Time Tested

Seattle’s 100 Best Restaurants

From tasting menus to taco counters, and all points in between.

By Seattle Met Staff May 16, 2023

Dinner at Joule can resemble a steak house menu format...or not at all.

Image: Amber Fouts

“Best” is relative, really. Sometimes the best place to eat is the one down the street, or the place that knows your order. And this town has easily another hundred or so wonderful spots that deserve your time and attention. But here—in no particular order other than geography—are Seattle’s most indispensable restaurants. We spend so much time highlighting newcomers (see our best new restaurants); this list consists of places at least one year old that remain masters of what they do.

Seattle Met revisits this list at least once a year. Got a contender you think we should consider—or reconsider? Want to berate us for neglecting your favorite? Weigh in at [email protected].

Jump to Your Neighborhood:

Ballard / Beacon HillBelltown / Capitol Hill / Central District / Chinatown-International District / Columbia CityEastlake / Fremont / Georgetown / Greenlake / Greenwood / Hillman City / Lake City / Madison Valley / Madrona / Maple LeafMontlake / Mount Baker / Northgate / Phinney Ridge /  Pike Place Market  / Queen AnneRainier Beach /  South Lake Union  / University District / Wallingford / West Seattle / White Center / Multiple Locations


Asadero Prime

Asadero means “grill,” or in this case, a beloved Kent restaurant that expanded into Ballard with northern Mexico’s traditions of mesquite-grilled meats and tacos thereof. Seemingly every table has a 16-ounce carne asada draped on top of it, and the flawless prep and simple seasoning (just salt, pepper, and the savory smoke of mesquite charcoal) give you an almost bionic ability to register every vivid detail of the meat, which is mostly American wagyu.

Beast and Cleaver

Technically, this is a butcher shop. But once the case is tucked in for the night, owner Kevin Smith and his staff transform this busy meat counter into a tiny, full-service restaurant. On weeknights it’s a steak bistro, where underestimated cuts of beef become tender showpieces. On weekends, the kitchen spins an elegant tasting menu out of humbler animal bits. Smith’s philosophy that all cooks should be butchers takes the whole-animal ethos to enthralling new places. It's an intensely fun dining experience for meat devotees.

At Beast and Cleaver, former chef de cuisine Alex Hunt preps for a Peasant dinner, under owner Kevin Smith's watchful gaze.

Image: Amber Fouts

Brimmer and Heeltap

The brick-and-farmhouse atmosphere remains a constant. The menu looks classic on its face, but dishes like clams or cavatelli—and some excellent seasonal vegetable plates—arrive with more intrigue than you’d expect. Owner Jen Doak’s wine background is on full display, and one of the town’s most charming garden patios seats diners in warm and cool months. By day, you can enter the garden for an americano and smoked salmon toast at Red Arrow, Brimmer’s hidden-away coffee shop.

Cafe Munir

Seattle used to be full of neighborly restaurants that were by no means fancy, but delivered vivid, personal fare worth a drive across town. Rajah Gargour’s lively Middle Eastern spot in Loyal Heights opened in 2012 and feels like a souvenir from that glorious era. Striking hummus plates (try the one topped with lamb and pine nuts) share tabletops with mezze dips and spreads, meat and vegetable kebabs, and family style platters, all served in an intimate room with arched doorways, white tablecloths, and pretty filigree light pendants.


Shaun McCrain has always operated on his own exacting frequency. A veteran of Thomas Keller’s famed Per Se, he makes dinner feel unabashedly special, from the signature amuse-bouche (cured salmon cloaked in tempura and topped with roe) to the warm greeting from Jill Kinney, his wife, partner, and fellow Per Se alum who runs the front of house with calm polish. Three-course tasting menus are rife with classic French elements, but actual ingredients can globe-trot from Italy to Japan with plenty of Northwest stops.


In a town filled with great pizza, Brandon Pettit’s restaurant feels special. His pies may honor New York by way of Naples, but Delancey’s charm draws firmly from the Northwest, in topping combos that balance tomato brightness with pairings like Zoe’s bacon, cremini mushrooms, and basil. When Delancey opened in 2009, the pizza vaulted it into Seattle institution status, even before you throw in the impeccable seasonal salads, wood-fired odes to seasonal produce, and those bittersweet chocolate chip cookies dusted with gray salt.

La Carta de Oaxaca

Old Ballard brick walls meet the terra-cotta tiles of old Mexico in this teeming sensation that’s been plying an appreciative public with lush and complex mole negro since 2003. Gloria Perez recreates flavors of her native Oaxaca, namely that lush, labor-intensive mole negro. But the menu’s appeal expands far beyond this staple, from tlayudas to ceviche to lamb birria. Not to mention some highly enjoyable margaritas.

Mean Sandwich

A bare-bones counter in Ballard delivers something rare: sandwich combinations that feel truly new or unexpected, not just an ever-more-outrageous pileup of various meats. Newish owner Dan Crookston (yep, he’s Renee Erickson’s husband) mercifully kept all the favorites, like the signature Mean Sandwich (fat hunks of corned beef, mustard, pickled red cabbage—an unexpected gust of mint), a steak tartare club, and the “skins and ins”—fried chunks of baked potato instead of fries. In case you still aren’t convinced: The kitchen takes its day-old sandwich buns and turns them into bread pudding.

Mean Sandwich’s namesake offering comes stuffed with thick cuts of corned beef.

Image: Amber Fouts

Rupee Bar

Liz Kenyon extracts her own polished take on Sri Lankan flavors with a menu that also gets plenty of inspiration from South India. The backdrop is a minuscule peacock-blue room as rich and bold as the bar food—fish curry, legit mutton rolls, triumphant Kerala fried chicken dusted in chili powder. Excitement over the food can overshadow a cocktail program—Sri Lankan flavors crossed with beach vibes—that’s unlike anything else in the city. (Kenyon’s versatility is also on display over at sister restaurant Manolin, and its in-house bagel shop, Old Salt.)

Woe to anybody who underestimates Liz Kenyon, a chef who can oversee a Sri Lankan–inspired menu, then get up and prep bagels.

Image: Amber Fouts


Saying that Samara cooks seasonal ingredients over wood fire doesn’t begin to describe what Eric Anderson accomplishes with his vaguely medieval flame chamber in this handsome Sunset Hill dining room. Samara’s uncontested smash, the dungeness crab, begins with a patty of charred short-grain rice piled with butter-soaked crabmeat; pureed tarragon keeps the French influence from surrendering to Japan. That jaw-dropping level of buttery finesse spreads across a menu of vegetables, seafood, and smaller-scale proteins like duck and pork.

