Seattle

20 Best Local and Cultural Places to Eat in Seattle

Earls Kitchen Seattle - lobster

Updated Dec 6, 2022

From the best clam chowders in the Pacific Northwest to one of the most vibrant marketplaces in the country, the restaurants in Seattle offer a multifaceted food scene that satisfies even the most discerning tastes.

My list of the best places to eat in Seattle includes eateries from the best steakhouse in town to one of the best French bakeries outside of Paris. I believe my recommended list offers a good sampling of a diverse spectrum of the most memorable local flavors as well as cultural dining experience that Seattle has to offer.

Most of the restaurants recommended are in the Seattle/Bellevue areas and are moderately priced. However, there are a few occasions that you might like to splurge a little. My list is divided into the following categories:

Table of Contents

American Places to Eat in Seattle

Metropolitan Grill

Hours: Daily 4:30pm – 9:30pm

Prime rib from the Metropolitan Grill in Seattle

Metropolitan Grill is among the best places to eat steaks in Seattle. They have one of the most extensive selections of beef that I have seen. Their menu includes beef from Japanese A5 to local Washington State prime aged, and everything in between.

I usually get the prime rib which is my favorite. I have also tried one of their combos that has a small (4 ounce) piece each of prime aged and Wagyu. This combo is a great idea as it lets you sample and compare the flavors of the Wagyu with the local beef.

The quality of the food is always top-notch. Service is always impeccable. Prices are on the higher end, but you can be assured of a truly fine dining experience.

Proper Fish

Hours: Daily 11am – 8pm

Fish and chips served in a to-go box with condiments.

While you are on Bainbridge Island, you might want to check out Proper Fish for some yummy British fish and chips. It is an order-at-the-counter place and both dine-in and takeout are available. The menu is mostly seafood focused.

Created by British Chef Harvey Wolff of Nosh Food Truck fame, they claim to have the best fish and chips in Seattle. This is no exaggeration. I promise you that this is as close to those from the streets of London as you can get! They even slice the fish the proper way (no pun intended!)

To make it truly authentically British, it is served with mashed peas and malt vinegar.

Pictured here is a to-go box served during Covid times. I am sure when normal times return, this will be plated very nicely.

13 Coins

Hours: Sun – Thu 6am – 11pm; Fri – Sat 6am – 2am

13 coins 24/7 restaurant in Seattle
Credit: 13 coins

13 Coins in the SeaTac area has always been the restaurant in my comfort zone for either an early morning breakfast or late-night dinner. In fact, if a flight delay causes me to arrive in the wee hours of the night, 13 coins is a life saver.

They serve a really hearty breakfast with lots of selections. From steak and eggs to chicken and waffles; from bennies to frittata, and everything in between. Where else can you find a Dungeness crab omelet?

They also serve great steaks among many other yummy goodies for dinner. The wine list and cocktail offerings are extensive.

Other than SeaTac, they also have locations in Pioneer Square and Bellevue. On selected locations, days, and times, there is live music in the evening without a cover charge.

13 Coins is one of the best places to eat in Seattle – whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a late-night meal.

Earl’s Kitchen

Hours: Mon – Thu 11:30am – 12am; Fri 11:30m – 1am;
Sat 10am – 1am; Sun 10am – 12am

Earl’s Kitchen is a trendy and yuppie-appealing bar and restaurant in Bellevue. It is a small Canadian chain with about a dozen locations in North America. It is one of the cool places for fancy eats and great vibes in the Seattle area.

Prices are moderate to moderately high. Happy hours pricings are available 2 – 5pm and 10pm to close on selected menu items.

The steak and sushi combo on their menu sounds like a refreshing idea. Go with a Tataki-style steak with ponzu sauce and a spicy tuna roll for the full Japanese flavor. A glass of white zin makes the perfect match.

The steak and lobster provide a traditional surf and turf experience. They do a great job with the lobster tail that the meat is fresh, moist, and tender.

Seafood and Chowder Places to Eat in Seattle

Wally’s Chowder House

Hours: Mon – Thu 11am – 8:30pm; Fri – Sat 11am – 9pm; Sun 11am – 8pm

Wally's - best clam chowder in Seattle

Asking locals which restaurant has the best clam chowder in town here is like asking Chicagoans which pizzeria has the best deep-dish pizza. There probably will never be a consensus. Anyway, many locals and tourists alike will probably tell you it’s Pike Place Chowder. Some will say it’s Duke.

