Where To Eat When You’re Visiting Seattle

These restaurants will help you get acquainted with the city.
Platter of oysters on ice, alongside lemon wedges, mignonette, and fresh horseradish.

photo credit: Nate Watters

Maybe you’re craving great coffee after this morning’s cup of sludge. Maybe you’ve scheduled a few job interviews at Fortune 500 tech companies and have some time to kill in between them. Or maybe you want a big-city weekend that still involves things like hiking and possibly seeing a whale. Whatever the reason, you’re visiting Seattle, and there are plenty of great restaurants and bars you should prioritize. Put on some comfortable sneakers, pack a few layers, and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not allowed to carry an umbrella.


photo credit: Erin Roberts


University District

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastBrunchKidsQuick EatsSerious Take-Out Operation
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Saint Bread has two major appeals: excellent breakfast food and stunning Lake Union views. This renovated boathouse with stained glass windows is located on the University District side of Portage Bay, and works well as a launchpad if you plan to explore the University Of Washington for the rest of the day. Here you’ll find standout za’atar-dusted avocado toast on grain bread, Norwegian-style school buns filled with raspberry preserves and creamy custard, and the shop’s pièce de résistance: a BEC on Japanese melonpan. The experience of swiping a bit of crisp sugared dough through the mess of jammy yolk, bacon grease, and american cheese is reason enough to book a flight here. During the warmer months, you can eat dinner on the adjoining patio, known as Hinoki.

photo credit: Chona Kasinger



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If you’re hanging around Ballard to see the overly hyped Chittenden Locks or check out the Sunday farmer’s market, Sabine is your breakfast stop. This counter-service operation’s griddled pastrami egg sandwiches and apple butter oat pancakes with hazelnut dukkah are great ways to start the day. Drinks include fresh-pressed green juice and one of the best espresso martinis in town. It’s all done in a bright and airy space complete with a covered patio, high-end pantry staples for sale, and a surplus of calming sky-blue paint. If all of that makes this place sound popular, that's because it is—show up early to avoid a wait.

It’s 6:30 am, and you just landed at SeaTac after a red eye next to someone listening to three hours of Tony Robbins without headphones—you need breakfast. Set that Uber destination to Ludi's, a Filpino diner and Seattle institution. Here, the sound of flowing black coffee and the smell of fried garlic engulfs the dining room. While you’re hanging out in a booth, order a stack of fluffy ube pancakes dressed in a bright purple coconutty glaze. Or if you don’t want to risk missing out on any of the hits, get the combo-silog full of peppery longanisa, foot-long lumpia, a pounded pork chop, and garlic rice that we could eat fistfuls of on its own.

Sometimes you need a morning pick-me-up, but the bread and pastries at Sea Wolf do way more work than that. The bakery in Fremont specializes in outstanding sourdoughs, including crusty white bread and rye infused with coffee and caraway. The best thing here, however, is their chocolate chip cookie. The way Sea Wolf balances nutty brown butter, dark chocolate, oats, and a heavy hand of sea salt makes us want to host a cookie convention and invite them as keynote speakers. A flaky croissant for breakfast is pretty much mandatory, but you’ll want a lye roll or hunk of olive-dotted focaccia to snack on later.

photo credit: Chona Kasinger



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For something Downtown with sit-and-linger potential, Cafe Campagne is a Pike Place classic that still holds up. The French restaurant is perfect for a special occasion or solo brunch at the bar—both scenarios that could benefit from an order of quiche Lorraine and a bottle of bubbles. Sure, you’re in Seattle and not Paris, but with its white-tableclothed sidewalk seating and French posters, Cafe Campagne feels pretty damn close to a European adventure.


photo credit: Nate Watters

Local Tide’s lineup of mostly seafood-based sandwiches involves simple preparations of high-quality fish. You’ll want to seek out the medium-rare salmon BLT and the crunchy fried dover sole with american cheese and tartar that should rightfully make McDonald’s jealous. It’s pretty easy to secure a table even on a weekend, but you could also grab takeout and head to Gasworks Park. Orders of the house potato chips with smoky salmon belly dip and pork fat-spiked shrimp toast are not optional.

Located in a quiet corner of Pike Place Market, this Filipino counter serves a lunch as classic to the city as passive-aggressive driving. Everything is prepared by a woman who is quite kind despite brash signage (such as, “IF U DON’T KNOW HOW TO EAT OUR SALMON SINIGANG DON’T ORDER IT”) and the food is so good that it's worth braving the crowds. Try the tart pork adobo over rice seeped in braising liquid, crunchy lumpia wands, and shiny red longanisa sausage that deserves its own long-form documentary. There’s a reason why this place has been going strong since 1987, and it’s in part thanks to that link of meat.

