The Best Restaurants On Capitol Hill
The very best places to eat on Capitol Hill.
Ah, the hill. Everyone’s clutching iced Americanos, smells of Dick’s fryer oil can be sniffed out from just about anywhere on Broadway, and if you took a shot for every cotton candy-colored hairstyle, cute dog, and brand-new apartment complex you passed, well, we don't recommend that. Capitol Hill is Seattle's playground. And as for the lineup of A+ places to eat? Those are our kind of monkey bars. Here’s where to play.
This Piedmontese pasta specialist is not just the best Italian restaurant in the neighborhood. It’s the best restaurant in the city, full stop. Bold? Sure, but so is the mountain of silky sage butter tajarin or braised rabbit agnolotti you eat by candlelight after an early December sunset, or fried zucchini blossoms snacked between gulps of tangerine-tinted paper plane cocktails come summertime. Yes, your wallet will be three figures emptier at the end of it all, but in exchange, you’ll have a life-affirming meal in a dining room filled with lace curtains, fine art, and noodle sheets draped over the open kitchen.
photo credit: Nate Watters
The newest addition to the neighborhood happens to be one of the best. Maripili is a Galician-style Tapas spot that fully delivers on the concept of good things coming in small packages. Among the stellar bite-sized dishes here are phenomenal ling cod bacalao with nutty manchego gnocchi and peas soaked in a tangy fish broth, tender tortilla española filled with grassy olive oil-poached potatoes, and the star of the show: paella tahdig with smoky chorizo, spice-rubbed prawns, dollops of triple garlic aioli, and a brittle, barely-there socarrat crisp. With a friendly staff, Spanish-forward wine list, and all-around good energy, it's easy to order upwards of a dozen dishes here. It makes Maripili a no-brainer for something like a double date, or even a solo meal at the bar if you wanted a mix-and-match appetizer sampler for dinner.
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Bateau is not the steakhouse where you’ll find power suits, leather booths, and darkness. What you will find is a beautifully designed space that would be reminiscent of a springtime bridal shower, were it not for the display window showcasing raw beef torsos. You will also find a burger with caramelized onion jam and a grassy garlic aioli that's worth ignoring the steak for. The butchering is what makes Bateau special, though. While you can select a bavette or filet, it’s even better when your server/personal beef mentor helps you choose a unique cut, be it chuck chain or marbled skirt tournedo. Come here for the red meat, red wine, fries prepared in tallow, and little french onion croquettes that we could pop like M&Ms.
Taneda Sushi In Kaiseki
At Taneda Sushi In Kaiseki, an omakase restaurant with only nine chairs, you’re often left with no choice but to book a seat for one—if you can even find a reservation to begin with. Conveniently, it’s actually better that way. Because when you’re shooting the breeze with a chef who becomes your confidante after tossing you 25 courses of quality fish, it never feels lonely. While the $195 menu changes every month, you can expect amazing bites like otoro hand rolls with pickled daikon, torched A5 miyazaki wagyu nigiri topped with caviar, sweet shrimp wrapped around custardy uni, and grilled eel placed directly into your open hand like a love note. This is the best kaiseki experience in the city, and much like running a marathon or traveling the world, you can enjoy it all by yourself.
It’s a meal dilemma we’ve encountered often—khao soi or a cheeseburger? Cut to Taurus Ox, the Lao spot that does both (and more). Taurus Ox’s crown jewel is undoubtedly their smashburger, a double-pattied stunner topped with taro stem, cilantro, pickled onion, and cured pork jowl, along with the genius addition of spicy pork skin-laced jaew bong and nutty provolone that cuts through the herbs and rendered fat. It’s a drippy, tangy, beautiful mess, but that isn’t to say that the other dishes play second fiddle. Thom khem loaded with caramelized pork belly and a brussels sprout hash brown would be an ideal under-the-covers dinner, and garlicky lemongrass sausage would rule a summer barbecue. Stumble in on a weeknight, or pack your friends in before bar-hopping.
Blotto's pizza crust is a gorgeous cross between sourdough and New York-style, with a firm crackle throughout the bottom and puffed ends that resemble pool noodles (but taste a whole lot better). Between the small dining room that’s decorated with shelves of pantry items for sale, red and white-checkered pizzeria tablecloths, and refrigerators stocked with natural wine, Blotto already makes for a fun place to hang out with friends. Add phenomenal pies topped with things like spaghetti all’amatriciana ingredients or roasted kale with breadcrumbs and lemon (not to mention tasty slice dips like calabrian chili vinaigrette and dill-flecked ranch), and you’ve got more than a casual neighborhood hang—you’ve got a dinner destination that’s worth braving potentially horrendous parking.
D’ La Santa
D'La Santa is in a fun space complete with a replica tree, cheesy garlic-butter shrimp tacos, and margaritas served in clay bowls. This Mexican spot is owned by one big family, and you can expect to consume copious amounts of delicious things like phenomenal birria, cochinita pibil, and carne asada while you’re here. There are nine different kinds of steak on the menu, ranging from thin-sliced wagyu to a 44-ounce tomahawk (eat the whole thing if you need a win). Come with a group, split a molcajete of guacamole, and do not miss the aforementioned garlic butter shrimp tacos.
