February 23, 2024

Best Seattle Restaurants – The New York Times

In the Where to Eat: 25 Best series, we’re highlighting our favorite restaurants in cities across the United States. These lists will be updated as restaurants close and open, and as we find new gems to recommend. As always, we pay for all of our meals and don’t accept free items.

Filipino, Tasting Menu

It’s rare for the chef to check in with diners at the end of the tasting menu and make sure they’re feeling full, but Archipelago isn’t like any other tasting. A puff of pan de sal pulls apart effortlessly, filling the air with a sweet, buttery perfume. Burning pine needles and the rich, muscly scent of shrimp paste waft over from the open kitchen. Cooks walk around with a tray of sliced rib-eye steak, offering seconds. You could easily get lost in the deliciousness of the modern Filipino food, but Aaron Verzosa and Amber Manuguid do more than send out excellent food. They tell complicated, expansive stories about the Pacific Northwest and the many ways that Filipino immigrants have shaped it, using words, pictures and even some unexpected dance moves behind the pass. TEJAL RAO

5607 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle; no phone; archipelagoseattle.com

Spinasse is often hailed as the city’s best Italian restaurant, and its simple tajarin with butter and sage as a top Seattle dish. Capitol Hill neighbors know, though, that the chef Stuart Lane also runs the menu at the adjoining Artusi, which, just like Spinasse, offers four splendid handmade pastas per night, at considerably less expense. The windowed corner space here feels buzzy and urbane, and for $32, you can get every lovely appetizer on the menu — even the hazelnuts, candied in muscovado sugar with Controne chile and fennel pollen, are especially tasty. The screaming dinner deal on Sunday and Monday — two pastas and a bottle of wine for $45 — is hard to beat. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

1535 14th Avenue, Seattle; 206-251-7673; artusibar.com

Vietnamese

Seattle has many pho options — and you may end up in a real argument if you try to declare a best — but the phở hà nội style here is superlative. Made with marrow bones from organic, grass-fed cattle, the broth is simmered for 24 hours and has a fortifying balance of beefy, gingery flavors, spiked with heat from pickled bird’s-eye chiles. The imperial rolls will spoil you for any others, with a blistered, shattering fried rice-paper wrapping. And the cocktail menu, inflected with tropical notes like tamarind, pineapple and orgeat, is impressive without being self-serious. Which is nice when the Vietnamese chicken wings pair so well with, say, a Wenatchee sling, and the Capitol Hill location is open until midnight. BRIAN GALLAGHER

550 12th Avenue, Seattle; 206-328-2030; babarseattle.com

Italian

Now more than 10 years old, this Pacific Northwest trattoria has become an anchor for the Beacon Hill neighborhood. The Neapolitan pizzas are canonical; cooked in an Italian-built wood-fired oven, they are pillowy-crusted and kissed with an appropriate char. It’s common to see the chef Jerry Corso, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Gina Tolentino Corso, hovering near the mouth of the oven and expertly topping pies as they come out. In addition to standing options like margherita and salame piccante, daily topping specials may include seasonal offerings like morels and spring onions. Pizza is the star here, but Mr. Corso spent time running the kitchen at the acclaimed Obelisk in Washington, D.C., so the supporting cast of dishes like grilled octopus with corona bean and ’nduja are equally adept. BRIAN GALLAGHER

3057 Beacon Avenue South, Seattle; 206-395-2069; bardelcorso.com

Bateau is like no other steakhouse in the United States. While it’s possible to run up an expense-account-worthy tab and get a bracing martini, there are no dark wood appointments, no commodious booths. Instead, the chef Renee Erickson has taken the Pacific Northwest sensibilities of her Sea Creatures restaurant group and channeled them through this carnivorous counterpoint. There is a big chalkboard listing the day’s available steaks — when they run out of a cut, it’s erased — and less popular but no less delicious choices like the culotte and rump cap are fixtures. That’s because the restaurant uses as much of the animal as possible, and a cow carries only so many rib-eyes. In that same spirit, sides like smoked-and-spiced shank jerky and beef liver mousse optimize off-cuts and other bovine ingredients. BRIAN GALLAGHER

