2621 NE 46th St, Seattle, WA 98105, USA
The first Taiwanese restaurant to earn a fancy-pants Michelin star, this steamed dumpling and noodle chain gets rave reviews from Seattleites and reviewers alike. Long a staple of nearby Bellevue, Din Tai Fung has finally crossed Lake Washington to establish a Seattle outpost and and added a second option at Pacific Place shopping center (600 Pine Street). Go for the scrumptious, pillowy xiao long bao (Chinese soup dumplings), of course, but don’t neglect the rest of the menu. Standouts include sweet taro buns, vinegar-laced wood ear mushrooms, and sautéed mustard greens with shredded ginger, along with the red bean sticky rice wraps for dessert.
115 Broadway E, Seattle, WA 98102, USA
In 1954, three friends set out to simply “serve fresh, high quality food at low prices with instant service.” Bank executives warned they’d never turn a profit selling 100 percent beef burgers for 19 cents, but the drive-through was a runaway hit. Among its many honors, this Seattle institution was voted America’s Most Life-Changing Burger by Esquire readers. Swing by one of its six locations—marked by iconic orange signs harking back to the atomic age—for a meaty epiphany, along with hand-cut fries and freshly whipped shakes. Best of all: Dick’s offers worker scholarships and even insures part-time employees. So you can feel good about the indulgence!
6460 24th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98117, USA
This lovely contemporary-American eatery anchors the Ballard Public lofts. Chef Shaun McCrain shows off his time spent in the kitchen at New York City’s Per Se with reimagined classics like foie gras layered into a terrine with apple, black sesame, and a gelée of dashi (a Japanese broth). Even the cocktails are innovative—ask for the restaurant’s fresh take on a Pimm’s No. 1 cup. Reserve ahead for a leisurely dinner, or just belly up to the bar. And if you don’t have time for that nonsense, no worries! You can order a takeaway case with goodies like truffled deviled eggs, white bean spread, and lemon-thyme flatbread.
6118 12th Avenue South
This Georgetown hot spot offers diners an unexpected array of international dishes and a surprise art gallery between its cocktail bar and grill. A vast funky mural spices up an exposed cinder-block wall, and a skylight floods the furnishings’ bold pops of orange, scarlet, and turquoise. The menu celebrates the eatery’s wood-fired oven, showing off dips and flatbreads from all over the globe. Chimichurri rubs shoulders with mojo verde, burnt honey, and smoked yogurt, while small plates range from falafel to pomegranate-honey chicken wings. Don’t miss this terrific collaboration between James Beard Award–winning chef Matt Dillon (Sitka & Spruce, the London Plane) and Marcus Lalario (Li’l Woody’s, Fat’s Chicken and Waffles).
2576 Aurora Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
Seattle’s most iconic restaurant has earned its laurels, reinterpreting Pacific Northwest classics like bonito with chrysanthemum and sea bean caper, and ricotta dumplings with mustard, rapini, and stinging nettles. in 2015, a young hotshot took the helm: Brady Williams, formerly from the two-Michelin-star Blanca in Brooklyn, New York. He ditched his goal of playing professional hockey to cook—and, boy, has it paid off! Among other distinctions, he was anointed a finalist for Rising Star Chef of 2017 by the James Beard Foundation (the year it won “Best Wine Program”). Reserve ahead and break out the grown-up clothes to check out his masterpieces, served high on Queen Anne hill overlooking the seaplanes and sailboats gliding on Lake Union.
2121 Westlake Ave, Seattle, WA 98121, USA
Tucked into the Denny Regrade, this sleek new spot contains multitudes: a deli, butcher shop, crudo bar, and steakhouse devoted to Wagyu beef. Lock down your table early to descend the leather staircase—coiling around a 4,000-pound chandelier—into a luxurious, industrial-chic den, dreamt up in part by Kurt Dammeier of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese fame. Here Mishima Reserve meats take center stage: blending the signature marbled beef of Japanese Black Wagyu bulls with juicy, flavorful American Black Angus cows. But spare some love for the unusual appetizers and sides, which range from roasted bone marrow on an English muffin to smoky grits with mushrooms and red Fresno chili pepper.
449 E Pine St, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
Chef-owner Shota Nakajima—a 2017 Iron Chef Gauntlet contender—serves up old-school Japanese in this affordable reboot of his high-end restaurant, Naka. Snuggle up to the reclaimed-wood bar in the lounge, which serves quick bites like shishito peppers and pork-cheddar meatballs. Or reserve a table and curate your own tasting menu, choosing three courses of comfort food that shift with the seasons, including offerings like sautéed brussels sprouts, miso-braised chicken wings, and sake-steamed Manila clams with fava beans. Wash it all down with a blend of silken Suntory Whisky Toki, lemon, ginger, cloves, and egg white, playfully dubbed the Toki-Mon.
