The Best Restaurants In the International District guide image


The Best Restaurants In the International District

The 24 best places to eat and drink in the International District.

There are so many good restaurants in the International District that picking one can be about as overwhelming as deciding between 24 nearly identical frames at the sunglasses store, or choosing the best Calvin & Hobbes comic strip. Our guide will help you figure out the perfect spot for every scenario, whether you’re looking for spicy noodles, lazy susans, free soft-serve, a sushi spot that’s older than velcro, or a vegan bánh mì. So just take a look at all 24 spots, pick one that looks good, and start planning your meal.


Maneki imageoverride image



304 6th Ave S, Seattle
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Maneki has been open since 1904, making it older than any other restaurant in the International District (as well the pogo stick, the Model-T, and the talking picture). When you walk inside, you’ll notice a sheet of paper taped to the host stand that lists the next available reservation that night. Usually, it’s something late, like 9:30pm, which goes to show that Maneki is still making some of the very best Japanese food in the city. The menu is huge, but you’ll want to stick with the fish and seafood dishes, from reasonably-priced sushi to fried takoyaki balls stuffed with octopus.

photo credit: Nate Watters

After Phở Bắc Sup Shop moved out of a wooden boat located in their parking lot, it was mostly deserted for years. Now, they’ve reopened the rickety little ship solely to serve Vietnamese fried chicken rice and waffles—a dynamic duo we’ve replayed in our minds over and over again like the Napoleon Dynamite dance sequence. The fried cornish hens are super moist, blasted with sizzled garlic, and topped with a crackly glazed exterior. On the side, there’s yellow rice, an optional runny egg (exercise that option), a refreshing chrysanthemum greens salad, and phở broth for sipping. That’d be enough for the brunch of the century, but then they go and add crisp-and-fluffy pink pineapple waffles with salted whipped coconut and a peanut sesame crumble. Pair it all with stiff-and-sweet iced coffees, and we can’t think of a better early weekend lunch. Despite being seemingly small from the outside, the boat has plenty of four-tops where you can kick back with friends on a Sunday afternoon.

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When you need to impress someone with excellent dumplings, take them to Dough Zone. It’s a small Seattle-based chain that’s serious about xiao long bao, buns, and noodles, and they also plate their pickled cucumbers to look like a slinky. You can’t go wrong with any of the dumplings here, but the best are the Q bao pork buns. Five come with an order, so it’s inevitable that there’ll be a fight over the last one.

When it’s gray and drizzly in Seattle, our gut instinct is to hang our heads over a restorative bowl of hot phở and allow it to fix everything—or at least momentarily distract us. The best place to do that is at Phở Bắc Sup Shop. In this large room, there’s a constant cloud of broth steam following each server, crunches echoing from pork and shrimp egg rolls, and very happy-sounding slurps. And whether you’re just here for a beer and fries with lemongrass sauce or a gallon of aromatic soup with a gargantuan short rib bone submerged inside, Phở Bắc makes eating phở a party on the daily. And since good parties tend to have neon signs, photo booths, and shots of rye chased with phở broth backs, it’s only right that this place does too.

Chengdu Taste is a Sichuan staple in SoCal that made its way to Seattle, and we’re a better city for it. After a few bites of outstanding mung bean jelly noodles tossed in tingly chili and roasted peanuts, it’s easy to whole-heartedly understand why our California colleagues love this place so much. But then you’d be ignoring the juicy wontons in pepper sauce, morsels of cumin-rubbed lamb on toothpicks, spicy dry-fried chicken pieces, and boiled fish soaked in a green pepper stew that lights your mouth up like delicious (and very safe) dynamite. This isn’t the first time Seattle has inherited a new location of a Los Angeles spot, but Chengdu Taste is the first one to really get excited about.

This Japanese gastropub is boarded up, so it looks closed—but we're glad to report that it is very much open for business. In fact, it's even open until 1:30am on the weekends. At Itsumono, you'll find a relaxed space that has everything from Iron Chef to New Girl playing on TV. You'll also find a short menu of mash-ups like tonkatsu tikka masala, loco moco scotch eggs, cheesy dungeness crab arancini doria, and miso soup risotto, as well as a $100 tasting menu option if you reserve a table at least 24 hours in advance. Use this place for a first date alongside drinks and tots, and if things go well, order more food. If things go extremely well, invite us to your wedding.

Don't let the boarded-up windows and a lack of carts rolling around Jade Garden distract you from the excellent dim sum you'll find here. From overstuffed potstickers and sweet honey BBQ pork hand pies to smoky seared turnip cakes and rice wrappers plump with pink prawn filling, everything at Jade Garden tastes delicious, whether plain or completely drenched in your own custom blend of hot chili sauce and salty soy sauce. And with excellent walk-in potential, their hours being 9am-7:30pm daily, and electronic ordering, this is one of the best group meal spots in the city, let alone the ID.

The first time we sat at Tsukushinbo’s sushi counter, we overheard someone tell the chef that he was moving to Tokyo the very next day. At first, we thought this guy was a little misguided for having sushi the night before relocating to Japan, but after trying it for ourselves, we understand. This is the best sushi in the neighborhood. The menu is short, but there are things you might not see at other spots in town, like barracuda or smoked kinmedai. Come for a solo meal (when you can really appreciate how the yellowtail melts like Crisco) without any distractions. Tsukushinbo also happens to serve the ID’s best ramen, but it’s only available on weekends.

We love Tamarind because the entire operation is so fast that you could be in and out in under an hour, having eaten some of the best Vietnamese food in the city next to a firepit or waterfall. You might be tempted to order the seven courses of beef, but the chili lemongrass beef noodle bowl (and the lemongrass grilled tofu) are the best things here.

