ceilings amid concrete pillars. Bottles of wine sourced from Burgundy, Washington and Oregon and their prices are listed on a series of throwback train ticker signs, with letters and numbers flipping to update with new arrivals. Pride is taken in the bar's version of the classic French 75 champagne cocktail (and a couple twists on it, served with lemon twists).

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16. La Bete 1802 Bellevue Ave, Seattle, WA 98122 (Capitol Hill)

Opened in the old Chez Gaudy space by two gastro-whizzes who met working for Ethan Stowell, and go by superhero-ish nicknames like The Vapor (the former Licorous chef), and The Beastmaster (the former Lark sous), this 40-seater's serving up adventurous French-inspired eats.

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17. 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.

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18. The Attic Alehouse & Eatery 4226 E Madison ST, Seattle, WA 98112 (Madison Park)

Well-worn sports hang The Attic is famous for being just steps away from the beach at Madison Park, and for its deep-fried wings w/ buffalo sauce topped with a smattering of sesame seeds/chives, and served with the classic -- blue cheese & celery sticks.

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19. Local 360 2234 1st Ave, Seattle, WA 981212 (Seattle)

Local 360 sources most things from within 360mi of the city, and Matt's in the Market gets almost everything from the stalls in Pike Place Market downstairs.

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20. Matt's in the Market 94 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101 (Downtown)

You'll find this bar/restaurant hybrid inside Pike Place Market, where you can order seasonally changing dishes made with lots of local ingredients. It’s a bit of a labyrinthine path to find it, so you aren’t going to just stumble in unless you were looking for it, and they seem to like it just fine that way. Call ahead and get yourself a big table in front of the window so you can watch the sunset over Puget Sound.

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21. Daily Dozen Doughnuts 93 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98901 (Downtown)

Local institution Daily Dozen Doughnuts may only make four varieties of its bite-size treats (plain cake, powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, and chocolate frosting w/ sprinkles).

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