Where to Eat in Seattle Right Now
Pakistani barbecue and much more.
Seattle's dining scene shines the brightest when chefs pair the region's incredible local produce and proteins up with their own unique culinary heritage, and the latest openings in the city do just that: Southeast Asian-tinged seafood made the journey from the suburbs to an iconic Downtown space, a quietly brilliant Indian American restaurateur took over space from a disgraced chef and installed her swanky vision of her home country's colorful cuisine, and the head of the kitchen at one of Seattle's biggest-name restaurants went from the panoramic windows of prime real estate to making his own food for folks seated in a dark hallway in unincorporated King County. Each spot occupies a surprising geographical space far from the others, but shares the same reverence for the Pacific Northwest, showing their love for the region through impressive and innovative dishes and matching up with the ethos behind many of the city's other favorite spots.
The Market Fishmonger & Eatery
The gist: Edmonds's favorite lobster roll takes on the big city as it opens a Downtown location inside the Seattle Art Museum. Shubert Ho's Feedme Hospitality shows off its mix of Northwest and Asian cuisine at a half-dozen spots north of town (Bar Dojo, Salt & Iron, SanKai Sushi) and now the suburban mini-group demonstrates its sharp service to city-dwellers.
The food: Beyond the oddly popular East Coast staple, this counter-service spot serves a plethora of seafood classics, including clam chowder and cioppino, plus its own unique creations like "crab in a bag" and lemongrass shrimp and grits.
The cost: The famous lobster roll and its crab-based sibling raise eyebrows at $29 but much of the menu goes for less than $20, including fish tacos, fish & chips (or vegetarian alternative), and grilled salmon banh mi.
The gist: This second spot from Preeti Agarwal, the owner of Fremont's Meesha, quietly took over the vacated Salare space in October, taking cues from the upscale sports clubs of India, which Agarwal describes as similar to country clubs. But instead of bland finger sandwiches, she serves complex craft cocktails and a spice-driven menu of South Asian specialties.
The food: Indian street food goes upscale, with beets replacing potatoes in the vada pao and sandwiches modeled after Mumbai frankies. Theatrical tiffins and biryanis make up the main dishes and the large menu includes a "Bread bar" with chickpea roti and lamb-stuffed kulcha.
The cost: Most of the main dishes run in the $20s.
The gist: After leaving his spot as the top chef at Canlis, Brady Williams decamped south to open this deeply personal mash-up of Northwest, Japanese, and fine-dining influences. The quiet, narrow space feels out of place in lively White Center, but the eclectic assortment of dishes, like a dessert of sorel kakigori (shaved ice) topped with local camembert-style Dinah's cheese, feels right at home.
The food: Vegetables take center-stage, as a recent menu kicked off with chilacayote squash two ways—pickled and marinated in shio koji then roasted—served over butter made from its own seeds, in a stained-glass sea of gream. Even the meaty main, a pork collar, came cozied beneath a blanket of shaved kohlrabi.
The cost: The five-course set menu dinner runs $78 while the a la carte runs from $8 marinate olives to a $32 pork chop for two.
The gist: Nasir Zubair's mash-up of Texas barbecue culture and Pakistani home cooking show off his own heritage in a tantalizing array of color and flavor from the Capitol Hill home where it has finally settled after two years in pop-up mode.
The food: Aloo sliders with tamarind barbecue sauce, salad with fenugreek ranch dressing
The cost: Mains start at $14.
Jackson's Catfish Corner
The gist: This Central District stalwart returns to the heart of its original neighborhood, splashing a little hot fryer oil on the forces of gentrification. After a few attempts around the city and suburbs, Terrell Jackson, the grandson of the couple who started the restaurant in 1985, brings the famous tartar sauce back to where it belongs.
The food: As the name implies, customers keep coming back for the catfish, though there are also a slew of other fried items here—snapper, prawns, chicken, and more—plus a slate of soul food staples.
The cost: A half-pound of the signature dish with cornbread or hushpuppies runs $14.99, a catfish sandwich, $12.99.
The gist: A sweet Lebanese restaurant that embodies the charm of a neighborhood restaurant while serving some of the city's best Middle Eastern food and keeping a killer whiskey list.
The food: Seasonal mezzes incorporate local ingredients like kale, pears, and yogurt into traditional Lebanese dishes, while stars like the lamb-topped hummus and chicken skewers stick around all year.
