Seattle’s restaurant scene is varied, generally unpretentious, and delicious. With fresh and local ingredients from the ocean, the Puget Sound, and the region’s agricultural bounty, local restaurants have a lot to work with. Diners will find everything from cheap eats to fine dining, from tasty street tacos to beautifully plated seafood. In fact, it’s so varied, you might question where to start your foodie adventure.
Never fear. Start it here! Our list of the best restaurants in Seattle include choices from several types of cuisine so you can find an amazing choice no matter what you’re craving.
For overall dining excellence, Canlis is a solid choice. The views and ambiance are stellar and worth the price of admission for many in their own right. The four-course menu is a splurge that pays off in delicious dividends backed up by service that will amaze you, and the wine list is practically legendary. In fact, the wine list is 80 pages long and so extensive that the restaurant has assisted in training four Master Sommeliers and nine advanced sommeliers. In 2017, Canlis won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Program.
Seattle is ideally placed to have strong seafood restaurants, and RockCreek is easily the best among those. The dinner menu includes a bit of everything from the sea – local oysters on the half shell or in shooters; small plates that focus on prawns, tuna crudo or tartare, calamari and more; as well as an array of fish entrees that feature everything from black cod to wahoo. If you want to try without going all out for dinner, the happy hour menu has a solid sampling of some seafood options paired with wine, beer, champagne or cocktails. The brunch and dessert menu items are also delicious, but expect far fewer seafood items on these menus!
Café Flora is a long-standing choice for the top vegetarian restaurant in Seattle. Whether you seek brunch, breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, the extensive menu has something for you. The menu is creative and goes beyond the usual choices you may see ad nauseum if you’re a vegetarian (pasta with vegetables, anyone?). Instead, expect everything from portobello mushroom French dip to veggie shepherd’s pie. There are also plenty of vegan and gluten-free offerings.
You can’t really delve into the best of the Seattle restaurant scene without including at least one Tom Douglas restaurant. Douglas is Seattle’s very own celebrity chef and his restaurants dot downtown. To be fair, you can’t really go wrong with any of Tom Douglas' restaurants, but Dahlia Lounge was the first and aims to represent fresh, local Northwest cuisine. The food is exceptionally tasty and delicious, and features a bit of everything. The menu changes periodically, but one thing that doesn’t change and that you shouldn’t miss is the triple coconut cream pie. It’s rich and creamy and decadent in a way that you’ll want to save room for.
For a mix of classic steakhouse appeal and Seattle’s most delicious steaks, Metropolitan Grill is where it’s at. Steaks are hand selected by the chef and then dry aged to create that perfect juicy and flavorful steak. Menu items include a variety of steaks, lobster, shrimp, Alaskan king crab and other steakhouse favorites, a tempting dessert list, and a wine list that received the rare Wine Spectator Grand Award, which has only been granted to about 90 other restaurants in the entire world.
Dick’s is a Seattle staple. Generations of burger eaters have dined upon burgers, shakes and fries at Dick’s since 1954. Today, there are several locations in and near Seattle, but the menu has barely changed since day one and has stayed pretty simple. Don’t come here expecting anything other than burgers, ice cream and fries, but just know that few do them better than Dick's.
La Carta de Oaxaca is a small restaurant in Ballard that packs a lot of delicious punch. Entrees are fresh and flavorful and rooted in Oaxaca, a region of Mexico surrounded by mountains and known for its spicy food. Oaxacan cuisine focuses on corn, chillies and chocolate, and mole sauce is thought to have originated from this region as well. The menu at La Carta de Oaxaca is not huge, but you could argue that it doesn’t need to be. Lunch specials are served Tuesday- Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and include a pleasing variety of breakfast fare like huevos rancheros and chorizo con huevo, as well as tamales and a couple other dishes. The regular menu has appetizers ranging from ceviche to tostadas, and menu highlights include the tacos al pastor and mole negro Oaxaqueno, which is the house specialty.
There aren’t too many Italian restaurants where you can watch as the pasta is made fresh right before your eyes, but you can do just that at Spinasse's bar. The restaurant marries traditional Italian dishes with a little bit of Northwest flavor via fresh and local ingredients. The result is something you won’t forget. The cuisine is rooted in the Piedmont region of Italy, so it’s a little different than what you’ll find in many Italian restaurants, but if you’re open to stepping out of your marinara sauce comfort zone, Spinasse will take you on a taste adventure. Look out for a dish created by Chef Stuart Lane called Tarajin al Ragu that’s popular for its finely cut, freshly-made pasta and delicious beef and pork sauce. The butter and sage pasta is another popular menu item, again for that freshly made pasta, paired with a simple yet unforgettable sauce. Spinasse is perfect for a special occasion or a date night due to its intimate and upscale atmosphere.
First and foremost, there are many many places for yummy cheap eats in Seattle. To that honor, the winner in this category is not a single restaurant, but rather a food destination – Pike Place Market. Sampling Pike Place Market’s cheap eats is best done while wandering and by noshing upon not one, but several small items. Look to the famous Pike Place Fish Market for shrimp or crab cocktail that you can eat on the go. Stop by Daily Dozen doughnuts for freshly made tiny doughnuts. Grab a grilled cheese sandwich, a cup of mac and cheese or even a block of cheese (don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong!) at Beecher’s and enjoy the unique nuttiness that is their Flagship. Pop into Piroshky Piroshky for a (you guessed it) piroshky with any variety of sweet or savory filling. Or even go the healthy route and enjoy some fresh fruit or veggies as there are tons of those too (this is a farmer’s market, after all). While there are several nicer sit-down restaurants in Pike Place Market, it’s tough to top the wandering and munching approach!