Un Bien

The sons of the original Paseo founder opened Un Bien with their dad’s recipes, which makes this Caribbean roast sandwich the legendarily messy original: pork shoulder, caramelized onions, pickled jalapenos, all on an aioli-swiped Macrina roll. A blast to eat, especially with a cob of slathered grilled corn during warmer months—but have multiple napkins handy. Two locations bookend Ballard, and a third is on the way to Queen Anne.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

Renee Erickson’s jostling oyster bar on Ballard Ave remains the gold standard for showing visitors (the kind who don’t mind a two-hour wait) what Seattle is capable of. Not that you need a houseguest to justify a night of meticulously sourced oysters, octopus carpaccio, and food-simpatico cocktails beneath the glow of an enormous coral reef of a chandelier.

Beacon Hill

Bar del Corso

It’s one of the city’s most indispensable Italian restaurants thanks to Jerry Corso’s pizza—crusts blistered from the wood-fire oven, toppings simple and seasonal. But after pizza comes a mosaic of Roman street food like fried risotto balls, grilled octopus, Italian regional antipasti, and luminous seasonal salads. Because this understated dining room on Beacon Avenue (with a hidden-away back patio) is far more than a pizza joint: The menu is short, the waits can be long, and the aperitivi-based cocktails feel imperative.

Jerry Corso's Italian restaurant adds up to way more than the sum of its parts.

Image: Amber Fouts

Carnitas Michoacán

It’s the tortillas that make this family-run restaurant on Beacon Avenue so marvelous—springy masa pressed into delicate rounds. No, actually…it’s the meat: charred carne asada, or an al pastor that melds pork, spices, and pineapple sweetness on an almost molecular level. Carnitas are traditional to Michoacán; the version here delivers on rich flavor and just enough crispy bits. This busy kitchen puts out food that surpasses the stuff at way fancier (and more expensive) places.

Unparalleled tortillas at Carnitas Michoacán (okay, the filling is pretty great, too).

Image: Amber Fouts

Restaurant Homer

Logan Cox is the sort of chef who can make lamb ribs craveable, redefine roast chicken as something new and exciting, and recognize most of the neighborhood dogs (and their owners) by name. His original restaurant puts big, broadly Mediterranean flavors in crunchy context but also runs a soft-serve window, just because. It’s hard to narrow down your options here, but the meatballs and lamb ribs remain perennial standouts, along with just about anything from the section of the menu dedicated to things one might spread on saucer-size pitas. These arrive at the table almost too hot to touch, soft interior still puffed up from the wood oven. Seattle Met’s 2019 Restaurant of the Year


Chef Melissa Miranda is a force on so many levels—an advocate within her culinary, cultural, and geographic communities. But it’s all built on some serious cooking talent. Musang is an ode to the Filipino food of Miranda’s Northwest youth, from kare kare to seasonal pancits, her grandmother’s delicate lumpia recipe to squid adobo. It’s food with soul, with seasons, and with lovely cocktails to go with it. The converted lavender Craftsman serves brunch as well as dinner. Seattle Met’s 2020 Restaurant of the Year

Musang's Filipino-meets-Northwest spread.

Image: Amber Fouts


Jerk Shack

As a child, Trey Lamont would visit Caribbean relatives on the East Coast, then yearn for their distinct spice combinations back home in Seattle. As an adult, he combines those worldly flavors with his culinary training to produce a majestic half chicken, fried just past golden, its skin a terrain of crusted spice that delivers a low roar of flavor. While Lamont certainly excels at classic Caribbean dishes, he’s unafraid to meld jerk influences with burritos, or pasta in cream sauce. All this happens in a room where sunshine-yellow walls and turquoise seating feel more tropical getaway than Northwest dining.

Tilikum Place Cafe

Tilikum’s warm service and moderate prices give it the aura of a neighborhood restaurant, which can leave people wholly unprepared for such exacting food. Chef Ba Culbert’s been serving midmorning realness in the form of dutch babies—baked pancakes in a hot cast-iron skillet, perhaps with spiced pumpkin or duck confit—since 2008. But the brick-walled restaurant beloved for brunch stuns in equal measure at lunch or dinner, from a chop salad that makes kale feel new again to a homey pork chop with polenta, greens, and a grilled fig. Always investigate the specials. 

Capitol Hill


These days, Seattle Met’s first-ever Restaurant of the Year serves a fixed tasting menu that begins with a flurry of stuzzichini, or single-bite snacks. Chef Nathan Lockwood takes Northwest ingredients in unexpected and elegant directions. Beautiful dishes plated with moss, rocks, or leaves deliver a sense of the rustic, despite consistently deep finesse. Much has changed at Altura over the years, but the hand-carved wooden angel still looks down from an overhead alcove; the service is down-to-earth, the wine list smart. A great bet for a special occasion. 

Steak, Bateau style.

Image: Sarah Flotard


Renee Erickson refashioned the old-school steak house model into this lovely white-on-white dining room, which makes liberal use of edible flowers, but also lets customers choose their cuts off a wall-size blackboard, plus sides and your butter of choice. Chef Taylor Thornhill’s mandate to use every part of local cows yields beefy and beautiful creativity like a Reuben-inspired mille feuille alongside memorable tartare and those house-butchered, dry-aged steaks, cooked medium rare in hot steel pans and butter aplenty. The off-menu burger’s one of the best in the city, and the starter menu kicks Erickson’s playful way with seasonal produce up into fine-dining territory. Seattle Met’s 2016 Restaurant of the Year.

Carmelo's Tacos

Carmelo Gaspar spent 25 years at the Cactus in Madison Park before striking out with his own family-run window inside Hillcrest Market—an unassuming space that makes showstopping tacos. The staff makes tortillas fresh and puts the same care into what goes inside: rich campechano, nopales with fresh grill marks, an al pastor that plays fiery pork against cool pineapple. A nearby second location at 12th and Cherry offers a larger menu, some seating, and an aural backdrop of meat sizzling on a grill.

Cascina Spinasse

The rustic Italian farmstead with the trestle tables and wrought-iron chandeliers serves the best pasta in Pike/Pine, maybe even Seattle: rich hand-cut Piedmontese egg-yolk noodles, buttery delicate strands of tajarin. Smaller dishes pulled from the seasons and hearty meat dishes, from rabbit to roast trout, can also be extraordinary. Chef Stuart Lane carries on the legacy and the quality of one of the city’s most impressive Italian restaurants.  

