photo credit: Nate Watters
The Toughest Reservations In Seattle Right Now (And How To Get Them)
Our thoughts on the busiest restaurants in Seattle and advice on how to get in.
At any given time, there are a handful of Seattle restaurants where trying to get a table feels like chasing the end of a double rainbow. Right now, these are those restaurants. The spots on this list aren’t necessarily the best restaurants in the city, but they are the hardest ones to get into—and we want you to know if they’re actually worthwhile. We also want to help you get a reservation, so you don’t have to sit at home and write sad songs about how you’ve never been to Taneda. Below, you’ll find our verdicts on the busiest places in the city, along with some info that’ll help you get that table (or bar seat). Check back for regular updates.
photo credit: Nate Watters
Sushi By Scratch Restaurants
Verdict: This 10-seat omakase makes for an exciting night out as you enjoy creative nigiri (like toro with brûléed pineapple or hamachi with corn pudding and sourdough crumbs) in a room that feels like a glowing aquarium. It’s perfect for birthdays, special occasions, and date night—even if (correction: especially if) that date is yourself.
How To Get In: The restaurant releases reservations on the 1st of the month for the following month at 10am. Set an alarm and click fast. If you don’t make it, sign up for the waitlist on any day that you’re potentially available, with the assumption that you might nab a spot only two hours before dinner. And if your goal is to eat here at all costs, be flexible and try to book alone so that you’re not competing with couples.
Verdict: Canlis is the most upscale fine dining restaurant in the entire city, and qualifies as a Seattle bucket list activity. Don’t expect to be stunned speechless by the food, but do expect to share a fantastic night out with anyone from your betrothed to your boss. Especially if your boss picks up the check. You’re here to soak in the Lake Union view, eat a luxurious morsel of steak, and wear a gala-type outfit that would otherwise rot in a closet corner with your forgotten Halloween costumes.
How To Get In: They release tables six months in advance, and if you’re booking three months in advance, you might find some tables at 8:30pm or later. For the best possible odds, log on right at midnight half a year in advance to snatch a table, especially if your desired date falls on a weekend. If you missed that, check 48 hours in advance, as that’s when reservation deposits become non-refundable. If all else fails, part of the fun of Canlis is sitting at the bar to drink exceptional cocktails, eat snacks, and listen to the pianist. And since anyone can waltz in and do that, consider it as a backup plan.
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photo credit: Nate Watters
Beast & Cleaver
Verdict: Turns out that one of the best restaurants in town is located inside a butcher shop after hours. You can experience Beast & Cleaver a few ways: buy some chops or links to cook at home, go to their Tuesday/Wednesday wine bar nights, or attend a tasting menu dinner under their alter ego “The Peasant.” No matter when you show up, the steaks, burgers, homemade sausages, and surprisingly, the salads at this meat-focused operation are outstanding, and the wine list is excellent, too.
How To Get In: We highly recommend their wine bar nights, so try first for that. For a group of two, there’s usually space available around three weeks in advance, and this is one of the few places where you could get even luckier if you have four or more. Reservations for The Peasant are pretty much non-existent at any given moment, but if you sign up for Beast & Cleaver’s newsletter, you’ll get an email when the next batch of dates open up to book online.
photo credit: Adam Joseph Wells
Verdict: The way that Tomo coaxes incredible flavor out of everyday ingredients makes it an experience you’ll wish you could relive via a tricked-out time machine. While they’ve increased prices over the months from $68 a person to $86, it’s still worth it for five courses of pure brilliance involving things like fresh stracciatella cheese, chawanmushi, and perfectly cooked proteins.
How To Get In: Tomo releases reservations on the 1st of the month for the following month at 10am, so be ready at your computer. The online platform they use will hold any table clicked on for 10 minutes, so if it seems like all of the availability vanishes, just hang around for a bit and impulsive folks may end up not booking. If you can’t find a spot, and if there’s a specific time you have your eye on, check 86 hours before that, which is Tomo’s window to cancel without a fee—so that’s ideally when others will be giving up their tables. We’re not sure why they chose 86 hours, since that translates to 3.5833 days, but policy is policy. Don’t feel like doing literally any of that? Their patio is walk-in only, so show up when they open at 5pm for your best chance.
