Seattle Restaurants: 12 Excellent Places to Eat

Seattle Restaurants: 12 Excellent Places to Eat

Seattle's exploding culinary scene is all about variety. Here are some of best dining choices on offer in Seattle.

Seattle's exploding culinary scene is all about variety. Of course the port city offers plenty of sumptuous seafood, but you can also choose from top quality middle eastern dishes, exquisite Vietnamese fare, comforting southern American favourites or popular pizza and pasta menus. Not to mention the delicious Nepalese and Japanese options. There seems to be another small eatery opening every week, and many of the established restaurant are expanding their horizons to keep things interesting. Here are some of best dining choices on offer in Seattle.

1. Canlis restaurant

For spectacular views and fine dining, you can't go past Canlis restaurant, overlooking Lake Union. If you're in the mood for dressing up (and lightening your wallet), the food here will make it worth your while. Canlis has been delighting locals and visitors with professional but friendly service, romantic ambience and excellent regional gastronomy since 1950. The menu includes classics such as steak tatare, muscovy duck and soufflé as well as more cutting edge dishes such as Dungeness crab with cabbage, sunchoke and buttermilk or venison with celery root and pear. The kitchen strives for food that is contemporary but comfortable. The building was designed by architect Roland Terry in 1950, and has been remodelled three times since then.

2. The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter is an oyster bar with benefits. On offer are also a wide variety of seafood, cheese and other share plates which vary with the season. Try smoked trout with lentils, octopus with carrot, cumin and almond or even steak tatare. However, the extensive range of plump, fresh oysters, French white wine, international beers and happy hours would have to be the main drawcards. The oyster varieties change, depending on what's available, but one of the favourites is the Effingham from Vancouver Island Customers sometimes wait in queues for over an hour for a chance to eat and drink here. Open since 2010, the atmosphere is fun and casual, with seating on stools at the long zinc bar or outside in the courtyard.

3. Ba Bar

From the streets of Saigon to the Central District of Seattle, come the balanced flavors and exquisite simplicity of Ba Bar. This is upmarket Vietnamese dining, accompanied by freshly made pastries and creative cocktails. Dishes include lighter options such as dumplings, steamed clams or rice paper wraps or satisfying meals such as spicy pork belly, duck supreme or vermicelli noodle bowls. Creators of Monsoon Restaurants Eric and Sophie Banh are the owners and they named the restaurant after their father, who inspired their love of street food. "Ba" means Dad in Vietnamese.

4. Kisaku Sushi

If you're after fresh flavours of the sea Japanese-style, then this popular Tangletown spot is for you. "Kisaku" means frank and easygoing, and that sums up the style of this sushi restaurant. Chef Riyuchi Nakano has been cooking in Seattle since 1992. Most nights he can be found creating his magic at the sushi bar in the centre of the spacious venue. He serves up seasonal treats such as ankimo, shirako or firefly squid and the traditional sushi rolls are consistently reliable. Try a chef's special appetizer, like calamari with avocado or spicy oysters with crispy wonton shells for something more adventurous.

5. Cafe Munir

Wholesome and tasty, the food at Cafe Munir depends on the season and what is available locally, but it is always fresh and a great choice for vegetarians and vegans. Owner Rajah Gargour says Lebanese food is all "about natural delicacy and the balance of flavours" and he strives to constantly expand and improve the menu. The dishes are designed to be shared and examples of what is on offer include grilled cauliflower with caraway seeds, onions and tahini, ground lentils with roasted garlic, pastries grilled over the fire or grilled chicken skewers. Every Sunday the restaurant is packed for the $25 Chef's Choice dinner, which includes mezzes, a main course and dessert.

6. Lo Priore Brothers Pasta Bar

One of the most popular lunch spots in Seattle, it was established in 1985 by the four Priore brothers and brings the authentic taste of Italy to the famous Pike Place Market. Loyal customers rave about the meatball sandwich, the reasonable prices and the friendly and entertaining staff. Other specialties of the house are their ravioli, fettucini and of course, pizza, by the slice or whole. They can also provide catering for your private functions.

7. Art of the Table

Chef Dustin Ronspies prides himself on his close relationship with the owners of the local small farms, orchards and aquaculturists who provide the food for this intimate restaurant in the Wallingford neighbourhood of Seattle. Some of the best produce the Pacific Northwest has to offer is sourced for his impressive and ever-changing menu. Sit at the "chef's table" and watch your dish being created from scratch. The prices are on the upper end of the spectrum, but so is the quality. Order the tasting menu, and sample such delights as soup of red pepper, fennel pollen whipped cream, chilli and chives, wild marbled king salmon with beet-turnip relish or aspen hollow lamb meatballs with eggplant tapenade.

8. The Wandering Goose

Owner-chef Heather Earnhardt is proud of her upbringing in the red soil of North Carolina, and she is on a mission to make Seattle fall in love with the comfort food of the south. Her baking was legendary even before she opened this airy, light-filled cafe in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood, where they even make their own honey made from beehives on the roof-top. The atmosphere is relaxed and the prices are reasonable. Open for breakfast and lunch and fried chicken Friday dinner, the cafe offers dishes such as grits and gillades, biscuit sandwiches, veggie hash and fried oysters. Take away a huge slice of one of the irresistible cakes for later.

9. Cascina Spinasse

Regional Piedmonte cuisine is the specialty of this trattoria, and locally-sourced produce adds a freshness to the hand-made pastas. Chef Stuart Lane has recently taken the helm, but the flavors have remained authentic Italian, simple and delicious. The decor is rustic and the adjoining cocktail bar, Artusi, overlooks the open kitchen. The menu is small but delectable. Choose from parsnip flan with fried quail egg and proscuitto, roasted butternut squash with toasted almonds, rosemary & parmigiano or rabbit meatballs with polenta and pickled horseradish.

10. Ma'ono Fried Chicken and Whisky

Hawaiian inspired, and sourced from the Pacific northwest, the food here is a revelation. Of course the crispy fried chicken, with kimchi, rice and dipping sauces, is the main attraction, but the saimin, kalua pig tacos and juicy, juicy burgers also make the trip out to West Seattle well worthwhile. Chef Mark Fuller transformed his upmarket restaurant Spring Hill to focus on the fried chicken and whisky which made their casual Monday nights so popular. Ma'ono means flavor, and this bustling establishment is bursting with it.

11. Annapurna Cafe

On Capitol Hill, this spot offers the best of Nepalese, Tibetan and Indian cuisine in a cosy, underground setting decorated in dark red and saffron. The Yeti Bar provides vodka cocktails or imported beers and chef Roshita Shrestha creates an extensive and spicy menu with plenty of vegan options. Try a Tibetan-style spinach dumpling (momo), a cold spinach salad with toasted soybeans (Pala Wale), Himalayan curry, Goan-style mussels or Tandoori chicken from the clay oven. The atmosphere is lively, the prices are reasonable and it can get busy, so be prepared for a bit of a wait on weekend nights.

12. Sitka and Spruce

In a corner of Melrose Market Chef Matt Dillon creates a constantly evolving Mediterranean-inspired menu with the freshest of ingredients from the northwest region. This is the essence of the Seattle restaurant scene: a cocktail bar; fine wines and deceptively simple small plates made from seasonally selected produce. Examples of the dishes designed to tempt include autumn squash and squid with fermented lime, steamed buckwheat dumplings with ricotta or roasted leg of lamb and stewed chickpeas from the wood-fire oven. They also give professional and amateur chefs an opportunity to experiment and practise with their "guest chef Mondays" concept.

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