The Ultimate Guide to the Seattle Food Scene

seattle food scene
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Arguably one of the best foodie cities in America, the Seattle food scene is an incredible mix of laid back and upscale restaurants.  The one thing they all have in common?  They each serve incredibly innovative and tasty dishes day after day.

Salty, fresh-shucked oysters, melt in your mouth croissants, authentic Thai food cooked right in front of your eyes.  That, plus more, is what the Seattle food scene has to offer.  Situated on the coast of Washington, the epicenter of the Pacific Northwest, you may think of Seattle and think of seafood.  While the seafood in Seattle can’t be beaten, there’s so much more that this trendy city offers aside from what comes from the sea.


The Ultimate Guide to the Seattle Food Scene

Hundreds of restaurants fill the streets of Seattle and each neighborhood has its own spin on food.  In the international district, international food.  In Capitol Hill, bar-like restaurants with delectable small plates and filling appetizers to coat your belly before a night out drinking.  Below, I break up the best restaurants by which neighborhood you can find them in.  From cheap to expensive, casual to fine dining, these are the best restaurants in Seattle.


The Best Restaurants in Ballard

crowded restaurant and oyster bar

The Walrus and the Carpenter


Rosellini’s Fine Cakes & Baked Goods – Bakery

Go for:  Breakfast

Atmosphere:  Casual ($$)

Seattle has some pretty incredible bakeries, and Rosellini’s in Ballard doesn’t disappoint.  With a small outdoor seating area, Rosellini’s is an ideal spot for takeaway pastries and more savory breakfast items.  It started out as a French bakery and has maintained its roots, but it’s also expanded into Italian as well.  Rosellini’s is quite famous for their kougin amann, but I was partial to their onion, gruyere, and thyme pastry.


Rupee Bar – Sri Lanken/Indian

Go for:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Fine-ish Dining ($$)

Located in Ballard, Rupee Bar brings an elevated feel to the grungy (but cool) neighborhood of Ballard.  Its innovative menu of Sri Lankan and Indian fusion food is the perfect touch to a nice, date night out, or even a meal to soak up the beer you may have drank from being out at the breweries all day.  The restaurant is quite small so I highly suggest making reservations far in advance.


Sawyer – Elevated American Comfort Cuisine

Go For:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Fine-ish Dining ($$)

Sawyer is an open and airy restaurant with a patio and innovative indoor seating arrangements.  The owners of Sawyer have created a way to arrange tables so that you feel like you’re the only patrons dining, while still giving the restaurant an open feel.  The cuisine borders on Asian-American and definitely ranks for one of the top restaurants in Seattle.


The Walrus and the Carpenter – Oyster Bar

Go For:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Fine-ish Dining ($$$)

With an enthusiastic kitchen and wait staff, and set in an intimate setting, The Walrus and the Carpenter is the place to go for oysters, small plates, and fresh and innovative seafood.  The Walrus and the Carpenter falls under the Sea Creatures umbrella, a group that owns many of the incredible restaurants in Seattle.  While reservations are not accepted, know that it is perfectly acceptable to wait 2.5 hours for a table at this popular spot.  I suggest putting your name in and heading next door to their sister bar, Barnacle, for apéritifs and small plates to munch on.


Un Bien – Caribbean Sandwiches

Go For:  Lunch or Dinner/Take Out

Atmosphere:  Casual ($$)

A laid-back and casual sandwich shop, Un Bien dishes up some of the best sandwiches in Seattle.  Order at the window and sit at one of the picnic tables offered outside, or better yet take it to go.  Golden Gardens Park is nearby where you can enjoy a Caribbean sandwich on the beach!


For a more robust guide to Ballard, make sure to read A Guide to the Ballard Neighborhood in Seattle


The Best Restaurants in Beacon Hill

pepperoni pizza

Bar Del Corso


Bar Del Corso – Italian

Go For:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Fine-ish Dining ($$)

A modern and warm Italian eatery in the heart of Beacon Hill.  Also reservation-free, Bar Del Corso often has a wait on the weekends due to its popularity amongst neighborhood locals and Seattle residents.  With this restaurant being more off the beaten path, if you’re a tourist visiting Seattle it’s definitely worth checking out a place that isn’t quite as widely known.


Homer – Meditteranean

Go For:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Fine-ish Dining ($$)

One of the more under-the-radar places to eat in Seattle, the dishes at Homer transport you back to a breezy summer day in Greece.  With its friendly staff, and a packed house almost every night of the week, Homer makes you feel at home while taking your tastebuds on an adventure.  The bright spot to this restaurant is the homemade, soft-serve ice cream that is served out the side window on a nice night.