1040 East Union Street, Seattle; 206-900-8699; restaurantbateau.com

Pizza

Tucked into the ground floor of a Capitol Hill house, the tiny Blotto makes pizza with mighty flavor. The style stays deliberately unspecified, but the 16-inch pies hew to a New York thinness of crust, crispy-bottomed with perfect body. The tomato sauce achieves a particularly umami-ed brightness, and a heavy hand with pecorino enhances overall savoriness. Plain cheese gets alchemical, as aged mozzarella and raw-milk Cloud Cap cheese from Cascadia Creamery come together, while Ezzo pepperoni is spiked with local Mama Lil’s citrusy, spicy peppers. Seasonal ingredients — winter kale, springtime peas — also make appearances throughout the year, with toppings changing every three weeks to keep things interesting. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

1830 12th Avenue, Seattle; 206-403-1809; blottoseattle.com

Fine Dining, Tasting Menu

One of America’s great restaurants, Canlis has managed to both change with the culinary times and keep what has made it beloved for 73 years — the striking midcentury dining room overlooking Lake Union, and the famously attentive service. Aisha Ibrahim, the current executive chef, came with a résumé stacked with global standouts like Manresa in California and Azurmendi in Spain. Her menu is focused and luxurious. Gorgeous presentations of dishes like halibut with geoduck and a sauce of kasu butter and peas are matched by the depth and range of flavors on the plate. The lacquered and roasted mushroom preparation will have you wondering why anyone bothers to serve them any other way. The magisterial wine list, overseen by Linda Milagros Violago, runs to 2,600 selections. BRIAN GALLAGHER

2576 Aurora Avenue North, Seattle; 206-283-3313; canlis.com

Fried Chicken, Filipino

This diminutive spot supplies its namesake bird over-the-counter, fried in a slightly puffy, prodigiously crackly crust. Thighs, drumsticks and wings are sold by the piece, but the Stick is the thing. Eight inches of sizable breast-meat hunks, marinated for 12 hours for juiciness, the Stick offers more surface area, which means more golden-brown crispiness. It must be eaten as soon as it’s no longer mouth-searingly hot, whether at the Chicken Supply’s handful of tables, in the car or walking around the surrounding Phinney Ridge neighborhood. Part of the coating’s magic is a mix of four starches — all of which are gluten-free, as is the entirety of the chef and co-owner Paolo Campbell’s menu of Filipino-leaning sides. Don’t miss the tricolor pancit, or the single dessert, a fantastic butter mochi. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

7410 Greenwood Avenue North, Seattle; 206-257-4460; thechickensupply.com

Modern Soul Food

The vibes at Communion are warm and welcoming, and it’s not unusual to strike up a conversation with the table next to yours while snacking on some grilled okra, or to be invited to an art opening by a stranger at the bar. The menu changes seasonally, but a dish like the neck-bone stew will, at least for a few minutes, make chatting impossible. It’s so delicious, it requires all of your attention — the crisp-edged strands of smoky meat, the big, tender lima beans and the deeply flavored broth. But every dish has a certain pull, from the catfish and grits to the local clams in coconut milk. Kristi Brown, who ran a catering company before opening her own restaurant, doesn’t miss. TEJAL RAO

2350 East Union Street, Seattle; 206-391-8140; communionseattle.com

This International District spot describes itself as “mukokuseki,” a Japanese term that roughly translates to “stateless,” but more specifically means not having the distinctive features of any particular ethnicity. Which tracks. The menu is constantly changing, but don’t be surprised to see dishes like the Loco Moco Scotch Egg, a formidable version of that classic English pub snack that channels Hawaii, complete with a side of mac salad, by way of Hackney. Or the Piggy Parm Katsu Sando, which tops a breaded fried pork loin with spaghetti marinara, enrobes them both in mozzarella cheese and sandwiches the lot between pieces of shokupan garlic bread. It’s all hearty enough to clad your stomach for an evening spent with the extensive selection of shochu highballs on the cocktail list. BRIAN GALLAGHER

