Great coffee is everywhere, from micro caffeine temples like Elm Coffee Roasters (240 Second Ave S, Ste 103; elmcoffeeroasters.com) to local chainlets like Caffe Vita (multiple locations; caffevita.com). Espresso Vivace (multiple locations; espressovivace.com), was founded nearly 30 years ago and still pours its darker, Northern Italian–style roast. Others like Milstead & Co. (900 N 34th St; milsteadandco.com) and Tougo Coffee (multiple locations; tougocoffee.com) source beans from various roasters. Starbucks (*multiple locations; starbucks.com) in Pike Place Market is a can’t-miss piece of coffee history, but the coffee giant’s Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room (*1124 Pike St; roastery.starbucks.com) is a showroom of small-batch beans, roasted before your eyes. Sip through a cold-brew tasting flight, or sample Roastery-only creations like a smoked butterscotch latte.
Start the day off right: with a fluffy biscuit split in half and stuffed with all manner of sweet and savory fillings. Honest Biscuits (93 Pike St; honestbiscuits.com) ladles its biscuits with a gravy so hearty you’d never guess it’s gluten-free and vegan (fear not, carnivores—you can add sausage). The MacGregor biscuit is a tribute of sorts to Market vendors, made with Beecher’s Flagship cheese and Bavarian Meats bacon.
Seattle’s most prolific restaurateur, Tom Douglas, has a biscuit counter called Serious Biscuit (*401 Westlake Ave N; seriouspieseattle.com/westlake). As the name implies, the sandwiches here are decadent affairs. They come with a gluten-free option, too, and in a dozen different combos, like fried green tomato, bacon, and egg.
A tiny shop called Salumi (309 Third Ave S; salumicuredmeats.com) has transformed Italian-style cured meats into a Seattle institution. Retired Boeing engineer Armandino Batali founded the eatery—maybe you’ve heard of his chef son, Mario—and built a second career out of flavorful coppa, sopressata, and salami. Salumi is more of a pilgrimage than a lunch of convenience—seating is scarce, it’s only open for weekday lunch—but it’s always worth it.
Nearby butchery Rain Shadow Meats (404 Occidental Ave S; rainshadowmeats.com) offers its own range of careful charcuterie. Order a sandwich piled with house-made corned beef brisket or pressed with Rain Shadow’s own roast beef and mortadella. Still, you can’t go wrong with a charcuterie board, some cheese, and a glass of wine.
Washington’s native crab has a delicate, almost sweet taste, well worth the work to crack it out of the shell. Tom Douglas’s seafood restaurant, Etta’s (*2020 Western Ave; ettasrestaurant.com), shows off the full range of this crustacean, from meaty crabcakes livened up with a bit of lemon zest to seasonal pastas topped with buttered crabmeat to whole crabs fried in a wok and served with black bean sauce and fried garlic. Etta’s even does a happy hour—aka “Crabby Hour”—dedicated to specially priced Dungeness dishes. The feeding frenzy runs from 3pm to 6pm on weekdays. Another seafood spot that specializes in the delicacy is Cutters Crabhouse (*2001 Western Ave, Ste 100; cutterscrabhouse.com). Dungeness crab here comes steamed and whole with a side of butter and Parmesan risotto, as well as mixed with salmon and jumbo prawns in a crab louie.
A tiny patisserie tucked in Pike Place Market updates France’s classic éclair with Northwest flavors. Make your way to Choukette (1500 Western Ave; choukette.com) for flavors like black sesame vanilla, chocolate hazelnut praline, and lemon curd. These cream-filled, icing-topped oblongs of pâte à choux dough aren’t just tasty; each flavor is its own work of art.
Fresh fish and shellfish can be found everywhere in Seattle. One standout is RockCreek (4300 Fremont Ave N; rockcreekseattle.com). Chef Eric Donnelly celebrates sustainable seafood and has a special knack for presenting Pacific Northwest staples in an unexpected way, like baking local oysters with bacon and tamarind butter, or giving Neah Bay cod—a fish most chefs prepare with Japanese-inspired ingredients—a French twist with sherry, shallots, and Provencal herbs. Downtown, the menu at Kevin Davis’s Blueacre (*1700 Seventh Ave; blueacre
seafood.com) ranges from entrees like halibut in a lobster demi-glace to fun snacks like crab-shrimp tater tots. The menu lists the origin of all its seafood, making it easy to navigate toward something local.