Kobuta and Ookami

Japanese-style fried cutlets (pork, fancier pork, jidori chicken, even cheese) rule at this ever-crowded hangout on 15th Avenue. Chef Don Tandavanitj researched from Tokyo to Vancouver; his expert frying delivers crunch as strong as radio static. Katsu comes in darkly chocolate curry, floated in bubbling nabe, or unadorned and glorious. The showstopper channels chicken parm: swathed in tomato miso sauce beneath a pile of grated parmesan that demands a snow shovel.

Lark now expresses its Northwest flavors in a choose-your-own fixed menu.


We won’t call him “elder” just yet, but John Sundstrom is absolutely a culinary statesman in Seattle. The proof lies in his stunning restaurant, where starry lights twinkle above soft banquettes and the kitchen does elegant things with very local ingredients. Business partner Kelly Ronan carries those same high expectations to Lark’s hospitality. The current four-course tasting menu format gives diners multiple options for each round, a setup flexible enough to suit people who don’t usually love tasting menus.

Ltd. Edition Sushi

What makes an omakase stand out so much that diners emerge in a joyful daze, perhaps muttering admiring curse words under their breath? Start with chef Keiji Tsukasaki, a Sushi Kashiba alum with both joyful magnetism and surgeon-level fish skills. He also brings a sense of fun you don’t always find with skill levels this serious (and ingredients this expensive). A $140 dinner at the eight-seat chef’s counter might include sea bass aged like beef, or side-by-side tastes of uni from Hokkaido and Santa Barbara.


Racha and Wassef Haroun’s original restaurant translates the Syrian and Lebanese flavors of their upbringing into elegant dishes served in an urbane, low-lit dining room. The menu of hummus, muhammara, end other mezze is reliably masterful; entrees also draw from seasonal Northwest ingredients. But Mamnoon deserves equal props for its lunch menu of man’oushe (also available as wraps). Seattle Met’s 2013 Restaurant of the Year.

Roll-up windows and pops of Grecian blue at Omega Ouzeri.

Omega Ouzeri

Thomas Soukakos translates flavors of his youth into a restrained space that reps the colors of the Greek flag in the heart of Pike/Pine. Salads bursting with ripe tomatoes and fresh herbs, smoked cod fritters, vivid tzatziki—a flurry of smaller plates share space with entrees of grilled octopus or spice-crusted kebabs of grilled lamb. The all-Greek wine list deserves way more attention.


A machine at the front of this tiny shop above the Harvard Market QFC cranks out fresh noodles. Chef Chong Boon Ooi then transfers them into bowls of superlative ramen. He balances traditional styles with his own creations, inspired by flavors from Sichuan or Shanghai. Ooi originally hails from Malaysia, which explains both the presence of ayam goreng­ chicken—and the fact that it’s so damn good. A second location on Stone Way brings all these wonderful things to Fremont.

Monsoon's brunch-friendly eggs benedict, topped with dungeness.

Image: Amber Fouts


Eric and Sophie Banh’s pair of elegant Vietnamese restaurants still sparkle as they did when the first Monsoon wowed the city in 1999. The original location and its Bellevue spinoff each retain their own personas, but both nail consistency—in the warm service, the grilled beef la lot, drunken chicken, clay pot catfish, and the allure of weekend dim sum brunch. Beverage director Jon Christiansen ensures cocktails are on point, and the Seattle rooftop remains one of the town’s best, most secluded patios.  

Plum Bistro

Chef Makini Howell is an avatar for vegan food’s evolution in the United States, from a childhood of earnest tofu and seitan at her family’s vegan sandwich shop and diner to convincing comfort food, and finally the cultured, plant-based plates at her flagship restaurant—a destination for vegan and omnivores alike. Howell has added multiple dishes to Seattle’s meatless canon (her mac and yease, a properly decadent tofu reuben, some incredible salads) but she also knows when to keep things straightforward, like pan-roasted cauliflower or truffle-topped gnocchi.

Spice Waala

Detail-oriented street food rules this pair of casual counters, from the kathi rolls that built Spice Waala’s following back at the farmers market, to crackling servings of chaat and a take on nachos. But owners Uttam Mukherjee and Aakanksha Sinha share values beyond just the food they grew up with, in New Delhi and Kolkata, respectively. Every item on the menu remains under $10, a nod to a classic street food experience in India, where customers from all socioeconomic strata converge for the same freshly made comfort food.

Stateside's chili-cumin pork ribs.


Eric Johnson’s past life cooking in a Michelin-starred kitchen in Shanghai gave him a springboard to eat and travel broadly across Asia. Those experiences inform intelligent explorations of flavors that crisscross Vietnam and China, like master stock crispy chicken, those chili- and cumin-crusted pork ribs, and Vietnamese iced coffee creamsicles. For a guy driven to produce such exacting food, Johnson is exceedingly modest and hospitable, a vibe that extends to the front of house, a stylish palm-fronded getaway. Seattle Met’s 2015 Restaurant of the Year.

Tools of the trade at Taneda Sushi in Kaiseki.

Taneda Sushi in Kaiseki

Head down the beat-up passage of Broadway Alley to find a nine-seat sushi restaurant hidden behind a barber and a tobacco shop. Here, chef Hideaki Taneda inlays some ornate seasonal traditions of kaiseki within a high-end sushi omakase. Nigiri, naked save a light sear and a swipe of the condensed soy sauce known as nikiri, bookend ritual-thick kaiseki courses like the hassun: eight disparate bites—from a morsel of rich wagyu to broiled eel wrapped in a tamago ribbon—on a single plate. This unusual alliance of two Japanese culinary traditions works, thanks to the meal’s measured tempo—and some excellent sake pours.

Taurus Ox

Demand for its striking Laotian food propelled this casual spot out of its tiny counter quarters on Madison and into a real dining room, complete with atmosphere and way more seating. Dishes, mercifully, remain the same, like the khao poon noodle soup and co-owner Khampaeng Panyathong’s mom’s sausage recipe, all texture and lemongrass. None of which prepares you for this: Taurus Ox makes, indisputably, one of the best burgers in town, with a pair of proper smash patties, two versions of the condiment jeaw, and house-cured pork jowl in place of bacon. It’s cross-culturally clever and drive-across-town good.

Terra Plata

Chef Tamara Murphy won a James Beard Award in 1995. Which means she’s been at the top of her game longer than just about any other chef in town. The proof now resides at her restaurant at Melrose Market, and in a menu divided into earth, land, and sea categories and built on longstanding connections with local farmers. The rooftop patio—triangular, strung with lights, surrounded by vintage Seattle—is a peerless brunch destination.

