Matt Dillon won the title of 2012 James Beard Best Chef Northwest for Sitka & Spruce (*1531 Melrose Ave; sitkaandspruce.com). This locavore restaurant pairs communal tables with bold plates like chamomile-cured salmon and madrona-bark ice cream.
Big on authentic flavor, Sichuanese Cuisine Restaurant (1048 S Jackson St; sichuaneserestaurant.com) turns out house-made noodles and famed fiery hot pots. Meanwhile, the downtown landmark Wild Ginger (*1401 Third Ave; wildginger.net)—order the house specialty, fragrant duck—has started a grab-and-go lunch venue called Tiffin (216 Union St), with a menu of noodle and rice dishes.
Celeb chef Tom Douglas’s Seatown Seabar (*2010 Western Ave; tomdouglas.com) has a Dungeness crab BLT that’s been called “legendary” by author Karen Gaudette in Seafood Lover’s Pacific Northwest. And for seasonal variety, like crispy fried Columbia River smelt, turn to RockCreek (4300 Fremont Ave N; rockcreekseattle.com).
The iconic Elliott’s Oyster House (*1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56; elliottsoysterhouse.com) reopens in July 2015, when waterfront improvements wrap up, so make sure to order a freshly shucked set from the 21-foot oyster bar. Or head to Ballard’s The Walrus and The Carpenter (4743 Ballard Ave NW; thewalrusbar.com), a seafood haven serving up locally sourced oysters on the half shell.
As the quintessential Seattle institution, Canlis (*2576 Aurora Ave N; canlis.com) is the perfect setting to celebrate milestones—or even stage a proposal. Stationed in sophisticated digs overlooking Lake Union, the restaurant is renowned for its elevated Pacific Northwest fare and impeccable service. On Elliott Bay, Six Seven (*2411 Alaskan Way; edgewaterhotel.com/seattle-six-seven-restaurant) dishes up seasonally inspired regional cuisine alongside sweeping views of the water. Book a table around sunset to cozy in for a spectacular view.