If you’re looking for a place to live in Seattle that’s close to the water, you’ve got a lot of options. There’s Fremont on the canal, Ballard (which is right near Shilshole Bay), and even parts of the Central District border Lake Washington. But there’s also Eastlake - it’s somewhere that has a great view of Lake Union, you’re close enough to Capitol Hill and South Lake Union without paying Capitol Hill and South Lake Union rent prices (although we’re not sure how long that’ll last), and there are some excellent places to eat and drink. The neighborhood is home to one of the best beer bars/sandwich operations in town, a diner that serves ridiculously good carrot cake pancakes, and a pasta spot that we’d pop in for a solo meal any day of the week.
Le Messe is hands down the best restaurant in Eastlake. The Italian spot on Yale Place serves some incredible pasta, like squid ink spaghetti with butter and bottarga, cavatelli bolognese with mascarpone and mint, and delicious gemelli with braised pork shank that makes you realize that a lot of other pastas in town need some work. Plus, if you sit at the chef’s counter, they always have three specials you can order that aren’t available to the rest of the restaurant. The options change all the time, but in the past we’ve had a seared hamachi belly and rigatoni cacio e pepe. It all makes for one of the best dining experiences you can have in Eastlake.
Mammoth is a beer bar that also serves subs the size of your head. They make sandwiches on really good baguettes, like a housemade smoked turkey club with cheddar and ranch, a riff on a Cubano, and a beastly fried chicken sandwich. It’s from the same team behind Bitterroot, one of our favorite BBQ spots in town, so you know you’re in fantastic hands with all of the smoked meats here. And while it’s hard to imagine not ordering food, Mammoth also is a great place to hang out if you’re into beer.
The first thing you should know about Son Of A Butcher is that their online waitlist system is a total sh*tshow. It’ll ask you to come to the restaurant in an hour and then have your table become available (and then given away) in five minutes. But we can’t help but love this Korean BBQ spot anyways. They make great cocktails and have a ton of different meats that you can choose to grill, like marinated beef bulgogi or an entire ribeye. However, some of the best things here don’t involve red meat at all - we’re fans of the steamed egg with tobiko, spicy chicken with rice cakes and sweet potato, and the comforting tofu soup.
Sushi Kappo Tamura is a solid place to get some nigiri and rolls. Unlike a lot of the popular Japanese spots in town (like Kashiba, Maneki, and Shiro’s), it’s always easy to get a table here, and as a bonus, most of the fish they serve is sourced sustainably. While it might be tempting to order the chef’s omakase for dinner, you should get a combo of salmon and spicy tuna rolls, and some excellent scallop nigiri.
Think of Grand Central like Panera Bread’s sophisticated older cousin who’s better than Panera in every way possible. Here you’ll find tasty sandwiches, like a turkey and havarti and a tuna melt with Beecher’s cheese on sourdough, along with salads, like a kale caesar with parmesan bread crumbs that are way more exciting than croutons. Don’t forget to add a shortbread cookie, too.
If you need a quick lunch in the neighborhood, go to Poke Square. This spot is a counter operation where you can get tasty raw fish topped with vegetables like edamame, nori flakes, scallions, seaweed salad, pickled ginger, and tobiko. If you like a lot of spice, add in some spicy tuna and hot sesame soy.
Siam is a Thai restaurant that’s a perfect spot if you’ve procrastinated in planning a big group dinner. There are always open tables and everything on the menu is shareable, from the appetizer platter loaded with satays and spring rolls to the very excellent crab fried rice (the best thing here). And you’re in fantastic hands with any of the curries, which are thick, creamy, and taste great when ladled on top of the crab fried rice.
14 Carrot isn’t the kind of diner that you’d stop in for a chopped salad or a cup of coffee. It’s a place where you’re going to eat piles of hashbrowns and crab cake benedicts, and wash it all down with a pint-sized watermelon mimosa. This greasy spoon brunch spot is charming in a nothing’s-been-updated-since-1977 kind of way, based on the old photo collages, vintage dining tables, and coin-operated Runts dispensers that nobody uses. If you’re only going to order one thing, their cinnamon-y carrot pancakes topped with icing and maple syrup are so good that it puts their actual carrot cake (which, to be fair, is also good) to shame.
Chances are you’re either in Eastlake because you live here, or you took the wrong exit on I-5. But anytime you’re in the neighborhood, you should grab a drink at Zoo Tavern. It’s a fun dive with a bunch of activities: billiards, pinball, skee-ball, shuffleboard, and bocce. The food’s pretty similar to what you’d find at a bowling alley, like chicken strips and mozzarella sticks, but most of the stuff on their menu makes for a good snack if you’re hungry after a few pints.