Let's Dish

31 Restaurants Reimagining Seattle Brunch

A dish-by-dish guide to the only weekend meal that really matters.

By Rosin Saez and Allecia Vermillion December 23, 2019 Published in the January/February 2020 issue of Seattle Met

Breakfast Bowls • French Toast • Eggs Benedict • ShakshukaBiscuits • Waffles • Avocado Toast

Breakfast Bowls

The one-stop shop of meals.


Zero filler inhabits the six-item menu at this breakfast nook that’s kin to Capitol Hill’s Analog Coffee: The egg sandwich is platonic perfection, the veggie toast layers bread with symphonic flavors. But even in this bowl-loving town, B-Side’s rice-based version stands out. Puffed grains add texture. Fermented, fresh, and roasted vegetables channel the crunchy best of each season, maybe garlicky mustard greens with fresh radishes and roasted broccoli. Between the runny egg and complex miso-based sauce, you could almost forget: This crave-inducing creation is actually pretty damn healthy.

Eve Fremont

At Fremont’s under-acclaimed mindful dining destination, the blizzard of seeds, nuts, and ancient grains atop its mainstay hot bowl resembles a ticker tape parade that made its way across a landscape of eggs and green beans and tender squash. The rest of the menu balances bone broth earnestness with pumpkin spice coffee french toast.

When the server, clad in a Pacific Northwest uniform—plaid shirt, beanie—croons a David Bowie tune as he delivers the Potlicker, a Southern-style dream of polenta, black-eyed peas, piquant collard greens, and a runny-yolked egg, it’s easy to forget one’s proximity to Amazon. (The original location’s on Queen Anne.)


There’s so much to love about Mitch Mayer’s Ballard restaurant—the Salmon Bay views, the patio deck dining, the open bar seating—but the something-for-everyone menu is the clutch factor. Specifically his take on the rice bowl: tender pork belly, kimchi, just over-easy eggs, avocado. The breakfast nachos get all the glory, but the rice bowl bangs.

Image: Amber Fouts

French Toast

The greatest thing to happen to sliced bread.

Watson’s Counter

Unsuccessful experiments with cereal milk lattes inspired the menu’s crowd-pleaser: french toast coated with either fruity pebbles or frosted flakes. The former’s rainbow-crunchy surface may win Instagram, but those sugary beige flakes yield a surprisingly cohesive flavor on thick slices of cider-spiked whole wheat from Macrina—a french toast more nuanced than eggy. That’s just one of many surprises in this Ballard dining room, which feels like a meticulous coffee shop that happens to serve hella fun food. Owner James Lim’s Korean background informs much of the menu, like eggs benedict with doenjang-marinated pork belly.

Cafe Campagne

This Francophile haven in Pike Place Market, where servers don white button-up shirts under black vests, feels slightly tourist-trappy—until three rounds of baked-that-morning brioche arrive at the table, dusted simply in powdered sugar, garnished with unassuming strawberries, and melt away any bad study abroad memories like a pat of cultured butter.

Portage Bay Cafe

Four frill-free locales, three of which are north of Lake Union, deliver a menu with universal appeal. And a breakfast bar. An order of french toast (be it coated in sweet oatmeal crumb or a rum-sauced banana foster iteration or a classic challah, made daily by head baker Ada Chen) earns you access to poached pears, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and myriad other toppings because, yes, you are that extra—much like the wait time; plan accordingly.

Red Cedar and Sage

Macrina Bakery’s pillow-soft brioche has long been the starting point for many a french toast in town, but the savory take at this Pike Place Market destination (a seat inside the covered patio feels like a human terrarium) brings fig, honeyed goat cheese, and bacon sprinkles into typically straightforward brunch territory.

Image: Amber Fouts

Eggs Benedict

A brunch staple that betrays no one, ever.


Eggs benny crowned with dungeness crab meat is sort of like a ’90s sitcom: revolutionary for its twist on the familiar form and reliably comforting decades later. That’s also the narrative arc for siblings Eric and Sophie Banh who opened their North Capitol Hill restaurant with modern Vietnamese flavors and fine dining sensibilities back in 1999 (another emerged in Bellevue 10 years later). The Banhs have also given us Ba Bar, Monsoon’s dressed-down counterpart, and Central Smoke, where a benedict of pulled pork and smoked gouda hollandaise exists as further evidence that tradition can occasionally use a culinary foil.

Boat Street Kitchen

Inside what feels like a French farmhouse, hidden on the edge of Belltown, lives a benedict with goat cheese and tender little artichokes, but it’s the semolina baguette the restaurant scores from Grand Central Bakery that lays the literal foundation for an optimal morning dish.

Tilikum Place Cafe

Sure, those famous dutch babies prevail as a perennial favorite in a personal-size skillet, but Seattle’s quintessential brunch spot has also mastered the daily benedict. The Belltown cafe marries eggs benny with tender brisket one day and corn bread with ham the next.

Bistro Shirlee

The latest restaurant (formerly Saint Helens Cafe) to join Renee Erickson’s dining universe doesn’t fix what’s never been broken: English muffins baked from scratch, hollandaise, house-cured ham. Bonus if enjoyed as Burke-Gilman Trail cyclists zip pass the restaurant windows on their weekend rides.

Image: Amber Fouts


Middle Eastern mainstay turned brunch essential.

Counter-service casual with shelves of browsable cookbooks (from Modernist Cuisine to Cookin’ with Coolio), Paul Osher’s Ballard restaurant is the kind we all want down the street. It’s hard to isolate a favorite on such a large menu, but his shakshuka swaps peppers for kale in a rustic sauce that comes garnished with spicy cauliflower and an everything bagel, the chewy product of Osher’s years of tinkering. The duck pastrami add-on tilts those flavors in a smoky new direction.