Tacos Chukis – Mexican (also located in Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, and Central District)

Go For:  Lunch or Dinner/Take Out

Atmosphere:  Casual ($)

With multiple locations around Seattle, Tacos Chukis is one of the best taco restaurants in Seattle.  Order when you walk in and wait at your table until someone delivers your food, Tacos Chukis is cheap and offers an authentic flair on no-frill, Mexican tacos.  At this simple restaurant don’t expect all the bells and whistles.  While you can drink beer, they don’t serve margaritas or cocktails, and the tacos don’t have a lot of “extras” added to them.


If you’re looking for more to do in Beacon Hill aside from restaurants, make sure to check out A Guide to Seattle’s Most Underrated Neighborhood – Beacon Hill


The Best Restaurants in Capitol Hill


Bakery Nouveau – Pastries

Go For:  Breakfast, Lunch, or Dessert/Take Out

Atmosphere:  Casual ($$)

Serving freshly made, melt in your mouth croissants, pastries, and sandwiches, Bakery Nouveau is the place to go for a sweet or savory treat.  With limited seating offered inside and out, take your food to go and enjoy it elsewhere with a fresh brewed Seattle coffee.  And while a wait is usually involved at Bakery Nouveau, it is well worth your time to stand in line.


Bar Melusine – Seafood

Go For:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Fine-ish Dining ($$$)

Like The Walrus and the Carpenter, Bar Melusine also falls under the Sea Creatures category.  Their food is innovative and the atmosphere of the restaurant is lively.  Arguably serving some of the best seafood in Seattle, Bar Melusine also serves meat.  Their burger is one of a kind and is a must-try option if you choose to dine here.


Bateau – Steakhouse

Go For:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Upscale ($$$)

Also part of the Sea Creatures restaurants, Bateau is connected to Bar Melusine in Capitol Hill.  Unlike most of the Sea Creatures restaurants, Bateau isn’t a seafood restaurant but instead a steakhouse.  If you’re looking to switch things up and looking for a hearty meal, make it a priority to stop at this upscale steakhouse.  With cuts written on the wall, you can see how many go each night (every time someone orders a cut, it gets crossed off the wall), and how many options you have left when choosing the right steak for you.


Momiji – Japanese Sushi

Go For:  Lunch or Dinner

Atmosphere:  Casual ($$)

A Japanese sushi house, I would firmly argue that Momiji rolls some of the best, fresh, sushi rolls in Seattle.  With a casual but intimate dining atmosphere make sure to call ahead for a reservation if you don’t want to wait long.  Or you can “walk in” and be seated in the small bar portion at the front of the restaurant.


Nue – International Street Food

Go For:  Dinner (or Bottomless Brunch)

Atmosphere:  Fine-ish Dining ($$)

In this eclectic restaurant, the owners of Nue figured out a way to bring a new and unique experience to the already popular Seattle food scene, and it worked!  Nue is (relatively) new to Seattle but already popular amongst locals.  The owners traveled the world and when they got back to Seattle they realized that they missed all of the food they would eat from food trucks abroad.  So they opened Nue where they serve their favorite international food found around the world and decked it out in memorabilia they collected across the globe.

Nue is also one of the only bottomless brunch spots in Seattle.  I don’t prefer their breakfast, but if you want bottomless mimosas, it is an easy choice!


Oddfellows Café and Bar – American

Go For:  Appetizers

Atmosphere:  Casual

I appreciate Oddfellows for what it is, an intimate and cozy bar setting with an epic outdoor patio.  And while people flock here to eat, I enjoy it more for appetizers and cocktails before setting off to dinner somewhere else.  I recommend Oddfellows for a quick bite if you need to rest your feet, before dinner apps, or a late-night snack.


Terra Plata – New American

Go For:  Appetizers

Atmosphere:  Fine-ish Dining ($$$)

Also like Oddfellows, for me, Terra Plata is worth sitting down, having an appetizer and cocktail, but not dining at.  With an incredible rooftop patio, I’d be letting you down if I didn’t mention this breezy American restaurant.  However, having eaten there twice now, Terra Plata is best for appetizers and cocktails before dashing off to dinner elsewhere.  Otherwise, go for a nightcap and make sure to sit on the rooftop patio!  Reservations can be made in advance for this.


