The Best Lunch Spots In Seattle

The 18 best spots for a leisurely sit-down lunch—especially if you don't have to work.
Spread of Filipino dishes on a wooden table, like lumpia, bulalo, noodles, and chicken wings.

photo credit: Brooke Fitts

Maybe you have an out-of-town visitor and called in sick to play tour guide. Or, maybe it's just a random Tuesday and you've decided to neglect the shriveled salad kit you purchased with gusto on Sunday. No matter the lunch situation, you don't have to settle. On this guide, you’ll find a bunch of restaurants where you can get something way better than your normal weekday meal, and, as an added bonus, even the typically crowded restaurants should be relatively easier to get into during the day.



Bainbridge Island

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsCasual Weeknight DinnerGetting Out Of TownLunchOutdoor/Patio SituationSerious Take-Out Operation
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If you're already enjoying the afternoon, why not board a commercial watercraft and sail away from Seattle? Via Rosa 11 on Bainbridge Island is a place to take a breather as you're fed exemplary pasta and pizza. It's a place to pop open a bottle of prosecco to wash down a porchetta panini. It's a place to haul along a cooler bag so you can stock up on housemade sausage and tubs of pesto to bring home. The best course of action is to order the burrata and speck pie, pair it with springy fusilli tossed in vodka sauce out on their string light-lined patio, and it should become clear: this is why you got on that ferry.

photo credit: Nate Watters

$$$$Perfect For:LunchQuick Eats

For an easy lunch with memorable Mexican food, this Ballard taqueria is well worth a visit. Unlike their tiny Pike Place location, there's plenty of sit-down seating inside and outside on the papel picado-decorated patio. The tacos are served on those same soft and pliable nixtamalized tortillas Maiz has built its reputation on. Fillings-wise, make sure the hearty mash of chorizo and potatoes, peppery sweet birria, and shrimp under crema-dressed slaw hit your table.

This Filipino spot from the folks behind Musang specializes in pancit and bulalo, served in a bright space with seafoam-painted walls and bottles of Maggi displayed like knickknacks. Come here with a group ready to twist kare kare dan dan noodles swimming in a silky peanut and tahini sauce, or get a five-star facial from steaming bowls of beef shank bulalo. We also can't shut up about the sour tamarind-dusted sinigang wings—dunk each crispy piece in the sweet mango dipping sauce at your discretion. And unlike Musang, which can require patience and pure luck to snag a reservation, Kilig is ideal for an impromptu lunch.

photo credit: Brooke Fitts

There are lots of great sandwiches around town, but not too many fancy ones. At Layers, the sandwiches take themselves seriously—kind of like that one friend of yours who has a handlebar mustache. You'll find barbecue potato chips smushed onto tuna salad, mortadella on a dutch crunch roll, and duck confit buddying up with fried eggs. On the side, things are just as serious, like green goddess-drenched fried fingerlings that momentarily steal the spotlight from the between-bread stuff. It doesn’t get much better than a lazy midday at this busy Green Lake counter. Just don't forget a slice of griddled banana bread on your way out.

We could scream from the rooftops about Buddha Ruksa’s sticky garlic fried chicken. Unfortunately, we’d be interrupted by a bunch of other people also on rooftops screaming about it. All you need is one lunch trip to this dark wood-filled West Seattle spot to know it’s special. They’ve got Thai classics like a lime-heavy pad thai and fragrant panang curry that can hold their own. But don’t ignore the “Signature Dishes” section of the menu, where you’ll find must-orders like crab fried rice and prawns in a silky pumpkin curry. Come with a group, knowing tensions may get high when it’s time to decide who takes the leftovers home.

This very special Japanese restaurant in the ID specializes in onigiri, and with ties to the late Tsunkshinbo, it’s not surprising that this place rules. The long list of fillings covers a lot of ground, like marinated egg, shrimp tempura with honey-laced mayo, and spicy cod roe. And sure, the rice parcels are so good that you could end up perfectly happy by flipping a coin to decide your order. But don’t leave it all to chance—the yaki onigiri is non-negotiable, whether grilled in sweet soy sauce until crackly and topped with a pat of melted butter or covered in torched cheese. Don't forget some textbook pan-seared gyoza, brothy salmon and roe ochazuke, and silky curry udon noodles.

It might be scientifically proven that ragu and amatriciana taste way better in the middle of the day when you're free of responsibilities. And at this Italian spot in the lunch capital of Seattle (a.k.a. Pioneer Square) you don't have to wait too long for a table before going to town on a steamy bowl of carbs alongside fluffy focaccia or a dang delightful carrot tartare, and then ending things with a biscotti dunked in espresso. Don't question science on this one—it just works.

