It should come as no surprise that I often feed my wanderlust with food. When I travel, I am very selective about where I eat (understatement), and when I am home I am equally discerning and won't return to a restaurant if the first experience wasn't amazing. I eat out a lot, and I am a good cook, so naturally I am every bit the food snob. So, whether you are a local looking for something new, or a visitor looking for direction, you can rest assured that you will have a wonderful meal at any of the restaurants on this list. Several are new, a few are tried and true, and some are just hitting their stride. Go out to eat!
Criteria: My palette and patience are at a place where 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, I don't care how good the food is (sorry Manolin). Service has to be knowledgeable and friendly. Above all, the food has to consistently be fresh, unique, approachable, and just plain good - every time.
Confession: Most of the restaurants on this list are in close proximity to where I live, in the heart of Seattle. While I try to 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...
Artusi: I have spent a lot of time sitting at the hexagon tiled bar at Artusi, and I have never regretted one minute of it! While Jason Stratton is no longer at the helm, Chef Stuart Lane has continued to produce some of the best Italian food in Seattle. The little sister of mainstay Spinasse, Artusi is the bar next door with a refined dinner menu complimented by great craft cocktails and excellent glass pours. The food prepared at Artusi, while Italian, reflects northwest flavors and seasonal ingredients. The pasta made in house is a welcome comfort any day of the week. My favorite is the tonnarelli with guanciale, black pepper and pecorino. It is so delicious and reminiscent of eating in Italy that I never want to share. The menu is always changing at Artusi, so don't expect to see the same thing every time you visit. $$$ 1535 14th Avenue (Capitol Hill)
Bar del Corso: Bar del Corso had my heart when I discovered they had arancini (suppli) on their menu. Arancini are balls of arborio rice that have been stuffed with meat ragu, breaded and then fried to a golden brown. They are a staple of Sicily and my favorite morsel from a trip long ago. While I may be tantalized by the arancini, Bar del Corso is also known for its pizzas, which are cooked in the wood fired oven in the back. Gluten-free fanatics need not worry, aside from it’s great pizza, Bar del Corso offers a number of small plates including delicious antipasti, seasonal salads, mussels in white wine, and a slow braised pork shoulder. No pasta here! My only criticism of Bar del Corso is that you always have to wait because they don’t take reservations, so go early and sit at the bar! $$ 3057 Beacon Avenue S. (Beacon Hill)
Bateau: Warning: don’t go to Bateau without a big wad of cash in your pocket and a 6:30 reservation! Not for the faint of heart, Bateau is a new steak restaurant on Capitol Hill that focuses on serving up the whole cow. While Bateau keeps standard cuts of beef readily available, every night its blackboard lists the specialty cuts that the butcher has prepared for the evening. Once they are ordered, they are crossed off the board and are no longer available. Translation: dine early. On the evening that we ate at Bateau we sampled a number of items on the menu, but the standouts were definitely the tomahawk ribeye for two, steak tartare, mashed potatoes and frites. This is a wonderful special occasion spot that will do well in the fine dining arena that Seattle so surprisingly lacks. $$$$ 1040 E. Union Street (Capitol Hill)
Chop Shop: Chop Shop is a new addition to Capitol Hill from restauranteur Erika Burke. Opened last summer, Chop Shop serves seasonal, Pacific Northwest cuisine in a very cool refurbished space on 11th Avenue known as Chop House Row. Clearly, the double cut pork chop is a mainstay that should be part of every meal, but don’t shy away from the expertly prepared grilled octopus, the unbelievable burrata salad, or the tender pork shoulder. Last summer, when Chop Shop had just opened, we had the burrata salad (pictured above) garnished with heirloom cherry tomatoes. It was one one of the most delicious, simple dishes that I have had in a long time. $$$ 1424 11th Avenue (Capitol Hill)
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. These three dishes should be at the top of your list, but if are compelled to order a vegetable (you should), order the cauliflower with bonito flakes. $$$ 3506 Stone Way North (Fremont).
The London Plane: As you walk through the door of The London Plane you are welcomed by flowers and pastries, and a waitstaff that effortlessly floats by delivering colorful, tasty meals to eager diners. Part of chef Matt Dillon’s take over of Pioneer Square, The London Plane occupies the perfect corner of pedestrian Occidental Avenue South, looking out across the cobblestone of the nearby Square. Open all day, feel free to take up residence at the bar, or plant yourself at a table by the window and watch the day go by. As the afternoon light wanes, the festive white lights of Occidental Square mark the transition to evening and the roll out of dinner service. At The London Plane, the food is always fresh, local and expertly flavored. The toasts, a perfect meal for breakfast or lunch, are prepared on a thick slab of the house baked country bread (it’s so good, I often drive down to buy a loaf when I’m having a dinner party). Salads and vegetable dishes are hearty and brimming with contrasting colors and flavors. The sesame chicken salad I had recently was nothing like what I imagined it would be - no mandarin oranges here! Tender poached chicken torn and tossed with kale and ribbons of beet, radish, and carrot was rounded out with peanuts, black sesame seeds, and a light dressing. If you don’ t get down to Pioneer Square often, The London Plane is reason enough to go. $$ 300 Occidental Avenue South (Pioneer Square).
