The Best Restaurants In Burien

Burien is so much more than "that city near the airport." Here are the best spots in town to eat and drink.
The Best Restaurants In Burien image

photo credit: Nate Watters

Burien is full of surprises. Sure, there are stretches of roads lined with used tire shops, grocery stores, fast food, and chain pharmacies. But there’s also Olde Burien, a.k.a. the city’s short and sweet main street—this is where things get fun. Want an entire shop dedicated to electric trains, aptly named Electric Train Shop? High-end vintage mid-century furniture? Great, because all of those are here.

Burien is also an excellent city for eating. You'll find a nostalgia-inducing pizza spot, some of the best birria tacos in town, soft serve inside a renovated general store, and more.


photo credit: Nate Watters



$$$$Perfect For:Serious Take-Out OperationCasual Weeknight DinnerLunchDining SoloDessert
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The folks over at Lupo in Fremont are responsible for this neighborhood pizzeria, and it’s perfect for a drop-in slice when you’re out and about, or for people-watching on the sidewalk patio while you alternate between pizza bites and beer sips. Or, race a few laps on Pole Position or gobble some ghosts on Ms. Pac-Man while you wait for a whole pie to bake. We’re most partial to the Normie Macdonald, piled with burrata, coppa, and hot honey for a spicy-creamy-sweet moment.

Suppose you have super cool Midwest relatives who are great cooks, but also happen to be interior designers. This would be their happy place. The walls of this mid-century-inspired spot are covered with warm wood accents, taxidermy, and vintage beer signs, and the menu matches the vibe. Fireside serves Midwest classics like tater tot hot dish, or fried walleye coated in Ritz cracker crumbs, which comes in either sandwich or basket form. And while the smashburgers could have more char, they’re solid anytime, and we’re fans of the Oklahoma onion version. If you’re not hungry, just sit at the bar and order a Minnesota Mule.

Queso doesn’t get much smoother than what Centro serves. The thick, crunchy totopos on the side are also perfect for dragging through black bean dip or smoky cascabel salsa. We’ve never been steered wrong by a burrito or one of the many taco options here, and the vegan options are quite tasty, too. And for the margarita enthusiasts, they sell a half-gallon of their margarita base to take home—it costs way less than a bucket of limes. Just add tequila.

Look, we love pork. Everything about it. Especially if it’s shredded into chunks, crispy on the outside, perfectly tender and juicy on the inside, and served with tortillas and a side of rice and beans. It also doesn’t hurt that this pig statue-filled place feels like a swine-laden fever dream. As a bonus, Porky’s shares a dining room with sister restaurant Birreria Tijuana, where you can order some of the area’s best birria tacos.

So, carnitas was lunch, and now you need a casual dinner plan. The decision just got that much easier. Birrieria Tijuana—once a stand-alone birria shop shoved between a laundromat and a Goodwill—now serves those phenomenal beefy tacos in the same dining room as Carnitas Mr. Porky. The main things to order here are the gooey cheese tacos with a side of consumé for dipping, but don't miss the torta if you're in the mood for ingredients stacked on a roll. If you’re with a group of friends or just prefer your birria in a different format, try the pizza.

Bakery Nouveau is no secret. Yes, there’s probably a line on any weekend morning. Yes, they serve some of the best pastries in this entire city. No, you should definitely not eat their twice-baked almond croissant in the car on your way to a job interview. Unless your idea of a good first impression is a shirt and face covered in toasty flakes and powdered sugar, respectively. Anything here is going to be fantastic, especially if it’s croissant-based. Like the junction croissant, stacked with ham, bacon, scrambled egg, and white cheddar—and capable of feeding two people. The kouign amann and apple danish shouldn't be overlooked, either.

If sitting in an Adirondack chair, sipping a latte on a porch, and watching neighbors walk past with their groomed labradoodles seems like a nice way to spend a morning, this revitalized general store and coffee shop is worth a visit. At Three Tree Point Store, stock up on fancy pantry essentials or party snacks while waiting for your order. And if you’re here for lunch, the cuban melt or the french ham and brie sandwiches rule. Both are pressed to the heavens on Macrina bread. 

