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. They may even ask what hotel to stay in, the South Lake Union hotels are amazing, and accommodation is essential when planning a holiday in the beautiful city! 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.
Taylor Shellfish (Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square, and Seattle Center)
Taylor is the place for fresh, local oysters and the wines that go with them.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We love the clean brews at this modern roastery sourcing high-quality coffee from around the world.
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.
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.
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.
With an educated staff and first-rate coffee, Milstead—named for owner Andrew—is a must-visit for java super-fans.
Coffee in the morning, natural wines in the afternoon—lots to love at Vif.
Take advantage of great deals on pastas and snacks during happy hour at Ethan Stowell’s modern restaurant in Belltown.
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.
Downtown/Pike Place Market:
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 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.
We’ve had about a billion business meetings at Lec?sho, 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.
Our favorite spot for unfussy, tasty Japanese food in “the ID.”
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.
Another Matt Dillon spot—The London Plane is even prettier than Sitka & Spruce and the lunch offerings are on-point.
Simple, tasty seafood small plates with a subway-tile backdrop—everyone loves Renee Erickson’s white-on-white oyster bar.
Our own Nick Gavin suggests the meatballs over braised greens at Jason Stoneburner’s beautiful Ballard restaurant. (Brunch is good too.)
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Tell our buddy Joe Heffernan that we sent you. We like his pizza so much we host almost all of our staff parties here.
An underrated sushi spot in an unassuming Madison Street strip-mall, Nishino serves consistently impeccable sashimi, rolls, and side dishes.
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.
At Mkt, Ethan Stowell offers fresh, clean flavors and a chance to check out all the kitchen action.
Fresh soba noodles! Drinks! Do it.
Awesome tiki drinks and a very nice kind of relaxed buzz in the air—this is a great bar.
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.
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.
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.
A Capitol Hill cocktail bar from the owners of Spur, complete with a bewitching upstairs bar with a secret entrance.
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.
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.