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4743 Ballard Ave NW, 706-3379

Dinner

Renee Erickson's teeny-tiny, Euro-style bar is attached to her renowned restaurant the Walrus and the Carpenter (making it the best-named place ever). Its menu of great snacks, amaro, and lovely wine will knock your socks off.

Bitterroot

5239 Ballard Ave NW, 588-1577

Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Bitterroot uses an in-house smoker and picturesque stacks of apple wood to very good effect, especially with the chicken and the smoked-tomato-and-salt Bloody Mary. Sides are way better than average, especially the super-fluffy grits.

Brimmer & Heeltap

425 NW Market St, 420-2534

Dinner

Brimmer & Heeltap is where the late, great Le Gourmand used to be in Ballard. The short menu of gastropub-type food, with just the right whispers of Asian ingredients, is by chef Mike Whisenhunt (previously at Revel).

Cafe Besalu

5909 24th Ave NW, 789-1463

Breakfast, Lunch

At Besalu, ham-and-cheese and chocolate croissants, orange-glazed brioche, quiche, and more are all made with benevolent obsessiveness by pastry chef/co-owner James Miller. Everybody agrees: SO GOOD. Excellent coffee, too.

Cafe Munir

2408 NW 80th St, 783-4190

Dinner

This pleasant little Lebanese restaurant is owned by Rajah Gargour, who grew up in the Middle East (Lebanon and Jordan, to be exact). Munir serves excellent, traditional, small plates of mezze. Also: a fine selection of single-malt whiskies.

Delancey

1415 NW 70th St, 838-1960

Dinner

Delancey is a Ballard pizzeria with pie in the thin-crust mode of the (rightly) revered Di Fara in Brooklyn. The waits are long and the spare-chic interior gets loud, but if you are willing to dedicate three hours to dinner out, the pizza is mighty fine.

La Carta de Oaxaca

5431 Ballard Ave NW, 782-8722

Lunch, Dinner

The best seat here is at the counter, where you can watch the corn tortillas be made by hand. There is always a wait, but it is always worth it for the mole negro Oaxaqueno.

Mike's Chili Parlor

1447 NW Ballard Way, 782-2808

Lunch, Dinner

Mike's

is a dive bar with sports on the telly and that comforting smell of a workingman's armpit. It's a place where one could sit down in a booth with a frosty glass of watery domestic and a plate smothered in a version of chili that merges the almighty Ohio with the behemoth Texas and feel like you've arrived at your favorite pub, even if you've never been there before.

Ocho

2325 NW Market St, 784-0699

Dinner

Ocho feels like a tapas bar should: a crowded, informal neighborhood place. The Ocho outing is for tasting things you probably aren't making at home: garlicky gambas, warm plates of octopus with white beans and chorizo, pan con chocolate (a dessert toast that goes from sweet to salty to heat in a magical manner). The bar's specialty is a $10 añejo margarita (which is worth it), but decent tumblersful of wine may be had for cheap.

Señor Moose Cafe

5242 Leary Ave NW, 784-5568

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Things people especially love at Señor Moose: the Mexican breakfasts and the tortilla soup. The former includes excellent huevos rancheros, awesome chilaquiles, and extra-supergood homemade chorizo.

Staple & Fancy Mercantile

4739 Ballard Ave NW, 789-1200

Dinner

Brought to you by Ethan Stowell (Anchovies & Olives, How to Cook a Wolf, Tavolata, more), Staple & Fancy has a local, seasonal, Italianate "staple" menu with a "fancy" option where the chef makes a multicourse feast for your whole table.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

4743 Ballard Ave NW, 395-9227

Dinner

Renee Erickson runs this celebrated Ballard oyster bar, which also serves local clams and mussels, house-smoked fish, frites, and specialty meats, and everybody who eats here loves all of it.