This funny-looking clam (pronounced “gooey duck”) is a Washington delicacy that carries the flavor of the ocean. Local legend Shiro Kashiba was the first Seattle chef to serve geoduck raw; sample his geoduck sushi at Sushi Kashiba (86 Pine St; sushikashiba.com). Or dip into Taylor Shellfish (*multiple locations; taylorshellfishfarms.com) for geoduck sashimi, served with one of three finishes.
On the roof of Fairmont Olympic Hotel (*411 University St; fairmont.com), 19 beehives provide honey for the hotel’s bar and restaurant menus. Taste some in Pike Brewing Company’s house Honeymoon Suite Ale or Seattle Cider Co.’s semisweet honey cider; both drinks are available at the hotel’s Shuckers and The Terrace Lounge. In Ballard, Bastille (5307 Ballard Ave NW; bastilleseattle.com) uses raw honey from its own rooftop bees to dress salads of lettuce purchased from the neighborhood farmers market, atop granola at brunch, and in cocktails like the aptly named Bee’s Knees. Farther afield, the magnificently scenic Salish Lodge (*6501 Railroad Ave SE; salishlodge.com) in Snoqualmie manages an apiary on the hillside above its perch overlooking Snoqualmie Falls. Its honey shows up all over the menus at the lodge’s restaurants, from honey-roasted yams to tumbled oysters topped with honey-blood orange mignonette; look for menu items marked with a bee or buy some from the gift shop.
When you live in a state that grows around 80 percent of the nation’s hops, it’s no surprise the beer culture is built around this hoppy, highly drinkable beer style. Pike Brewing Company (*1415 First Ave; pikebrewing.com) pours Pike’s classic IPA and a more floral version brewed in tribute to the Space Needle (plus other brews like the Scotch-style Kilt Lifter ale).
Tiny Cloudburst Brewing (2116 Western Ave; cloudburstbrew.com) serves a rotating lineup of inventive beers, with an emphasis on IPAs. Brewer Steve Luke uses different varieties of hops, varying brew methods, and unexpected ingredients like oats to coax a range of flavors out of this beer style.
Nearly a dozen breweries are concentrated in the Ballard neighborhood. Start with
a visit to Reuben’s Brews (5010 14th Ave NW; reubensbrews.com), where British-born brewer Adam Robbings melds European beer styles with the assertive flavors of his adopted hometown. Nearby Stoup Brewing (1108 NW 52nd St; stoupbrewing.com) plays with different hop combos to create a range of IPAs, plus other impeccable styles like porter and Berliner weisse.
Some of Seattle’s notable James Beard winners include Maria Hines, whose three restaurants run the gamut from Sicilian at Agrodolce (709 N 35th St; mariahinesrestaurants.com) to elevated pub fare at Young American Ale House (1744 NW Market St) to seasonal Pacific Northwest at Tilth (1411 N 45th St), all hewing to the strictest of organic standards. At Poppy (622 Broadway Ave E; poppyseattle.com), Jerry Traunfeld presents Pacific Northwest flavors, like coho salmon and blackberry pickle in an Indian-style thali—a platter bearing a variety of small bites. Traunfeld’s talents with spice are also on display next door at his Szechuan restaurant, Lionhead (618 Broadway Ave E; lionheadseattle.com). John Sundstrom’s Lark (952 E Seneca St; larkseattle.com) stars impeccable local ingredients with cannelloni of braised lamb and duck confit. Meanwhile, Matt Dillon grows ingredients for his impressive lineup of Seattle restaurants—Sitka & Spruce (*1531 Melrose Ave; sitkaandspruce.com), Upper Bar Ferdinand (1424 11th Ave; barferdinandseattle.com), The Corson Building (*5609 Corson Ave S; thecorsonbuilding.com), and The London Plane (*300 and 322 Occidental Ave S; thelondonplaneseattle.com)—on his own farm on nearby Vashon Island.
Ah, kale. It’s practically an official food of Seattle these days, as evidenced by the mass quantity of well-constructed kale salads you’ll find on local restaurant menus. Skillet’s (multiple locations; skilletfood.com) kale caesar helped usher in the city’s civic kale obsession; it pairs tender lacinato kale with a seriously creamy, tangy caesar dressing. The assertive flavors are a perfect match for this hearty green. On top, buttery croutons are so good they could be a snack on their own. Add a fried chicken thigh to make your salad a meal, or order it as a side option with one of Skillet’s decadent grilled cheese sandwiches, made with three types of cheese. At Juicebox (1517 12th Ave, Ste 100; juiceboxseattle.com), a Capitol Hill cafe specializing in natural juices and virtuous food too flavorful to be merely described as healthy, you can drink your kale in the form of green juice, balanced with bright flavors like pineapple and Valencia orange, or apple, lemon, and turmeric.
