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; sichuanese-cuisine.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.