Where To Eat & Drink In Pioneer Square
The best restaurants and bars in Pioneer Square.
Ask any local what neighborhood shouldn’t be missed on a trip to Seattle, and the answer will always be Pioneer Square. Not only does it have plenty of history (with picturesque old buildings, Smith Tower, and the underground tour), but there are also lots of restaurants and bars that are worth your time, whether you’re just visiting or you actually live here. Oh, and exposed brick. Get ready for a lot of that.
photo credit: Nate Watters
If you’re trying to have a big night out, there are only so many weekends you can house a wheel of brie at a wine bar before things get old. But 84 Yesler should revitalize that special occasion spirit. From nutty parmesan-showered churros and fresh carrot cavatelli with goat cheese to some of the best steak in the city, it's worth the steep price tag.
This Peruvian-Nikkei spot’s causa crocante Nikkei might be the greatest bite of food we’ve eaten in Pioneer Square. It’s a mellow panko-crusted potato cake topped with spicy mayo-coated tuna tartare, sesame oil, sticky unagi sauce, and pops of fresh avocado and radish. Between the juxtaposition of cold vs. hot, crunchy vs. creamy, salty vs. sweet, spicy vs. cooling, the elements in this thing all duel flawlessly—like a beautifully-shot battle royale between superheroes in an action flick, only with exponentially more mashed potatoes. Señor Carbón has more to offer, though, from an excellent lomo saltado to rockfish nigiri topped with a tangy acevichado sauce and sandy crumbles of Andean corn. We like it best for a casual weeknight dinner date, but we’d even come here just to drink tasty pisco sours and take selfies with their giant plush llama.
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photo credit: Nate Watters
For a cozy Korean lunch in the neighborhood, Ohsun is a great choice. The restaurant has a menu of hot entrees as well as a deli case full of banchan you could also build a meal around, like apple cucumber potato salad, spicy squid, or, our favorite, marinated eggs. The eggs are jammy in the middle and tamari-soaked on the outside, and are well worth including in a banchan-based trio—or added alongside gochujang-y bibimbap with bulgogi and greens. If it's blustery outside and only something soup-adjacent will do, order their spicy potato stew "Sara's Way," which essentially means the addition of rice and chili oil drizzled directly into the bowl. It's hard to imagine a better midday spot to slow down for an hour in the neighborhood. And heads-up, the entire menu is gluten-free.
Turns out, speakeasy drinks and pub food go together excellently. Bad Bishop is a bar with Victorian wallpaper, elegant cocktails like chai daiquiris and ginger hot toddies, and a food menu consisting of burgers, mac and cheese, corn dogs, and shoestring fries. There are plenty of board games to play if you’re with friends, and, if you’re by yourself, you can have a martini at the bar and look pensively at an old piano.
Let’s say you were in a terrible mood somewhere on the East Coast. You might end up eating a pastrami sandwich, or a Philly cheesesteak, or literally anything covered in buffalo sauce. Head to Tat’s instead—it takes less time to get there. This is a dive with subs, wings, fries, and a lot of Pennsylvania-based sports team flags on the walls. Go for a cheesesteak with hot peppers or the Tatstrami sandwich, loaded with pastrami, creamy coleslaw, melted swiss cheese, and russian dressing on a hoagie roll.
photo credit: The Pastry Project
The Pastry Project
The Pastry Project is not an ice cream shop—it's an organization that provides baking training to those who face barriers. And in the summer, their front door turns into a soft serve window, selling cones, cups, ice cream cakes, and cookie sandwiches. While they typically have standard flavors like (purple) vanilla and chocolate, they're delicious, and made even better when loaded with The Pastry Project's homemade peanut crunch topping—which tastes like the middle of a Butterfinger bar but won't stick to every single molar in your mouth.
Salumi is a Pioneer Square go-to for Italian sandwiches, hot or cold, filled with homemade cured meats, also-homemade fresh mozzarella, and a delicious olive oil spread made with capers and garlic that does bad things to our breath but good things to ciabatta bread. There are rotating pasta and sandwich specials, too.
photo credit: Nate Watters
Damn The Weather
At Damn The Weather, you can have a glass of natural wine and a hot bowl of pasta with a date. But you can also have a beer and a burger and a paper cone full of fries cooked in chicken fat all by yourself. Or drink a cocktail and share some oysters with your parents. The overall versatility of this spot makes it one of our favorite places to drink in Pioneer Square. Plus, the name is a solid conversation starter.
Altstadt is a tame indoor bierhall with German beer, homemade Radlers, a great pretzel with beer cheese fondue, and friendly bartenders. Grab a big picnic table and go for a round of boots with friends while passing around fries and sausages and spaetzle mac and cheese. It’s going to be a good time, unless you’re not a fun person.
Dead Line is a sleek, dark bar with a bottle collection so extensive that a massive ladder is necessary to get to the top-shelf stuff. Not only is it a fantastic place to go for fancy cocktails, but the South American-leaning menu is also strong, with a cheeseburger so good we’d wait in a DMV line for one. Take advantage of Happy Hour, when you can get a lychee daiquiri and a plate of tostones for $11 total.
Swinging golf clubs around while drinking is usually not encouraged—but that’s exactly the activity at Flatstick Pub, a dog-friendly mini-golf bar perfect for a big group (you can even rent out private course space). If you’re not into mini golf, Flatstick also has duffle ball, a tabletop version of golf where you use your hands and get even more frustrated.
photo credit: Nate Watters
Nirmal’s is an upscale Indian restaurant that works for many situations—dinner with the parents, Happy Hour, a date, an awkward networking meetup with your cousin's coworker’s dog-walker, etc. We like the tandoori grilled paneer and spicy chicken pakoras, not to mention the delicious cocktails ranging from curry margaritas to coffee martinis. And if you were wondering where to find all the exposed brick we were talking about earlier, some of it is in here.
Underbelly is a basement bar that specializes in natural wine and snacks like hot pretzels and grilled cheese. This place doesn’t take themselves too seriously—there’s ska music in the background while nature documentaries play on a projector. Come here with anybody who likes to drink wine and simultaneously listen to syncopated saxophone honks.
Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar
Taylor Shellfish is a Seattle oyster institution. And while one could theoretically sip sparkling wine and whisper sweet nothings (about oysters) to a date here, one could also drink local beer and watch some sports on TV with a fried prawn po’boy on the side. That’s what we’ll be doing.
Good Bar is a cocktail bar that used to be a bank (you won’t forget this, because you can still see the vault door). While it’s an excellent option for a corporate-sponsored Happy Hour, it’s equally as good for a big friend hang before a Mariners game, complete with mezze, flatbreads, and walnut-infused Old Fashioned.
Located at the bottom of Temple Billiards, The Pharmacy feels like a basement that's fun to spend time in. It looks like somebody ransacked a garage sale in the late 1970s to furnish this place with sofas, coffee tables, and mismatched decorative pillows, but somehow it all works. The cocktail menu is massive, ranging from tiki drinks to different riffs on a French 75, and the bartenders will happily make you something custom on the spot.