Where To Eat & Drink In Bellevue guide image


Where To Eat & Drink In Bellevue

Bellevue’s cooler than you think. Here are 16 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 let’s be real—you kicked yourself when you found out that Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber were randomly in Bellevue that one time.

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. So 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 or hiding in a bush with binoculars trying to anticipate the next celebrity sighting.


photo credit: Seastar

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Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar


205 108th Ave NE, Bellevue
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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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 the 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 sister spot in Seattle—so your friends won’t even be too bitter about having to cross the bridge. Probably. 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, the food from this place travels really well. If you want something plant-based, get their excellent falafel. If you’re ravenous, the delicious lamb/beef 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 for you and some friends, 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.

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 pecorino-loaded spinach-artichoke dip.

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 worth driving from Seattle for. Plus, the owner is very friendly, and has been known to give out free Jell-O for dessert.

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