Beacon Hill/Columbia City/Rainier Valley

Baja Bistro

2414 Beacon Ave S, 323-0953

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

In the morning and early afternoon, Baja Bistro functions as a coffeehouse and diner, with chilaquiles, breakfast tacos, and Stumptown coffee. At dinnertime, Baja Bistro becomes an adamantly casual outpost for authentic Baja California–style Mexican cuisine. Starting at 3 p.m., Baja Bistro's bar offers a happy-hour menu until 7 p.m. and drinks all night long—and becomes very, very gay on Wednesdays. This place is magical.

Bar del Corso

3057 Beacon Ave S, 395-2069

Dinner

Jerry Corso—beloved in Seattle cooking from his days at Cafe Lago, Harvest Vine, and Campagne—and his wife, Angelina Tolentino, live on Beacon Hill, and Bar del Corso is a great neighborhood spot. But first and foremost, it's an excellent Italian restaurant with great small plates of vegetables and wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, most made with local and seasonal ingredients.

Columbia City Bakery

4865 Rainier Ave S, 723-6023

Breakfast, Lunch

Ham-and-Gruyère croissants, the multigrain sunflower bread, chocolate whiskey tea cake, the mortadella and Mama Lil's peppers sandwich on ciabatta, and daily, fresh-baked quiches and tortas. There's nothing here that isn't delicious.

El Quetzal

3209 Beacon Ave S, 329-2970

Lunch, Dinner

El Quetzal's Mexican food isn't run-of-the-mill, pool-of-cheese Tex-Mex—owner Juan Montiel uses some of his mom's original recipes, and the man loves cactus. The huarache norteño, piled high with nopales and chorizo, is wonderful. People also rave about the tortas.

Island Soul Caribbean Cuisine

4869 Rainier Ave S, 329-1202

Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Owner Theo Martin has created a space that is as much a community gathering spot as it is a restaurant. But make no mistake, the people come hungry for the Caribbean and soul food dishes like oxtail stew, Southern fried hens, gumbo, and goat curry. The tiny in-house bar also makes great rum cocktails.

La Medusa

4857 Rainier Ave S, 723-2192

Dinner

La Medusa's seasonal, chalkboard menus of lovely Italian and Mediterranean dishes, made with lots of local and high-quality ingredients, make it a Columbia City favorite.

La Teranga

4903 Rainier Ave S, 725-1188

Lunch, Dinner

Bring friends—no more than three, though—to this tiny sliver of a restaurant serving traditional Senegalese dishes like thieboudienne (fish simmered in a spicy tomato sauce with cassava) and goat curry. Chef Mamadou Diakhate will likely be your server, too; his charm and conversation will help you overlook what might be a long wait.

Pho Bac

3300 Rainier Ave S, 725-4418

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Not to be confused with the Pho Bac in the International District, this Pho Bac is the one just off Rainier Avenue with the bright, spray-painted mural of a girl in a hoodie. You can get pho anywhere in this town, but the broth here is always rich and flavorful. Cash only. (But they have an ATM.)

San Fernando Roasted Peruvian Chicken

900 Rainier Ave S, 331-3763

Lunch, Dinner

As the name suggests, San Fernando's specialty is pollo a la brasa, Peruvian charcoal-roasted chicken, served with french fries and house-made salsa. You'll want to be generous with the green one—bright and piquant, made with fresh chilies and cilantro.

Tacos El Asadero

3513 Rainier Ave S, 722-9977

Lunch, Dinner

Yes, there are other taco buses. But Tacos El Asadero will always be the one, the only, the greatest taco bus in town.

Belltown/Queen Anne/Interbay

Chinook's at Salmon Bay

1900 W Nickerson St, 283-4665

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Inevitably, your parents will come to visit you and want to have local seafood. You should take them to Chinook's, which is tucked into the low-key Fisherman's Terminal, far from the tourists, where the working fishing boats find moorage. The view is sweet, the seafood fresh, and everyone will be happy.

LloydMartin

1525 Queen Anne Ave N, 420-7602

Dinner

Chicago native Sam Crannell serves "product-driven" small plates with cocktails and wine at his Queen Anne place. Named after his two granddads, the small, dark-wooded restaurant has a simplicity that more eateries should aspire to—the food is good without making a lot of fuss. LloydMartin is not cheap, but it is worth it.