Central District

Damon Bomar runs the bar program and front of house at Communion. His mom, Kristi Brown, supplies the memorable food.

Image: Amber Fouts


Kristi Brown practices her own brand of Soul food, tethering a menu of grilled pork chops and fried catfish to Seattle and its crossroads of Asian flavors. Chinatown–International District influence delivers dishes like a po’ boy–banh mi hybrid, pho-inspired gumbo, even maki rolls with cornmeal-crusted catfish. After years of catering, Brown created a neighborhood beacon in the Liberty Bank Building, the dining room’s modern edges softened with tufted booths, coppery ceiling panels, uproarious conversation, and a vintage back bar where Damon Bomar presides over drinks. Seattle Met’s 2021 Restaurant of the Year.


It’s a Parisian bistro by way of Northwest ingredients—reason enough to love Zac Overman and JJ Proville’s wainscoted hangout. Proville recasts classic French dishes with spot prawns, dungeness crab, and arctic char, while Overman runs the marquee-lit bar filled with surprising cocktails. But wry wit bubbles behind all that formidable talent—this is a place unafraid to describe a wine as “the purple nurple of pet-nat.” (Oh yeah, the wine program is largely natural, mostly French, and wholly great.)

Uninhibited flavors at Reckless Noodle House.

Image: Amber Fouts

Reckless Noodle House

The rows of tiny shark maws affixed to the wall should be the first hint that this is more than a perfectly nice neighborhood restaurant. Kenny Lee’s Vietnamese-leaning dishes erupt with herbs and fiery spices. From a scorching wok, he builds heat in dishes like braised beef cheek noodle with sharp pickled mustard greens in Sichuan chili oil, but even the green papaya salad with bird’s eye chilies packs a punch. Drinks, courtesy of co-owners Bryce Sweeney and Mario Eckert, also tremendously exceed expectations. A new bar next door offers balm for the inevitable wait times.

Chinatown–International District

A+ Hong Kong Restaurant

Fish balls in curry. Stone pots of rice, layered with braised beef brisket and cabbage, each layer perfectly cooked. Stir-fried rice rolls in spiral formations. Congee, noodle soups, baked pork chops over spaghetti, even oversize tea sandwiches spread with butter and condensed milk. This family-run restaurant in the reimagined Louisa Hotel (and its original cafe a few blocks away) offers a huge menu as varied as Hong Kong’s myriad food influences. And yet, just about every dish is fabulous.


The Japantown izakaya feels like a lively night out, even when the sun’s still up. Chef Sean Arakaki loves himself a culinary mashup: risotto that summons flavors of miso soup; a dish that melds gyoza and quesabirria. Things whirl off and on the menu every week (except the loco moco scotch egg) and the cocktails, highballs, and beer list keep pace with the food’s creativity. This is destination drinking food.

Lan Hue

From the pastry case’s pate chaud and hum bao (baked or steamed) to the pate, ham, and meatballs, the perfect shatter-prone baguettes, even the mayo that populates the sandwich menu, this cheerful banh mi shop from the family behind Hue Ky Mi Ga makes just about everything in house. Even more impressive: Baker Mon Tat spent decades making the baguettes at his family’s banh mi shop in Saigon.  


Seattle’s oldest Japanese restaurant has stories aplenty in its 117-year history, from rebuilding after incarceration to Seattle’s first-ever sushi bar—to legendary operators Jean Nakayama and nonagenarian bartender Fusae “Mom” Yokoyama. But this nihonmachi jewel still delivers remarkable comfort food, like the miso-marinated black cod collar.

Mee katang has been on the menu since the beginning at Phnom Penh Noodle House; it’s especially great with crispy noodles.

Image: Amber Fouts

Phnom Penh Noodle House

Seattle has precious few Cambodian restaurants, thus the sense of loss when this three-decade community hub closed in 2018. And our unfettered joy when the family owners, the daughters of founder Sam Ung reopened in 2020 just blocks away in Little Saigon. The new location has more minimalist style than its bamboo-bedecked predecessor, but the spicy-sweet chicken wings, delicate noodle soups, and Chinese-influenced mee katang (order it with crispy noodles) taste just the same.

Pho Bac Súp Shop

To be Seattle’s first pho shop is notable enough, especially given our town’s subsequent obsession with Vietnam’s robust noodle soup. But second-generation owners Yenvy and Guynh Pham have a talent for finding new, impressively on-trend ways to reinforce these traditions. Case in point: This tropically hip dining room where bowls of that same beautiful pho come with bar snacks and cocktails. The original shop, a boat-shaped structure across the parking lot, now serves garlic chicken and rice.

Tai Tung

Seattle’s oldest Chinese restaurant, open since 1935, perfected its homey, steadfast dishes long ago. Today, third-generation owner Harry Chan sees to their continued excellence. He also sees to the quick-but-kind service and makes sure to proffer a cheery wave goodbye as you stagger out the door, stuffed with beef in deep, rich oyster sauce or chop suey loaded with sauteed vegetables. The magic of Tai Tung lies in its long counter, infused with eight decades of scuffs and celebrity photos and its owner as much as its food.

Tamarind Tree

In 2004, Tam Nguyen opened an elegant little restaurant, hidden behind a Little Saigon parking lot, that presented Seattle’s beloved (but heretofore casual) Vietnamese cuisine in an ambient, cocktail-fueled setting worthy of the food. The menu’s long and invariably excellent: a seven-course beef tasting, muc nhoi thit (grilled squid stuffed with ground pork), banh mi hap (a steamed baguette)...on and on for pages. But it offers just as many thrills today as it did two decades ago.

Columbia City

La Medusa

La Medusa sprang into Columbia City back in 1997 and has retained its sense of magic ever since. Current owner Meredith Molli recently added a lovely wine bar and market next door, but the dining room, with its chalkboard menu, still packs an astonishing range of seasonal, Sicily-inspired flavors, from beautiful greens to campanelle pasta with duck confit, or a cauliflower gratin with pine nuts and raisins.

Erasto Jackson presides over Lil Red's smoker.

Image: Amber Fouts

Lil Red Jamaican BBQ and Soul Cuisine

Erasto Jackson combines exacting barbecue with soul food staples and Jamaica’s tradition of seafood and jerked meats. (The latter honors his wife, Lilieth, and her heritage.) It’s nigh impossible to choose when a single menu might offer jerk spareribs, curry goat, smothered pork chops, plantains, spot-on brisket, a whole snapper, and seriously piquant mac and cheese. Jackson puts in long hours smoking meat, cooking, and mixing his own rubs—and it shows.