Verdict: This eight-seat wood grain counter in Hillman City is more than just a 10-course dinner inspired by the owners’ Filipino heritage. It’s a billboard for the Pacific Northwest and a meal that should be required by law for every resident. Each dish represents a part of history that connects our city to Filipino culture, and Archipelago only uses ingredients exclusively sourced throughout the region. After two hours, you’ll walk away from Archipelago with a belly full of outstanding lechon (crispy skin and all) and a newfound appreciation for both Filipino food and the surrounding PNW.
How To Get In: Keep an eye on Archipelago’s Instagram, where they’ll announce when the next two months of reservations will open up. And if you know a leader in your community who deserves to eat here on the house, you can nominate them—Archipelago gives away seats to folks worthy of celebration, while prioritizing those who might struggle financially.
Verdict: If you like pasta even a little bit, prioritize a night at Spinasse. Their homemade tajarin and cavatelli are phenomenal, and the rustic-meets-modern dining room works well for any type of special occasion, from graduation dinners with your entire family to an important date night.
How To Get In: This is the best Italian restaurant in Seattle, and such superlatives come with a tricky reservation process. They do have a patio now, which has made things better than they used to be, but good luck getting a table that isn’t at 9:30pm unless you book several weeks in advance. You can secure a table up to 30 days ahead of time, and thankfully, there’s usually nobody hovering at midnight ready to pounce on that 30th day. (Except for you, of course.)
Verdict: Sushi Kashiba is an institution, and the best sushi restaurant in Seattle, thanks to incredible imported and local fish prepared by a talented chef who is practically a celebrity at this point. From marinated lean tuna to Hokkaido uni, every piece is made with ultimate precision. You want a legendary seafood-eating experience that you can brag about to everyone you know? Sushi Kashiba always delivers.
How To Get In: If you want a spot at the sushi counter, there are no reservations. For your best shot at a spot, you have to line up outside the restaurant before they open at 5pm (if you want to be first, start waiting at 3:30). Once they open, a host will tell you if you got a spot at the first seating or if you need to come back. For a regular table, Kashiba takes online reservations, with late-night availability starting about two weeks in advance and more flexibility if you book further out.
photo credit: Suzi Pratt
Verdict: Communion is part Southern restaurant and part love letter to dishes and flavors you can find in the Central District and beyond. Earthy berbere grilled chicken with lemony lentils nods to the neighborhood’s Ethiopian population, while a po’boy/bánh mì hybrid honors the pâté-slathered baguettes of Little Saigon. A surplus of brittle cornmeal-dredged catfish, though, shows that this is a soul food spot through and through. The cocktails are refreshing yet balanced (hello perfect apple mint julep), the space is lively yet warm, and even though it’s only been around since December 2020, it’s hard to imagine Seattle without this restaurant.
How To Get In: The restaurant will announce on Instagram when reservations open up for the next month. There will be a waitlist if you’re too slow, and if you don’t want to compete with the reservation crowd at all, Communion’s Sunday brunch from 11am-3pm is walk-in only.
Taneda Sushi In Kaiseki
Verdict: This nine-seat counter serves an omakase that’ll undoubtedly be one of the best meals of your year if you love raw fish. You’ll get things like chopped toro handrolls, chutoro and otoro nigiri, uni wrapped in sweet shrimp, Japanese scallops, seared A5 miyazaki wagyu topped with caviar, and even a second uni course. The $215 price tag might seem like a lot to drop on a meal, but think of it like taking yourself out on a date, only one where you’ll reach out for a piece of eel instead of someone else’s hand.
How To Get In: The restaurant’s Instagram announces when reservations will go live, typically at 11am on the second to last Saturday of the month. It’s in your best interest to try to secure one at that time exactly. If you miss it, try again next time or sign up for the waitlist.
The Pink Door
Verdict: The Pink Door is an iconic Italian restaurant with Elliott Bay views, aerial performances, and a standout spinach lasagna with pesto, marinara, and velvety besciamella that occupies our daily thoughts. Don’t let the tourist hellzone location that is Pike Place deter you: The Pink Door is more than worth braving the crowds, lack of parking, and raw fish smells.
How To Get In: You can get a reservation starting 30 days in advance, but if you try for something last-minute, you'll probably be left with tables for a late lunch at 3pm. If you try and book three weeks ahead of time, you'll usually be able to snag a late dinner at 9pm.