Tavolàta

2323 Second Ave, 838-8008

Dinner

Ethan Stowell's Tavolàta is a home for Italian food. The all-house-made pasta (even the usually factory-made shapes—there's an extruder in the basement) possesses a fresh, springy, bouncy quality and a texture that's less slick, more sauce-sticky and absorptive of flavor.

Tilikum Place Cafe

407 Cedar St, 282-4830

Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Tilikum Place Cafe is a pleasant cafe by day (with lunch and brunch) and an inviting bistro by night, offering everything from tarts and homemade pastries to sardine sandwiches, pork braised in milk, pasta, and fry-ups. It's a favorite in the neighborhood and beyond.

Capitol Hill

Altura

617 Broadway E, 402-6749

Dinner

In Italian, "Altura" means, roughly, a place on high. Dinner at Altura is expensive, but this is food of another order: Every plate is painstakingly composed, every bite compelling. The menu is Italianate local/seasonal/organic/foraged/etc., and it's the sort of elevated eating you'll feel lucky to experience—when food becomes a drug, it is fine dining indeed.

Ba Bar

550 12th Ave, 328-2030

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Ba Bar is a Vietnamese street-food and noodle spot from Eric Banh (Monsoon). There's superlative pho, vermicelli bowls, rotisserie lemongrass chicken, various small plates, and more, all made with high-quality, local ingredients. Also: cocktails, including mint juleps and Moscow mules served in proper silver and copper cups. And Ba Bar is open until 4 a.m. (!) on the weekend.

Lark

952 E Seneca St, 323-5275

Dinner

Chef John Sundstrom's beloved Seattle restaurant has moved from its original 12th Avenue location to an expansive new space in the nearby historic Central Agency building. The menu features classic Lark dishes, along with new items.

Little Uncle

1509 E Madison St, 329-1503

Lunch, Dinner

Brought to you by chef Wiley Frank and his wife, Poncharee Kounpungchart, also a chef, who are both extremely nice people. Little Uncle's superlative, inexpensive Thai food is exceptionally fresh, legitimately spicy, and just great. You can place your order online, and they'll have it waiting for you.

Mamnoon

1508 Melrose Ave, 906-9606

Lunch, Dinner

Mamnoon serves upscale, bold, perfectly seasoned Lebanese/Syrian food, including a selection of delicious, freshly baked flat and leavened breads. If you don't want to sit in the dark, modern dining room, you can place orders to go at Mamnoon's take-out window.

Poppy

622 Broadway E, 324-1108

Dinner

At Poppy, former Herbfarm maestro Jerry Traunfeld fuses the Indian culinary tradition of the thali—a platter featuring a variety of small dishes—with his long-standing love of local/seasonal ingredients and ambitious Northwest cuisine.

Sitka & Spruce

1531 Melrose Ave, 324-0662

Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Matt Dillon's locally focused Sitka & Spruce is world-famous, and rightfully so. Preparations revolve around simple, clear, lovely flavors; sauces are sparing; nothing's overwrought; and the freshest produce, meat, and seafood meet again and again with the utmost care.

Spinasse

1531 14th Ave, 251-7673

Dinner

The interior is picturesque, with the kitchen on display as a portrait in craft. The noise level gets high, as do the prices. Still, Spinasse is one of Seattle's most delicious places.

Talullah's

550 19th Ave E, 860-0077

Brunch, Dinner

Linda Derschang—of Linda's, King's Hardware, Smith, Oddfellows, and Bait Shop—runs this airy, stylish-but-not-trying-too-hard-to-be-stylish restaurant, named after her daughter and located on a quiet corner. The simple, seasonal menu is "vegetable-driven without being vegetarian"—think big salads, whole grains, and a few good quality meats.

Volunteer Park Cafe

1501 17th Ave E, 328-3155

Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Volunteer Park Cafe's focus: simple food, local ingredients. Where an old-timey corner store used to be, VPC serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner: fresh baked goods, brioche French toast, panini, pot pies, artisan pizzas, seasonal entrées (and also wine, beer, and meals to go).

