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The Best Restaurants In White Center

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

photo credit: Nate Watters

At the very southern edge of West Seattle is White Center, one of only two places left in King County that isn’t incorporated into a city. (Bryn Mawr-Skyway, we’re coming for you next.) But White Center doesn’t need any affiliation—it stands on its own as a place full of culture, community, and, of course, food. And while it may be small, you’ll find more cuisine diversity here than most Seattle neighborhoods combined. The best spots in White Center are long-standing institutions, tasting menu spots, walk-up trailers, and everything in-between.

THE SPOTS

photo credit: Nate Watters

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American

White Center

$$$$Perfect For:Date NightDrinking Good CocktailsImpressing Out of TownersSpecial OccasionsUnique Dining ExperienceVegetarians

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This unmarked tasting menu spot uses relatively simple and seasonal ingredients as the base of phenomenal dishes, like bok choy sprinkled with furikake, or Japanese sweet potato on top of kimchi and creamy hazelnut-soy milk. And although servers might place plates on the table in one synchronized movement, it’s not stuffy in here— there’s lively music, the staff is friendly, and you can eat here without a suit jacket. And if there aren’t any reservations available for the five-course tasting menu, the bar and patio accepts walk-in seating.

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Why every restaurant doesn't give you gloves and a bib is something we would like to take up with the Supreme Court. For now, Crawfish House is on the right side of history. This neighborhood staple, decorated with fishing nets hanging from the ceiling, buoy ornaments, and murals of giant crawfish depicted as WWE wrestlers, is perfect for a group meal revolving around shellfish consumption. Always start with a round of Lucky Buddhas and a basket of snacks like fried pickles or cajun wings, and once the smell of butter and garlic has tempted you enough, get into the crustaceans. We recommend the classic crawfish boil with potatoes, corn, and andouille sausage.

Ordering Mickey Mouse pancakes and egg foo young during the same meal is possible at Young's. This spot serves diner classics alongside a full lineup of Chinese and Thai dishes, and it’s perfect for sliding in on a Sunday morning when no one can agree on what to eat. While the sticky garlic fried chicken, pad see ew, and lo mein are hits, the best thing here is hidden in fine print on the menu—the “loco moco style” option on the hamburger steak entree. It’s an extra two dollars, but that’s a small price to pay for greatness in the form of a charred patty over soft white rice and topped with grilled onions, a runny egg, and brown gravy that floods the entire plate.

This is the best bakery in White Center. Salvadorean Bakery And Restaurant creates works of art in the form of tres leches cakes and savory Salvadoran treats. These—plus their pupusas and pañuelos—are so good that on first bite, you might feel compelled to introduce yourself to everyone in the kitchen since they'll be seeing a lot more of you. It does get busy on the weekends, so swing in during the weekday to pick up your pastries while enjoying a tamale or Salvadoran breakfast plate. Don’t forget a horchata to wash it all down.

Mexicuban serves Mexican and Cuban food, obviously. However, this spot does so much more than that—they bring the cuisines together like households that watch HBO. Even though the menu is packed with things like tostones, arroz bowls, and sandwiches, the Fluffy Taco is the star of Mexicuban’s show. The thick corn tortilla is deep-fried just enough to have structure while remaining puffy and soft, which holds up well when topped with drippy cochinita pibil, plantain, and pickled red onions. Take it to go, and eat along Alki Beach—be careful not to splash pork juice on your shoe.  

This strip mall restaurant has the best Vietnamese food in White Center. A specialty is their Mì Quảng Đà Lạt— a noodle soup with spareribs, pork belly, and egg, topped with peanuts and fried onions that give phở a run for its money. On Saturdays they have live music from 7-9pm, and we can't think of a better night spent than eating egg rolls to the sound of a funk band. 

It is impossible to have a bad day when it starts with a sea-salted glazed from Good Day Donuts, which means that you should plan an entire weekend around these airy-chewy halos. We mean it. Get there when they open at 8am to choose from the lineup of classics (including a full vegan selection) or suffer the consequences an hour later. If you really want to avoid the crowds, forgo those weekend plans and stop in on a weekday instead. Pay close attention to their Instagram for updates on fun specials, like cheesy apple fritters or carrot cake Oreo donuts. And if you don’t have a sweet tooth at all, the breakfast sandwich here is equally as great—it’s a baguette stuffed with cheesy soft scrambled eggs and bits of bacon or sausage.

Have you ever walked by a Starbucks and then immediately walked by another Starbucks? This scenario also plays out at Taqueria La Fondita #1 and Taqueria La Fondita #2, duplicate taco trucks within a two-block radius—only they serve horchata and excellent tacos instead of burnt coffee and cake pops. The adobada is tender, with fatty pieces melting into crispy pork bites, and the carne asada has a strong char that seals in the meat’s flavor like a padlock. Before a walk through White Center Heights Park, hit either location.

Yeah, you get it.

Best Roasted Corn Stand in White Center is a neighborhood staple, and absolutely deserves its title. Serving elote and esquite in the same parking lot as Taqueria La Fondita #1, this walk-up trailer is the perfect pit stop for a snack when you really want corn. Order said corn in a cup or on the cob, topped with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos dust and crumbled cotija cheese. In the wise words of Corn Kid, we can’t imagine a more beautiful thing. 

What you do at a casino is totally your business, but if you want to guarantee being a winner every time, go to Roxy’s Casino solely for the chicken wings. Right on the edge of White Center, Roxy’s has game tables, bowling, and most importantly, some of the best wings in town. These dry-fried salt and pepper stunners are topped with chopped green onions and jalapeños—and are the true jackpot here. The kitchen doesn't close until 2am, so there’s plenty of time to stop by on your way home for takeout wings. 

Exclusively open on Saturday through Monday, picking up a pineapple scone from this Hawaiian bakery should be at the top of your to-do list, next to getting an oil change and dreading the beginning of the workweek. Patrick’s haupia cinnamon roll uses coconut milk and crushed macadamia nuts to take the pastry to a new level, and the guava cake looks like something from a tea party in Wonderland. Make sure to check out their specials board, classic Hawaiian breakfast plates, and a spam musubi (or two). 

This restaurant could trick you into thinking it’s just a sports bar. Because it basically is. There are plenty of TVs (both inside and out), a wall of beer taps, and a huge bar at the center of everything. But there's no bottom-of-the-fryer tots or stale nachos here—just excellent Lao food. During the week, it may be a tame place to slurp a recovery bowl of kao piak sen with chicken broth and chewy housemade rice noodles. But come here on a game day, and prepare to party with sports fans drinking Singha and snacking on spicy chili chicken wings and crispy golden pork belly. 

A long night of skating to old-school hip-hop hits (and falling on your butt) at Southgate Roller Rink requires pizza and beer for fuel. That’s where Proletariat Pizza comes in. Grab a classic slice at the counter or wait just a few minutes for a fresh pie. While they have a ton of topping combinations, we love the one with prosciutto and cracked eggs, or the chicken pesto with nutty pesto, red onion, mushrooms, and chicken sausage.

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