The Best Restaurants in the Central District


Cherry Street Thai – Thai

Go for:  Takeout

Atmosphere:  Casual ($)

One of the things that I love about Seattle is its incredible Asian food scene.  Cherry Street Thai is the best takeout Thai food that I’ve had in Seattle (and there have been many trials and errors).  Cherry Street Thai is a no-fuss, affordable Thai restaurant that I highly recommend for takeout.  While I’m always partial to the pad Thai, the crispy Thai chicken is also impressive.


The Best Restaurants Downtown

The Pink Door, Seattle

The Pink Door

fried calamari

The Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar


The Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar – Seafood

Go For:  Lunch or Happy Hour

Atmosphere:  Casual ($$)

Located in Pike Place Market, Athenian is the restaurant that is featured in Sleepless in Seattle.  While that draws a lot of tourists, they still do seafood well and if you’re visiting Pike Place I’d highly recommend stopping in for a bite to eat.  I prefer to go for the fried calamari and drinks at the bar overlooking Elliott Bay, but even their entrees are worthy of trying.


For a more in-depth guide to Pike Place Market, including other restaurants, bars, and shops to visit, make sure to read my guide:  Everything to Know When Visiting Pike Place Market


Biscuit Bitch – Breakfast (also located in Pioneer Square and Belltown)

Go For:  Breakfast/Take Away

Atmosphere:  Casual ($)

“Hey bitch, what do you want bitch?”  Expect dirty words and a bit of fun poking if you choose to breakfast at Biscuit Bitch.  Serving epic biscuits multiple ways, eating Biscuit Bitch is a heavy and hearty start to your day.  With a line snaking out the door, order your food at the counter and pay for takeaway.  There is very limited seating in and around Biscuit Bitch but they put your food in cardboard holders making it easy to walk around and eat at the same time.


Conversation – American

Go For:  Appetizers or Dinner

Atmosphere:  Fine-ish Dining ($$$)

Conversation is located on the first floor of the Thompson Hotel near Pike Place Market.  Here expect to find a twist on every food item you can think of.  Instead of freshly shucked oysters, try the freshly shucked oysters with homemade strawberry dip n’ dots on top.  It’s the perfect place to grab appetizers before heading up to The Nest, (one of the best rooftops in Seattle), or eat a more hearty dinner.


The Pink Door – Italian

Go For:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Fine-ish Dining ($$$)

One of the well-known fancy restaurants in Seattle, The Pink Door draws a large crowd of tourists… and it’s easy to see why!  With a fun and inviting atmosphere, yummy Italian food, and tucked away behind a brick wall near Pike Place Market this restaurant has all of the fixings to be one of the best.  The Pink Door also draws a crowd for its cabaret shows and live music.  If you plan to visit, especially during a popular show, make sure to reserve a table months in advance.  Seats fill up quickly.  (Please note, I love The Pink Door for its charming and cheery atmosphere.  But there are much better Italian restaurants to eat at in Seattle if you’re strictly looking for a food experience).


The Best Restaurants in Fremont/Wallingford

Westward, Seattle



El Camino – Mexican

Go For:  Appetizers or Dinner

Atmosphere:  Casual ($$)

The perfect restaurant for a lively, feisty night out, El Camino is located in Fremont and is the perfect spot for a fun date night or night out with the girls.  A casual dinner option, El Camino is decked to the nines with fun decor with lively music playing overhead.  With both an indoor and outdoor option it’s a great choice for any type of weather.  Come for margaritas and queso or welcome an entire meal!


Joule – Asian Fusion

Go For:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Fine-ish Dining ($$$)

In an upscale and intimate setting, make sure to add Joule to your list if you’re looking for elevated Asian cuisine.  With some of the most unique food items on the menu, and never truly knowing what I was ordering, nothing at Joule disappointed.


Pablo y Pablo – Mexican

Go For:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Casual ($$)

Different from some of the other restaurants in Seattle, Pablo y Pablo is a light, airy, and bright restaurant known for its margaritas and unique tacos.  Charred broccoli and soft shell crab tacos adorn the menu along with street food corn and other Mexican-inspired dishes drawing quite the crowd to this indoor/outdoor restaurant.  It’s the perfect place for a date night, girls night, or if you just need a quick bite to eat!


Westward – New American

Go For:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Fine-ish Dining ($$$)

There are good restaurants in Seattle, and then there are great restaurants in Seattle and Westward is one of those great restaurants in Seattle.  Also part of the Sea Creatures restaurant group, Westward is best known for its atmosphere and is the hot spot to sit back, relax, and “ah” over the views that downtown Seattle has to offer.  Sitting on Lake Union, Westward offers some of the best views of the Seattle skyline.


