Travel

Our Editors' Favorite Places to Eat in Seattle

Try the cinnamon rolls, oysters, burgers, and flatbreads at these spots.

July 22, 2021
Photo by Kevin Schafer/Getty Images

Seattle has some of the best restaurants in the country. A few summers ago, as I worked in New York and my partner 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 at Renee Erickson's great restaurants. After cooking her recipes for years, one of my trip goals was to finally enjoy her food in person. And did we ever. But we also stumbled upon a lot of other wonderful eats. I spoke with my Food52 colleagues to get their takes on the best restaurants in Seattle, and here are our top 13 spots in no particular order.

View this post on Instagram

Rolling deep at the #columbiacityfarmersmarket

A post shared by Sea Wolf (@seawolfbakers) on

1. 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 nine, they look as if they are as big as your head. And they might have been.”

2. 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. 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. Wild cards 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. 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.

Shop the Story

Currently, Country Dough is temporarily closed due to the impact of COVID-19.

5. 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.

6. 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 jamón 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 bread crumbs.

7. 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 Grey, honey lavender, and yeti (yep, yeti), which is made with granola, vanilla caramel, and chocolate bits.

View this post on Instagram

we believe in sunny days + scoops 🌞🍦

A post shared by Frankie & Jo's (@frankieandjos) on

8. 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.

9. Salt & Straw

This not-so-ordinary ice cream shop with ever-changing flavors hails from Portland, Oregon, but has recently established a new outpost in the Pike/Pine neighborhood. It’s centrally located, super convenient for grabbing a scoop of signature flavors like Salted, Malted, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough; Honey Lavender; or Arbequina Olive Oil.

10. Café Presse

Kaleigh Embree, Food52’s Customer Care Specialist, is a fan of this low-key French restaurant located in the First Hill neighborhood. A friend of mine who lives in Seattle told me I need to come visit for this place because "When the atmosphere, staff, and food are all at the same amazing quality, then I know I've found my new favorite haunt."

11. Alki Beach Cafe

Food52’s Sample Coordinator Ace Baclay recommends this casual beachside restaurant with amazing views of Seattle's skyline. The menu includes everything from tropically inspired cocktails and eggs Benedict to ahi poke bowls. But Ace calls the Caesar salad topped with crispy calamari especially “divine.”

12. Paseo

When Ace wants a Caribbean-inspired bite, he heads to this Seattle restaurant and tiki bar with two locations in the city. His go-to order is the sautéed prawns sandwich, which features black tiger prawns sautéed in garlic tapenade and served with fresh cilantro, pickled jalapeños, caramelized onions, and crisp romaine lettuce.

13. Kedai Makan

“I dream about the roti jala net bread at Kedai Makan,” says Larissa Sanz, Brand Manager of Five Two. “This is hands down one of the top five dishes I've ever had in my life. I cannot find this dish anywhere in NYC. I re-created it recently after a ton of research, but it didn't compare to this restaurant’s version. If I return to Seattle anytime soon, this will be stop #1.”

What are your favorite restaurants in Seattle? Share ’em in the comments below!
The All for Farmers Market

We’ve joined forces with Tillamook to support All For Farmers—a coalition benefiting farmers across the nation—with a special market that gives back. Featuring Shop all-stars and a limited-edition Five Two apron, a portion of proceeds from every purchase supports American Farmland Trust’s Brighter Future Fund.

The All for Farmers Market

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Belinda
    Belinda
  • LL
    LL
  • Liz
    Liz
  • Salmon
    Salmon
  • ChefJune
    ChefJune
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., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

22 Comments

Belinda July 21, 2021
Seattle was one of my favorite "food cities" 25 plus years ago!
 
LL July 21, 2021
I guess this is an old list? You guys should fact check - JuneBaby’s chef has been accused of sexual misconduct and his entire staff quit.
 
Brinda A. July 22, 2021
LL, thanks so much for bringing this to our attention—we'd augmented a previously published article with some new recommendations, but this was an unfortunate oversight on our part and we are correcting our error (plus, re-vetting the rest of this list to make sure there are no other cases of abusive treatment with the other establishments we recommend). We'd never knowingly advocate for any business with a history of harassment, and again really appreciate you pointing this out. Thank you again.
 
Liz July 21, 2021
Bar Melusine has closed and is now Boat Bar.
Westward (now also owned by Renee Erikson!) should definitely be on this list - food is great and the views are awesome.
I would re-think the JuneBaby recommendation given the serious allegations against chef/owner Eduoardo Jordan, who has not yet identified any concrete steps he is taking to make things right. (https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/times-watchdog/edouardo-jordan-acclaimed-seattle-chef-accused-by-15-women-of-sexual-misconduct-or-unwanted-touching/)
 
Salmon July 19, 2021
Salmon at Blake Island for locals and visitors is a must!
 
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!
 
Mona D. July 21, 2021
Damn the Weather is the best.
 
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!