Seattle is the city of rain, grunge, and the Space Needle. But it is also a city of great food. For all you Seattleites in the making, knowing what the best restaurants in Seattle are will get you settled in quicker and help you integrate into the community. After all, food connects people and is a thing that everybody can talk about most of the time.
After moving to Seattle, you’ll find yourself in one of the hippest places in the US of A. You’re right to expect the best in every niche of everyday life. And the city will deliver. Not only in the form of well-known attractions such as Space Needle tower, real-life UP! House, Fremont Troll, or Seahawks home games, but the delicious meals as well.
In fact, the change of the culinary landscape is among the most cited reasons for moving. Ok, we may have made that one up, but come on! Who can stay strong after catching an irresistible scent from the cozy eatery around the corner? Not anyone we know. And Seattle has tons of those. So join us on a short tour around the best joints the Emerald City has to offer.
Learn More About the City by Visiting the Best Restaurants in Seattle
In the city such as Seattle, every place you enter will tell you a story, teach you about the city’s history, neighborhoods, people, and their comings and goings. And if you’ve already decided to book moving services to become a part of the greatest community in the land, you should put in an additional effort to learn the local lore. It’ll make you love Seattle even more.
Then there’s a matter of taste. Be ready for the explosion of them, especially if you’re moving from a small town to a big city. Whichever cuisine you wish to dip into, it’s there. Neighborhoods like South Lake Union, Ballard, or Capitol Hill are gourmets heavens, with dozens of joints scattered on every corner. They are not the only ones, of course. Culinary culture is deep-rooted and extensive. So join us on a short tour around the best joints the Emerald City has to offer, mostly grouped based on the kind of food they serve. But first, let’s take a look at a venue that rightly deserves a special spot on our list.
List of the Best Restaurants in Seattle Can’t Be Complete Without Dick’s
Seattle is a city that catches on with trends early on. Therefore, it is crammed with joints that offer vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and locally grown products. And yet, some still stand their ground and keep to the old ways, making themselves inevitable on the bucket list of every real foodie.
Dick’s Drive-In is probably the most renowned among them all. Opened in 1954, it celebrated its 66th birthday on January the 28th, with a traditional 19 cents day, when patrons can get burgers for a price brought back from the fifties. Only, this time the celebration lasted for three days in all seven Dick’s locations throughout the city. It has devout followers in and out of the city, Bill Gates and Sir Mix-a-Lot being among them.
From the early days, Dick’s championed cheap but quality burgers, with fries and milkshakes on the side. The menu remains short and sports hamburger and cheeseburger (with or without ketchup and mustard), Special burger (with pickles, mayonnaise, and lettuce), and Deluxe (two patties, with cheese, lettuce, and pickles). There are also fries, shakes, and ice cream. One of the most significant changes in Dick’s history happened when the previously separated lines for burgers, fries, and ice cream were abolished and merged into single queues for everything on the menu. Holding on to tradition, Dick’s only accepted cash payments for decades, and only in 2016 introduced POS terminals.
Two main factors separate Dick’s from all other fast-food chains in the city and the US. The first is that the owners spent very little on advertising, preferring to let the taste of the burgers speak for themselves. When they chose to put their restaurants on billboards, that sometimes led to confusing messages about cavities being filled at Dick’s (and no, it’s not what you think, one of the founders was a dentist.)
The second, and we believe that’s why Seattleites flock to Dick’s in much higher numbers than to some other nation-wide chains, is that founders decided to keep the franchise within Emerald City and not expand any further. Locals see the chain as their own. We’re sure that so will you, whether if you’re moving to a city alone or with a family. If you make the Emerald City your new home, eating at Dick’s is truly one of the unique things to do in Seattle.
Best Seafood Restaurants in Seattle
Emerald City is a seaside port. Therefore, you may expect that the ocean plays a big part in people’s lives. It’s no different when it comes to cuisine. Seafood is a staple of many menus, with oysters being a regular dish. Joints like famous Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard, or Market Grill are icons of the scene. If you don’t know the difference between your oysters and your mussels, those are the places to go and learn.
But the one place that carries the prize on our list is…
Matt’s in the Market – Serves Lovely Meals, But Also the Best Bloody Mary of 2019
Our pick for the best seafood place is Matt’s in the Market. Chef Matt Fortner (it’s not the Matt, that’s the joint’s founder) and the rest of the staff bring the authentic cuisine of the American Northwest but with the touch of Italian in it all.
From the moment it first opened its doors in 1996, it became darling of the community. Now, sitting on the second floor of the building in Pike Place Market, it is the hotspot of the neighborhood. It easily transforms from a casual diner during the day into the elegant restaurant by evening. The ceiling is crossed with timber beams, adding to the romantic feeling of it all.