If someone tells you to go to Paseo during your trip, kindly (but firmly) suggest Un Bien instead. The menus are nearly identical, but Un Bien is where the original Paseo owners work, and you should be eating an original Caribbean roast pork-filled baguette—not a lackluster stunt double. Even though Un Bien’s drippy sandwiches are massive, grab some fire-roasted corn as a side, and eat it all on a beach picnic at Golden Gardens Park. Note that you may end up with tender pork bits, zesty aioli, and charred onions all over your (formerly) clean t-shirt, but that Tide Pen in your rental car’s glove compartment has been waiting for this moment.

There are more than a few dumpling restaurants in Seattle, and Dough Zone is our favorite. They run a speedy operation, and the large windows are perfect for people-watching. This Chinese spot is especially excellent after a blustery morning walking around the International District, because nothing warms us up better than steamy sesame dan dan noodles, pork jian buns, chicken wontons in hot and sour broth, and potstickers with a brittle cornstarch skirt.

During your trip, it's crucial to get a Pacific Northwest view of mountains, water, skyline, and beach simultaneously. Marination Ma Kai at Alki Beach is where you can nab this oddly specific vantage point and tear through Hawaiian-Korean food like kimchi fried rice, spam sliders, and kalbi beef tacos. By all means, drink some lychee margaritas on a patio picnic table in the summer—but the views (and panko-crusted fish sandwiches with miso slaw) are just as good in other seasons, too.


Taking influence from Ethiopian and Vietnamese dishes all over town, Communion serves “Seattle soul” food—and nails it. Besides standards like cornbread and mac and cheese, they experiment with dishes like house salad sprinkled with injera croutons and a Hood Sushi bowl with crispy catfish, seaweed, and pickled vegetables. Spend time celebrating with friends in the plush blue booths and you'll find that it's all too easy to tack on another round of wings and brown liquor cocktails instead of grabbing the check.

Oyster specialist The Walrus And The Carpenter should be on your list if you’re seeking fresh shellfish in Seattle. Whether you eat them at a table or while seated at the big, majestic marble bar, order them raw or cornmeal-crusted, you shall fulfill your quest for the perfect salty mollusk. The sparkling rosé and seasonal small plates are stellar too, but be prepared for a substantial wait since they don't take reservations. Note that popping by next door to sister bar Barnacle for an amaro spritz beforehand should be part of the plan.

Spinasse on Capitol Hill serves the best Italian food in Seattle. There’s something special about sitting in their gorgeous dining room decorated with a marble bar, rustic tables, and ambient noodle sheets hanging from the open kitchen that gets you excited to eat pasta. Come here for forkfuls of fresh cavatelli with braised beef and slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, fried zucchini blossoms piped with ricotta and lemon, and the tajarin with butter and sage that both a toddler and a grown adult would find revelatory.

This Japanese restaurant on the outskirts of Pike Place is helmed by legendary chef Shiro Kashiba. And after eating lots of otoro, uni, and geoduck nigiri here, we can confirm that this carefully sourced fish makes Kashiba the sushi spot everyone should prioritize. Reservations are usually booked several weeks in advance, but you can try your luck waiting outside the restaurant at 3:30pm until the 5:00pm opening for a spot at the highly-coveted sushi counter. Your reward for standing upright for nearly two hours straight will be an outstanding omakase experience to brag about back home.

At this pink landlocked boat in the International District, the scent of fried garlic and chicken skin mixes with toasting waffles. You should settle down here at one of the small disco ball-lit tables or wrangle a stool at the bar to admire the hive of activity. The short menu offers garlic-flecked cornish game hen done three ways—with egg noodles, egg noodle soup, or pandan-infused rice (our personal favorite). Don’t forget to follow up your poultry with an order of fluffy pandan waffles dunked liberally in the accompanying salted coconut whip.


There's a good chance you’ll be doing some exploring Downtown, and after a long day of navigating Lime bikes through one-way streets, you might want an adult beverage or two at Phởcific Standard Time. Located inside Phở Bắc in Denny Triangle, the second-story speakeasy is close enough to the touristy action where you won’t have to call an Uber, but removed enough that you won’t see any Piroshky Piroshky bags or selfie sticks. They have a cheesy caramelized crab and prawn dip to snack on as you drink one of their Vietnamese-inspired cocktails, like an iced coffee martini topped with pandan dust. And if there’s a line, hop inside Le Caviste, which is an excellent wine bar next door.

