Seattle embraced the local food movement long before it was a catchphrase.
Within easy reach of fertile orchards and farm fields, family-owned dairies and ranches, and with one of the world’s richest fisheries at its doorstep, dining at the best restaurants in Seattle is synonymous with fresh and local flavors.
Best Restaurants in Seattle
These Seattle restaurants showcase the talents of the city’s top chefs, artists who make the most of a palette of fresh, sustainable local foods. The often-quirky restaurant names are just part of the creative fun.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Of course the shellfish is hyper-local at this beloved Ballard oyster bar, named for a Lewis Carroll poem and run by favorite local restaurateur Renee Erickson. The fish is smoked in-house, the small plates are inspired, and the atmosphere is as convivial as an old fisherman’s pub. Grab a stool, order a clean Muscadet, and slurp your way through a half-dozen oyster varieties from nearby waters.
Sitka & Spruce
Matt Dillon turns heads in Seattle—not the actor but the Seattle chef who personifies Pacific Northwest cooking with a sense of place. The menu at Sitka & Spruce is always changing, reflecting the best of what’s in season, much of it from Dillon’s own farm on nearby Vashon Island. A sample selection includes black cod with lobster mushrooms, caraway gnocchi, and lamb with almond kale pesto. Its Melrose Market home, surrounded by cheese, produce, and flower shops, is just as earthy and inviting as its cuisine.
An immense grill blazes with apple and almond wood at Rider, the centerpiece of this slick and sophisticated eatery in the Hotel Theodore. The grill is the centerpiece of its menu, too, giving the perfect char to an aged ribeye or Quinault River steelhead. The meticulous preparation is evident; while fish may be just hours from the sea, the chowder broth simmers for three days. A 10-seat chef’s counter lets you watch the mastery in action at what is becoming one of the best restaurants in Seattle.
With a focus on fresh seafood, this “upscale diner” is quite literally your window into the world of Pike Place Market. Expansive walls of glass overlook the day stalls and Elliott Bay (and its summertime patio overlooks Post Alley), providing an ideal perch to enjoy dishes like olive-crusted Alaskan halibut, ling cod fish and chips, and the best Dungeness crab cakes you’ll ever experience. There’s a great wine list, too.
In a city filled with great Italian cooking, Belltown’s Tavolata rises to the top as one of the best restaurants in Seattle. One of the city’s most acclaimed chefs, Ethan Stowell, keeps things wonderfully simple. The menu focuses on fresh pastas, homemade and extruded daily, with toppings like grilled squid. Come before 7:00 p.m. for the deeply discounted happy hour menu.
Chef Tom Douglas is a Seattle institution. Palace Kitchen may be the best of his 16 Seattle restaurants, and one of the best restaurants in Seattle overall. Its applewood grill teases extraordinary flavors out of simple dishes like trout and rotisserie chicken. It’s also one of the best late-night Seattle restaurants, with fine cocktails and a kitchen that hums until 1:00 a.m.
When you’re craving a hunk of meat in a seafood town, look no farther than this Capitol Hill steakhouse. An enormous blackboard dominates the airy room, listing the cuts and sizes available from the sides of beef (raised on nearby Whidbey Island) butchered each day. Vegetarians should stay away, but beef lovers will rejoice.
Fourteen floors up a private elevator, Mbar’s glam dining room feels like a swanky private penthouse, with the Space Needle aglow outside the broad windows and firepits flickering on the patio. Chef Jason Stratton has created a menu as enchanting as the surroundings, with dishes like grilled trout with labneh and a roasted-beet salad olivieh that hint at the owners’ Middle Eastern roots.
Calling itself a Belltown beer bar might be a tad humble. No Anchor was a James Beard semi-finalist shortly after it opened in 2016. It elevates a brew pub fare into deftly prepared dishes (wild mushroom hash, shrimp roll on a pretzel bun) as diverse and interesting as its beer selection. Because it is indeed a bar, everyone in your party must be 21 or older to enter.
Chef Kotaro Kumita showcases the skill and subtlety of Japanese cuisine at Wataru. The freshest, finest fish and shellfish is gently enhanced (a touch of lemon, the hint of salty kelp) to perfection. Treat yourself to the omakase (chef’s choice dinner) with set seatings at the six-person bar, an educational and memorable culinary experience.
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—Original reporting by Tina Lassen