What draws Seattleites to it (aside from delicacies, that is) is its deep connection with the Pike. The current owner worked as a fishmonger for years, and all ingredients used in the joint come from the Pike’s stalls. Therefore, you can expect a different menu every day. Thanks to the nature of the ingredients, you can also expect a bit pricier dinner. But it’s a joy to taste.
If you’re not there in the evening, brunch can be served in the form of a famous Fishwich, sandwich with fried fresh fish (that part changes depending on a season), iceberg salad, bacon, pepper, and onion. Those who don’t wish to experiment can order a catfish sandwich, which is there during every season.
There is also a bunch of great seafood. You can try (at the moment, at least) oysters, octopus, mussels and clams, trout, salmon, fish stew, and charcuterie. It’s not all water-born, since you can eat lamb, too, and salads as well.
An additional treat at Matt’s is, of course, the bar. Made to resemble Parisian cafes, it is stocked with great wines. But there’s more. Seattle is one of the US capitals of craft beers, and it is duly presented at Matt’s. Locally brewed ales, stouts, and lagers will quench your thirst and tingle all taste receptacles. If you’re after something, in a way, classier, cocktails served there are the city’s classic. To mention but one – Matt’s Bloody Mary was proclaimed as the best in the town by the media.
It has only eight stools, though, so competition for a seat is pretty steep. At Matt’s, in general, you have to reserve. Oh, and ask for a table near the windows. The view of Puget Sound and the Olympics is fantastic. What more can be added to such a fully Seattleite experience?
Best Italian Restaurants in Seattle
Living in America means being surrounded by Italian eateries and dishes. Living in Seattle is no exception to that. If you take a tour around the city, you’ll see countless trattorias, pizzerias, pasta bars, and alike. Many are called the best this or that in town, but…
Cascina Spinasse Is the Destination for Italian Food and Espresso
Rarely has happened that something conquered Seattle by storm as Cascina Spinasse did. Opened in 2008, it instantly won over the local gourmets with excellent dining. Located in the vibrant Capitol Hill neighborhood, it brought traditional cuisine of Northern Italy made from local ingredients.
From the start, it sported a rustic look, which significantly contributed to the atmosphere, authenticity, and romance of it all. No wonder that tables are reserved sometimes for weeks in advance.
The menu is pretty short but rich in fares from far Piedmont, Italy. Dishes are unforgettable, whether you go for a braised rabbit, home-made pasta, or cod bruschetta. Still, the house specialty is pasta tajarin al ragu. If you wish to go through all antipasti, primi, and secondi before deciding on a meal (though probably for your next visit), Cascina offers degustation of each dish for a hundred bucks.
The main chef Stuart Lane sees that every slice of pasta or meat is just about as perfect as it can be. And all prepared using traditional Piedmontese techniques. So, for the best pasta in town, head to Capitol Hill and Cascina Spinasse. And have a cocktail while you’re at it.
Best Romantic Restaurants in Seattle
There are not too many things that can inspire romance like an excellent meal in the right atmosphere. So, after moving in with your significant other, a nice dinner is a natural option. But where to go?
Bastille & Back Bar is the Place for a Perfect Date
It is only natural that our pick comes from the line of French restaurants. Bastille & Back Bar is an ideal place to take your significant other for a romantic dinner. Located in Old Ballard, one of the hippest Seattle neighborhoods, in a building erected in the 1920s, the joint is all about Paris.
Owners did their utmost to bring an authentic atmosphere to Bastille. They went around antique shops, but also the Parisian flea markets, for items that would contribute to the vibe. And they did a great job. There are tiles and a clock from the Parisian subway, vintage mirrors, but also a crystal chandelier above the Back Bar Table.
Likewise, dishes are French-inspired, but with heavy reliance on local products and ingredients. Even more, on the building’s roof sits an organic garden owned by the restaurant – a tough one to beat when it comes to using local.
Besides usual romantic dishes, like oysters, there’s also the restaurant’s namesake, Bastille Lamb Burger, Croque Madame, roasted Denver steak, as well as Normandy-style chicken. Those wishing to sink their teeth in something meat-free can try falafel or chickpea panisse.
To go with romantic dining, there should be a glass of something sparkly. The wine collection is extensive and expectedly focused on French and wines from the US northwest. And to round up the atmosphere of France, Bastille sports probably the most extensive absinthe collection in town.
Best Lunch Restaurants in Seattle
Once in a new town, you’ll wish to discover locations where you can go to have a good lunch. Whether that’s during the break from work or to mark important events in life, it has to be something special. And if you wish for the best, Emerald City is ready to deliver, so…
For a Truly High-Class Dining Experience, Look No Further Than Canlis
When you climb to the summit of Queen Anne Hill, you’ll see t beautiful Lake Union, bustling downtown Seattle, and the marvelous Cascade Mountains. And you’ll see Canlis – a spot that is considered an elite among the elite in the world of restaurants. The restaurant you go to for special occasions or celebrations. To be sure, prices are matching that reputation. But if the panorama isn’t enough to justify the expenses, then food will do the trick. Just make sure to reserve in advance.
