It’s all too easy to get lost in the Pacific Northwest seafood served in Seattle’s restaurants. The connection to the ocean’s bounty is clear everywhere you look, yet the city’s food scene is so much more than what comes from the sea. There’s plenty of farm-to-table and nose-to-tail, butcher-focused fine dining. From dinner with a trapeze artist suspended from the ceiling to restaurants by world-renowned chefs to simple classic Pacific Northwest fare and a view of Puget Sound, it’s easy to find something just your speed in Seattle.
Downtown and Pike Place Market
The Pink Door $$ — Since 1981, The Pink Door has served fresh and local Italian-American dishes paired with nightly entertainment. Take note of the trapeze artist performing by the bar on Sundays and Mondays, and be sure to make a reservation. The rest of the week’s lineup is filled with singer-songwriters, cabaret, burlesque, jazz musicians, and a wandering tarot card reader and psychic. Enjoy a meal of simple and uncomplicated classics with Pacific Northwest ingredients like Penn Cove mussels and clams, Niman Ranch “raised with care” New York steak, and Lasagna Pink Door.
Kashiba $$$$ An upscale sushi restaurant in Pike Place owned by beloved chef Shiro Kashiba. The sushi here is world-class, and that’s reflected in the price (and the wait if you’re looking to order the omakase at the sushi bar, which should definitely be considered). If you’re lucky, Shiro himself, who is considered one of the leading sushi chefs in Seattle, may serve you across the bar. Table service includes tasting menus for $75 and $85, and omakase is market price.
Lowell’s $$ — Inside the main building of Pike Place Market, Lowell’s has been a Seattle institution since 1957. With three floors of dining tables, the restaurant offers incredible views of the waterfront, Puget Sound, and West Seattle. Fresh seafood from Pike Place Market makes its way into many of the dishes. There are dozens of options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including the world famous Dungeness crab omelet, Lowell’s famous hand breaded Alaskan cod fish and chips, and grilled fresh wild king salmon filet.
Los Agaves $ — The place to go for quick Mexican food. Los Agaves is located in the heart of Pike Place Market and Post Alley, and the walk-up food stall has tacos, burritos, tortas, tamales, and more. The rice and beans are vegetarian, and other dishes have gluten-free options available. Founded by Jaime Mendez and his family, Los Agaves’ food is based on traditional family recipes from their native Mexico.
Falafel King $ — Just around the corner from the center of Pike Place Market, you’ll find Falafel King and its affordable Middle Eastern cuisine. It’s a tight squeeze inside the establishment, which is packed with the cash register, window-seating counter, and the sizzling cooking all nearly within arm’s reach. Simply step outside for more room at the outdoor tables. Order traditional Middle Eastern dishes like shawarma, falafel plates and sandwiches, gyros, hummus, baba ganoush, and the special Mediterranean fries topped with garlic sauce and feta cheese.
Tavolàta $$ — Get your pasta on at renowned chef Ethan Stowell’s Tavolàta. Start with a salumi board or bruschetta and move on to one of the many pastas. The pasta is made on site, and dishes include options like ravioli with wild mushrooms, truffles, and ricotta, and gnocchi alla romana. Alternatively, go with a pork chop, steak, or whole grilled fish. Enjoy the extra-high ceilings and block walls, and don’t be afraid to get cozy with your neighbors at the long communal tables. Don’t miss happy hour from 5:00 to 7:00 PM when pastas are up to half off. There’s also a Tavolàta in Capitol Hill.
Belltown Pizza $$ — A casual place where Belltown residents go to have pizza and a beer or cocktail after work, but visitors are also more than welcome in this friendly space. Other than pizza, there are calzones, hot sandwiches, spaghetti, and salads. The party continues until 2:00 AM every day with cocktails made with local spirits and craft beer from local breweries. Go between 4:00 and 6:00 PM on weekdays for the happy hour, which features $2.50 slices, $2.50 16-ounce cans of PBR or Rainier, $6 cocktails, and $4 draft beer, well drinks, and house wine.
Ivar’s Fish Bar $$ — A Seattle institution that now has 21 locations around the state, Ivar’s has been dishing out fish and chips on the waterfront since 1938. Order from the walk up counter and eat your deep-fried goodness under cover in the glass-enclosed eating area. Be prepared to share some of your fries with the local seagulls if you eat at the tables alongside the pier.
The Crab Pot $$$ — Come for the SeaFeast, which is a mixture of steamed shellfish poured onto a white-papered tabletop, all ready for you to crack open and devour. Located on the waterfront, this casual restaurant shares the same pier as The Seattle Great Wheel in the heart of the tourist area. Traditional fish and chips, burgers, grilled seafood, and crab combos will fill you up if you feel like using a plate.
Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar $$ — Nothing says Pacific Northwest like oysters. Housed in a historic brick building, the Taylor family has been locally harvesting sustainable oysters since the 1890s. Along with oysters, there’s a full menu with local Dungeness crab, Manila clams, soups, salads, and sandwiches. All can be complemented by cocktails, beer, or wine. There are also locations in Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, and nearby Bellevue.
London Plane $ This bright space (thank you, tall windows) is ideal for breakfast or lunch. It’s part retail space, part bakery, part wine bar, part coffee shop, and part restaurant. The lunches are healthy and filling with grains and greens, egg dishes, and breads. Don’t miss out on a day drink from London Plane’s carefully curated wine and beer selection, or choose a light drink from the cocktail menu.
