10 Reasons Why Seattle Is My New Favorite Place to Eat

August 29, 2018

My partner Justin and I joked that I visited him in Seattle for the Renee Erickson restaurants—and that he just happened to be there, too.

This summer, as I worked in New York and he worked in the Emerald City, I flew out to stay with him. We didn’t so much plan an itinerary as we planned meals—breakfast, lunch, and dinner, snacks between breakfast, lunch, and dinner—many of which were Renee Erickson–related.

We’ve talked about her here before—back in 2014 when she wrote A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus and just a few weeks ago, when Genius Recipes told you all about her Peach Cobbler with Hot Sugar Crust. After cooking her recipes for years, one of my trip goals was to finally enjoy Erickson’s food in person.

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And did we ever. But we also stumbled upon a lot of other wonderful eats. Here are our top 10, in no particular order.

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Rolling deep at the #columbiacityfarmersmarket

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1. Cinnamon Roll at Sea Wolf

Two brothers—Kit and Jesse Schumann—founded Sea Wolf in 2014. They started by baking in borrowed kitchens and, a couple years later, graduated to their own space. Lucky for us, it was a jog away from Justin’s apartment. The bakery’s kitchen is wide open, so when you walk in, you can see bakers loading dough into bins and pulling loaves from the oven. There’s sunshine everywhere, thanks to the four skylights, and even from the door it’s easy to spot the larger-than-life cinnamon rolls. They’re made from croissant dough scraps (!) and filled with butter, cinnamon, and raisins. “They’re an homage to the cinnamon rolls we ate as kids at Carol’s Coffee Cup in our hometown,” Kit told me. “When you are 9, they looked as if they were as big as your head. And they might have been.”

2. Muesli Greek Yogurt at Ellenos

Ellenos says its yogurt “starts with the pure, pasteurized whole milk we source directly from local farms that creates our signature velvety texture and slightly sweet taste.” But that’s not what makes it special. Apparently, it’s the family’s own blend of probiotic cultures. (What? Your family doesn’t have one of those?) This is what makes their ultra-thick Greek yogurt stand out. Ellenos lives in a pint-sized stall at Pike Place Market. You’d almost miss it amid the craze if it weren’t for the long line or hoards of people wandering around with swooshy, swirly, get-me-some-of-that yogurt. While they have a slew of flavors—lemon curd! passion fruit! marionberry!—the nutty, fruity, oaty muesli was my favorite.

3. Vanilla Custard Doughnut at General Porpoise Doughnuts

General Porpoise does doughnuts and caffeine—nothing more, nothing less—and they do it really, really well. The doughnuts are yeast-raised, sugar-rolled, and filled with—well, that’s the fun part. Classics include vanilla custard and lemon curd. Wildcards could be anything from chocolate marshmallow to peanut butter and jelly. When Justin and I were there, it was a sweet-tart rhubarb jam. But the vanilla custard was our favorite, especially with a giant mug of coffee that lived up to all the Seattle hype.

4. Szechuan Flatbread at Country Dough

You’re at Pike Place. You’ve seen the fish-throwing (just what it sounds like) and the gum wall (also just what it sounds like) and survived the original Starbucks crowds. You want lunch—ASAP, please—and Country Dough is the place to be. This spot specializes in guo kui, crispy stuffed flatbreads, perfect if you want to wander and eat. We got ours with chicken, but you could get pork, beef, or mushrooms and young bamboo shoots. We also got the Chinese crepe and hand-shaven noodle soup. Justin said ordering dumplings, too, would be overkill, which I’m still low-key salty about.

6. Oysters on the Half-Shell at The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter shucks anywhere between 100 and 140 dozen oysters every night. That’s 1,200 to 1,600 oysters—every dang night. Opened in 2010, this homey, lively space has a completely open kitchen surrounded by a bar, like having courtside seats at a basketball game. The oysters are so cold, they might as well have just been plucked from the bottom of the sea. The menu lists them from mildest to briniest, and the selection rotates regularly, depending on local farmer availability. Each one is served with freshly-grated horseradish, shallot-champagne mignonette, and lemon. We split too many (is there such a thing?) and said “Cheers!” before each one, clinking together the shells.