Central District/Madrona/Madison Valley

The Barbecue Pit

2509 E Cherry St, 724-0005

Lunch, Dinner

The pitmaster, Pookie, smokes his excellent meat using fallen branches collected from throughout the Central District. Note: Cash only!

Bistro Turkuaz

1114 34th Ave, 324-3039

Dinner

Bistro Turkuaz serves delicious Turkish food. It's family-run, and mom does the cooking. Half the menu is small dishes: baked feta, eggplant in yogurt, hummus. The other half is kebabs: lamb, beef, and more.

Cafe Flora

2901 E Madison St, 325-9100

Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Cafe Flora was born in 1991 of a utopian dream. It was to be—according to three Madison Valley friends—the perfect restaurant: community-based, using local and organic ingredients whenever possible, and fully, ambitiously vegetarian. Years later, it remains a Seattle destination for upscale meat-free cuisine, presenting rigorously ethical, ecofriendly cuisine that's good enough to inspire lust in vegetarians.

Harvest Vine

2701 E Madison St, 320-9771

Dinner

Harvest Vine has been serving tapas in Madison Valley since before anyone knew how to pronounce it: aged Spanish cheeses, anchovies, seared sea scallops, mushrooms sautéed with leeks and scrambled eggs, a whole pan-fried trout, Spanish ham.

Hi Spot Cafe

1410 34th Ave, 325-7905

Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch

A Madrona institution, Hi Spot has been drawing lines for its baked goods, scrambles, pancakes, and salads for the 30-plus years it has been open.

Meskel

2605 E Cherry St, 860-1724

Lunch, Dinner

Flavors burn a little brighter at Meskel, and the menu extends beyond the standard wots (bebere-spiced stews), tibs (cubed-meat sautés), and veggie combos. And here the injera isn't just a floppy, edible utensil, but a lively flavor unto itself, lending a cool, pleasantly sour counterpoint to all the slow-cooked stews. Also, for summertime: outdoor seating!

Moonlight Cafe

1919 S Jackson St, 322-3378

Lunch, Dinner

Sometimes, through a weird confluence of perfect spices and glutinous magic, fake meat is better than actual meat. This is the case at Moonlight Cafe. The Vietnamese veggie, soy, and fake-meat dishes are so good, there's no reason to stray to their formerly sentient counterparts, though a bona fide meat menu is also offered.

Northwest Tofu

1913 S Jackson St, 328-8320

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Besides making tofu and soy milk in-house, Northwest Tofu serves very good dim sum—cooked to order instead of served off a cart—in their small dining room every day. You can also get congee and, of course, the freshest tofu ever.

Downtown

Emmett Watson's Oyster Bar

1916 Pike Place #16, 448-7721

Lunch, Dinner

The place's motto is "Beer, Wine, and Food for Thought, Est. 1978," and while the whole place is great, the small bar in the back is the greatest. Oysters on the half shell are the obvious choice, served no-nonsense with cocktail sauce and lemon. Also excellent: the clam chowder.

FareStart

700 Virginia St, 443-1233

Lunch, Dinner

FareStart serves lunch Monday through Friday, and every Thursday evening hosts Guest Chef Night featuring dinners from great Seattle chefs—reserve in advance for your favorites, as these tend to sell out fast. All restaurant proceeds support FareStart's mission to provide "a community that transforms lives by empowering homeless and disadvantaged men, women, and families to achieve self-sufficiency through life skills, job training and employment in the food service industry." FareStart is a fantastic thing, and you should go there often.

Il Corvo Pasta

217 James St, 538-0999

Lunch

Il Corvo, which means "the crow," is a place for handmade pasta lunches brought to you by chef Mike Easton. Easton makes his pasta with vintage hand-cranked machines, tops it with made-to-order sauces and seasonal vegetables, and serves it for less than $10 per plate. It's really, really good.