610 South Jackson Street, Seattle; 206-682-1828; itsumonoseattle.wixsite.com

Asian

The chef Rachel Yang is one of Seattle’s greats, and her flagship, Joule, shines as bright as ever, with an expansive, energetic dining room that still rings contemporary-chic. Ms. Yang and her husband, Seif Chirchi (they fell in love in the kitchen of Alain Ducasse at the Essex House in Manhattan), marry all manner of Asian flavors with continental technique. Add prime Pacific Northwest products, and the results — Chinese-style scallion pancake bedecked with smoked salmon roe and crème fraîche, a paella-adjacent geoduck black rice, grass-fed Washington rib-eye with lemongrass chimichurri — are by turns electric and comforting. For dessert, consider Ms. Yang’s latest venture, Paper Cake Shop, a few blocks away. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

3506 Stone Way North, Seattle; 206-632-5685; relayrestaurantgroup.com/restaurants/joule

French

A little tranche of Montparnasse in Pike Place Market, Le Pichet changed hands in 2022. Loyalists fretted that the pitch-perfect menu of French bistro classics — oeufs mayonnaise, steak frites, haricots verts — would be fancied up, or even changed in any way. But all was left as is, and the salubrious room is still a great place to stop in at almost any hour (lest we forget that the all-day cafe is not a Millennial innovation). Linger a while over a bottle of reasonably priced French wine and a charcuterie plate, and you may find yourself, without much convincing, eventually staying for a full meal, and a full evening. BRIAN GALLAGHER

1933 First Avenue, Seattle; 206-256-1499; lepichetseattle.com

Barbecue, Jamaican

Erasto Jackson, better known as Red, started out working in the butcher shop that formerly occupied the low-slung building on Rainier Avenue now housing his to-go spot. The combination of learning about meat from that perspective, gathering ecumenically from various regional barbecue styles and trusting his instincts, has very much worked out: His wide-ranging menu earned him a spot on the scholar Adrian Miller’s list of the top 20 Black-owned barbecue places in the United States. With his beautiful brisket, crispy-edged burnt ends, pull-apart pork ribs and more, you’re encouraged to douse upon delivery with either tomato-based house barbecue sauce or a jerk concoction that blooms from complex to hot. Mr. Jackson’s wife, Lelieth Jackson, is Jamaican, and the embrace of that country’s cuisine happily extends to her traditional rum cake, one of Seattle’s best desserts. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

4225 Rainier Avenue South, Seattle; 206-760-2931; lilredtakeout.com

Seafood

In a town so identified with seafood, it’s a bit surprising that one of the best practitioners would be an informal, order-at-the-counter storefront spot. But Local Tide is that. The folks at the fryers here really know how to make hot-oil magic, whether it’s for a battered Dover sole fillet, Saltine-crusted local oysters or the delightful take on shrimp toast. The non-fried lineup is equally well done. The crab roll, made with hand-cracked Dungeness and served on a griddled split-top roll, is buttery, sweet and just the right amount of creamy. Insider tip: If Local Tide is full, you can take your food next door and eat at the Aslan Brewing tasting room, if you order a beer. BRIAN GALLAGHER

401 North 36th Street, Unit 103, Seattle; 206-420-4685; localtide.com

With high-end omakase restaurants all over the world flying in fish from Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, it’s now just as easy to enjoy world-class sushi in Brussels as in Shibuya. But at Ltd Edition, in a town of piscatorial plenty, none of the fish is frozen and much of it is local. The chef Keiji Tsukasaki came to the sushi craft somewhat later in life, after more than a decade in the nightlife world, and he presides over the eight-seat counter with an impresario’s charisma. While the traditional preparations are superb — including achingly good Dungeness crab and tender firefly squid — Mr. Tsukasaki is also expanding the Edomae sushi vocabulary with dishes like lean tuna belly with housemade soy milk and shio koji. BRIAN GALLAGHER