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. While away a sunny afternoon drinking beer and munching on kimchi friend rice (with a fried egg), a pork katsu sandwich, or the best fish and chips around. Breaded in panko, flash fried and served with hand cut fries and kimchi or miso tartar sauce, this is the fish that I long for all winter. When will it be summer? $ 1660 Harbor Avenue SW (West Seattle)
Mamnoon: First time restauranteurs Racha and Wassef Haroun have transported the flavors of their native Lebanon and Syria to a side street on Capitol Hill - and they have nailed it! And just when Mamnoon couldn’t get any better, they recently hired Chef Jason Stratton, formerly of Spinasse and Artusi (above) to run the place so that they could work on developing new projects. Every time we eat at Mamnoon, we leave wondering why we don’t eat here more often. If you can’t decide which of the Mezze Plates to order, just order them all. Each dish highlights a variety of middle eastern ingredients, combined with herbs and spices that make the senses sing. And if the Mezze isn’t enough, order protein from the oven or the grill. Nothing is prepared ordinarily, and every dish is cooked to perfection. Don’t leave without desert - the milk pudding is one of the best deserts I have ever had. Lastly, Mamnoon is a great place to go with a group. $$$ 1508 Melrose Avenue (Capitol Hill).
Momiji: When Momiji opened on Capitol Hill a few years ago in the old Dawson’s plumbing building, it was exciting to see great sushi presented in a cool, energetic space. Aside from having a cool ambiance and an amazing happy hour that goes until 7:00 pm, the quality of the fish is top notch and their list of specialty rolls and sake are the longest I have seen in awhile. If I lived in the neighborhood, I would get take out here twice a week! $$$ 1522 12th Avenue (Capitol Hill).
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. Mainstays that we can’t live without include the crispy imperial roll, BBQ pork spare rib, crispy drunken chicken, and white corn sautéed with chanterelle mushrooms (when in season). At brunch the dim sum menu is short, but perfect. Be sure to order the steamed dumplings, BBQ pork buns and the shrimp & chive wonton. On a side note, I love the brunch at Monsoon because it allows me to eat drunken chicken in the morning. Monsoon is also open for lunch during the week. $$$ 615 19th Avenue East (North Capitol Hill).
Ristorante Machiavelli: I have been coming to Machiavelli for close to 20 years. During that time neither the menu, nor the wait staff, have changed. This little corner spot serves old school, Italian that is predictably good every single time. When I eat at Machiavelli I order the lasagna bolognese (large enough for two, sometimes), spinach ravioli, or my old off-the-menu standby of penne with tomato cream sauce and sausage. Don’t forget to start your meal with a pesto pizza - they are little, and make the perfect appetizer. Machiavelli does not take reservations, but they turn the tables fast! $$ 1215 Pine Street (Capitol Hill)
Single Shot: I wish this was my neighborhood bistro. Last weekend, on a cold and blustery night, we walked in the door and were greeted with a glass of champagne and an apology that our table wasn’t yet ready (we were five minutes early). I love this cozy, dim dining room on a quieter street on Capitol Hill. The menu is small, but very approachable and conducive to sharing. Single Shot is known for its standout pork chop, seared rare to perfection, but other dishes worth trying include the lamb tartare and black rice porridge with crispy pork belly. Simply delicious! Go soon before people start to realize how great this spot is! $$$ 611 Summit Avenue East (Capitol Hill)
Stateside: Stateside swept into Capitol Hill a little over a year ago and has taken the city by storm! Winning awards for their delicious and inventive, yet traditional French - Vietnamese cuisine, Stateside is one of the few restaurants in this city that is packed late into every evening. Go for the crispy duck fresh rolls, chili cumin pork ribs, and the soy glazed beef short ribs. Skip the crispy chicken and opt for the marinated black cod. The exceptional food served at Stateside is complemented by an inventive wine list curated by expert barman / somm, Adam Fortuna. Added bonus, you don’t have to spend a lot to drink well at Stateside. While dinner reservations can be hard to come by, they have recently added lunch and brunch service for those who prefer the ability to drop in. $$$ 300 E. Pike Street (Capitol Hill).
Whats to Come:
Baja ★ 03.16
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