The ChefSteps Seattle Restaurant Guide

Seattleites love dining street-side at Le Pichet near Pike Place Market.

When the cooking enthusiasts in our community have a chance to visit our amazing hometown, they sometimes want advice on what to do in Seattle. You know—hiking, boating, gliding, catching a great show, shopping, beholding beautiful art. That sort of stuff. But truth be told, mostly people just want us to tell them where to eat and drink. As you might guess, we have no shortage of opinions on this subject. And we love knowing that visitors from Brazil to China come here and experience the best of what our devoted dining scene has to offer.

With this in mind, we created this informal dining guide to Seattle. It’s a list of the places we love, right now. We plan on updating it to include new favorites or forgotten standbys, too. Is every excellent restaurant in town on the list? No! Did we miss one? Inevitably! Let us know in the comments. We love checking out new places.

Fresh Oysters

Taylor Shellfish (Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square, and Seattle Center)
Taylor is the place for fresh, local oysters and the wines that go with them.

Breakfast/Brunch

The croissants at Crumble and Flake are arguably the best in town—kouign-amann and other pastries are killer too, though. You can’t go wrong.

Ballard:

Cafe Besalu
Find pretty killer pastries—sweet and savory—at this neighborhood spot.

The Fat Hen
The eggs Benedict at this cool little storefront spot are the best! Weekend brunch can be busy, but worth the wait.

Belltown:
Lola
Prolific James Beard Award–winning restaurateur Tom Douglas owns this Greek-leaning spot featuring kebabs, meze, and tons of dips. Those are all served at brunch-time, along with a selection of egg dishes.

Capitol Hill:

Crumble and Flake
You can order up to six of any pastry at this little wedge of a bakery in lower Capitol Hill. You’ll need at least that many croissants—the very best in town.

Sitka & Spruce (in Melrose Market)
James Beard Award–winner Matt Dillon’s breezy, locally focused eatery in the Melrose Market serves a consistently delicious array of small plates—salt cod brandade, ling cod with peas and mushrooms—during its elegant weekend brunch.

The Wandering Goose
Order a biscuit sandwich with fried chicken at the counter, eat that, then go back for a big old slab of chocolate or red velvet cake.

Fremont:

Roux
Matt Lewis got Seattle hooked on his beignets and po’ boys back when he served them out of a food truck called Where Ya At, Matt? The truck still roves around town, but you can sample those dishes, along with French-Creole takes on brunch food—fried green tomato benedict, bananas foster pancakes—indoors during weekend brunch at his Fremont spot.

Queen Anne:

Boat Street Kitchen
It was a sad day when Renee Erickson closed her cafe next door, but at least we can still stop by the Kitchen for oeufs plats and a blueberry cream scone at brunch-time.

 

Coffee

Analog-Coffee

Quiet Capitol Hill coffee shop Analog makes its drinks with Herkimer beans, preferred roastery of the heavily caffeinated ChefSteps crew.

Ballard:

Slate Coffee
We love the clean brews at this modern roastery sourcing high-quality coffee from around the world.

 

Capitol Hill:

Analog
Read a comic book while you sip on a pour-over or espresso drink at this white-on-white cafe in a quiet section of Capitol Hill.

Vivace
This highly influential company has two locations on Capitol Hill’s busy Broadway—grab something to go from the stand or hang out in the spacious cafe a few blocks north on the other side of the street.

 

Fremont:

Lighthouse Roasters
A great place to stock up on super-fresh beans to take home with you—Lighthouse is a kid-friendly neighborhood cafe with an onsite roastery.

Milstead & Co.

With an educated staff and first-rate coffee, Milstead—named for owner Andrew—is a must-visit for java super-fans.

Vif Seattle
Coffee in the morning, natural wines in the afternoon—lots to love at Vif.

 

Happy Hour

Belltown:

Tavolàta

Take advantage of great deals on pastas and snacks during happy hour at Ethan Stowell’s modern restaurant in Belltown.

Pioneer Square:

Damn The Weather

Fun fact: the owner of this cool cocktail bar in historic Pioneer Square is a former member of the Fleet Foxes. He also hosts a generous happy hour.

Lunch

Le Pichet

ChefSteps designers discuss their favorite fonts over classic French treats—quiche, oeufs plats, etc.—at Le Pichet.

Downtown/Pike Place Market:

DeLaurenti

The chefs stock up on olive oil, salts, and all kinds of other stuff here, and the whole staff heads to the takeout counter at lunchtime for Sicilian-style pizza slices, plus fresh soups, salads, and sandwiches.

Le Pichet

Le Pichet really pulls off the whole French bistro look, and the food’s good enough to fool you too. Think fluffy quiches, lovely charcuterie, and one badass salade verte.

