Where to Eat in Seattle

Where to Eat in Seattle A Sweet Spoonful

It’s getting to be one of the best times of the year to visit Seattle and I have a handful of friends coming in the next six weeks or so, all asking for food recommendations. My mom just visited last week and my dad comes this weekend, so restaurants have been on my mind lately. I thought that I’d long ago put together a list like this of places I like to eat in Seattle but in searching through the archives it looks like that was in a distant dream, so I thought now was the perfect time. I decided to organize this list in categories — Lunch, Dinner, Sweets and Cocktails — as that’s often how I kind of mentally categorize places. Maybe it will be helpful to you at some point if you find yourself in our city, and when you do, may there be no shortage of chocolate layer cakes, flaky croissants, excellent french fries, wood-fired vegetables and oysters. Not necessarily in that order.

LUNCH

Where to Eat in Seattle | A Sweet Spoonful

Where to Eat in Seattle | A Sweet Spoonful

Din Tai Fung: Dumplings! Soup dumplings! Bok Choy and Green Beans with Garlic! This kid-friendly spot in the University Village shopping center is always a favorite; we love coming here for an early weekend lunch, and it’s become a new must for out of town guests.

Le Pichet: A great day date spot, we usually come to this French cafe for a light lunch although they do a really nice dinner as well. The simple Salade Verte is a favorite as are the Broiled Eggs with Ham and Cheese, and the French Onion Soup.

Cafe Presse: Owned by the same folks behind Le Pichet, this tiny-bit-more-casual French spot makes my favorite french fries in the city. The simple baguette sandwich always tastes just right, and they’re very pro-lingering if you need a good spot to catch up with an old friend or tuck into a good book.

The London Plane: This is one of the more beautiful spaces in Seattle and a great place to meet for a light bite. I never find their food incredibly substantial, so I’d go in more of a light lunch or snack frame of mind … or just to gawk at the stunning pantry or floral counter bursting with local blooms. Avocado toast and the beet hummus are my go-to’s. Also a little-known fact: their cookies are only $1, and they’re the perfect size (not too huge) and quite tasty.

The Fat Hen: I come to The Fat Hen for casual lunch meetings. It is a sweet neighborhood spot with pretty perfect baked eggs (I always order the In Camicia – simple tomato, mozzarella, basil)  and benedicts. Because it’s such a small space, it gets pretty crowded on the weekends, so if you’re able to come on a weekday, you’ll be happier for it.

The Wandering Goose: Owner Heather Earnhardt was born in South Carolina and makes a mean Southern biscuit. And Southern layer cakes. And mac and cheese. We love what she does so much, we had her do our wedding cakes, and people raved about them for days after (we chose the Southern Coconut Cake, Lemon, and Brownstone Front). For brunch, I usually order the Bubble and Squeek (beef brisket hash situation) or the Veggie Plate (pimento mac & cheese, collard greens, Sea Island peas, buttermilk biscuit) and we usually get a slice of cake to go. This is one of my favorite spots in the city to eat when I reallllly feel like eating.

SWEETS

Where to Eat in Seattle | A Sweet Spoonful

Where to Eat in Seattle | A Sweet Spoonful

Cafe Besalu: This Ballard bakery makes a killer croissant and slice of quiche. I’m not usually one to get excited about quiche, but it’s light and delicate and perfect here. The constant line out the door attests to that.

Honore: Also a strong contender for best croissant in Seattle, Honore makes wonderful macarons and canelé as well. 

Coyle’s Bakeshop: New to the Greenwood neighborhood, Rachael Coyle’s bakery has become a favorite of ours. She makes great buttery scones and savory croissants (Sam loves the Ham and Cheese). I think Rachael’s chocolate cake is also really special: both the cake and the frosting are light and airy — very different from many American-style layer cakes. Her housemade caramels are also delicious; she made a bunch for us that we served at our wedding.

Hotcakes: I would’ve never thought I’d fall for Autumn Martin’s virtually towering homemade s’more, but I have: homemade graham cracker and marshmallow and house-smoked chocolate. Plan to split it with a friend as it’s large. The peanut butter cookies are also always perfect.

DINNER

Where to Eat in Seattle | A Sweet Spoonful
Spinasse: This romantic Italian spot (lace curtains! dark wood! Lillet and Aperol!) is our go-to date or celebration restaurant. While you won’t often read about it on “best of” lists, it’s a not-to-miss if you have time for a few meals in Seattle and like Italian food. They’re well known for their pasta with butter and sage which is so simple and delicate. They often have a tagliatelle special, a trout I really love, and always feature an Antipasto Misto Della Casa, which is a great way to sample a number of the antipasti. 

Delancey: Even if Molly and Brandon were not close friends, I’d say the same thing: this is the best pizza in town. They often have a wait, so conveniently Essex, their craft cocktail bar next door, will likely have a stool for you. My favorite pizza is the white pie (add preserved meyer lemon and kale if you’re feeling fancy) or the housemade sausage. Sam’s favorite is the cremini.

The Whale Wins: Boasting a beautiful pantry and overflowing rustic platters of baked goods, chef Renee Erickson’s wood-fired chicken and vegetables are the stars here. The sardines on toast, and any of the salads are also always two thumbs up. Really light, airy space that’s perfect for a long, lingering lunch or cozy dinner.

Bar Sajor: I’ve long loved Matt Dillon’s approach to food: simple, vegetable-heavy, innovative flavors yet very unfussy in approach. This Pioneer Square restaurant is no exception; it’s a beautiful space to meet for early drinks and snacks, or to come and share heaping plates of wood-fired vegetables and seafood.