Canon is the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of cocktails. The encyclopedic menu has pages upon pages of classic mixed drinks and original ones with flashy schtick like smokes, syrups, rinses, and/or pop art-printed foam floating on top. Some are served in whimsical vessels like light bulbs, Russian nesting dolls, glass hearts you wear around your neck, or IV bags that drip into your glass. It’s not just for show—these drinks also walk the walk. Watch the bartenders gather the ingredients from the bookshelves of liquors so massive they need their own Dewey Decimal System, and be aware that one sip may compel you to sign a lease to live in Seattle immediately. Also be aware that the cocktail prices range from $16 to $750.

Say you find yourself in the middle of Pike Place looking for drinks in a space that isn’t packed with everyone and their small children. Step into Jarrbar—a small, hidden spot where you can escape the market and temporarily be transported to a dimly-lit Spanish tapas bar. Their cocktails have an impeccable lemonade-level harmony between acid and sugar, and you can snack on various pintxos like tinned fish, jamón Ibérico, and olive-oiled baguette.

If we had to choose one spot to have daytime hops in Seattle, it would easily be Fremont Brewing Company. There’s a huge patio, dependably delicious beer (Lush IPA is the gold standard), the good brand of mini pretzels in unlimited quantities, and a fun crowd including many dogs. The only wrong way to do Fremont Brewing is to not show up at all.

Roquette in Belltown is where you go to feel like a VIP. A dark curtain opens up into a dimly-lit cobalt space where servers can take one look at you and know you like Empress, or can personalize an elaborate off-menu drink. You might feel fancy enough to try a szechuan buzz button cocktail and crème fraîche-piped Bugles topped with caviar—the fanciest Bugles we’ve ever come across. Come here for those nights on the town when you don’t have a 5am flight the next day and can put that new vacation outfit to good use.


As far as coffee shops go, Dr. Frasier Crane would approve of Vivace’s espresso. That is, if he were a real person and Cafe Nervosa went out of business. Vivace’s ristretto shots are less bitter than a lot of others you’ll find in the city, and they’re serious about porcelain drinkware here. On a hot day, an iced mocha (layered with homemade vegan chocolate sauce) sips like a pile of melted Fudgesicles.

Anchorhead is not only a superb spot to visit if you’re moseying around Downtown, but they also happen to serve our favorite homemade cold brew. You can choose among black, nitro, or one splashed with chocolate milk. But the best way to do it is the “Honey Bunches Of Cold Brew.” It’s stirred with burnt honey, cinnamon, maple syrup, and oat milk, and has that refreshing zazz to cool you off on a hot day while simultaneously dripping with winter cheer if it’s chilly outside. If you aren’t a coffee fan, you’ll still be happy here—Anchorhead’s pistachio milk matcha latte is a grassy, nutty drink that’s just as satisfying as the espresso-based ones.

This Filipino bakery and coffee shop serves great pastries and lattes featuring purple sweet potato. If taking attractive photos of your food and beverages is important to you, you’ll want their iced ube latte. The colors melt from violet to white to chocolate-brown in a visually stunning gradient that always makes us sad to shove a straw in and ruin that ombre. It’s also sweet and creamy, especially with a mini homemade cheesecake on the side (the best flavors are guava-swirled white chocolate, and, of course, ube).

Caffe Vita is a Space Needle-adjacent spot that’s perfect for grabbing coffee and watching the DJs at KEXP’s recorded on-air shows mere feet away in a sound booth. Sure, that “cookie cereal milk latte slushy” on the menu is really a Frappuccino wearing a trench coat, and sometimes the espresso tastes a little bitter on an off day. But the hiss of pressed beans mingling with the chatter of indie rock at the large Seattle Center space will make you feel immediately like a local. And if you need a souvenir, buy some vinyl at the kiosk in the back.

This rickety house and its wraparound porch are as much of a Fremont staple as the troll, and the eternally creaking space is as iconic as their phenomenal coffee. It’s ideal for spending a rainy afternoon, hanging out in one of the shop’s tiny rooms sipping a cappuccino. Fremont Coffee Company’s curated syrup combinations have some nuance (like strawberry shortbread or raspberry cheesecake). You can also count on the baristas to make fun foam art shapes like hearts, leaves, or skeleton heads.

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