The cost: Mezzes run $7 - $9, mains around $18.
The gist: The only poke place among the city's many that will rival those in the dish's Hawaiian homeland.
The food: Fresh ahi flown in from Hawaii, Pacific Northwest salmon, and Japanese hamachi let them keep the focus squarely where it belongs—on the raw fish salads.
The cost: Poke bowls start at $11.50, with rice or salad, and a side.
The gist: When Renee Erickson added this lakeside gem to her Sea Creatures restaurant group, she got rid of the Wes Anderson-esque boat behind the bar but kept the Mediterannean and seafood theme on the menu and the waterfront fire pits surrounded by Adirondack chairs.
The food: Go big with a seafood tower featuring pristine shellfish and a flight of house-made hot sauces or stick to simple snacks like the spicy clam dip and marinated mussels. Mains include crispy duck leg with aioli, chickpea fritters, and saffron clams.
The cost: Small plates are about $15, entrees range from $20 - $38, and seafood towers are $80 or $150.
The gist: Congee, or rice porridge, goes from basic breakfast to canvas for creative cooking at this tiny takeout window. Using dishes from around Southeast Asia as inspiration, the congee bowls come packed with flavor and toppings.
The food: Don't stick to the basics here—grab the Thai-inspired tom yum shrimp for spicy seafood or the barramundi and chinese herbs for a curative concoction.
The cost: Congee bowls start at $10
The gist: A food court featuring a rotating group of immigrant entrepreneurs from the non-profit Food Innovation Network brings a global feast to diners while helping launch new small culinary businesses.
The food: Cambodian stuffed chicken wings, Congolese grilled mackerel, and so much more.
The cost: Prices vary, but even large entrees stay under $15.
The gist: Long-time local caterer Kristi Brown's (That Brown Girl Cooks) edible ode to the Black community that built the neighborhood, a showcase of her personal cooking achievements and a rebuttal to the area's ongoing gentrification.
The food: Brown calls it "Seattle Soul," bringing together influences from around the city and her own background into her signature black eyed pea hummus, po'mi sandwich mash-up, and a pho-like soup with roasted rib tips.
The cost: Sandwiches and soups are $16, entrees run in the $20s
The gist: Mutsuko Soma's handmade soba remains the star it has always been, and an expanded supporting cast of sides and starters makes it even more enticing.
The food: The buckwheat soba noodles, made fresh daily, come in a multitude of creative forms—anything with seafood is a sure bet.
The cost: Appetizers like broccoli miso caesar run about $6, while noodle bowls are $18-20
The gist: Filipino cuisine, interpreted through a personal, Northwest filter by chef Melissa Miranda, resulting in a creative but comfortingly familiar menu.
The food: A "summer in a bowl" version of pancit with peas and squash, MusangJoy fried chicken with house gravy and pickles, and similar
The cost: A main dish for $15 - $20, sides for $5 - $12.
The gist: This cute cafe always leaned hard on its Georgian roots, but just recently refocused solely on their specialty, varieties of the country's famous cheesy breads.
The food: The cheese and egg filled adjaruli khachapuri catch the most eyes, but the stroganoff and lobiani (bean) versions offer an even heartier meal.
The cost: Khachapuri start at $15.
The gist: When Covid closed this Northwest-Filipino tasting menu spot, it reopened with a hybrid CSA and meal-kit balikbayan box. Now, a year on, they have reopened reservations for dining in with meals starting June 12.
The food: Chef Aaron Verzosa uses local ingredients to imitate the Filipino foods he grew up with, like sinigang made with green apples.
The cost: The 9 - 12 course menu runs $167.
Lil Red Takeout
The gist: This slip of a place on the side of Rainier Ave brings big heart and big flavors to Jamaican and soul food, including the newly added breakfast menu.
The food: Curry chicken, pork rib tips, oxtails, mac and cheese, plantains.
The cost: Sandwiches from $12.99, meals from $17.99.
Kin Len Thai Night Bites
The gist: Though the ethos behind the name (literally "eat and play") loses a little with takeout, the fun and creativity behind the restaurant shines through in the Thai-inspired small plates.
The food: Dishes like banana blossom fries and spicy octopus carpaccio bring the flavors and techniques of Thai cuisine into unique dishes.
The cost: The size and style range of dishes is all over the place, but entrees are $15 - $20.