Egg-topped South African bunny chow next to tosilog, Dutch-style drinking frites, and Sichuan-spiced chicken and waffles? Pike/Pine’s most eclectic brunch menu makes no geographic sense, yet everything’s astonishingly good. Especially the Israeli-style shakshuka, which sets three eggs in a tangy sauce and tops it with housemade Yemenite hot sauce.

Burgundian Bistro

Classic brunches, executed with care, rule this focused menu, including a petite skillet of chickpeas in a tomato sauce that sparkles with peppers, topped with an orb of poached egg (ask for hot sauce and the server brings five). The Tangletown beer bar recently went all ages by day, complete with kids menu, but retains that moody beer cellar vibe and legit draft list.

The Fat Hen

Eggs baked in tomato sauce inside a scalding individual skillet anchor the menu at northern Ballard’s tiny brunch epicenter. These versions, sometimes called “eggs in purgatory,” draw more inspiration from Italy than points east; robust combos like sausage, mushrooms, and mozzarella comfort like a saucy brunch pizza sans crust.

Image: Amber Fouts


Plenty of brunch menus have a biscuit sandwich. These shops specialize in its flaky, buttery charms.

The menu’s vernacular, much like the gravy that covers most of its creations, has just the right amount of salt. Owner Kimmie Spice serves her “bitchwiches” at four locations around town.

Now independent from former sibling biscuit shop Morsel, the skinny nook packs in Ballard weekend crowds with buttermilk or cheddar chive biscuits you can spread with a dozen different toppings.


The U District’s humble morning mecca built its fan base on a slate of smart sandwiches, like a biscuit stuffed with prosciutto, arugula, manchego, and a fried egg.

Wandering Goose

Heather Earnhardt makes a buttery biscuit so good you’d gladly eat it plain—but why do that when you could have it with country ham, fried chicken and pickles, or peanut butter, banana, and honey…with optional bacon.

Serious Biscuit

The downstairs annex to Tom Douglas’s Westlake pizzeria stacks ham hock and collard greens or truffle frittata inside its square, flaky biscuits.

Honest Biscuits

In Pike Place Market’s new wing, biscuits come with unstoppable views of Elliott Bay. Fellow market vendors Beecher’s and Bavarian Meats make the cheese and bacon that proliferate in the MacGregor biscuit.

Seattle Biscuit Company

A food truck turned low-eaved Frelard shop serves 10 sandwiches at varying stages of sweet and savory, though the Willie Lee (bacon, egg, Beecher’s, berry jam) is the best of both worlds.

Image: Amber Fouts


The morning classic moves beyond maple syrup.

The Marination team’s gift for blending flavors from around the Pacific Rim propels the brunch lineup at its retro automotive-inspired restaurant in Columbia City. A Hong Kong–style egg waffle proves an ethereal base for a slab of fried chicken, Jackson Pollacked with coconut syrup and fiery chili sauce. That verve extends across the entire menu, from a spam breakfast sandwich to hangover-slaying fries topped with gravy, cheese, and kalua pork. Thus the weekend crowds, managed by unflappably upbeat servers.

Simply Soulful

A bastion of family recipe soul food tucked in a Madison Valley parking lot tops its waffles (your choice, buttermilk or corn bread) with a half dozen drumettes, fried in a batter that’s spicier than first bites suggest. This uber-casual cafe’s regulars also, rightly, extol the biscuits and sweet potato pie.

Hood Famous Cafe

The Ballard bakeshop that gave us ube cheesecake recently added this compact Chinatown–International District brunch hangout with a morning menu built on the chewy genius of mochi waffles. Each pair of diminutive (and gluten-free) pressed squares is equally great with smoked salmon or fruit and calamansi-infused syrup.

Cafe Flora

Rosemary biscuits with vegan gravy or the huevos platter or the vegan cinnamon roll might be showier staples at our town’s landmark vegetarian restaurant. But the cornmeal waffle topped with seasonal fruit is a study in smart combos—persimmon with pistachio and blood orange, or rhubarb with sweet tahini butter—that deliver dimension rather than a sugar buzz.

Image: Amber Fouts

Avocado Toast

It’s still here. And we still love it.


The kitchen smashes half an avocado to order onto a slab of Sea Wolf sourdough, then garnishes with sea salt, lemon, and olive oil. But the magic of the avocado tartine at Fremont Ave’s supremely hospitable wine shop and cafe is the blanket of housemade dukkah, more rustic (and crunchy) than some versions of the nutty spice blend, with a little dried orange peel for character. It becomes a proper meal if you add an egg, and an indulgence if you also top it with bacon.


This all-day spot in the Admiral District borrows its cafe culture from Australia, a nation serious about avocado toast. No surprise, Arthur’s lavishes its herbaceous Avo Smash with care and color: kale, lightly pickled tomatoes, a poached egg, and final shower of crunchy seeds. The optional smoked trout adds a ton more intrigue.

Cherry Street Public House

Radishes, sunflower seeds, and a tangle of fried shallots add crunch to the composed avocado and frisee toast at the Seattle coffee chainlet’s thoroughly styled cafe spin-off in Occidental Square. Get it with an egg—and definitely with one of the exacting espresso drinks.

Sazon Kitchen

Boxy and trim as the food truck that begat it, Ballard’s new Mexican-meets-Mediterranean brunch sensation has a huge menu that starts with toast bedecked with aguacate and a layer of roasted cherry tomatoes, plus huevos divorciados, tortas espanolas, and machaca de res—shredded beef with beans, potatoes, tortillas, and perfectly fried eggs.

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