Lecōsho

We’ve had about a billion business meetings at Lecōsho, so if we’re still into going there—and we are—it must be good. Reliable lunch options include a tasty house salad and a BLT augmented by a soft-boiled egg. Stop by in the evening for generous food-and-drink specials (spaetzle! steamed manila clams!) at happy hour.

 

International District:

Tsukushinbo

Our favorite spot for unfussy, tasty Japanese food in “the ID.”

 

Pioneer Square:

Il Corvo

Long lines are the norm at Mike Easton’s tiny pasta place, but your reward for waiting is some seriously kickass dishes, which change daily and are pretty much all amazing.

The London Plane

Another Matt Dillon spot—The London Plane is even prettier than Sitka & Spruce and the lunch offerings are on-point.

 

Dinner

Poppy in Seattle

The thali at Poppy—how gorgeous is this food?

Ballard:

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Simple, tasty seafood small plates with a subway-tile backdrop—everyone loves Renee Erickson’s white-on-white oyster bar.

Stoneburner

Our own Nick Gavin suggests the meatballs over braised greens at Jason Stoneburner’s beautiful Ballard restaurant. (Brunch is good too.)

 

Capitol Hill:

 

Poppy

Northwest takes on thali—Indian meals made up of a bunch of little dishes—dominate the menu at James Beard Award–winner Jerry Traunfeld’s colorful Capitol Hill restaurant at the north end of Broadway. If you’re in the market for a fresh snack and a cocktail, head to the bar, a favorite spot of the restaurant’s neighbors.

 

Eastlake:

Sushi Kappo Tamura

The quiet-ish Eastlake neighborhood is a little off the tourist grid, but it’s definitely worth a visit to try some of the most skillfully prepared sushi in town.

Blind Pig Bistro and Babirusa

Head to this restaurant and bar duo and order anything with pork in it. Also drinks. They’ve both got great drinks. (Hint: These restaurants are in a weird-looking strip-mall. Don’t be deterred—the service, food, and ambience are lovely.)

Fremont:

Revel

Husband-wife team Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi (who also own Joule and Trove) serve Korean-style rice bowls and dumplings at this casual Fremont restaurant.

Madison Park: 

Independent Pizza

Tell our buddy Joe Heffernan that we sent you. We like his pizza so much we host almost all of our staff parties here.

 

Madison Valley

Nishino

An underrated sushi spot in an unassuming Madison Street strip-mall, Nishino serves consistently impeccable sashimi, rolls, and side dishes.

 

Queen Anne: 

Canlis

It’s Canlis, Seattle’s most well-known fine-dining restaurant. Two people on our team used to work there, and the owners and staff share the commitment to excellence we work to maintain at ChefSteps. If you don’t have time to do the full dinner blow-out, stop by the bar to hear some standards on the piano while you drink a really good cocktail.

 

Wallingford:

Mkt

At Mkt, Ethan Stowell offers fresh, clean flavors and a chance to check out all the kitchen action.

Miyabi

Fresh soba noodles! Drinks! Do it.

Cocktails

Ballard:

Hotel Albatross

Awesome tiki drinks and a very nice kind of relaxed buzz in the air—this is a great bar.

Capitol Hill:

Artusi

Order something bracing and bitter—negronis often feel like just the drink here—or lightly sweet and refreshing, like, say, one of the daily slushie offerings.

Canon

Tales of the Cocktail recently gave owner Jamie Boudreau the award for world’s best spirits collection. It’s the best spirits collection in the world, people. Yes, you may have to wait to get in. Go anyway.

Liberty

For a more easy-going cocktail experience, go to Liberty. It’s a coffee shop by day, a boozy neighborhood hangout in the evening. Also, there’s sushi. Roll with it.

Tavern Law

A Capitol Hill cocktail bar from the owners of Spur, complete with a bewitching upstairs bar with a secret entrance.

Witness

It’s a high-volume cocktail bar with church pews and an owner who sometimes quiets the room to deliver an extremely entertaining “sermon.” Totally bizarre, but it’s fun, too.

 

Pioneer Square:

E. Smith Mercantile

A very well-kept Seattle secret, this tiny bar is nestled in the back of a shop that sells funky jewelry, home goods, and cocktail bitters. The lady bartenders kick ass, and the deviled eggs do, too.

 

Downtown/Pike Place Market:

Zig Zag (Pike Place)

A classic spot for cocktails in Seattle, and the best spot to go after you’ve done the rounds at Pike Place Market.

Want to develop cooking skills at home that rival those of your favorite restaurant chefs? Head to ChefSteps for easy-to-follow recipes that will seriously level up your kitchen game. 