4743 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107, USA
A mainstay on lists of the top seafood restaurants and oyster bars in the United States, this Ballard hipster hangout is captained by Renee Erickson, whom the James Beard Foundation named 2016’s Best Chef Northwest. Sit at the marble-topped bar and pair expertly shucked bivalves with creative cocktails, like the Ambergris (aquavit, Dolin dry vermouth, and grapefruit oil) or Smuggler’s Batida (cachaça, sherry, and lime-piña cordial). Mix in small plates, ranging from roasted carrots to grilled sardines with walnuts. Dairy fans shouldn’t miss the cheese plates offered, which combinine the efforts of Oregon’s superb creameries, honey producers, and makers of delights like saffron apricot jam.
2501 N Northlake Way
Set on the northern shore of Lake Union—a body of water the size of Monaco—this rustic-chic, nautical-themed restaurant offers dazzling views of the Space Needle and downtown skyline. Its menu blends Mediterranean flavors with local bounty: Expect highlights like grilled octopus with taramasalata, charred carrots with cocoa, and a salmon gravlax tartine with za’atar, green apple, and cauliflower labneh. Finish with a rhubarb-pistachio cheesecake or a cheese from Vashon Island’s Kurtwood Farms. For extra Northwest credit, arrive in a kayak or on a stand-up paddleboard, or rent a ride from the Center for Wooden Boats (cwb.org)—then moor near the waterside fire pit!
1744 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107, USA
This local pick serves some of Seattle‘s best Latin food in the hip Ballard neighborhood. Expect Salvadoran and Central American favorites like empanadas, carne asada, and fried sweet plantains. But to be honest, the pupusas hog all the glory: palm-size corn or rice tortillas stuffed with fillings like beans, cheese, chorizo, jalapeño, and loroco (the blossom of the Fernaldia pandurata vine). At under $4 each, two pupusas make an affordable, waistband-bursting meal when topped with hot sauce and curtido: a carrot, cabbage, and onion slaw fermented in a spicy brine rich in probiotics. Wash it all down with horchata, Inca Kola, or a bottle of Port Royal from Honduras.
1412 Harvard Ave, Seattle, WA 98122, USA
Started in 2009 as a humble food truck, this Hawaiian-Korean eatery has expanded to four brick-and-mortar locations (including Super Six, an offshoot in funky Columbia City). Get messy—and delighted—tucking into Spam sliders, kalbi short ribs, and miso-ginger chicken tacos. Vegetarians, don’t despair: Marination ladles “sexy tofu” onto four-inch corn tortillas along with its usual slaw; tangy, creamy Nunya sauce (a secret recipe); homemade pickled jalapeños; and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. There’s also the spicy kimchi fried rice bowl, topped with furikake, green onions, and a sunny-side-up egg. Wash it all down with a Hawaiian Sun tropical juice or shockingly cheap draft beer.
4225 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103, USA
Seattle’s favorite Caribbean grill features fantastically messy grub that catapulted Paseo to number three on Yelp’s 2016 list of best places to eat in the U.S. The menu’s undisputed star: the slow-roasted pork—garnished with jalapeños, romaine lettuce, and soft-cooked onions—on a bed of pillowy bread. This gooey, drippy deliciousness soaks right through two layers of waxed paper...and no one ever minds. Not feeling the gluten? Go for a bean-and-rice bowl, tofu braised with garlic-tapenade, or a chicken breast grilled over lava rocks. The restaurant also has a Fremont location (4225 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103).
Seattle, WA, USA
Steps from Pike Place Market, this fine-dining eatery occupies a grand space with a view over Elliott Bay. It also has a west-facing outdoor patio: a rarity in Seattle, despite the city being drier than Tucson, Arizona, in the summer. Chic touches include an indoor fire table, locally made black-walnut tables and custom votive candles made by Seattle’s Glass Eye Studios. Private dining spaces can accommodate groups. Start with a cocktail—choices range from a barrel-aged old-fashioned to an English milk punch with a splash of Lucid grande-wormwood absinthe. Sustainably sourced and seasonally inspired dishes include duck confit, crispy cauliflower with red-curry yogurt, marinated beets with lemon thyme chevre, and king salmon gravlax served with tarragon crème fraiche.
1101 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, USA
A stalwart on the “best of” lists, this restaurant blends dynamic global cuisine with comfort food… set against a steampunky-sports bar décor. None of this should work, but it very much does. The industrial touches evoke the city’s heritage as a Western working town, as well as its iconic grunge epoch that swept the globe. (The bottle-cap portrait of local legend Jimi Hendrix is especially endearing.) Don’t miss the chicken khao soi, foraged-mushroom pizza with taleggio, or the sublime Vadouvan-spiced carrots with thin curls of feta smoked in-house. The restaurant’s connected to the Kimpton Hotel Monaco and also delivers a mean breakfast, from malted waffles to duck confit hash with cippolini and dried cherries.