Ever since Phnom Penh reopened in 2020, it’s been in our group dinner and takeout rotation whenever we’re in the mood for delicious Cambodian dishes—especially bowls of foursome beef noodle packed with silky broth, tripe, and meatballs. And even when it’s cold out, we can always count on their platter of grilled pork chops, chicken, and short ribs to give us the same joy we feel at a summer BBQ. The boneless chicken thighs pack a great lemongrass-y punch, and both the pork chop and short ribs have a sweet and sticky marinade that clings to every char mark.

If REI opened a pizzeria, it would be Humble Pie. The plates are compostable, the ingredients are local, and there’s a chicken coop on the patio full of eggs that’ll eventually make their way onto a pie with arugula and mushrooms. Show up for a late lunch of margheritas and cider tallboys after hiking in head-to-toe Eddie Bauer gear.

Tai Tung was Bruce Lee’s favorite restaurant in Seattle. It’s why there’s a shrine to him set up in “his booth,” complete with a cardboard cutout of Bruce himself. This place is the oldest Chinese spot in the city, and you could probably bring their menu on a beach vacation as reading material. Come with a big hungry group and order the family-style wonton soup, a big plate of almond chicken, and whatever else calls out to you.

At Musashi’s, you can get an impressive amount of raw fish and pay an impressively low amount of money for it. Sure, the selection is limited, and you’re not going to find things like toro or uni. But you will find great quality tuna and seared salmon for around $2 each. Head here before a night out at the very few bars that exist around here, and pay $14 in exchange for 24 pieces of a specialty roll.

The grilled pork bánh mì at Saigon Deli is one of the greatest bánh mì in the city, let alone the ID. A lot of this has to do with their aioli, which we’d happily eat by itself on a crunchy baguette. But here, it cuts nicely through the pickled vegetables and the juicy barbecued pork. When you need a quick takeout lunch and aren’t sure where to turn, just turn directly into the front door at Saigon Deli.

If you don’t feel like waiting for a table at another Chinese spot in the ID, you’ll be in good hands with Chinese barbecue at Kau Kau. This spot is perfect for a huge family-style meal that will involve a spinning lazy susan. They’re most famous for their barbecue pork, which we especially endorse with a pile of fried rice and potstickers, but the lemon chicken is truly not to be missed.

If you’re avoiding meat, check out Chu Minh, a vegan bánh mì spot that loads their sandwiches with tofu and different plant-based imitations. The best of the eight bánh mì on the menu is the barbecue pork, which has a great sweet and sticky sauce. We also love that Chu Minh feeds the homeless every Sunday.

You may have heard about the crunchy cream donut from Fuji. It’s a fried dough ball stuffed with pastry cream and coated in Frosted Flakes. But we’re here to tell you that the cereal puff is a distraction from the greatest chocolate chip cookie in the entire city. It’s barely undercooked in the middle, crispy on the outside, tastes like toasty caramel, and the flat chocolate discs make everything a huge gooey mess we’d sacrifice a white shirt for.

The Vietnamese iced coffee at Tan Dinh Deli is worth going out of your way for. It’s the best out of all the bánh mì delis in the area, and the stuff is so strong it could probably resurrect King Tut if someone splashed a little on his tomb. Grab a bánh mì to go along with it—the charred bits on the grilled pork won’t disappoint.

Most of the bánh mìspots in town are known for their barbecued pork. Saigon Vietnam Deli is no exception, but you don’t need it. Their roasted pork is even better, and the pickled daikon is the tangiest in the neighborhood. They also have other options, like rice plates topped with various stews, but you want this roasted pork sandwich.

If you don’t have any friends but you’re in the mood for dim sum, you either have to order very selectively, or go home with a ton of leftovers that may or may not reheat well. At Dim Sum King, everything is priced per piece, so you could get a potsticker, two siu mai, three rice rolls, a chicken bun, and call it a day. But the best things here are the superb egg tarts. The greatest way to use this place is to swing by in the morning, grab a dozen of those, and be the hero of the brunch party.

Hood Famous specializes in Filipino desserts, mainly mini cheesecakes with flavors like white chocolate guava and matcha. While we endorse standing on a street corner with a fork, eating five flavors at one time in a takeout box, the purple ube cheesecake is not only the best thing here, but it’s the best cheesecake in the ID. If you’re not feeling the street corner, eat it inside for lunch chased with an iced ube macchiato, in case you wanted more ube. Ube for president.

The stir-fried rice rolls from A+ Hong Kong Kitchen might just be the best dish in the whole neighborhood. These chewy and griddled rolled-up noodles get doused in a tingly XO sauce, get topped with sauteed scallions, and cost under $10. The menu here is pretty long, but an order of these stunning rice rolls, some Sichuan lamb lo mein, and a refreshing sago beverage all make for a great spread. We’ve always taken our food to go, but there are a couple of tables if you want to sit down for a quick lunch or casual weeknight dinner.

Sometimes you need to be alone with a hot bowl of ramen and no other humans, and Samurai Noodle, a tiny spot with about 10 seats, understands this. You’ll want the tonkotsu ramen, which is made with pork broth that’s simmered for 48 hours and topped with tender pork slices. Always add a side of the gyoza dumplings, which are held together by a sheet of crispy cornstarch.

You can find this bakery at the bottom of an office building on Jackson, and what puts their bánh mì up there with the city’s best is the bread. Their rolls are hard and crusty but extra soft in the middle, making for the perfect vehicle for sweet grilled pork. We appreciate that Lan Huê is open from 8am-7pm, which makes it an ideal drop-by stop for a quick lunch, early dinner, or even just an eggy bông lan trứng muối or coconut bánh dứa trứng muối to snack on in the morning.

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