Seeing as there are always new restaurants opening in Seattle, I have decided to make this subject an annual post. As I mentioned last year, when I wrote my first round-up of Seattle restaurants, I eat out a lot, and I am a good cook, so naturally I am every bit the food snob. That statement doesn't mean that I only eat in high-end establishments. Quite to the contrary, I love a great casual spot that gets everything right. So, whether you are a local looking for something new, or you are visiting Seattle and want to enjoy a great meal while you are here, you can rest assured that the food at all of the restaurants on this list is spectacular.
Criteria: I will try anything once, but it has to hit the mark in order to make me come back. I refuse to wait two hours for a table. Service must to be knowledgeable and friendly. Above all, the food has to consistently be fresh, unique, approachable, and just plain good.
Confession: Most of the restaurants on this list are in close proximity to where I live, in the heart of Seattle. While I occasionally venture further a field every once in awhile, I often remark (jokingly) that "I could be skiing in less time than it would take me to get there." My apologies to all the wonderful restaurants that are more than a 30 minute, traffic congested, Uber drive away...
VENDEMMIA: Vendemmia opened just over a year ago in my neighborhood of Madrona. I love the food here because it is always good and while Italian, always reflects the best ingredients of the Pacific Northwest. What I order: beef tartare, dungeness crab and snow pea salad, spagetti with marinara, and pappardelle bolognese. $$$ (Madrona)
FEED CO. BURGERS: Burger joints seem to be popping up all over Seattle, but I think the one in my neighborhood is one of the best. It's fast, inexpensive, and has a great selection of beer on tap. What I order: blue onion burger with fries and a Manny's pale ale. Feed Co. is kid friendly. $ (Central District)
ALTURA: Altura is one of my favorite special occasion restaurants in Seattle. Featuring refined Italian food using the best Northwest and imported ingredients, Altura strikes at the balance of fine dining and delicious food. A meal at Altura is a multi-course experience (a la carte is no longer available), encouraging diners to settle in and savor each dish. Be sure to sit at the bar so you can watch the chefs prepare your meal. If it's fall, don't be surprised if you are presented with the option of dusting your food with fresh, white truffles from Alba, it's about the best thing around. $$$$ (Capitol Hill)
RISTORANTE MACHIAVELLI: I have been coming to Machiavelli for close to 20 years. During that time neither the menu, nor the wait staff, have changed. This little corner spot serves old school, Italian that is predictably good every single time. What I order: lasagna bolognese (large enough for two, sometimes), spinach ravioli, or my old off-the-menu standby of penne with tomato cream sauce and sausage. The steak is legendary! Start your meal with a pesto pizza - they are little, and make the perfect appetizer. Machiavelli does not take reservations, but they turn the tables fast! $ (Capitol Hill)
BA BAR and MONSOON: Monsoon has been around forever because it remains as delicious and current as it was when it first opened. The first restaurant of brother / sister team, Sophie and Eric Banh, Monsoon brings the flavors of Saigon to Seattle. What I order: crispy imperial roll, BBQ pork spare rib, crispy drunken chicken, and white corn sautéed with chanterelle mushrooms (seasonal). Bar Bar, Monsoon's sister restaurant is a casual all-day spot with some of the best Pho in Seattle. We eat brunch here almost every weekend! Monsoon is also open for lunch and brunch. $$ (Capitol Hill).
MATT'S IN THE MARKET: Matt's has been around for a long time. And while it is located across from the Pike Place Market, it manages to not be touristy. Originally a tiny restaurant with a couple of tables and a long bar, a few years ago it was remodeled to incorporate the neighboring space. Today, Matt's beautiful, light filled dining room and open kitchen serve up some of the best Pacific Northwest fare that Seattle has to offer. What I order: "chips and dip," the daily catch, and the BBQ pulled pork sandwich. Go for a long lunch or a sunset dinner. $$$ (Downtown)
STATESIDE: Stateside is just as good as the day it opened! Fantastic French - Vietnamese cuisine that is simultaneously inventive and traditional. What I order: crispy duck fresh rolls, amberjack crudo, chili cumin pork ribs, and the soy glazed beef short ribs. $$$ 300 E. Pike Street (Capitol Hill).