Mediterranean Mix $ — Hands down the best falafel in Seattle thanks to soft pita generously filled with falafel, veggies, and tzatziki. Whether you’re looking for a daytime meal or some late-night munching, Mediterranean Mix has you covered with gyros, shawarma, and hummus. There’s also pizza, burgers, and Philly cheesesteaks. On the main drag in Pioneer Square, there’s a late-night line out the door on weekends and after sporting events and concerts.
Mamnoon $$ — A Lebanese and Syrian restaurant that serves upscale Middle Eastern food. The classy interior is still inviting, and the seasonal menu rotates based on the best available ingredients at the time. Order from a long list of small places to share with the table, including multiple za’atar and hummus options, then onto the shareable entrees based around steak, fish, chicken, and lamb.
Bateau $$$ — Led by chef Renee Erickson, Bateau is a steakhouse with a chalkboard menu listing the cuts of meat available on that day and at that time. It’s limited, and if you’re indecisive your server can help you decide the best option for you before it’s erased off the menu. The steaks come simply cooked to keep the attention on the quality of the meat, and the burger is always a good choice.
Lost Lake Cafe & Lounge $ A picture-perfect diner with mid-century modern decor that’s open 24/7 and serves up American classics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are classics on the menu like eggs Benedict, omelettes, scrambles, burgers, sandwiches, salads, and mom’s Meatloaf. Cocktails and beer are available to wash it all down. Weekday specials happen twice a day during the happy hours (one from 6:00 to 9:00 AM and one from 4:00 to 6:00 PM). The location is hard to beat as it’s just around the corner from Pike Street.
Dick’s Drive-In $ — Open since 1954, Dick’s has a simplified menu of burgers, fries, shakes, and soda. Order at the walk-up window and eat at the outdoor standup counter. There are several locations throughout the city, and the Capitol Hill location is on the main drag of Broadway. Great for late nights.
Joule $$$ — This modern Korean restaurant serves up reimagined steak and seafood with dishes like prime bavette steak, Wagyu tri-tip, and octopus with bok choy. With a casual atmosphere in a modern setting, it’s a semi-communal affair with seating at small tables or at the counter with a view of the working chefs. Great for groups and people who enjoy shared plates.
El Camino $$ — With colorful flags out front and glowing lanterns and lights inside, this Mexican restaurant exudes a festive vibe. El Camino uses locally sourced and organic ingredients as often as possible, and its dishes have strong roots to Oaxaca and southern Mexico. Try one of the entrees like free-range chicken enchiladas en mole with three options of mole, pescado a la parrilla (grilled mahi-mahi with mango pico de gallo), or cochinita pibil (banana leaf wrapped tamal with achiote bitter-orange marinated pork shoulder).
RockCreek Seafood & Spirits $$$ — Specializing in fresh seafood and fine drinks, this Fremont establishment serves traditional seafood from the Pacific Northwest and the world, all sourced from responsible fisheries. The bar has a generous list of cocktails, beer, and a few dozen choices of wine from the West Coast, France, Italy, and New Zealand. The inside is designed to look like a two-story modern fishing lodge with reclaimed wood while the outside deck has a canopy shade, wooden tables, benches, and stools. Try the Hawaiian tuna crudo, barbecued Spanish octopus, or the oven roasted Barron Point Oysters.
Pho Bac $ — Opened in 1982, Pho Bac is Seattle’s first pho restaurant. At the heart of Pho Bac is its broth. The restaurant marinates beef bone marrows with spices for 10 hours to create the perfect beef broth. Choose from beef, chicken breast, prawn, or vegetarian pho. There’s also staples like bánh mì and bún (vermicelli noodles with protein on top). You’ll be served in a long room with a high ceiling, exposed brick, brightly colored metal chairs, large prints on the walls, and festive lights hanging from the ceiling. When they say they close at 9:00 PM, they mean it. Get there by 8:00 PM (7:00 PM on Sundays) to make sure you get service.
Tai Tung $$ — This fifth-generation family business is one of Seattle’s oldest Chinese restaurants. It still serves the same family recipes from when it first opened in 1935. In the 1960s, actor and martial artist Bruce Lee was a regular at Tai Tung, always ordering his favorite dish: oyster sauce beef. With a simple setting, the paneled walls are covered in pictures and posters of Bruce Lee. There are seafood dishes and traditional favorites, like shrimp with crab sauce, squid with ginger, and Chinese mushrooms with abalone.
King Noodle $ — Build your own noodle bowl at this casual and intimate restaurant in Chinatown. Choose your soup base, noodle, and toppings like free-range chicken, beef brisket, and wontons. There are also rice dishes, mixed noodles, and soups. Since it’s a small setting, there may be a wait, but it’s well worth it.
The Walrus and The Carpenter $$ — Oysters are the star here, with options sourced along the Pacific Northwest. Yes, there are plenty of places to get oysters in Seattle, but The Walrus and The Carpenter is a standout. It’s beloved by locals and food travelers alike, whether you’re popping in for a quick dozen (after a wait) or looking to eat every type of oysters you lay eyes on.
Staple and Fancy $$$ — An Italian restaurant located in a building that dates back to the 1900s. A prix-fixe Chef’s Choice menu is the way to go here, which features local and seasonal ingredients and house-made pasta. If you’re looking for something different, order the small plates and share with the table. Wines from Europe and the Pacific Northwest fill the drinks menu as well as light cocktails.