Spring is here and travel season is kicking into high gear. With more and more people building their holidays around food, look for your favorite restaurants to see an influx of visitors. There are no hidden spots these days; the era of tourists lining up for cheap fare that’s been sitting under warming lamps is over.
We’re all for these changes. The “this is my place, go away” mindset has no place in the restaurant scene. Food is global and accepting; it greets people with open arms. With that global mindset in mind, we thought we’d start tossing out some of our favorite places to eat in some of our favorite cities around the world. You’ve seen Eat this City, but we wanted to let our staff take part, too.
This week we’re taking a dive into the cuisine of Seattle, Washington. You can expect to find some of the freshest fish in the country, lots of local ingredients, and a few classics thrown in for good measure. Enjoy!
(In no particular order)
Un Bien is the second generation of the famed Cubano walk up, Paseo. This incarnation keeps the walk up aesthetic while dishing up some seriously delicious Caribbean-inspired treats. The menu ranges from grilled sandwiches dripping with melted cheese to killer boxes of rice, beans, and slow-cooked meats.
Must Try Dish — Caribbean Roast
THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER
Seafood is a cornerstone of Pacific Northwest cuisine. So if you’re in Seattle, you have to hit a raw seafood bar. The Walrus and the Carpenter serves an array of oysters from around the Salish Sea and the country. You can get them raw, fried, rockefllered, and so forth. There’s also a great menu to support the briny oysters, so make sure to leave room for the full meal.
Must Try Dish — All things oysters
Ivar’s is a Pacific Northwest institution. Their fish bars pop up all over the Seattle-Tacoma metro area and offer deep fried seafood delights served, fast, hot, and cheap all with a delectable side of chowder (always get a side of chowder). This is probably the most inexpensive entry on the list and the most influenced by nostalgia, but don’t take that to mean there isn’t quality. To this day all of Ivar’s fish is sourced between Alaska and Washington state.
Must Try Dish — Smoked Salmon Chowder
Dahlia Lounge is Chef Tom Douglas’ first restaurant. He currently has 12, and counting. Opened in 1989, this restaurant is the standard bearer of “Seattle’s local, sustainable, and organic food movement.” Even heading toward its 30th birthday, The restaurant continues to innovate and highlight the best Seattle has to offer and is a must stop for anyone wanting a peek into the local scene.
Must Try Dish — Rotisserie Pekin Duck
Started by Armandino Batali, Mario Batali’s father, this Italian eatery hits a very primal sweet spot. Batali’s grandfather opened the first Italian grocery in Seattle in 1903 so there’s serious lineage to Salumi. The elder Batali opened this place up as a post-retirement dream and never looked back. Now it’s the place to get Italian meats, cheeses, paninos, and pizzas in the whole of the Pacific Northwest.
Must Try Dish — Hot Sopressata sandwich
TARSAN I JANE
The pedigree of Tarsan I Jane is deep. Perfecte and Alia Rocher came up in restaurant juggernauts like El Bulli and Bestia, respectively. When they arrived in Seattle they brought with them the engrossing and enchanting cuisine of Valencia and, more widely, Spain. Their attention to detail and pure love of food shines through with every single bite.
Be warned, a 12 course tasting menu for two (with vino) will set you back $625. Their Sunday Paella for two (with gin and tonics) will only set you back $200 and may be an easier price point to meet.
Must Try Dish — Sunday Paella
THE METROPOLITAN GRILL
Stepping into The Metropolitan Grill is a little like stepping back in time to an art deco tangent universe. The booths are plush, the windows are leaded, and the menu is a stone-cold classic’s lesson. The restaurant serves red meat. They pride themselves on eschewing the industrial farming system and source their prime cuts from Double R Ranch in Washington State and American Wagyu from Idaho. They age in house. And their bar is mint. It’s no wonder they’re often cited as one of the best steak houses around.
Must Try Dish — Châteaubriand for two
Mamnoon is the Middle Eastern eatery Seattle needs. It offers an array of flavors from western Asia in a city replete with a massive eastern Asian food scene. You’ll find perfectly executed falafels, smooth hummus, spicy shakshukas, and mouth-watering lamb all day. Oh, and the Harra Fries with Za’tar mayo are the bomb.
Must Try Dish — Man’oushe (Syrian pizza)
Opened in 1904, razed in World War II when the owners, staff, and their families were sent to internment camps, and re-opened in 1946, Maneki is now a piece of Seattle history serving classic Japanese fare. The menu is a broad range of classic ozen alongside teriyaki, steaks, udons, and so much more. It’s all family style and you’ll be treated as such when you walk in the doors.
Tip, don’t expect a table without a reservation because this place gets slammed regularly, even 113 years on.
Must Try Dish — Black Cod Collar Miso
Canlis is where fine dining in Seattle started, way back in the 1950s. The restaurant is still owned by the Canlis brothers, Mark and Brian. The brothers brought the menu into the 21st century while freezing the classic aesthetic in amber from the 1950s. The four or nine course tasting menus ($105/$145) take the diner through the wonders of Pacific Northwest cuisine with one eye on the classics and one eye always looking to the future.
Be warned, casual attire is not accepted — wear a suit.
Must Try Dish — Barely Porridge with Geoduck
GET OUT OF TOWN BONUS — THE WILLOWS INN
You’re going to have to hop a ferry to the San Juan Islands for this culinary adventure. About two hours north of Seattle you’ll find The Willows Inn on Lummi Island. The restaurant attached to the inn is an outstanding exploration of local, seasonal, and experimental cuisine. Expect a tasting menu culled from the Salish Sea, local farms on the island, and maybe even some wild game from a nearby meadow. This means the menu is always in flux. That’s a good thing — prepare to be surprised.
Must Try Dish — Whatever was brought in fresh from the sea and farms that day.