1641 Nagle Place, Suite 006, Seattle; no phone; ltdeditionsushi.com

Filipino

The chef Melissa Miranda began Musang as a series of pop-ups, and the let’s-get-together-for-dinner feel of the permanent dining room is driven, well, home, by its location in a spacious Craftsman house. Ms. Miranda described the menu as “versions of childhood dishes cooked the way we want to eat them now.” For instance, Musang’s version of binagoongang, traditionally a braised stew dish, comes as a neat little row of fried pork-belly dominoes drizzled with an unctuous vinegary-sweet sauce. And the short-rib kare kare is a real stunner. Braised overnight and then grilled, it is served bone-in, but doesn’t remain that way for long. Yielding easily to a fork, the meat is best after a trip through the rich, funky sauce made with shrimp paste and Jif peanut butter. It’s big, but the leftovers are killer. BRIAN GALLAGHER

2524 Beacon Avenue South, Seattle; 206-708-6871; musangseattle.com

Continental, Small Plates

The room is tiny — just 6 feet 4 inches wide, with 12 seats — but the husband-and-wife team Evan Leichtling and Meghna Prakash maximize every square inch. Ms. Prakash runs the front of the house and assembles the distinctive wine list. Mr. Leichtling — who has cooked at the three-Michelin-starred Akelarre in San Sebastián, Spain — holds sway in the diminutive kitchen. Their combined sensibility lends dinners the raucous feel of a Lyonnaise bouchon, with an urban edge. The dishes are nose-to-tail accented with Pacific Northwest ingredients — braised tripe with morels and ñora peppers; gooseneck barnacles with charred scallion aioli; fried pig head with preserved cherries and Walla Walla onions. And they will tantalizingly disappear from the chalkboard menu as the night goes on. BRIAN GALLAGHER

4903½ Rainier Ave South, Seattle; 206-488-6170; offalleyseattle.com

Korean

Paju’s small, spare storefront is understated, but the chef Bill Jeong’s résumé lists Saison in San Francisco and Jungsik in New York, and his contemporary Korean menu represents some serious excellence. Many dishes possess an elegance and deliciousness that would be at home on the highest-end tables in town — like raw yellowtail curled into a rosette with paper-thin Granny Smith apple, lemon verbena, finger lime, serrano and horseradish, set in a naengmyeon broth pool. Meanwhile, comfort-food favorites get uncommon nuance and savor — like Paju fried rice, subtly oceanic with squid ink, smoky with bacon crumble, spiced with kimchi, enriched with a quail egg, and dusted with seaweed. With 10 dishes priced from $18 to $28, it’s best to bring a few friends and order everything. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

11 Mercer Street, Seattle; 206-829-8215; pajurestaurant.com

Mexican

The chef Janet Becerra’s Pancita started as a pop-up at the restaurant incubator Pair to instant acclaim, with fans rejoicing when in August the residency became a permanent one in a charming storefront. Ms. Becerra, who interned at Pujol in Mexico City, includes multiple menu entries for “Today’s masa,” nixtamalized in-house. Perfectly greasy, exceptionally crispy and light tostadas might be topped with albacore, avocado, frizzled leeks and morita-chile Kewpie mayonnaise. The tacos, made with tender, freshly pressed tortillas, could be filled with dripplingly rich suadero and complemented by tomatillo and bell-pepper salsas. A serrano Caesar possesses a polarizing heat, while the Oaxacan mole negro has powerful depth. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

5501 30th Avenue Northeast, Seattle; 206-526-7655; pairseattle.com

On a sunny Sunday morning, there are few places in Seattle finer to get breakfast than this bakery tucked by the shores of Portage Bay. It’s hard not to order half a dozen items from the pastry menu, and park yourself at one of the outside tables for a while. The cardamom croissant is a laminated, convoluted delight, like a not-too-sweet kouign-amann. The school bun, an enriched bread filled with vanilla cream and strawberry jam, is something of a signature dish. And no self-respecting breakfast joint omits an egg-and-cheese sandwich. This one comes on either Hawaiian bread or melonpan, a Japanese sweetbread domed with a thin cookie-like crust. Both bring a nice sweet-savory balance, especially if you’ve opted to add the Thai-style turkey sausage. BRIAN GALLAGHER