Off Alley

Running a tiny 12-seat restaurant in a glorified brick corridor means chef Evan Leichtling has a lot of freedom: to source nearly unsourceable treats like gooseneck barnacles. To serve snails on sourdough toast with bone marrow butter. Maybe stuff a dutch baby with foie gras and nectarines. Off Alley’s daily chalkboard menu celebrates underappreciated organs and oft-overlooked tiny fish. But rather than headline, these often serve as punctuation on elegant plates of seasonal produce. Sunday “adult lunch” offers another chance to grab a seat; whatever the day, Meghna Prakash’s wine and service seals a very fun deal.


Sushi Kappo Tamura

Owner Taichi Kitamura combines one of the city’s top-tier sushi bars with a beautiful menu of ippins, small composed plates like rich black cod glazed in miso or chawan mushi layered with crabmeat. In matters of sushi, Kitamura knows when to simply showcase pristine fish and when to introduce a little flair—or jalapeno. The staggering amount of options (hot plates, nigiri, coursed options, brunch, omakase) makes SKT feel unusually versatile for a restaurant of this caliber. 


Art of the Table

What began as a tiny, offbeat operation has now settled in nicely to its handsome quarters on Stone Way. What hasn’t changed: Dustin Ronspies’s vision. His five-course menus set Neah Bay cod or pasta stuffed with lamb neck against intricate seasonal backdrops—basically he’s a jeweler who works in cilantro pistou and smoked tomato jam instead of precious metals. The pandemic added a grab-and-go market, but dinner here remains one of the most special occasions in town.

Kamonegi's artful soba.


Committed artisan. Classically trained chef. Practitioner of madcap drinking snacks. Pick your preferred description for Mutsuko Soma, a woman who can cut her own soba noodles by hand, but also make a mean TikTok video starring a maple bar, hot dog, and panini press. Both sides of her brain come together on Kamonegi’s menu of stunning soba bowls, seasonal tempura, and Japanese-centered snacks (looking, longingly, at you foie gras tofu). Seattle Met’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year.

Northwest staples like chowder and teriyaki look a bit different at Local Tide.

Image: Amber Fouts

Local Tide

Seattle has startlingly few restaurants centered on Northwest seafood. This counter-service spot sources from a network of local fisheries, a labor-intensive process often reserved for higher-end spots. But owner Victor Steinbrueck turns the results into the best takeout lunch ever: rockfish banh mi, upgraded salmon teriyaki, home fries tossed with bacon bits and chunks of smoked cod. Then, of course, there’s the weekend-only crab roll, on a buttery split-top bun. Steinbrueck shares a name with his famous grandfather, but this place is indisputably his own.


In a few short years, Preeti Agarwal has advanced from home cook to successful popup, to owner of two of the town’s best Indian restaurants. Her first, Meesha, established her zeal for gathering dishes from across India’s myriad regional cuisines (Rajasthani kofta might sit on the table next to a Goan prawn curry). She serves it in a cozy dining room, with an equally inviting patio, with cocktails and a good wine program. Diners with dietary restrictions appreciate the separate menus for vegan dishes and non-alcoholic drinks. 

At Revel, Rachel Yang balances staple dishes with newer plates.

Image: Amber Fouts


Eye-popping, rule-breaking—name your over-the-top adjective and it’s probably a reasonable descriptor of Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi’s Korean-fusion comfort food. Pop art punches up a sleek new dining room that retained the original Revel’s enormous butcher block counter. The current menu mixes favorites from Revel’s 2010 debut—like the short rib rice bowl and dungeness crab noodles in red curry—with newer creations. Throw in a cocktail bar, Quoin inside the restaurant, a kids meal, the destination-worthy brunch, and oh yeah—everything is gluten free. Honestly, Rachel Yang might be the closest thing Seattle has to a superhero.

RockCreek Seafood

Eric Donnelly created the sort of innovative seafood restaurant Seattle visitors expect to see on every corner, in a raw-wood-and-corrugated-metal space in upper Fremont with an urban fishing lodge vibe. Donnelly bypasses the usual protein-starch-veg combos to architect small plates and larger seafood entrees where every bite is symphonic, every execution perfect (the Kari Out calamari has been a classic from day one). That’s achievement enough, but RockCreek doubles down with a covered patio and smart cocktails.


Glorious bowls at BopBox.


This pocket-size lunchroom in Georgetown is hardly the first to adapt bibimbap to our prevailing grain bowl culture, but good luck finding another place that does it so well. Owner Jeanny Rhee’s versions—salmon in dashi, kimchi fried rice, or a seasonal vegetable medley in a great black garlic vinaigrette—satisfy carnivores and clean eaters, and the plug and play mix of proteins, sauces, and grains accommodates a ton of dietary restrictions. In a perfect world, this place would be as Seattle-ubiquitous as Evergreens. 


A fortress of brick walls conceals a temple of dining influenced by the grilling traditions of South America, Portugal, the Mediterranean, and beyond. Here, an open grill yields harissa-spiced chicken for the whitewashed, warehouse-like dining room, where diners sit in gaily colored chairs beneath the folkloric Stacey Rozich mural. Ciudad defies easy descriptors and that’s part of the charm.

The Corson Building

In an old Italianate cottage amid an unlikely Georgetown garden, chef Emily Crawford Dann invents, and reinvents, seasonal odes. Coho lox with tahini and ginger-marinated celery, or braised beef shoulder with brussels sprout tips, squash ribbons, and hearty caponata. Few special occasion restaurants feel this legitimately special. These days, Dann keeps the magic outside, serving all meals in the Corson’s covered, heated garden space.

Jack's BBQ

Consider Jack Timmons Seattle’s affable brisket baron, a Texan turned tech guy who went on to apply those precision sensibilities to smoked meat. Jack’s now has four locations, and another on the way in Bellingham, but it all began at this SoDo roadhouse. The ribs, brisket, and pulled pork are worth the trip, full stop. But once you’re there, you’ll also find summery cocktails and a constellation of great sides, like brisket nachos or a wedge salad with chunks of house bacon. A light-strung patio shares parking lot space with a pair of hulking smokers.

Seasonal fare and fantastic pasta at Mezzanotte.


