Where To Eat & Drink In Bellevue guide image


Where To Eat & Drink In Bellevue

Bellevue’s cooler than you think. Here are 22 excellent restaurants and bars to confirm that.

Based on the way some Seattleites talk about the Eastside, it seems like an untouchable place where you settle down, buy a house with a yard, get a dog (or a Roomba), and send your fleeting youth away in a puff of humidifier smoke. But Bellevue’s actually a pretty cool place to be. There are awesome hiking trails, a couple of grassy parks, and a really good mall. There are also some excellent restaurants and bars. Whether you’re grabbing lunch with coworkers or going on a dinner date, here’s where to eat and drink when you’re not navigating the parking situation at Lincoln Square.


Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar

If you need to convince someone that you have your sh*t together, take them to a dinner at Seastar. It’s the kind of upscale seafood spot that would be the perfect setting for that token classy restaurant date scene in a rom-com. It’s also a solid place for a business dinner, particularly one covered by a corporate card. Always start with the crab bisque, and then you can’t go wrong with a fish entree (like king salmon or mahi mahi). Just try not to laugh hysterically when you see the bill.

Amidst the chaos that is Crossroads’ indoor mall food court, you’ll find one of the best sushi spots on the Eastside. Sushi J serves a pretty limited selection of excellent maki rolls and chirashi bowls, but the one item to prioritize is their seared salmon nigiri. It’s the only nigiri here that’s available in a platter of 10 pieces, and for good reason: the rice is seasoned perfectly, there isn’t too much spicy mayo over the top, and the high-quality fish dissolves like a pat of butter. This blowtorched majesty is so good that we can’t think about it without experiencing the same forlorn yearning that a fairytale princess feels in the beginning of a children’s book. There isn’t a better quick Bellevue lunch than this.

Some of the best meals can only be described by using a series of colorful expletives, and Desi Tadka is no exception. This vegetarian spot that serves Punjabi food has a lineup of dishes with such tremendous flavor that the occasional cursing is warranted. Use the onion kulcha—with red onion, green chilies, and whole spices baked into every square of the dough—to scoop up heaps of sweet paneer tikka and bhindi masala, and let the profanity commence. Keep this place in mind for lazy dinner takeout, or a casual weekday lunch.

Some of the best Chinese food in the area can be found at Best Wok. Our favorite things on the menu here are the potstickers, Mongolian beef, General Tso’s chicken, and delicately crackly and spicy salt-and-pepper wings that are worth driving from Seattle for. Plus, the staff has been known to give out free Jell-O for dessert.

For date-night Vietnamese, head to Monsoon on Old Main—it’s a little smaller than the Capitol Hill location, but serves the same menu, with dishes like claypot catfish, crunchy drunken chicken, and wokked lamb. And much like their Capitol Hill counterpart, they serve a dim sum brunch on Sundays complete with shrimp dumplings, pork buns, and plenty of mimosas.

Señor Taco is our favorite Mexican spot in Bellevue, and that's in part thanks to their incredible baja fish tacos, which comes with practically an entire filet of crispy-puffy cod drenched in tangy chipotle crema, plus red cabbage for crunch. We're also massive fans of the al pastor and spicy barbacoa. Grab a cold bottle of beer along with some excellent tacos or a french fry-stuffed California burrito for a pretty perfect lunch.

This is a see-and-be-seen sushi spot where everyone is united—Microsoft VPs, influencers, and tourists who thought Bellevue was actually located in Seattle. And despite the fact that the luxe dining room feels like the setting of a Real Housewives episode, this 23-course omakase delivers the same kind of sushi mastery you would expect from the team behind Sushi Kashiba. Reservations are required, so plan well in advance to come here for your next big celebratory dinner. And while counter omakase is pricey and limited (they only have two seatings a day), being that close to the chef is worth it. 

Broiler Bay is not the kind of burger spot where you’ll find cloth napkins, gruyere, or anything involving truffle. It’s the kind where you show up, order a charbroiled double bacon cheeseburger on a sesame seed bun with onion rings and a large Oreo shake, eat it lovingly with copious amounts of fry sauce at a table with a very wobbly leg, and continue on your way. These are the best burgers in Bellevue, so don’t miss it.

Speaking of burgers, Burgermaster is an absolute classic, and for those who have been to other locations and are confused, the one in Bellevue is way better than the rest. Eating at this drive-in is simple—park your car, turn your lights on for service, order cheeseburgers, shoestring fries, and flawless panko-crusted onion rings, and have a nice dinner in your front seat. And don't forget an artificially-flavored green mint shake blended with nearly an entire sleeve of Oreos. It’s Burgermaster’s greatest contribution to the world. Aside from the onion rings.

The only thing worse than showing up to a work potluck with a mystery casserole is showing up empty-handed. Instead, arrive with a box full of Japanese milk bread sandwiches from Sandwich House Tres. While these crustless triangles look almost too perfect to eat, don’t let that stop you from attempting to buy the place out. The fluffy egg salad would be a hot commodity on the school lunch trading market, especially when that same filling is dolloped on top of a fried shrimp cutlet with cabbage. For something sweet, the fruit sandwiches (like sliced mango suffocated by whipped cream or strawberry with Oreo crumbs) are just as good. Just note that they sell out quickly, so be sure to get here before 10am. 