Seattle has its share of slow-smoked meats to devour around the city. At Jack’s BBQ (3924 Airport Way S; jacksbbq.com), a roomy Georgetown roadhouse strung with white lights, a duo of 18- and 22-foot smokers crank out superlative pork ribs and brisket, which people consume alongside hush puppies, frito pie, and easy-drinking cocktails like a combo of sweet tea, vodka, and smoked simple syrup. Come in on Tuesdays for the Flintstone-size beef ribs. Campfire BBQ (706 Taylor Ave N; campfireforyou.com) is just a walk-up trailer in Lower Queen Anne (seating consists of picnic benches) but its loyal fan base is willing to wait in line, rain or shine, for tender brisket with its properly crusty “bark” exterior. At Bitterroot BBQ (5239 Ballard Ave NW; bitterrootbbq.com), a rustically stylish spot on the main drag in Ballard, smoked ribs, chicken, and pulled pork coexist with an impressive bourbon selection, not to mention slightly-fancier-than-average side dishes like mac and cheese with a choose-your-own toppings list that includes bacon, smoked jalapenos, and (indeed) more pulled pork. Finally, track down the black food truck known as Wood Shop BBQ (thewoodshopbbq.com) to get your hands on The Woody—a hearty portion of smoked jalapeno mac and cheese topped with a pile of pulled pork, plus vividly purple pickled onions for crunch.
The nachos at Cantina Leña (*2105 Fifth Ave; cantinalena.com) start with a pile of housemade tortilla chips, layered with crisped pork carnitas, green chilies, and Leña’s own version of melty queso fundido. Everything is topped with pickled red onions. In short, it’s a gloriously worthwhile mess, and one of the best snacks in the city. In Pioneer Square, Quality Athletics (*121 S King St; qualityathletics.com) serves an equally delicious plate with pork shoulder carnitas, tomatillo, and cilantro crema.
There’s no better place to savor the beauty of an oyster than in the Pacific Northwest. Taylor Shellfish Farms (*multiple locations; taylorshellfish.com) is the state’s largest oyster company. Its oyster bars let you compare and contrast different oysters, like Washington’s coppery-tasting native Olympias and big, briny Virginicas. Across town in Ballard, at Renee Erickson’s companionably chic oyster bar The Walrus and the Carpenter (4743 Ballard Ave NW; thewalrusbar.com), wire baskets full of ice hold a half dozen local oyster varieties that change almost daily. If you prefer your oysters with waterfront views, Elliott’s Oyster House (*1201 Alaskan Way; elliottsoysterhouse.com) offers the city’s biggest oyster list, organized by species and origin, each platter served with a memorable pink peppercorn mignonette.
Come early. That’s the best way to get your hands on a bowl of conchiglie in spicy clam and fennel sauce or fusilli with preserved lemon, sweet onion, and chard. Acclaimed pasta geek Mike Easton only serves lunch at his Pioneer Square restaurant Il Corvo (217 James St; ilcorvopasta.com), but his seasonal pasta combos are worth braving the crowds.
Local chainlet Via Tribunali (multiple locations; viatribunali.com) embraces the thin wood-fired pizza of Naples, mostly with toppings like fresh mozzarella, salami, and basil. Venture up to Delancey (1415 NW 70th St; delanceyseattle.com) for pizza with perfectly blistered crusts, topped with bacon and onions.
Kizuki Ramen (multiple locations; kizuki.com) focuses on lighter broth styles like shio (salt) or shoyu (soy), garnished with springy noodles. Tsukushinbo (515 S Main St) only makes ramen for Friday lunch, but customers show up before doors open at noon to score a bowl of the shoyu ramen before the day’s supply runs out.
A tangled tale of beloved sandwiches has given Seattle multiple destinations for crusty toasted rolls filled with tender meats, aioli, and caramelized onions. When beloved sandwich shop Paseo (multiple locations; paseorestaurants.com) shuttered in Fremont, a new owner bought the business and hired back former staff to reverse engineer its recipes. Meanwhile the sons of Paseo’s original owner opened their own sandwich counter Un Bien (multiple locations; unbienseattle.com) and retained the family’s original recipes. Both operations are good bets for Caribbean-inspired sandwiches like the Caribbean Roast, filled with marinated pork shoulder, and the Press, which marries smoked ham, roasted pork, sweet peppers, and Swiss cheese. Unrelated to this sandwich saga, Delicatus (103 First Ave S; delicatusseattle.com) puts a Seattle twist on the classic deli experience with a menu featuring sammies piled high with locally sourced salmon lox, brisket pastrami, and tender porchetta.