Back in the day (and more specifically, back at Spinasse), Jason Stratton established himself as one of the town’s most notable Italian chefs. He’s also a hell of a creative guy. Those two elements found a productive home in Marcus Lalario’s Georgtown restaurants, where planes descend overhead to Boeing Field and Stratton’s signature tajarin pasta still blows your mind. The menu reflects Lalario’s northern Italian heritage, but ginger lurks in an endive salad and lime leaf helps spark a bowl of beef sugo and gigli pasta. If you want to go big (and can book well in advance) Stratton does his version of an omakase at the chef’s counter.


Eight Row is the seasonal Northwest restaurant of your dreams.

Image: Amber Fouts

Eight Row

Fried eggplant melts like gnocchi, and the dungeness salad refines sturdy winter vegetables into delicate, almost summery compositions. David Nichols’s poised menu is full of familiar ingredients, drawn from the farms and orchards of his upbringing in Central Washington—and the people who work them. And yet the results stand out, even in a town with plenty of great seasonal Northwest fare. Even the space transcends Seattle’s typical new-construction blandness thanks to supersize white wainscoting and a layout that invites conversation.

Frelard Tamales

When Osbaldo Hernandez and Dennis Ramey decided to start their own business, their first hire was crucial: Osbaldo’s mom, Eva, who sold tamales for years out of their home in Bellevue. They amped up her traditional, springy creations with even more filling—half-pound bundles stuffed with pork in red chile sauce, sweet potato in mole, or chorizo and cheese. Vegetarian and vegan tamales pack just as much flavor as meaty options; no wonder lines are a way of life at the Greenlake walkup counter (the name harkens back to the operation’s farmers market origins).


Chicken Supply founders Paolo Campbell and Donnie Adams sell their wares by the individual piece.

Image: Amber Fouts

Chicken Supply

Filipino fried chicken restaurants like Jollibee inspired Paolo Campbell and Donnie Adams, but the counter service spot they created is very much their own: chicken crackles—literally via its gluten-free crust, but also with marinated flavors of tamari, ginger, and lemon. Sides veer away from American South staples to embrace Philippine flavors, and the butter mochi inspires as much bare-knuckled desire as the chicken. Preorder online, before the day’s cache is gone.

A view from the mezzanine at FlintCreek.

Image: Amber Fouts

FlintCreek Cattle Co.

A game meat destination with cattle in the name, from a chef who also happens to be a virtuoso with fish. Eric Donnelly, also the chef behind RockCreek, presents less-common meats like bison, boar, and duck in a 1926 brick building with the sort of bilevel grandeur that cries out for midcentury chandeliers and a showy central bar. Preparations cast game meat in familiar tableaus (venison in a rich pate, tender wild boar sugo over gnocchi), each one a craveable gateway to these more sustainable proteins. Plus a few beautiful steaks for good measure. Seattle Met’s 2017 Restaurant of the Year.

Hillman City


Maybe eight people per seating form a rapt audience as Aaron Verzosa and Amber Manuguid present roughly 10 courses that explore the Philippines’ many-faceted relationship with the Pacific Northwest. Historical lessons, cultural context, and childhood memories get wrapped around a menu of heirloom grain pandesal, miki noodles, and myriad other smart seasonal creations. You could certainly appreciate these flavors even without the backstory, but in Verzosa’s hands, the combination is a rare sort of magic.

Coffee ceremonies and combo platters at Delish.

Image: Amber Fouts

Delish Ethiopian Cuisine

A pair of Addis Ababa natives have built exactly the neighborhood restaurant you want down the street: chill, but with atmosphere. Friendly, but quite serious about the quality of its food. Amy Abera’s kitchen puts out one stacked veggie platter and seldom-found dishes like bozena shero. The restaurant even offers a full Ethiopian coffee ceremony, garnished with popcorn or Abera’s own mildly sweet bread, known as himbasha.

Lake City

Ahadu's welcoming chef and owner Menbere Medhane, with son Raeye.

Image: Amber Fouts


Technically, this storefront in a row of Ethiopian restaurants is a butcher, though your only clue might be the long line of customers who arrive twice weekly to pick up parcels of fresh meat. Ironically, you’ll not find a better veggie combo than chef Menbere Medhane’s composition of shiro, beets, lentils, cabbage, and fossolia, a flavorful blend of green beans and carrots. Portions prioritize quality over way-too-much quantity. And, to nobody’s surprise, meat dishes like key wat are also superb.


The story of Luam Wersom working his way up from dishwasher to owner at this long-standing Latin American and Cuban restaurant is a great one. The food is just as remarkable. Dishes like vaca frita, tostones, and pescado en guiso—even the accompanying rice—bear the finesse of 20 years of experience. Tropically hued walls backdrop a patio that looks balmy no matter the weather. Even the titular mojitos are on point.

Madison Valley

Cafe Flora

The city’s vegetarian standard-bearer since 1991, Cafe Flora has also mastered the art of vegan and gluten-free indulgence. Brunchers linger over veg scrambles, rosemary biscuits obscured by savory vegan gravy and the famed cinnamon rolls (also vegan). Even devout carnivores appreciate the artful ingredient interplay in hearty lunch and dinner plates, not to mention the plant-filled atrium and a handsome year-round patio. Flora’s impressive pastry program is also on display at Flora Bakehouse on Beacon Hill and the Floret spinoff at Sea-Tac, an essential pre-flight destination.

Harvest Vine

Over two decades, Madison Valley’s 11-seat Basque tapas bar added a downstairs dining room and installed chef Joey Serquinia. The close-quartered warmth radiates as strong as ever, delivered via a fluffy tortilla espanola, thin slices of cured tuna loin topped with caviar, or acorn-fed iberico pork, criminally tender and further enriched with smoked paprika oil. Generous pours of Spanish wines only amplify the appeal. Good luck snagging a seat at that copper-topped bar.  



“Pasta, seafood, and vegetables.” Brian Clevenger’s philosophy is pretty simple, as restaurant concepts go, but then factor in the flawless fish and produce. Clevenger’s got a knack for memorable combos—his dungeness crab, endive, and snap peas dish belongs in some sort of salad hall of fame—and for balancing culinary technique with our deep-seated cravings for pasta. Before he applied this formula at three other spots around the city, he honed it at his original restaurant. Vendemmia’s a little Italian, a little Northwest; equally game for birthday dinners or spontaneous Tuesday nights. Clevenger’s newest restaurant, Autumn, replicates this appeal on Phinney Ridge.

Maple Leaf

Kona Kitchen

Sure, actor Yuji Okumoto (most recently of Cobra Kai) is an owner at this family-run Hawaiian spot, with a second location in Lynnwood. But the real star is the menu of Aloha State comfort food. Saimin, spam musubi, plate lunches, mochiko chicken, and a build-your-own loco moco barely scratch the surface of an enormous all-day menu.