Pizza options are few and far between in Bellevue, where Pagliacci is the default. But for a date or an elegant dinner with a small group, Mercato Stellina is your spot. This fancy pizzeria serves artisanal pies with toppings that range from spicy salami and oregano to potato and rosemary. Round out your meal with some salads or charcuterie—and keep an eye out for the pasta specials, too.

Some of Bellevue's best tacos are hidden in the parking lot of a probation office. La Chingona Taqueria has a menu of excellent food with immaculate vibes to match, despite the whole parking lot thing. The covered patio is decorated with papel picado and plenty of picnic tables to hang out with friends while double-fisting tacos and beer. Their baja fish is the best dish here, complete with a sweet and airy breading, tons of shredded cabbage, and a chipotle crema for the books. And if you're extremely hungry, almost all of the tacos come with a grilled onion and potato mixture, which makes fillings like al pastor pork or chile relleno even more substantial—and proves that hash isn't just meant for breakfast.

There are three main things you need to know about this biergarten. First, they have hand shuffleboard. Second, their ale-braised brisket nachos with spicy queso are an ideal bar snack. Third, you can do a shot ski with their homemade cinnamon-chili whiskey. Immediately gather your friends or coworkers together and put all of this information to good use.

You need this ramen. Whether you’re hanging out in a booth by yourself or here on a low-key date, order the miso ramen and a plate of chicken karaage or pork gyoza, and thank yourself for the genius dinner idea. Fair warning: on weekend evenings, the wait can be a little long.

People who have never been to Taqueria El Rinconsito before always emerge from a meal here recommending it to all their friends. And with good reason—this place makes really, really good Mexican food. Whatever you order here (we’re big fans of the arroz con pollo) will taste great, and work well for a casual dinner or even a midnight meal on the weekend.

The Eastside is where Dough Zone's dumpling reign began, and nothing warms us up much better on a chilly gray day than steamy sesame dan dan noodles, pork q-bao, chicken wontons in hot and sour broth, and potstickers with a brittle cornstarch skirt. We even love the plain broccoli dunked in seafood sauce. If you’re trying to get lunch with coworkers or just feel like popping a dozen xiao long bao in your mouth like you’re playing a game of Hungry Hungry Hippos, Dough Zone will always be waiting for you.

If you’re celebrating a birthday in Bellevue and want to do drinks, Black Bottle is a good move. It’s slightly upscale, and feels a lot like its Seattle location—so your friends won’t be too bitter about having to cross the bridge. Order some cocktails along with small plates like hot crab dip with flatbread, chipotle pork wontons, and cauliflower fritters, then toast to Bellevue not being “so boring” after all.

Garlic Crush is the Middle Eastern restaurant version of that best friend you can count on no matter what your mood is. If you’re feeling takeout, kabob plates travel really well. If you want something plant-based, get some crunchy falafel. If you’re ravenous, the gyro plate will fill you up. If you forgot snacks for your cocktail party, a large order of homemade hummus will have your back. Dessert? Two words: fresh baklava. If the weather’s nice and you line up a few outdoor tables, you’ll have a very enjoyable feast.

We’ll admit that we were skeptical of a restaurant named after the aggravating toll highway that makes us bang our heads on the dashboard during rush hour. But 520 Bar & Grill is an ideal place to heal traffic-related stress with burgers, tacos, tasty entree salads (get the Southwestern), and fish and chips. Their back patio is perfect for a lunch with the parents, and they make a mean breakfast burrito for weekend brunch.

No matter where you stand in the Dough Zone vs. Din Tai Fung dumpling debate, Supreme Dumplings swoops in and makes you second-guess everything. Between fried rice topped with a massive pork chop and green beans stir-fried with shitakes, carrots, and enough garlic to keep the entire Cullen coven away, this Chinese spot nails all of the classics. And while we still ultimately prefer Dough Zone, Supreme has some standouts—like chewy tan tan noodles in sesame sauce and truffle xiao long bao with a perfect soup-to-meat ratio.

Resonate is a great morale-boosting dinner spot, and we're not just saying that because it’s a taproom filled with beer kegs. Keep this lively brewery in your back pocket for when you want big picnic tables, excellent homemade beers on draught, and oval Roman-style pizzas. Order yours with fresh mozzarella and some Zoe’s meats, and dunk your crust ends in a pecorino-loaded spinach-artichoke dip.

Right next to the Macy’s entrance at Bellevue Square Mall is a food stand that’ll save you when you can’t handle another mediocre salad from Earl’s. Istanbul Cuisine serves Turkish pide and gözleme made to-order on a griddle, and these flatbreads make for one of the best quick lunches in Bellevue. There are meat-based options like curry-rubbed chicken or ground lamb, but the spinach and feta gözleme is a standout, stuffed with lots of caramelized onions and melty mozzarella. Dip it in some minty yogurt sauce to cut through the richness. 

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photo credit: Brooke Fitts

Where To Eat & Drink In Bellevue guide image