Manmoon: This Middle Eastern restaurant on Capitol Hill is one of those places I often bring out of town guests. The food is always interesting and delicious and the cocktails are creative and strong. Not to miss: the hummus is excellent (and Sam is very, very picky about hummus) as is the bateresh (charred eggplant and lebneh) and lamb meatballs. I also love cocktail #5.

Poppy: How to describe Poppy? I think it’s just a great deal of fun to eat here. They specialize in “thalis” or platters that I generally associate with Indian food but here they have a distinctive Pacific Northwest influence. Each thali comes with a main dish (such as lamb osso bucco or yogurt and poppy seed chicken with fried onions and raisins) and is accompanied by a small little soup, salad, a few interesting seasonal side dishes, naan, and often some sort of a local pickle. Dessert here is innovative, too — I have yet to try the Nutter Butter square but have heard it’s delicious (and Tim just blogged about it).

Cafe Lago: If you’re looking for an incredibly classic, tasteful, no frills Italian restaurant Cafe Lago is it. They make great meatballs and the lasagna is something to marvel over: paper thin noodles, seemingly weightless ricotta cheese — I often  order a half order of the lasagna and meatballs on the side. Their chicory ceaser salad is also a must, and we always share an order of Carla’s biscotti at the end of the meal.

La Carta de Oaxaca: If you like authentic, no frills Mexican food, this is your spot. Generous portions, relatively inexpensive, lively space in downtown Ballard. Chicken mole tamales or mole enchiladas are my go-to’s here (note: it’s a stone’s throw from Hotcakes  –above– if you’ve saved room for dessert).

Cafe Munir: This is a real neighborhood spot close to our house, so it’s perfect for a healthy walk followed by reasonably-priced, authentic Lebanese food. I love the beets and lebneh and the hummus with sizzling lamb. The savory pastries are also great (love the little cigar shapes!) and they have a nice whiskey selection, too.

 

DRINKS

Where to Eat in Seattle | A Sweet Spoonful
Damn the Weather: Tucked away little spot in Pioneer square with creative cocktails and good french fries. The bartenders are always open to creating something special for you based on what liquor (s) you’re most excited about, too. Mellow, romantic atmosphere; they serve a proper dinner too although we’ve only come for drinks and snacks.

Barnacle: If you’ve ever been on the wait list at The Walrus and the Carpenter, chances are you are well acquainted with Barncale, the adjoining bar. They have a really nice wine list and make a great negroni along with a wealth of other well constructed cocktails.

Essex: Americanos on tap. Gracious bartenders who will make you just what you have in mind. Olives and toasts for snacks. What more do you need?
 

Where to Eat in Seattle | A Sweet Spoonful

Comments

  1. Laura

    But where for brunch?! That is always my first question :)

    1. megang

      Ahhh, The Wandering Goose, London Plane and The Fat Hen are all great for brunch, Laura. Enjoy!

  2. Pauline

    Thank you for this curated list of Seattle eats! My husband and I are heading there this summer (his first time, my second), and I'm excited to try a few new spots. Delancey is number 1 on my list - as I'm also a fan of Orangette's blog and yours. Hope newlywed life is going well!

  3. Emily

    I was just in Seattle for a weekend last month and I wish I had had your list! Bookmarking this for next time. :) Love Seattle and all of the great places to eat!

  4. Leslie

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful list! Many of these are favorites already but others I'll be adding to my list of must visits. I, especially, want to try the Lebanese restaurant - sounds excellent!

  5. Claire

    Thank you SO MUCH for this list. I've been following your blog (and Orangette) for a few years. We'll be in Seattle in August, so this was perfect timing. Thanks again!

  6. Kim

    Hi again - I asked for your advise about ideas for freezing meals when I was pregnant, and I'm coming to you for more advise (your suggestions were spot on by the way)! My husband and I will be in Seattle for job interviews next week (I am originally from the PNW but we are in Boston now, and looking to move back). Our 3 month old little girl will be in tow and we are looking for baby friendly spots to enjoy the great Seattle food. She is generally great at restaurants but does have her moments :) so I wouldn't want to ruin someones romantic date night! Any of the above (besides Din Tai Fung which you mentioned was kid friendly) that you have taken your adorable little one to?

    1. megang

      Hi, Kim!
      Congratulations on your little one. So yes, a few of these spots won't be great with baby (although Delancey is loud and we've eaten there with baby - just have to consider you'll have to wait, so sometimes makes timing tough. Cafe Munir is also surprisingly kid friendly and has some good background noise. And Coyle's Bakeshop super kid / baby friendly. We've eaten there a few times with baby. I think the best bets, though, are:
      1. Oddfellows: so this is a good breakfast/lunch spot (I wouldn't go for dinner): it's a really big space so room to spread out diaper bag / carseat etc and it's pretty loud. So if baby freaks out, no worries!
      2. Bar del Corso: So this is actually one of my favorite spots in Seattle right now, but do Google Map it b/c it's a bit south of city center and not a super central locations. It's a really sweet neighborhood spot with excellent pizza and salads and super kid / baby friendly.
      3. Naked City Brewery: On a sunny day, they have a great super kid friendly patio. In truth, the food is nothing to write home about. But we love coming here and having a beer and sharing some fries outside with baby Oliver.
      4. Frelard Pizza: We haven't been but they have a huge patio, lots of kids, looks fun and summery and I hear the pizza is pretty good.
      5. Phinney Market Pub: So in truth, I think the food here is just ok, but a lot of people in the neighborhood really like it and it's super family-friendly and kid friendly. Also a good 'hood to walk around and window shop, get an ice cream, go to the park or zoo - all walking distance. So can be a nice spot in that way.
      I hope this helps! Have a great time! ~Megan

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