5. Boquerones at Barnacle Bar

What to do while you’re waiting in line at The Walrus and the Carpenter? Go to one of Erickson’s other spots—right next door. They’ll even tell you when your table is ready. Barnacle “celebrates the Italian aperitivo bar in a jewel box space with wines by the glass and all things canned, pickled, smoked, and cured.” Which means a mean Spritz and all the snacks to go with. Or, say, that giant jamòn serrano on the counter, hand-sliced to order, and silky chicken mousse with amaro-pickled cherries. Or, my pick, boquerones—buttery white anchovies—drowned in olive oil and topped with smashed green olives and crispy breadcrumbs.

7. Burger at Bar Melusine

We went to Bar Melusine for the buckwheat crêpes and double-fried frites. What we didn’t expect was a knockout burger—on the happy hour menu to boot. Like so much of Erickson’s food, it is as simple as it is purposeful. Just a bun, quarter-pounder beef patty, slab of tomato, and aioli. But the bun is brushed with honey and dusted in caraway, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds (and baked by those doughnut masterminds at General Porpoise). The beef is grass-fed, dry-aged, and all trim from the whole carcass. “We go back and forth from the chuck to the round to even out the fat. It’s coarse-ground around 20-percent fat, 80-percent lean,” director of operations Jeanie Chunn told me. “We use trim because it’s a great way to minimize waste and utilize more of the carcass.” The tomato comes by way of a lifelong farmer in northeastern Washington. And the aioli will turn you into a mayo-on-burgers believer.

8. Boiled Peanuts at JuneBaby

Really, anything at JuneBaby—it’s not fair to make me pick. These tender peanuts were swimming in a deep, dark cajun spice and country ham broth. We slurped it up with the empty shells and splattered it all over our white clothes and didn’t care. We also loved the buttermilk biscuits with cane syrup, the pimiento cheese with paper-thin, house-made saltines, the crispy, crackly chicken-fried steak. Time called the restaurant “one of the world’s greatest places 2018.” Bon Appétit named it one of its top 50 new restaurants in 2018. And The New York Times gave it three stars. Which is all to say, you can’t go wrong.

9. Yeti Ice Cream at Molly Moon’s

Plan a trip to Seattle, ask around for recommendations, and inevitably someone will tell you that you have to go to Molly Moon’s. Its namesake and founder Molly Moon Neitzel opened her first scoop shop in 2008. Today, the brand has seven more. Expect classics like strawberries (made with local fruit), chocolate (made with melted chocolate versus cocoa powder), and salted caramel (“dares to be saltier than all the others!” according to the website). But I was holding up the line with sample after sample of flavors you can’t find everywhere: Earl Gray, honey lavender, and yeti (yep, yeti), made with granola, vanilla caramel, and chocolate bits.

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we believe in sunny days + scoops 🌞🍦

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10. Gingered Golden Milk Ice Cream at Frankie & Jo’s

Justin and I didn’t find Frankie & Jo’s. Frankie & Jo’s found us. We went to dinner one night, left the restaurant on the lookout for Molly Moon’s, and saw all these people wandering by with ice cream cones. Then, there was Frankie & Jo’s, a plant-based ice cream shop. Cherry Bombe recently called its co-owners Autumn Martin and Kari Brunson “the vegan ice cream world’s most influential duo.” And you only need one scoop to see why. I opted for Tahini Chocolate (salty tahini ice cream with chocolate ribbons and sesame fudge) and Gingered Golden Milk (turmeric and coconut milk ice cream with cinnamon, cardamom, and candied ginger). My sweet-pea got the beet, strawberry, and rose sorbet. I have a feeling there isn’t a bad flavor at this place, but the highlighter-neon Golden Milk totally swept me off my feet.