MBAR: Chef Jason Stratton shines at Mbar, the new South Lake Union restaurant he recently opened with owners Wassef and Rasha Haroun. Mbar creatively marries flavors of Europe and the Middle East, resulting in a menu that reflects Stratton's creativity with ingredients. One of few rooftop terrace restaurants in Seattle, Mbar's location cannot be beat. This spot is bound to be the hottest reservation in Seattle once the summer is in full swing. What I order: roasted cauliflower hummus with tahini, broccoli with bagna cauda, and the soft polenta with rabbit. Don't miss the outstanding cocktail menu! $$$ (South Lake Union)
COPAL: I was sad when I first heard the Matt Dillon's restaurant, Bar Sajor, had closed in Pioneer Square. Because where would I be able to get such delicious wood fired food? I am happy to report that Copal has recently opened in Bar Sajor's place, and is every bit as good as its predecessor. The menu features simple mexican cuisine, most of it cooked in the wood fired ovens. What I order: tacos....one each of the daily offerings, rotisserie chicken, and the watermelon salad - sweet, spicy and crunchy. $$ (Pioneer Square)
JOULE: Joule is one of my top three favorite restaurants in Seattle. I am waiting for someone to dare me to order two plates of their steak tartare for myself. It is my favorite thing, among all the wonderful dishes on their menu. Joule has several house specialities that are mainstays for a reason. What I order: steak tartare, rice cakes with house made chorizo, and the short rib steak. $$$ (Fremont/Wallingford).
WESTWARD: Westward has been around for a few years now. I love to bring out-of-town friends to this great spot perched on the banks of Lake Union. Sandwiched between the Northlake boat yards, Westward commands one of the best views of the city and is the perfect spot for a meal during any season. In the summer, relax in an adirondack chair while you wait for your table, and in winter cozy up to the outdoor fire pit with a pre-dinner cocktail. What I order: lamb shoulder with fennel and orange, grilled octopus salad, and wood fired gigantes. At brunch, I order whatever is season and a Bloody Mary. $$$ (Fremont)
MARINATION MA KAI: I constantly think about this little place perched on the shore of Elliott Bay with the craziest view of the Seattle skyline. Marination is one of the best summer spots in Seattle. Order your food at the counter and grab a table in the beer garden. What I order: Fish n' Chips. Breaded in panko, flash fried and served with hand cut fries and miso tartar, this is the fish that I long for all winter. Also delicious are the kimchi fried rice (with an egg on top) and the pork katsu sandwich. $ (West Seattle)
BRAMBLE HOUSE: If you live in the city, it takes a little bit of an effort to reach Bramble House on Vashon Island, but I promise it is worth the commute. Last summer, Top Chef alum Lia Lira opened her restaurant in an old house in downtown Vashon. Lira sources most of the ingredients for her menu from Island growers, meaning that every dish is incredibly fresh and reflective of the season. Meals are served on vintage china in the cozy living room of the old house, where the staff - mostly island residents - make sure that every detail is perfect. If you miss the last ferry or have decided to succumb to island life, The Lodges on Vashon is just down the road and serves up a comfortable night's sleep. $$$$ (Vashon Island)
COPINE: In my opinion, Copine is the best new addition to fine dining in Seattle. Last summer, Shaun McCain and his wife, Jill Kinney quietly opened their exquisite restaurant in a quiet spot of Ballard. The dining room, designed by Olsen Kundig is a beautiful space built of concrete and wood. While the menu focuses on fresh ingredients grown in the Pacific Northwest, the food pays homage to the chef's classical french training. Copine is an excellent choice for a special occasion and can accommodate a large group in the chef's dining room. $$$$ (Ballard)
SAN FERMO: When a friend of mine decided to redevelop a little house on the main drag in Ballard and lease it to a restaurant, I expected the concept and space to be as equally interesting as his previous ventures (Melrose Market). So when I finally made it to San Fermo this winter (Ballard is kind of far from where I live...), I was not surprised to find that the restaurant is just as good as I expected it to be. San Fermo is Italian, so the market-driven menu features antipasti, delicious salads, and lots of pasta. The cosy dining room looks onto the open kitchen and the bar in the back is a great place to enjoy a cocktail before dinner on a chilly Seattle night. San Fermo also features a great outdoor seating area that will no doubt come alive as soon as the sun comes out. $$$ (Ballard)
let's do lunch
LITTLE UNCLE: Real deal Phad Thai. (Capitol Hill)
45th STOP N SHOP AND POKE BAR: Poke bar inside a convenience store. (Wallingford)
HARRY'S FINE FOODS: Cozy neighborhood spot serving food all day. (Capitol Hill)
cocktails, coffee, and sweet treats
ELM COFFEE ROASTERS: My favorite little coffee shop (Pioneer Square).
FRANKIE & JOES: Incredible plant-based (vegan) ice cream (Capitol Hill).
GENERAL PORPOISE: Handmade donuts filled with custards, cremes, and jams (Capitol Hill).
AMANDINE BAKESHOP: French Macarons (Capitol Hill).
KURT FARM SHOP: Amazing dairy ice cream goodness straight from Kurt's cows on Vachon Island (Capitol Hill).
SEAWOLF BAKERS: The best bread bakers in Seattle (Wallingford).
FOREIGN NATIONAL: Everyone's favorite new bar (Capitol Hill).
Whats to Come:
Weekend Away: New York City ★ 03.17
read. share. travel. repeat.
W A N D E R L U S T