Jack's Fish Spot

1514 Pike Place, 467-0514

Lunch

Jack's is a no-frills affair. You can buy fresh seafood, or line up to order freshly fried oysters, fish 'n' chips, or piping-hot bowls of chowder. It's the freshness that you're paying for, not ambience—if you're lucky, you can snag a bar stool or a place to stand at Jack's tiny counter area, surrounded by buckets of ice and Dungeness crab.

Le Pichet

1933 First Ave, 256-1499

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Unfussy, delicious, uncluttered, wonderful. Here is the place to enjoy all the amazing things the French do to meat—rillettes, confit, pâté. Soups and fish and salads and everything else are marvelous, too.

Loulay

600 Union St, 402-4588

Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Thierry Rautureau, aka the Chef in the Hat, formerly of Rover's and still of Luc, runs this 4,000-square-foot French restaurant downtown. Loulay goes big on rich, French flavors—foie gras, pork cheeks, rib eye steak, duck confit—and old-school flourishes. There are few places in town where you can indulge on this level.

Matt's in the Market

94 Pike St #32, 467-7909

Lunch, Dinner

Matt's is an intensely pleasant place to be, overlooking the Pike Place Market with views of the big clock and glinting slices of the Sound—there aren't too many tables crammed in, everyone seems to be a regular, there's a celebratory air. The dinner menu changes regularly, featuring lots of very fresh seafood.

Palace Kitchen

2030 Fifth Ave, 448-2001

Dinner

Hands down the best of Tom Douglas's 436 Seattle restaurants, Palace Kitchen will please both out-of-town visitors and jaded locals. It's a longtime (since 1996!) late-night favorite for those who have the cash—the full menu is served until one o'clock in the morning. The Palace Burger is possibly the original gourmet burger in the city.

Eastlake/South Lake Union

13 Coins

125 Boren Ave N, 682-2513

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Dark and swanky, this 24-hour dining den blends a mid-1970s bachelor-pad vibe with pricey, retro grill fare. The Coins is most famous for its seating—both the row of high-backed cushy swivel chairs at the long counter and the cushy-walled booths. The food can be hit-or-miss, but if you need a steak-and-lobster combo at 4:30 in the morning, this is your place.

Blind Pig Bistro

2238 Eastlake Ave E, 329-2744

Dinner

Where Sitka & Spruce started out, then Nettletown lived, chef Charles Walpole has his own, also great, tiny first restaurant. The pig here is on one deep-orange-red wall, in the form of a taxidermied boar's head, and on the menu, maybe in the form of pork belly with the fat all bacony-crisp and the meat all rich, plus little, sweet baby turnips, braised red cabbage, and the surprise of horseradish jam. The menu is seasonable, the prices are reasonable, fishes are cooked precisely right, sauces may cause sharing issues.

Cicchetti

121 E Boston St, 859-4155

Dinner

Longtime favorite Italian restaurant Serafina's more casual (and more fun) little sister serves cocktails, wine, and small plates inspired by the version of tapas found in Venice, much of it made in the kitchen's wood-burning oven.

Le Fournil

3230 Eastlake Ave E, 328-6523

Breakfast, Lunch

Without a doubt, Le Fournil is one of the best bakeries in town—everyone agrees, especially about the croissants. (Get the croissants.)

Mistral Kitchen

2020 Westlake Ave, 623-1922

Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Born at the beginning of 2010, Mistral Kitchen is a mammoth, starkly contemporary space on Westlake with multiple kitchens, dining options from à la carte crudos to eight-course set menus, and a bar serving craft cocktails. The financially challenged can get a look/taste/sip at happy hour.

Pam's Kitchen

609 Eastlake Ave E, 420-2320

Dinner

Pam's Kitchen makes delicious (and reasonably priced!) Caribbean/Trinidadian food, specifically a goat curry wrapped in fried flatbread roti.

Fremont/Wallingford

Bourbon & Bones

4350 Leary Way NW, 582-2241

Dinner

Brought to you by Michael Law—formerly of the Wandering Goose—Bourbon & Bones smokes meats in its huge, on-site smokehouse, which has a window so you can watch the meat. Also: fried chicken and all the usual sides, plus tons of booze, all in a cozy barroom setting.