Eating at Mojito in Maple Leaf is like one big party. The music’s loud, the owner will probably chat with you before comping your group a round of tequila shots in the middle of the day, and everything from their pressed Cubano to tangy braised beef with maduros is great. Start with a plate full of arepas and crunchy corn-battered empanadas, and it’d be pretty impossible to have a bad attitude here. Unless you’re allergic to lime, mint, or fun.

This Beacon Hill counter spot is filled with the smell of garlic and colorful homages to Filipino culture, like a proudly displayed flag, sungkâ, and intricately woven baskets and hats. But it’s the food you’re really here for. Their peppery pork sisig has a sizzle that could replace a white noise machine you turn on before bed, and a garlic aioli that comforts like a weighted blanket. Or, if menu-related FOMO takes hold, the Island Combo provides a little taste of Chebogz’s greatest hits.

Sometimes, you don't want lunch to feel like lunch—you want it to feel like a small break from reality as you enjoy excellent food and soak up limited free time. Sugo is the place to do that. This four-sided sushi counter specializes in handrolls, and it's incredibly exciting to sit here among the soundtrack of Alesso tunes and the blast of a flame as it blowtorches wagyu on a pink Himalayan salt block. Expect a whirlwind of delicious fillings like sesame-forward ahi poke, marinated ikura, and melty chopped otoro that won't set you back too much money or take too much time out of your afternoon.



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In a fit of pent-up rage, something snapped during a partnerships meeting—you screamed, “Nope!” just before flipping over the conference table, and it resulted in your immediate termination. But it’s only 11am, so now what? Lunch at Matt’s In The Market could turn around any unfortunate scenario, even if nothing catastrophically bad happened to you today. Get the same fried catfish sandwich that’s been around since 1996, potato chips with bacon dip (both of which are only available at lunch), and end with the candy bar square.

For a Chinese meal that's just as quick as it is great, Xi’an Noodles should be on your shortlist. There’s a ton of variety here, be it noodles and soups or dumplings and sandwiches. We’re fans of it all, especially their cumin lamb noodles that can be so spicy that they'd probably kindle a bonfire. If you’re a total wimp when it comes to heat (and even if you’re not), you’ll want to spend some alone time with the stewed pork burger and an order of dumplings.

Local Tide is a stellar one-stop shop for exciting seafood-based genius. This counter in Fremont deserves a medal for its creamy smoked belly dip alone, served with paper-thin potato chips tossed in a house seasoning that you can and should purchase. But their lineup of sandwiches, like the seared albacore on griddled sourdough or a McDonald’s-style Filet-O-Fish copycat made with panko-coated dover sole, proves that phenomenal Seattle seafood doesn’t have to involve salmon or chowder. But you know what? Local Tide has great salmon and chowder too.

You want a steak for lunch, and we support you. The Butcher’s Table is a modern steakhouse in South Lake Union with antique leather barstools and statement-piece light fixtures, so you’ll probably feel comfortable using the word “panache” here. That said, it’s relaxed enough for you to show up in jeans and eat a burger and beef fat fries at the bar. Don't miss those fries.

Kirkland may have a few more claims to fame than Costco, but none are more important to us than Deru Market. It’s a magical little cafe smack in the middle of a quiet neighborhood with delicious sandwiches, soups, pizzas, and a pepita- and roasted carrot-loaded entree salad that will inspire you to become a farmer. For dessert, try the massive layer cakes in flavors like coconut and salted peanut butter dark chocolate.

If you’ve been trying to get into The Pink Door lately with no luck, come for lunch instead. Order the best lasagna in town, a crisp caesar salad, and some garlicky grilled bread. Consume with some bubbles (in wine or water form) for maximum enjoyment of the waterfront.

This Greenwood strip mall Vietnamese spot is a North Seattle lunch destination to get taken care of by way of phở, vermicelli bowls, and fried snacks. Phở hà nội overflows with broth, topped with a raw yolk that works just as well dissolved into the soup as it does strategically dolloped onto each bite of rice noodle and beef shank. Grilled chicken tastes like lemongrass-rubbed brilliance. Salt and pepper tofu has the outer crunch and inner moistness of a McNugget. The care goes beyond food, too—staff will stretch out a hand to receive your crumpled straw wrapper, and forbid you from packing your own leftovers.

Just like airport TSA agents screaming about portable electronics at the crack of dawn, a great lunch at Lil Red is guaranteed. This Columbia City Jamaican spot serves some of the best BBQ in town, along with soul food and a menu of specials that work together to make the ultimate comfort meal. Whether your order involves spiced mac and cheese or soft brisket that folds into origami meat sculptures, the only wrong move here would be to skip the garlic mashed potatoes.

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