Marlaina’s interior might feel like an overwhelming explosion of colors, textures, and patterns, but that’s all part of the fun of this Mediterranean place. The fluffy pita comes sprinkled with sesame seeds, perfect for tearing and dipping into smoky baba ganoush or anything else from the mezze platter—which is a great prelude to their super-tender roasted lamb shank. Cooked with saffron and served with creamy smashed potatoes, it’s big enough for two people to share.

Think about the best meatball sandwich you’ve ever had. Was it assembled behind a glass wall and toasted in an industrial blast furnace by an angsty teenager? The one at Vince’s changes the game. This spot from the same team behind Pizzeria Pulcinella has been a Burien staple since 1957, and offers some pretty predictable Italian food in a pretty predictable setting. But among the too-salty carbonara and bland eggplant parmesan is a true star—the meatball sandwich. This thing just has perfect meatballs, marinara, and provolone on flaky, soft homemade bread. Eating it with family members squeezed into a vinyl booth with red checkered vinyl tablecloths is just as crucial to the experience.

Smarty Pants has a Georgetown location, but it’s important to note that this one has a parking lot that you should take advantage of. That way, it’s easier to tear into the same spicy Chicago-style italian beef sandwich we know and love. These folks know meat between sliced bread, so skip the gritty queso dip, and head directly for literally any of their sandwiches for optimal happiness. Grab one to-go or eat it there with a cocktail, and revel in the fact that you didn’t have to circle the block eight times to find a street spot.

$12 won’t buy you much these days—a couple of gallons of gas, a happy hour cocktail (maybe), or a solid lunch at this Australian hand pie spot. Nothing bad ever came from stuffing ingredients inside dough, baking it until golden brown, and making it portable. Packed with steak, bacon, onion, and mushroom, The Mouthful is the most expensive and tastiest pie on the menu, and rings in at just under $7. That leaves you $5 of that hypothetical twelve, which can buy one of their signature puff pastry rolls (the sausage is our favorite), a side of mac and cheese, or a frozen pie to bring home.

This wood-fired pizzeria on the main strip is operated by the same team who runs three other spots on the block: Tin Room, 909 Coffee & Wine, and 913. And while Burien Pizzeria doesn’t have the crispiest crust, they do stack the pies high with toppings and serve some fantastic appetizers—not to mention that the staff is very nice. The arancini have a great shell and are surrounded by a smoky harissa tomato sauce, and the lemony roasted cauliflower is perfectly charred from time spent in the pizza oven.

Just like White Center sister spot Moonshot Espresso, Burien Press serves homemade pastries and espresso drinks along with some specials, like golden milk lattes or peppermint mochas. They also stock their shelves full of natural wine, local beer, and grocery stuff like tinned fish, hot sauce, and olive oil. It’s hard to go wrong with a breakfast sandwich or pastry, but the giant homemade biscuit with whipped butter and jam is the real standout when a hit of carbs and fat is necessary.

Don’t be fooled by the almost always-empty dining room here. This Mediterranean place gets busy with takeout regulars, which leaves seating open if you want to hang out and watch the world go by while enjoying a shawarma plate. And while Seattle might have bigger gyros and more pillowy pita, this is a key Burien spot for simple, fast wraps to take to-go. Plus, the front counter has a few pantry essentials for sale like capers, olives, sardines, and coffee.

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Suggested Reading

Smarty Pants image

Smarty Pants

Not to be confused with their Georgetown location, Smarty Pants in Burien is a great spot for sandwiches—especially Chicago-style italian beef.

Three Tree Point Store image

Three Tree Point Store is a revitalized general store in Burien that serves sandwiches, pastries, and soft serve ice cream.

Centro image

For some of the best queso in the area, check out Centro, a Mexican spot in Burien that also serves great tacos and burritos.

The Best Restaurants In White Center  image

Whether you're in the mood for chicken wings at a casino or a five-course tasting menu, White Center has it all.

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