What are your favorite Seattle eats? Share ’em in the comments below!

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


ChefJune February 25, 2019
It's been quite a while since I've been to Seattle, but I definitely recall the delicious food at Wild Ginger. It's a pan-Asian restaurant and I liked it so much that even though I was only there for a week I dined there twice. Clearly time may not have been good to the place... but I hope it's still that good!
SharynSowell January 13, 2019
Next trip drive north and stop at the tiny twin towns locally famous for food: Bow and Edison, WA. Stop at The Oyster Bar on scenic Chuckanut Drive and slurp as you watch the sun set over the Sound. Slow down in Edison to nosh at Tweets (everything sourced locally) or the Farm to Market Bakery. Ask them to slice your favorite loaf and smear it with chèvre from Samish Bay Cheese in Bow. The scenery on this drive is as amazing as the food, and abundant with picnic spots that overlook the sea.

Or take a ferry threading through the San Juan Islands, a relatively undiscovered chain of verdant islands. Try the pear cider and cheese at the French bistro-style San Juan Island Cheese in Friday Harbor, then kayak with a naturalist from Crystal Seas Kayaks around Lime Kiln State Park. Stay at historic Hotel de Haro is Roche Harbor and dine at the Madrona Bar & Grill (sample their Shanghai Street Noodles or the heirloom tomato salad with Dungeness Crab.)

Those of us living north of Seattle know our area is one of the best kept secrets anywhere and the food is as stellar as the scenery.
Rozann G. January 13, 2019
Standard Bakery in North Seattle for bagels and croissants. Undergoing a renovation right now and will emerge (March 2019) as zylberschteins deli and bakery. Jewish-style deli
C. W. September 4, 2018
Ooh go to Volunteer Park Cafe on North Capitol Hill and get basically one of everything... or just one thing and I guarantee you it'll be delicious. Crumble and flake has really good pastries and Than Brothers has wonderful Pho. Cafe Lago has really good wood fired pizza, pasta, calzones, etc. and El Farol is a family owned mexican restaurant with amazing food. If you do go to Frankie and Jo's, I recommend the brown sugar vanilla ice cream and at Molly Moon's the Salted caramel. You can also go to Hello Robin, which is a cookie and icecream shop owed by Molly Moon's.
Author Comment
Emma L. September 6, 2018
Thank you for sharing this recs!!
1989crxsi September 3, 2018
Daddy's Donuts. Little donut holes made fresh for each order and then made into a Sunday of your choice with some of the best coffee ever made.
Author Comment
Emma L. September 6, 2018
Fun! I always wish more places offered donut holes.
Alex S. August 31, 2018
Traveled to SEA last week, loved The Pink Door, and all the many places with oysters (dreaming of my return trip). Fun place we stopped is Damn The Weather, yes I agree!
Kim August 30, 2018
Kurt Farm at Chophouse Row for the best ice cream ever...and Madison Kitchen for pastries and lunch!!
BerryBaby August 30, 2018
Fun places and interesting eats. If very fine dining, Canlis is by far the best restaurant in Seattle. A food lovers paradise from start to finish.
pamelalee August 29, 2018
Serious Pie (Tom Douglas restaurant) is the best pizza ever! It’s all about the crust.
Author Comment
Emma L. September 6, 2018
Sad I missed that! But yet another reason to go back :)
Chelsea M. January 4, 2019
Amen. This is the pizza I have dreams about. Also, the mac & cheese at Beechers in the market!
FrugalCat August 29, 2018
Road Trip!
Lizzie August 29, 2018
Those boiled peanuts sound divine! I wish I lived there- amazing food. The congee with chili oil and crispy
pork at Seatown Seabar was one of the most delicious plates of food I wail probably ever eat!
Author Comment
Emma L. September 6, 2018
That sounds sooo good!