Brouwer's Cafe

400 N 35th St, 267-2437

lunch, Dinner

Belgian cuisine offers all kinds of peasanty things: steamed mussels, frites, the creamy chicken-leek stew known as waterzooi, the beer-braised beef stew known as carbonnade. All of these are served at Brouwer's, and the kitchen gets the flavors right. And if you love beer, you're gonna freak out on the 64 taps and 300-plus bottles.

Joule

3506 Stone Way N, 632-5685

Brunch, Dinner

Joule relocated from its original location on 45th into a refurbished warehouse on Stone Way in late 2012; chef/owners Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi's Korean-influenced cuisine is, possibly, better than ever. The highly stylish space has great wallpaper, a communal table, and a neato fire pit in front.

Miyabi 45th

2208 N 45th St, 632-4545

Dinner

Seattle finally has a soba joint! From Mutsuko Soma—formerly of Harvest Vine, Chez Shea, and Saito's—Miyabi 45th offers esoteric delights like the "famous uni shot" and skate wings with pickled plum, along with the main attraction, soba made in-house from Washington grain. Served hot or cold, with or without broth, the mildly bouncy, delicately earthy buckwheat noodles come in a variety of guises, some hearty (duck and leek), some light (mushrooms and truffle oil).

Pacific Inn Pub

3501 Stone Way N, 547-2967

Lunch, Dinner

The best fish 'n' chips in the city.

Paseo

4225 Fremont Ave N, 545-7440

Lunch, Dinner

After its sudden, traumatic closure in 2014, Paseo promptly reopened under new ownership that promised to change nothing. Go back and order the roast pork sandwich and see for yourself.

Revel

403 N 36th St, 547-2040

Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Korean-inspired street food from Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi of Joule. Think pork-belly pancakes, short-rib dumplings, Dungeness crab noodles, and rice bowls topped with grilled meats and house-made kimchi. Also: good cocktails, soju, and creative desserts.

Restaurant Roux

4201 Fremont Ave N, 547-5420

Brunch, Dinner

Restaurant Roux is the sit-down place from Where Ya at Matt's Matthew Lewis, named after the combination of hot butter and flour that starts out lots of recipes in his native New Orleans. At Roux, you can expect the same food that made Matt's truck famous—from jambalaya and gumbo to beignets and pecan pie—plus some fancier French Creole–inspired stuff like seared foie gras with Benton's country ham and spicy turtle and pork Bolognese.

RockCreek

4300 Fremont Ave N, 557-7532

Brunch, Dinner

RockCreek offers "globally sourced" seafood, which, in the current local-obsessed climate, is both courageous (carbon footprint be damned!) and off-putting (carbon footprint be damned?). But chef/owner Eric Donnelly—formerly of Toulouse Petit—makes some of Seattle's best seafood at RockCreek. There may be missteps, but overall, it's food that makes you happy to be alive, regardless of where the fish flew in from.

Westward

2501 N Northlake Way, 552-8215

Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Chef Zoi Antonitsas (formerly of the late, great Madison Park Conservatory) turns her attention to seafood, with an eye for fresh, Greek flavors. The results are wonderful: fried squid with skordalia, baked gigante beans with tomato feta, grilled haloumi cheese. Don't miss the whole wood-grilled trout.

Georgetown/Sodo

The Corson Building

5609 Corson Ave S, 762-3330

Dinner

While trains intermittently rumble past and small planes occasionally scream overhead, the Corson Building (c. 1910) sits behind its wisteria-and-rose-covered wrought-iron fence, an island of loveliness marooned in Georgetown's grit. Inside, everything's picturesquely rustic and seating is communal. Matt Dillon's reverence for the local and the seasonal is everywhere in evidence. Dinner here is always a special occasion.