For me, the best clam chowder in Seattle can only be found in Wally’s Chowder House — which is located in the charming city of Des Moines. This is often where I go immediately upon my arrival as Wally’s is only a 20-minute drive to the south of Sea-Tac.

The few times I was there, Wally’s clam chowder was rather thick, creamy, slightly but not overly peppery, and was amazingly rich in flavor. Just one spoonful of the chowder will convince you that THIS is it!  The most remarkable difference between Wally’s and the rest of the other players was that the soup was filled with many LARGE pieces of clams.

Pike Place Chowder

Hours: Daily 11am – 5pm

Pike Place Chowder
Credit: Pike Place Chowder

Pike Place Chowder could arguably have the best clam chowder in the Seattle area. At least it is the most popular. Lines form down the street and around the block, even on cold and rainy days.

Their New England clam chowder is smooth and creamy and carries a strong hint of bacon flavor. I actually like their Manhattan version better which is made with a rich tomato-based broth.

Seating is very limited at the Pike Place Market (Post Alley) location, and it is a good idea to purchase takeout. That’s what I do when I stay in a hotel that is nearby.

So, does Pike Place have the clam chowder? Well, I’ll let you be the judge. But you really can’t tell for sure until you’ve made that trip to Des Moines south of SeaTac Airport and check out Wally’s Chowder House.

Duke’s Seafood

Hours vary by locations

A plate of prawn appetizer.
Credit: Duke’s Seafood

Duke’s Seafood is another player in the Seattle seafood scene that claims to have the best clam chowder. I’ve tried it and it is indeed very rich and flavorful. If you don’t know which of their chowders to order, get the chowder sampler where you can get a small dinghy of each of their four famous creations.

Their fish tacos are great for lunch, as well as their varieties of seafood salads. For diner, I like their halibut and they have two heavenly versions: Dungeness crab stuffed, or Macadamia nut crusted. Both are amazing!

They have 7 locations throughout the Seattle area. Check out their website for the location nearest you.

Market Grill

Hours: Breakfast Mon – Fri: 8am – 10am
Lunch Mon – Sat: 10am–5pm; Sun: 10am – 4pm

Credit: Market Grill

It is a small and cozy place inside the Pike Place Market on the ground floor. Here is another place in Seattle that has one of the best clam chowders in town. Their blackened salmon sandwich is legendary and is a must-try. My personal favorite though is the Alaskan halibut.

There are only limited counter seating and outdoor patio seating, so ordering online in advance for to go is a great option and is what I always do.

Asian Places to Eat in Seattle

Momosan

Hours: Wed – Fri: 5pm – 9pm; Sat – Sun: 11:30am – 9pm
Closed Mon – Tue (as of this writing)

A bowl of spicy tan tan noodles with ground pork and half a boiled egg.
Credit: Momosan Seattle

If you love ramen, Momosan is a must-go when you visit Seattle. Even if you don’t love ramen, just go and you will fall in love with it afterwards.

A creation of famed Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Momosan served a good selection of very refined and delicious ramens that rival even some of the best in Japan. The Tonkotsu is just as classical as it is, served with a rick pork bone broth and chashu.

Tsukemen is a completely different dimension of ramen, and it is not available in many places. Tsukemen is often known as the “dipping ramen” where the noodles are served on the side and dipped into a very rich and gravy-like broth before eating.

My personal favorite is the spicy tan tan mein. Somewhat sweet and spicy and with a nice kick of heat, this bowl of ramen hits the spot for me. It is served in a spicy sesame broth and topped with miso ground pork, scallions, and cilantro.

Isarn Thai Soul Kitchen

Hours vary by location

Crying Tiger - sliced flat iron steak grilled to medium rare.
Credit: Isarn Thai Soul Kitchen

Isarn Thai Soul Kitchen serves amazing Thai cuisines with a street food flavor and focus. For apps, I love their lemongrass wings. Another local favorite is the lettuce wraps which are great for sharing.

For entrées, they are well-known for their Hat Yai fried chicken which is a popular street dish found all over the streets of Bangkok. The chicken is topped with lots of fried garlic and shallot which make the dish very aromatic. My favorite is Crying Tiger which is a flat iron steak marinated with Thai spices and grilled perfectly medium rare.