1421 Northeast Boat Street, Seattle; 206-566-5195; saintbread.com

Vietnamese French

Call the menu here Vietnamese French and beyond. Beloved dishes from the chef Eric Johnson include crispy-fried duck rolls wrapped in fresh herbs and rice paper, coconut-milk-and-yogurt grilled-goat curry and braised-then-deep-fried chile-cumin pork ribs. Flavors are matched with finesse, as befits Mr. Johnson’s past work with Daniel Boulud in New York and Jean-Georges Vongerichten in New York, Paris and Shanghai. The room, with palm-patterned wallpaper and white beams, suggests tropical locales in a way that’s particularly welcome when it’s dark long before dinnertime. Cocktails also do their part, with tastes of pineapple, lemongrass, galangal and lime leaf. Almost a decade in, Stateside is still a Seattle go-to. And when it comes to darkness and drinks, don’t miss the adjacent sibling bar, the tiny, romantic Foreign National. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

300 East Pike Street, Seattle; 206-557-7273; statesideseattle.com

Lao

In a world that may have passed peak burger some time ago, it’s not often that a compelling new example of the form emerges. But the Taurus Ox Lao burger manages to be just that. In a double smashed burger, the patties are made from a blend of top sirloin and pork belly. A pungent note comes from aged provolone, while jaew tomato and jaew bong — Lao condiments made with chile, lemongrass, garlic and galangal, bring heat and an herbal tang. Beyond the burger (which is also available at the smaller sibling restaurant, Ox Burger), the Lao sausage, made with lime leaf, chile and garlic, and the Lao beef jerky, tri-tip marinated in tamari with ginger and lemongrass, strike a similarly bewitching balance. BRIAN GALLAGHER

903 19th Avenue East, Seattle; 206-972-0075; taurusox.square.site

Global, Pacific Northwest

Housed in a handsome, window-lined triangular space on Capitol Hill, Terra Plata is the chef Tamara Murphy’s tribute to the best local, seasonal ingredients in the Pacific Northwest. Ms. Murphy was an early proponent of that once-novel concept in Seattle cuisine, and her steadfast devotion to it — along with consistently great results on the plate — have made Terra Plata a longtime standout. Her menu of “Land,” “Earth” and “Sea” comprises world-ranging flavors: Sea might mean steamed mussels in red curry with sweet peppers, lime and cilantro; Earth could include carrots with honey-lemon tahini, golden-raisin agrodolce, almonds and feta. Roast pig is a constant in the Land category, gloriously stewy with Manila clams and chorizo in a heady broth flavored by smoked paprika and sofrito. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

1501 Melrose Avenue, Seattle; 206-325-1501; terraplata.com

Caribbean

Seattle’s most famous sandwich has a past rife with drama, including a lawsuit involving the ownership of the marinade recipe. Regardless of previous legal entanglements, the Caribbean Roast here is magnificent. The stage: a long, sturdy-but-soft roll from the esteemed Macrina Bakery. Supporting players: garlic aioli for creaminess, pickled jalapeños for spark, ribs of romaine for fresh crunch, cilantro lending a bright note, big pieces of caramelized roasted onion all slippery-sweet. The star: pork shoulder slow-roasted into lush meaty hunks, richly savory, whispering of citrus, with warm spices and more garlic coming through. In a city not known for the sandwich arts, Un Bien provides a tremendous public service. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

7302.5 15th Avenue Northwest, Seattle, 206-588-2040 and 6226 Seaview Avenue Northwest, Seattle, 206-420-7545; unbienseattle.com

Pacific Northwest, Seafood

The flagship of the chef Renee Erickson’s restaurant armada, the Walrus and the Carpenter remains unmatched for upscale-oyster-bar goodness in Seattle, with a line of supplicants often stretching out into the parking lot before opening to prove it. (No reservations are taken.) The airy, bustling space evokes the coast of Brittany, and the oysters are only the Pacific Northwest’s best — that is, the best anywhere (with the local bivalve star Hama Hama Oyster Company always well represented). Everything else — like local Sea Wolf bread and ethereally whipped butter, elegant crudos and chicken liver mousse — is exactly right. Given all that and a largely French wine list, time spent here is worth the wait. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT

4743 Ballard Avenue Northwest, Seattle; 206-395-9227; thewalrusbar.com