One of our go-to group dinner spots, this big basement—filled with Himalayan food instead of random boxes of tacky holiday decorations—is consistently our first choice for anything that can be swept up with a surplus of garlic-brushed naan. Annapurna Cafe houses the best Indian, Tibetan, and Nepalese food in town, and they belong among the stars for their Tibetan momo alone, rich with spiced chicken and paired with tomato, mint, and peanut chutneys. Annapurna also excels at Indian classics like tikka masala and palak paneer, as well as hall of fame-worthy stewed lamb and fish korma. It’s all just as excellent whether you’re hanging out in the basement clinking bottles of Kingfisher or taking home multiple plastic tubs of greatness.
La Cocina Oaxaqueña
When we think about Mexican food in Seattle, La Cocina Oaxaqueña is like the best friend in a romantic comedy that turns out to be the protagonist’s true love—they’ve been there for us all along. The food is consistently delicious, and the good energy flows as freely as tequila. Speaking of, we’ve never been let down by the strong margaritas, delicious unlimited salsa, and snappy fried-to-order chips that are so fresh they burn your fingertips. It’s the kind of place where you could plan a meal two weeks in advance, or bust in simply when everywhere else on Capitol Hill is too packed. The cherry on top is their excellent Southern Mexican food, be it sour and spicy camarones al mojo de ajo, enchiladas topped with velvety mole, or al pastor tacos on homemade tortillas filled with saucy-sweet braised pork.
photo credit: Nate Watters
Tamari Bar is our favorite spot for sashimi on Capitol Hill. From salmon belly chirashi topped with miso sauce and ikura to perfectly sweet scallops, the fish here is so great on its own that we almost forget about the many other delicious things under their roof (looking at you, pork dumplings, soft serve with matcha syrup, and marinated wagyu cooked on a hot rock). If you prefer your sushi in maki form, they also serve tasty rolls.
Spice Waala is a good lunch takeout spot on Capitol Hill that serves roti wrapped with fillings like paneer masala, chicken tikka, and ground lamb—but our favorite is the aloo patty that keeps its crisp even when rolled up with their delicious green chutney. The kathi rolls run about $7 each, and they’re big enough to keep you full for a few hours. Add on some fries with the aforementioned chutney and a soft serve sundae.
Eating at this Vietnamese place is like taking a short and delicious trip somewhere tropical, where rain-related hair disasters are unheard of, and that classic Seattle wet dog feeling seems like something out of a bad dream. The palm-tree-printed wallpaper, hanging lights, and plants inside give you an “out of office” feeling as soon as you walk in, and the food—like crispy duck rolls, poached and fried chicken covered in crunchy scallions and ginger, and creamy iced coffee creamsicles—keeps you happily distracted from any rainy nonsense going on outside.
Volunteer Park Cafe & Pantry
The reimagining of this northern Capitol Hill classic is a home run simply based on the new pastries alone. And yeah, we’d eat sugar for breakfast on the daily if we lived in the neighborhood. We’re talking about things like savory tahini caramel bars, New York-style crumb cake muffins, and buckwheat chocolate chunk cookies with a salty, dulce de leche-like texture that softly crumbles like kinetic sand. But that would be ignoring their BEC, a majestic stack of paper-thin egg folds, bacon cooked just before it gets crispy, and yellow american that oozes between the layers and stretches like taffy, all on a homemade toasted poppy roll.
Single Shot is one of our favorite Capitol Hill date night spots—not just because it’s far removed from the noise and hot dog cart smells of Pike/Pine, but also because the dining room is attractive, there’s a big marble bar, and everything on the menu, from the cold potato and crab salad to the seared steak to the margherita flatbread with prosciutto, is excellent. Pull up a seat at the bar, order a bottle of sparkling wine, and know there’s no possible way to screw this up.
Harry's Fine Foods
Joining the ranks of awesome restaurants in quiet pockets of the neighborhood is Harry’s Fine Foods, a little corner spot that reminds us of a fancy parlor and a general store combined. This place just has the Feel Good Factor™, and it also happens to have very good negronis. Food ranges from pasta to crudo to one of our favorite cheeseburgers in the city. You would do well to get that burger, plus crispy herbed french fries with green “601” sauce.
Cook Weaver is a spot that’s so discreet that you might walk right past it without realizing it’s a restaurant. Don’t do that. The menu combines flavors from Europe and Asia, with delicious results. You can expect things like Vietnamese crepes, or green pea spaetzle with fermented black beans, parmesan, and beurre blanc. The decorations in the small space, including some stained glass windows and floor-to-ceiling murals, are pretty striking.
If we had a dollar for every Thai restaurant in Seattle, we’d have a lot of dollars. But this laidback spot is one of our favorites. Get yourself a mason jar of Thai iced tea and a platter of crunchy, creamy lime zest chicken, gather some humans you don’t hate, and you’ve got a summer al fresco lunch perfect for people-watching on Pine Street.
Quinn’s is a pub that’s perfect for most situations. Kick it here for dinner with parents, or a date, or even a birthday—with an excellent Old Fashioned and snacks that put average tavern food to shame. Did you want fries? How about frites with chicken gravy and braised pork? Oh, scotch egg? Make it an Italian sausage scotch egg with a brussels sprout ragu. What about a Sloppy Joe? Sure, but it’ll be made with wild boar and topped with a duck egg and fried sage. Plus, they take reservations.
When you must have f*cking incredible chicken and waffles, no matter the time of day, Witness is there for you. Then there are honey butter hush puppies, poutine made with pimento cheese, and cocktails that make us want to take an afternoon nap under a willow tree in Georgia. Those are all there for you, too.