Other traditional Thai favorites like Pad See Ew and Pad Thai are also very good. For dessert, no doubt, get their sweet young coconut cream served in a whole coconut with tapioca balls.

They have locations is Lynwood, Kirkland, and Ravenna. Takeout is available.

Baron’s Sino Kitchen & Bar

Salt and pepper siu mai garnished with garlic, peppers, and spices.

Baron’s Sino Kitchen in Bellevue is not the typical Chinese restaurant. It is an upscale and contemporary restaurant serving Chinese food with a creative and innovative menu. I am particularly impressed with some of their dim sum dishes. The salt and pepper siu mai, pictured above, takes the traditional shrimp and pork dumpling to a higher level. They are deep fried and garnished with a blend of salt, garlic, peppers, and spices. The dumplings themselves are richly flavorful and delicious. My other dim sum favorites there are stick rice in lotus leaves and steamed pork ribs with taro in garlic sauce.

As of this writing, dim sums are only served during brunch on weekends.

For dinner, their signature dish is Peking Duck, which they recommend a 24-hour advance order. Their soy sauce chicken is another local favorite. Passion fruit prawns are great for apps. Prices are expensive and this is the place to splurge on if you are seeking ultra-high-end Chinese food.

Chinatown – aka International District

A dish of shrimp dumplings.

Seattle Chinatown, aka International District, is full of yummy good eats. Jade Garden and Harbor City are two rivaling dim sum places which draw huge crowds every weekend who line up for hours to savor their famous authentic dumplings. Hong Kong Bistro serves all day dim sum alongside classic Hong Kong café style western dishes. The food is good every time I go there, and it reminds me of the food scene in the streets of Hong Kong.

Momosan is a contemporary and trendy Japanese restaurant serving the best ramens as well as Japanese tapas. Yi Fang has some of the best bubble teas in the area. And don’t forget the iconic Tai Tung, best known for it being Bruce Lee’s favorite restaurant.

Latin Places to Eat in Seattle

Boca Restobar and Grill

Hours vary by location

Sirloin steak topped with chimichurri
Credit: Boca Restobar and Grill

Boca Restobar and Grill is a Latin restaurant serving traditional Argentine cuisine and tapas with a contemporary presentation. Its interior has a nice, trendy, and artsy décor. The atmosphere is cozy and somewhat romantic.

The empanadas sampler is the most popular item on the menu, and you can order to share as an app or as one of several tapas. The stuffing in each empanada is delicious and you really can’t go wrong with this dish. And don’t forget to get an order of home-made bread and chimichurri. The bread is freshly baked and is served warm and soft.

Locals love Boca for their steaks, local seafood, and authentic Latin American comfort foods. I love their Churrasco, which is a seared sirloin steak topped with chimichurri. Portions of all their entrees are large and prices are reasonable – which make them super popular. Reservations are required for dinner.

Pink Salt

Hours: Tue – Thu 12pm – 9pm; Fri – Sat 12pm – 10pm;
Sun 12pm – 9pm; Closed Mondays

Peruvian pesto risotto topped with a tenderloin steak.
Credit: Pink Salt

Pink Salt is a cozy neighborhood gem in Magnolia that serves traditional Peruvian cuisines with a touch of Northwestern fusion. The Latin community loves this restaurant for its warm and cozy feeling, as well as a welcoming atmosphere.

Local foodies love their ceviche which is always fresh and has a nice balance of salt and lime. My favorite beef entrée is the Peruvian pesto risotto topped with tenderloin. This dish is beautifully complemented with yummy chimichurri and garnished with fresh parmesan.

A popular Peruvian comfort food with a somewhat Asian twist to it is the Sopa Criolla. It is a tomato-based soup loaded with plenty of beef, potatoes, and noodles. A fried egg adds the finishing touch to this crowd pleaser.

Mojito

Hours: Sun – Thu: 11am – 9pm; Fri – Sat 11am – 10pm

Authentic Cuban sandwich
Credit: Mojito

Mojito serves Latin American cuisines with a mostly Cuban and Venezuelan influence. They focus on serving authentic and delicious food driven by the flavors of Latin culture.

A popular app is the shredded pork arepa. The pork is succulent and delicious and the arepa – Venezuela corn cake – is the perfect match. Seafood lovers will enjoy their Camarones Carmen Miranda – shrimps sauteed with pineapple, mango, bell peppers, and a dash of Cachaça liquor.