If you’re looking for more things to do in the Fremont area, aside from restaurants, make sure to check out Best Neighborhoods in Seattle – Things to Do in Fremont


The Best Restaurants in Pioneer Square

flowers and streamers adorning the inside of a restaurant

The London Plane


Casco Antiguo – Mexican (also located in South Lake Union)

Go For:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Casual ($$)

If you’re looking for a fun night out on the town, look no further than Casco Antiguo with its lively atmosphere and strong, off-the-wall margaritas.  At Casco Antiguo, it’s hard not to have a good time with margaritas on tap, ever-flowing, and chips and salsa readily served.


Damn the Weather – New American

Go For:  Happy Hour

Atmosphere:  Casual ($$)

A type of upscale gastropub, Damn the Weather is an ode, too well, the rainy weather in Seattle!  In a cozy setting of exposed brick walls and wooden beams.  With a long happy hour served from 11-5 each day, I prefer going for discounted drinks and small bites/shared plates.


The London Plane – Cafe

Go For:  Lunch

Atmosphere:  Casual ($$)

One of the most Instagrammable restaurants in Seattle, The London Plane is widely popular for its chipper, bright, and fun interior where streamers adorn the walls and big, bright flowers welcome you in.  While it’s the perfect place to head for a “cheer me up”, the food also makes The London Plane well worth the visit.


Taylor Shellfish – Seafood (also located in Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, and Bellevue *the only locations that have a full kitchen is Pioneer Square and Bellevue*)

Go For:  Dinner

Atmosphere:  Casual ($$)

Arguably the best casual seafood restaurant in Seattle, Taylor Shellfish has traditional menu items such as oysters and Po’boys; but they also have a twist on seafood too.  Venture out and try the fried oysters dipped in buffalo sauce and placed on deviled eggs if you’re looking for a real treat!  With its proximity to the football and baseball stadiums in Seattle, Taylor Shellfish is also a great place to go for a filling meal before heading to a big game.


The Best Restaurants in Queen Anne

steak tartar

Eden Hill Provisions


Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge – Creole

Go For:  Brunch

Atmosphere:  Casual ($$)

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Toulouse Petit is extra especially known around Seattle for its epic brunch menu.  An extensive cajun, creole menu features a wide variety of foods from fried green tomatoes to duck hash, sandwiches and salads, to classics like jambalaya.  Because it’s well-known I’d recommend making a reservation in advance to eat here.


The Best Restaurants in University Village

Thai food

Thai Tom


Thai Tom – Thai

Go For:  Lunch or Dinner/Take Out

Atmosphere:  Casual ($)

A true hidden gem in the city of Seattle, Thai Tom is a no-frills Thai restaurant that doesn’t sacrifice on taste.  Requiring cash only, Thai Tom only sits a limited number of people but you can easily get your food to take away.  Here the food is cheap and full of flavor.


The Best Restaurants in West Seattle

french fries and tacos

Marination Ma Kai


Marination Ma Kai – Hawaiian-Korean Fusion (also located in South Lake Union and Columbia City)

Go For:  Lunch or Dinner

Atmosphere:  Casual ($)

With locations throughout Seattle (demand is high!), Marination Ma Kai is best experienced in West Seattle where you can enjoy outdoor views of the Seattle skyline.  Here, you’ll order at the counter and get a page when your food is ready, where you’ll then take it to your picnic table to eat.  Come hungry so you can stuff yourself with incredible kimchi fried rice, fish tacos, french fries topped with pork belly and aioli, and lychee margaritas.


Skip These Restaurants on the Seattle Food Scene

While I fully believe that food and restaurants are subject to everyone’s own opinion and experiences that they share at each restaurant, I personally would not return to the following restaurants.  RockCreek Seafood & Spirits, Stateside, Ben Paris, and Lists.  I firmly believe that the Seattle dining scene is one of a kind, and I didn’t think that these restaurants aligned with that belief.  However, I still encourage you to try them out for yourself and form your own opinion.


With so many restaurants in Seattle, the Seattle food scene is one of the best in America.  Here you can find all different types of cuisines, from casual to fine dining, and everything in between.  There is truly a restaurant for everyone!


For more food and drink recommendations in Seattle check out:

5 Dessert Places in Seattle to Get Your Sugar Fix

Drinking in Seattle

Or check out my Instagram page/highlight reel for more Seattle recommendations!  Search #ppinwashington or search “Seattle Eats”, “Seattle Drinks”, “Seattle, WA”, “Washington” in my highlight reel.


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Kylee is a Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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1 Comment

  1. Jenna Taylor
    January 10, 2023 / 3:36 pm

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