Cafe Lago

Finding beauty in the ingredients around us has been the Italian MO for centuries now, but Carla Leonardi’s kitchen reminds us how thrilling this can be. Her Montlake institution opened in 1990, a destination restaurant posting as a neighborhood cafe. The nine-layer lasagna deserves its legendary status, but saffron linguini with clams, wood-fired pizza, and endless seasonal creations all stand, unassumingly, in Seattle’s pantheon of great Italian food.

Mount Baker

Iconiq melds Japanese and French influences.


Toshiyuki Kawai grew up in Osaka, then cooked in some of Seattle’s most impressive European-leaning kitchens: Luc, RN74, Book Bindery, the Harvest Vine. He threads those experiences together with the sort of self-assured elegance you don’t expect to find in an understated Mt. Baker dining room: Iberico shabu shabu. Neah Bay sole meuniere with escargot. A glorious peach melba dessert. If you see anything that involves risotto, order it.


If you think Lao food is scarce in Seattle these days, imagine 1992, when plates of phad lao and nam kao first arrived in this chill Rainier strip mall. The latter, a salad of crispy rice studded with pork and roiling with lime, curry, and coconut flakes, has earned a spot in just about every takeout order or sit-down meal in a dining room with way more polish than the exterior suggests. The barbecue chicken has its own fervent following.


Pop Pop Thai Street Food

The space is unassuming, almost hidden in the corner of a vast parking lot on Aurora Avenue. But the food is some of the most credible Thai in town, made by two detail-oriented guys who adapted their moms’ recipes so we can all revel in papaya salad, sharp with salted crab, or khao mun gai—comforting chicken and rice—in the darkest, most savory of sauce.

Phinney Ridge

Windy City Pie

Dave Lichterman is an Illinois transplant, but also a pizza scientist, distinguished in the fields of dough-rising and cheese-browning chemical reactions. The result is a Chicago-style pizza that hurls thunderbolts at the brain’s pleasure center and makes converts out of people who think deep-dish is doughy and basic. Right now, the place only seats diners on the slim patio out front; given the cook times, it’s still a good idea to order pies ahead of time online, even if you plan to eat in. (Beacon Hill sibling Breezy Town adds a dash of Detroit to its pan pizza.)

Pike Place Market

Cafe Campagne

After all these years, Seattle’s equivalent of Paris cafe culture still perches on Post Alley in Pike Place Market. Here chef Daisley Gordon does right by classic dishes—quiche, pan-roasted chicken, oeufs en meurette—and instills in his kitchen the sort of perfectionism that renders even the simplest asparagus salad or brunchtime brioche french toast memorable. The patio hits the sweet spot for another hallmark of Parisian cafe culture, watching all the people go by. 

Le Pichet

Two longtime employees took over this pathologically good Parisian bistro in 2022. Meanwhile, another Pichet veteran, John Mix, runs the kitchen. Classics still spark with nonchalant finesse: a bibb lettuce and hazelnut salad, one of the best charcuterie boards in the city (ranging from jambon to boudin noir). Just as admirable, though, is the quiet, seasonal invention Mix weaves through the menu. A study in French grace, sans cliche.  

Maíz's masa game just keeps getting better. 

Image: Amber Fouts


The walkup antojitos counter (with a handful of counter seats) imports sacks of heirloom Mexican corn, then nixtamalizes it to make tortillas (and sopes, huaraches, tostadas, and gorditas) from scratch. Maíz’s masa game keeps getting better, including the guisado-style tacos filled with your choice of braised meats. Great coffee, too.

The charming dining room at Matt’s in the Market.

Image: Amber Fouts

Matt's in the Market

The closest thing Seattle has to an essential restaurant hides up on the second floor of Pike Place Market. Named for its original owner, Matt’s effortlessly combines Seattle’s winningest charms: views over market rooftops to the bay, freshest seafood, straightforward friendliness. Current chef Matt Fortner (yep, the name is pure coincidence) puts subtle global touches on beautiful local ingredients. Sandwiches on the lunch menu (particularly the catfish) deliver the same level of care.

Pasta Casalinga

Turin, Italy-born Michela Tartaglia first taught pasta-making classes in the Pike Place Market Atrium’s test kitchen. Now she runs a hidden-away pasta counter directly above; it serves four daily bowls that always include meat, seafood, and “from the garden” renditions. What this means: a different menu each time you visit, and memorable partnerships between seasonal ingredients and pasta shapes, like tortiglioni with speck and ricotta, or gemelli with caramelized pears, gorgonzola, and walnuts.

Sushi Kashiba

It’s a union that almost seems fated: Shiro Kashiba, the legend who gave Seattle its first-ever sushi counter, and Pike Place Market, our other signature monument to local ingredients. Together as one in a striking neutral-hued space. The dining room takes reservations, but diners jockey for first-come-first-serve spot at the long sushi bar—and its peerless omakase. Shiro himself is still known to hold court for diners at the far end.

Queen Anne


Nearly seven decades of history, hospitality, and cliffhanging views from atop Queen Anne Hill cemented Canlis’s icon status long ago. But third-generation owners Mark and Brian keep Canlis in league with the country’s dining vanguard. (Even when it means morphing into a crab shack, or taking the whole operation outside as they did during their grueling series of pandemic pivots.) Chef Aisha Ibrahim infuses Japanese techniques, local ingredients, and myriad influences into a three-course menu where you select the dishes, but the Canlis kitchen furnishes a few snacks and surprises along the way.

Eden Hill's Maximillian Petty.

Image: Amber Fouts

Eden Hill

Crowd favorites like the crispy pig head candy bar, cauliflower chilaquiles, and foie gras cake batter still anchor the menu at Maximillian Petty’s original restaurant. But these standards are surrounded by dishes that roll out endless seasonal creativity. Few restaurants balance “welcoming neighborhood restaurant” and “special occasion tasting menu” with this much elegance—and unstuffy hospitality.

How to Cook a Wolf

One of Ethan Stowell’s OG restaurants, with its wood-wrapped interior on the neighborhood’s main drag, illustrates how the restaurateur became a household name in his hometown: clever pastas, Italian-meets-Northwest crudos, and an attentive staff that’s quick to refresh the crostini supply that comes with plush chicken liver mousse. The newer outpost in Madison Valley replicates this formula in its curvaceously glowy dining room.