Vaca Frita is a traditional Cuban dish of shredded beef marinated in lime juices and sauteed with peppers and spices to bring out that rich Latin flavor. The Cuban influence in Mojito is passionate. If you happen to stop by for lunch, be sure to get their truly authentic and amazing Cuban sandwich.

European Places to Eat in Seattle

The Pink Door

Hours: Lunch Tue – Sat 11:30am – 4:30pm
Dinner Tue – Sat 5pm – 10pm

A serving of lasagna served on a white bowl on a wooden dining table with condiments in the backgroud.
Credit: The Pink Door

Just steps away from the center of the Pike Place Market is an authentic local Italian gem. As the name of the restaurant suggests, look for a pink door as you walk down Post Alley. Once inside you’ll find the restaurant illuminated in a somewhat whimsical pink décor. There is live jazz music in most evenings. The place is upscale and prices are moderately high.

The menu offers classic Italian pasta dishes such as lasagna, spaghetti with meatballs, and pappardelle with ragu Bolognese. Since you are right at the Seattle waterfront, expect a large selection of fresh seafood as well. Clams and mussels are always the locals’ favorites. You may also like to try their linguini with clams in a white wine sauce.

La Vita E Bella

Hours: Lunch Mon – Fri 11:30am – 2:30pm;
Dinner Mon – Sat 5pm – 10pm

La Vita E Bella in Seattle - Italian restaurant
Credit: La Vita E Bella

La Vita E Bella is a locally owned and operated Italian restaurant. They serve some of the best and most authentic Italian foods that I’ve had in the Pacific Northwest. The restaurant is cozy and intimate and is great for a romantic date night.

For apps, get their bruschetta, which are always freshly made and delicious.

Their pasta dishes are all amazing. I love their lasagna, which is made with a rich and delicious tomato meat sauce and layered with béchamel and fresh pasta.

For meats, go with the Pollo Piccata – chicken breast with lemon, capers, and mushrooms.

Food is high quality. Prices are moderate and reasonable.

Castilla

Hours: Sun – Thu 11:30am – 10pm; Fri – Sat 11:30am – 11pm

Castilla tapas in Seattle
Credit: Castilla

Castilla is an authentic Spanish tapa restaurant located in Bellevue Square. As the name implies, they specialize in cuisines that originate from the Castilla region of Spain.

The tapas menu is quite extensive, and there are over 40 small plates to choose from. My favorites are the croquetas. Get either the truffle mushroom or the ham & Manchego cheese. Or just order both of them. You can’t go wrong.

My other favorites are patatas bravas, bacon wrapped dates, and bacon wrapped shrimps. The restaurant has a rustic décor, and the atmosphere is casual and family oriented. Prices are moderate to moderately high. Curbside takeout is available.

Le Panier French Bakery

Hours: Daily 7am – 5pm

La Panier French Bakery in Seattle
Credit: Le Panier French Bakery

It is so delightful to find an authentic Parisian bakery like Le Panier French Bakery in touristy Pike Place Market. The line is always super long, and it goes down the street and sometimes wraps around the block. But local and tourists alike know that the pastries are so good that they are indeed worth standing in line for.

They have a large selection of croissants, more than you’ll see in most places. I always go with the plain butter croissant, or with the apricot if I want something sweet.

Sometimes the problem is deciding what I want. There are so many yummy pastries that sometimes I wish I could just have one of each. My top favorites are their Éclair Pistache and Napoléon, which taste just like those from the streets of Paris.

There is no dine-in area, and it is takeout only.

Red Cow

Hours: Daily 4pm – 10pm

Steak frites from Red Cow in Seattle
Credit: Red Cow

Red Cow is part of the famous Ethan Stowell’s Restaurant (ESR) Group. It is located in the picturesque Madrona neighborhood. This is a classic French brasserie well-known for their steak frites.

There are several cuts of beef on their menu and my favorite is the St Helens Contre Filet (NY Strip). The filet mignon is another very popular choice. Steaks are served with pommes frites (French fries) of course. It also comes with a choice of béarnaise, maître d’hotel Butter, red wine reduction, horseradish cream, or green peppercorn sauce.

The place is upscale, and prices are on the higher end. But the ESR’s reputation ensures an enjoyable fine dining experience.

You may also like...