Canlis began as a family business and has remained so even after 70 years. Under the expert guidance of chef Brady Williams (he was a hockey player, in case you have doubts about his resolve), meals become better by the day. Add to that cozy atmosphere and warm and professional service, and you have a perfect spot for important moments.
There are four courses on the menu, each with four dishes to choose from. For 135 dollars, you get one dish from each course. And you enjoy the richness of flavor.
Make no mistake, Canlis is no ordinary eatery. It is an experience as much as anything else. And it is the only restaurant in town that has a dress code for men. Jeans are not allowed in Canlis.
Its lounge, where folks who wait for their table or have just come to have a sip and quick bite, can try some of the renowned cocktails and a la carte snacks.
And, if you have any doubts about the class, the wine list at Canlis has 80 pages. The joint was awarded James Beard for it.
Best Vegan Restaurants in Seattle
As a city that always embraces new and incoming lifestyles, Seattle was among the pioneers in accepting vegan culture and incorporating it as its own. Dozens of bars and eateries speak about that, as well as the famous VegFest Washington. When it’s not in such focus, the torch is carried on by places like Next Level Burger, In The Bowl, or Veggie Grill. But since we have to opt for one, we strongly encourage you to…
Try Meat-Free Meals and Coffee at Wayward Cafe
Two main staples of Seattleite culinary culture are, without any doubt, coffee and meatless food. And yes, folks are proud of Starbucks, but there are usually too many tourists. So, locals who wish a nice cup of hip coffee go to the one and only Wayward Cafe. Coffee comes with all kinds of non-dairy milk, and there are enough options to satisfy the pickiest customers. But what people also come for is food.
Wayward serves vegan versions of all American classics throughout the day. And we mean all – from fried burrito to the Mac Daddy, vegan version of Big Mac. What many may see as heresy, many Seattleites find delicious. As they do chili cheese fries, chicken alfredo pasta, country fried steak, fettuccine alfredo, or chocolate cheesecake. The classic diner atmosphere is rounded up with a bottomless cup of coffee. And breakfast is served throughout the day.
It also has an offering for children, so if you’re wondering what might be things to do in Seattle with kids, Wayward Cafe may be the solution after a few hours on the playground.
Share the Story of Merchants Cafe and Saloon, Est 1890
Pioneer Square is, in many ways, the center of Seattle’s normal and paranormal activities. Beneath it lies the network of tunnels and rooms known as Underground City, which you have to know like the back of your pocket if you’re to be a true Seattleite. Also, most of the famed hauntings in the city are located in or around it.
And there is the joint that had lived through and survived the Gold Rush, Prohibition, Great Depression, and flames. And that is, of course, haunted. It’s a Merchants Cafe and Saloon, the oldest active restaurant in Emerald City, and one of its crown jewels.
Merchants was opened in 1890, serving cheap beer to sailors and miners while they were waiting to climb to the brothel on the second floor. Both cheap booze and the brothel are now gone, but the old days still live on the menu pages. Madam Lou’s hot meatloaf sandwich, Chief Seattle salmon burger, Yesler sliders, Klondike mac n cheese, Bootleggers soup, and the 1962 Seattle Fair chicken sandwich all evoke the city’s past. On the other hand, Fremont Troll fettuccini alfredo, Pike Place garden salad, and others speak of the present.
You may taste these and other meals in the Merchants’ brick-walled, rustic space. To make things even better, there is also an underground part, perfect for bringing back the spirit of yore and also to meet new neighbors and discuss with them why Lynch should’ve gone for that final yard in the Super Bowl XLIX. Unless you’re a Patriots fan, that is.
A different part of the appeal lies in the hauntings. There have been numerous ghost sightings in Merchants, so much that it is a part of Spooked in Seattle Tour of haunted spots. One of the most often reported ghosts is a woman who haunts basement restrooms and whispers to men. It isn’t yet determined whether she was one of the prostitutes or a simple patron who refused to leave her favorite watering hole. Another and more sinister story tells about a boy and a girl who died in the bar’s basement in the fire that hit Merchants in 1938. Nowadays, they can be seen in the basement and often prank the employees.
Come to Seattle and Discover the Perfect Bar for You
So there’s our short guide. Since Seattle is not that small, bar research may take some travel around the city. For that, if not any other reason, you should hire Seattle movers with auto transport services and make it easier for yourself. And if you’re worried about the cost of living in Seattle, don’t be. With the average salary, you can cover all the bases and still have enough for more than a couple of meals out.