Midnight Snack Video: Summer Cocktail Guide from London Bartenders

From Crane.tv: Learn how to mix the perfect London summer cocktails, including: The Brits Spritz from Alex Kammerling of Kamm & Sons, a Pomegranate and Szechuan Pepper Cocktail from Lukasz Rafacz at Nopi Soho – Ottolenghi, and a Pearly Queen from Tom Gibson of Pearls above The Cat and Mutton.

Credit and thanks to Crane.tv, Alex Kammerling, Lukasz Rafacz, Tom Gibson, and everyone else involved in the making of this video.

We hope you’ve enjoyed watching the Midnight Snack Video. Share it with friends and visit ChefSteps to enroll in our online classes, prepare a recipe from our recipe gallery, and share your experience with our friendly culinary community.

Eight Things to Do With Simple Syrup

 

Simple Syrups

Simple syrup is a vital bar ingredient. Most good bartenders wouldn’t dream of starting a shift without a healthy stock of liquid sweetener. That’s because simple syrup dissolves easily into cold drinks and makes scaling recipes easy—an important factor when you’re furiously batching cocktails at a high-volume bar. But simple syrup has plenty of applications in the kitchen as well. Along with salt, sugar is an age-old preservative that was once essential for storing fruits in the cold months—you can think of simple syrup as sort of a pickling brine for sweet stuff. Bakers, meanwhile, keep sugar syrup on hand for glazing, and brush layer cakes with it to keep them fresh and moist.

Start by checking out our three Simple Syrup techniques. Depending on what you get up to, your syrup may require some modifications—it’s good to add glucose to the mix when you’re candying fruit, for example, to prevent crystallization. But all the ideas below begin with a simple solution of sugar in water.

From there, the sky’s the limit.

1. Create custom infusions

Bartenders regularly wow their customers with exotic-sounding “housemade” ingredients such as lemongrass or blueberry syrup. What they may not mention: infused simple syrups are shockingly easy to make. And they have all sorts of fun uses—try, say, setting up a DIY cocktail bar with a few different spirits, simple-syrup infusions, mixers, and garnishes. Your party guests will love building their own drinks while experimenting with new flavors. No need to heat the mixture either; cold-processed infusions have a distinctly bright, vivid quality that’s especially appealing when working with fresh fruit.

2. (Half-) candy and cure citrus fruits

If you find most candied fruits to be cloyingly sweet, try our technique for Half-Candied Blood Orange. We blanch the fruit in salt water—the salt diffuses into the pith, masking its bitterness. The best part? You can use any citrus you have on hand.

Equally versatile: our method for smoothly textured Cured Lemon Peel. We cook the peel sous vide with a 1:1 simple syrup, slice away the pith, then keep it around in the fridge until we’re ready to use. Wake up a weeknight dinner by sprinkling cured peel atop chicken, salmon, or our Chickpea Tuna Salad, or serve it alongside your favorite ice cream or sorbet.

Get creative—there’s no limit to the uses for this bright, addictive snack.

Half_Candied Blood Orange_5

3. Whip up some sorbet

One of the all-time best uses for leftover simple syrup: work it into a light, refreshing sorbet.

4. Dress fruit salads

Use simple syrup in a just-sweet-enough dressing to transform a simple bowl of fruit into a cohesive dish with a great glossy look.

5. Moisten layer cakes

Baker pro tip: brush simple syrup onto cooled layers of a layer cake to keep your confection fresh and moist. Adding a little booze—rum, vodka, etc.—will reduce the risk of a too-sweet treat and keep the cake nice and moist.

6. Mix muddle-free cocktails

The extent to which bartenders hate making mojitos may have been overstated, but there’s a reason those mint coolers have a bad reputation. It takes time and energy to muddle drinks à-la-minute, and it’s easy to overbruise delicate ingredients if you’re not being careful. Often, cocktail recipes that call for muddling can be adjusted by using simple syrup instead. A great example: this muddle-free Old Fashioned from Seattle’s own Robert Hess.

7. Design elegant garnishes

Start with our gluten-free, Flourless Carrot Cake, topped with super-cute candied carrots cooked sous vide in simple syrup.

Jellied Beans_1

8. Make jelly beans with actual beans—seriously

For the Jellied Beans in our Fruit Minestrone, we sous vide navy beans and a simple syrup made with sucrose and glucose syrup to yield toothsome little candies that will last in the fridge for months.

Want to mix a cocktail with simple syrup right this minute? Check out our very own Yard Bird, a smooth libation made with rum, Cynar, and two kinds of bitters. And of course, we’d love to hear about your favorite uses for simple syrup—let us know in the comments!