This ingredient within the cacao plant is what gives one of Seattle’s premier chocolatiers its name. Theo Chocolate’s (*3400 Phinney Ave N; theochocolate.com) artisan creations include bars studded with salted almonds, peanut butter cups, or caramels made with ghost chilies. The company’s factory in Fremont offers daily tours (book online) of its bean-to-bar operation. Another favorite, Fran’s Chocolates (*multiple locations; franschocolates.com), has glass cases full of tiny, beautiful caramels, plus artful truffles in flavors like espresso, raspberry, and oolong tea. The franchise’s production facility in Georgetown also offers tours for another Willy Wonka–esque experience.
The top of Queen Anne Hill is just two miles north of downtown but feels like its own little world, complete with some destination-worthy restaurants. In Eden Hill’s (2209 Queen Anne Ave N; edenhillrestaurant.com) intimate dining room, chef Maximillian Petty serves plates that somehow manage to be both unexpected and comforting. His signature crispy pig head “candybar” is an oblong combo of braised pig head, herbs, and fermented black beans that’s breaded and fried. The foie gras cake batter is quickly becoming a signature dessert; it’s served complete with pieces of seared pound cake and with your own personal spatula.
No surprise—a city surrounded by water has plenty of options for dinner with a view. At The Pink Door (1919 Post Alley; thepinkdoor.net), the charms of classic Italian food, like an unforgettable lasagna, pair perfectly with the charms of the patio, which offers rooftop views of ferries streaming in and out of Elliott Bay. At restaurateur Josh Henderson’s Westward (*2501 N Northlake Way; westwardseattle.com), on Lake Union’s northern shore, you can sit in Adirondack chairs around an outdoor firepit or along the dining room’s roll-up glass walls to admire the water sparkling against Seattle’s skyline as you tuck into some oysters and fish roasted in the wood oven. Along the shoreline in Ballard is Ray’s Boathouse (*6049 Seaview Ave NW; rays.com), a Seattle staple that serves a classic menu of Northwest seafood—think grilled king salmon or spicy prawns—against a backdrop of Shilshole Bay, where the water appears endless.
Washington has more than 900 wineries—and counting. Find 100-plus in Woodinville Wine Country (woodinvillewinecountry.com), a 30-minute drive from downtown Seattle. At the state’s oldest winery Chateau Ste. Michelle (*14111 NE 145th St; ste-michelle.com), sample its famed rieslings before sipping full-bodied pours at Efeste (*19730 144th Ave NE; efeste.com) and balanced wines at Novelty Hill Januik (*14710 Woodinville-Redmond Rd; noveltyhilljanuik.com). In Seattle, Charles Smith Wines Jet City (*1136 S Albro Pl; charlessmithwines.com) is the West Coast’s largest urban winery. Find around 20 more urban tasting rooms under the Seattle Urban Wineries (seattleurbanwineries.com) umbrella.
Or plan a visit to Taste Washington (*March 23–26; tastewashington.org). It’s the largest single-region food and wine event in the country, featuring pours from more than 200 Washington wineries.
Seattle’s love of these delicate Shanghainese dumplings, filled with pork and a splash of hot broth, runs deep. Find them at the two Seattle outposts of Taiwanese chain Din Tai Fung (multiple locations; dintaifungusa.com) in the University District and downtown. Watching the staff expertly pleat xiao long bao through a window by the entrance is half the fun.
How exciting can yogurt really be? Just ask the fans who flock to Ellenos Greek Yogurt’s (multiple locations; ellenos.com) stand in Pike Place Market—and stock up on the stuff at farmers markets and grocery stores. They’re drawn here by custom-blended yogurt so rich and thick it’s every bit as decadent as ice cream. No, really. Ellenos comes in a rainbow of flavors like latte and mango, plus seasonal creations like rhubarb, pumpkin pie, and ginger-raspberry. Flavors are arranged in a glass case like a European gelato shop; if you can’t decide which one you want, ask to mix two flavors.
A perfectly pillowy flatbread wrapped around a brisk combination of tomatoes, olives, herbs, and strained yogurt comes from Mamnoon Street (2020 Sixth Ave; mamnoonstreet.com), a fast-casual sibling to the impeccable Middle Eastern restaurant Mamnoon (*1508 Melrose Ave; mamnoonrestaurant.com) in Capitol Hill.
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