A pair of fine dining expats by way of New York and San Francisco compose jewel box tributes to Korean flavors: fried rice, black with squid ink, punchy with bacon and kimchi, topped with a confit quail egg yolk, or hand-rolled ricotta dumplings layered in pyogo beosut, also known as shiitake mushrooms. Bulgogi is gussied with truffles. Prices remain surprisingly casual given the special occasion caliber of these plates.

Rainier Beach

It's hard to make food as decadent as Drae's taste this good. 

Image: Jane Sherman

Drae's Lake Route Eatery

This unassuming spot keeps limited hours and eschews delivery apps or even a website. Word of mouth is what propels Andrae Israel and Sharron Anderson’s unrivaled retro comfort food, from fried pork chop sandwiches to the montana potatoes, a decadent egg-topped skillet of cheese, peppers, and breakfast meat. It’s not hard to make this decadent food taste good; it takes real attention to make it this great. Anderson’s family once ran a chicken and waffle restaurant up on MLK, so any order that involves fried bird feels like a sure bet.

South Lake Union

The 14th-floor deck at Mbar.


Take the elevator 14 floors up to Mbar’s indoor/outdoor rooftop and you’re in a different city. One populated with glamorous selfies, Vegas lighting, and a patio with a cosmopolitan sheen. The 360-degree view, though, is purely Seattle. So is the menu, which blends owners Racha and Wassef Haroun’s Middle Eastern roots with Northwest notes—the same finessed combo that built their original restaurant, Mamnoon.

University District

Xi’an Noodles

Seattle has a few more destinations than it used to for biang biang noodles, named for the sound that happens when chefs slap long strands of dough against a counter, creating the fissures that lead to those wide, perfectly chewy ribbons. But Lily Wu’s remain the standardbearer, whether they’re dressed in cumin lamb or tingly beef, or just some chile-inused oil. Her dining room on the Ave recently got a much-needed makeover, and a counter hidden in Westlake Center does the same for your downtown lunch hour.


Harvest Beat

Five-course dinners brim with intelligent vegan creations (saffron lobster mushroom bisque, curried cashew paneer) and equally smart wine pairings. The to-go version of these dinners that arose during 2020’s restaurant shutdowns are still available; same goes for the market stocked with roasted beet garlic hummus, cookies, and creamy salad dressing—a more relaxed insight into the kitchen’s plant-based talents.


Few restaurants in Seattle will reliably blow your mind like Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi’s original. When Joule moved from 45th to its larger, stylized digs on Stone Way, it acquired a sort of steak house identity, but leave it to Yang and Chirchi to take a staid and prescribed menu format and make it explode with chili oil, scallion pancakes, and Chinese broccoli with walnut pesto. Spicy rice cakes forever.

West Seattle


Labor intensive pasta meets log cabin charm at Il Nido.

Image: Kyle Johnson

Il Nido

The Alki Homestead, a landmark century-old log cabin, is a special sort of restaurant space. Just as special: the labor-intensive pasta and double-cut rib eyes that happen inside. In 2022, Mike Easton left his restaurant in the capable hands of manager Cameron Williams and executive chef Katie Gallego. As owners, they’ve piloted a smooth transition for both the Tuscan-inspired menu and the warm service. Getting a reservation can be certifiably bananas, but the bar and rear patio take walk-ins.

Marination Ma Kai

If you’re coming from downtown, there’s no better capsule of Seattle than a trip on the West Seattle water taxi for kalbi beef tacos or kalua pork sliders. The cheerful Korean-Hawaiian flavors that defined Seattle’s earliest food truck scene now hold down Marination’s most memorable brick-and-mortar, a former fish and chips shack by the water taxi station. The waterside location inspires an extra dash of Hawaii on the menu, like plate lunches and shave ice. The expansive beer garden patio offers umbrellas, striking views, and a host of summery drinks. If you can’t steal away, a counter at Sixth and Virginia is an office lunch game changer.

The pizza toppings at Moto are as unexpected as the building's surroundings. 

Image: Amber Fouts


An enchanted cottage of Detroit-style pizza dwells between two mid-rise buildings. Inside, a century-old sourdough starter begets square pies with that all-important perimeter of crisped-up cheese. Pizza toppings are as unexpected as Moto’s surroundings: Filipino lechon kawali, dungeness crab, plus more staid pepperoni or veggie combos. Pizza this special books up months in advance, but Moto’s cool piped-edge soft serve machine and chimney-cake cones are available on the regular.


White Center

Brady Williams creates precise seasonal compositions at Tomo.

Image: Amber Fouts


At Canlis, Brady Ishiwata Williams famously balanced a menu pitched toward both legacy diners and newcomers. His own restaurant is more declarative. Tomo presents fine dining­–caliber tasting menus that distill each season’s progression of flavors into delicate, often sweet-savory experimentations, served sans tablecloths, at a very reasonable price point. The wine list is long and adventurous, reservations notoriously tough to come by. This place isn’t for everybody; the buzz sometimes distorts people’s expectations. But if dynamic creativity from a talent-packed kitchen sounds like your jam, watch the calendar to score a reservation.

Multiple Locations

Ba Bar

It's easy to take Ba Bar for granted because it’s always there for you: Three locations serving reliable high-quality pho at 10am on a Tuesday, slushy cocktails at happy hour, and a menu built on Saigon street food: vermicelli bowls, crispy imperial rolls, five-spice rotisserie duck. Sophie Banh ensures the food remains great, while brother Eric keeps things of the moment, from adding stylish covered and heated patios to installing a formidable pastry program.

Textbook-perfect soup dumplings fuel Dough Zone's rapid growth.

Dough Zone

It’s almost as much fun to debate who makes the town’s best xiao long bao as it is to eat them. But our vote is this Eastside-born chainlet, known for soup dumplings, crispy-bottomed Q bao, and satisfying dan dan noodles. Now Dough Zone is closing in on 10 locations in the Puget Sound and even California; these include a minimalist, light-filled space in the Publix Hotel and a prominent spot at Ninth and Pine. Both of which dispense xiao long bao filled with pork, crab, or chicken to your table seemingly seconds after you order.

Tacos Chukís

When Roberto Salmerón launched a taco shop in 2011, he looked to the Mexican street tacos he grew up on, not to duplicate, but to harness their flavors and affordability. He’s since built four counter-service hangouts on those perfect tacos: two lightly griddled corn tortillas filled with impressive adobada pork (sheared off a vertical spit and topped with a square of grilled pineapple) or carne asada, pollo asado, prickly pear cactus leaf. Those fillings are just as good in mulitas, tortas, even diminutive burritos.

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