Gastropod

3201 First Ave S, 403-1228

Dinner

Masterminded by Travis Kukull, Gastropod occupies Epic Ales' tiny, clubhouse-style tasting room in Sodo and has a short but fascinating menu, which might include miso/black garlic-baked Hama Hama oysters and roasted brussels sprout okonomiyaki with soy truffle emulsion. The not-all-that-small plates are, in general, goddamned great, and the Epic beers are interesting and generally wonderful, too.

Georgetown Liquor Company

5501 Airport Way S, 763-6764

Lunch, Dinner

Georgetown Liquor Company doesn't actually make booze, but it's a neighborhood favorite for drinks as well as high-minded vegetarian pub grub (creative salads, soups, sandwiches, wild mushroom tamales, etc.). They also have vintage arcade machines as well as assorted Atari and Nintendo consoles.

Kauai Family Restaurant

6324 Sixth Ave S, 762-3469

Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

The most authentic Hawaiian food in town—loco moco, Spam musubi, poi, saimin, plate lunches/dinners, macaroni salad—is found in a strip mall in Georgetown, and the place is low-key, friendly, and overall great. Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino dishes are also available, all prepared "local" (Hawaiian) style.

Maruta Shoten

1024 S Bailey St, 767-5002

Lunch

Mostly a family-run Japanese grocery, Maruta is also home to a to-go lunch counter where you can order comfort food like chicken kara-age, bento boxes with pork tonkatsu, and good sushi. Bonus: At 5 p.m. every day, all the sushi is marked down to half price—a great deal, if you can beat the crowds!

Schooner Exact Brewery

3901 First Ave S, 432-9734

Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Tucked away deep in Sodo, Schooner Exact does many things right: great beer, way better than average pub food (beer-steamed clams, petite tender steak, and an "adult grilled cheese" sandwich made with Swiss on rye bread), and most important, some of the best service in town. The restaurant here is truly kid-friendly.

Slim's Last Chance Chili Shack

5606 First Ave S, 762-7900

Lunch, Dinner

Slim's has a great country-time roadhouse vibe; in summertime, bands play on the bed of an old Ford F-600 in the big backyard while happy people sweat over bowls of liquid meat, then cool down with pitchers of beer. The chili ranges from traditional (Texas Red) to alternative (turkey and white bean). They're all good, and served either straight-up or, ingeniously, ladled over your choice of white cheddar grits or jalapeño mac 'n' cheese.

Stellar Pizza

5513 Airport Way S, 763-1660

Lunch, Dinner

At Stellar, a favorite spot in Georgetown since 2001, the atmosphere is pleasant retro hodgepodge, the pizzas are classic American-style instead of namby-pamby Neapolitan, and there's pinball. Also a photo booth and a designated all-ages zone.

Greenwood/Phinney

Baranof

8549 Greenwood Ave N, 782-9260

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The Baranof is a crusty old diner that feels like it's been open forever, complete with an awesome nautical-themed dive bar that's open from 6 a.m. until two o'clock in the morning every damn day (also of note: karaoke!). The food is unexpectedly good, especially the clam chowder and the roasted-turkey sandwich. Saturday-morning bingo in the bar is completely fun and totally surreal.

Bongos Cuban Cafe

6501 Aurora Ave N, 420-8548

Lunch, Dinner

Bongos serves delicious Caribbean food with zero pretensions, and the restaurant is practically a theme-park ride. It's a repurposed 76 station made into a Caribbean playground, with the help of a splash of colorful paint and a thorough reimagining of the space. Don't miss the maduros, deep-fried sweet plantains.

Hummus Cafe

8420 Greenwood Ave N, 706-9300

Lunch, Dinner

This tiny spot serves good baba ghanoush and falafel and decent gyros. But it's one of the only places in town where you can get the wonderful Egyptian carb-fest known as koshary: rice, elbow macaroni, and lentils tossed in a spiced tomato sauce and topped with caramelized onions.

La Conasupo

8532 Greenwood Ave N, 782-0533

Lunch, Dinner

From the outside, La Conasupo appears to be another typical mini-mart. But in the back is a tiny restaurant with a poster-board menu. Sunday morning is the time to come, when La Conasupo serves barbacoa—slow-roasted lamb wrapped in maguey leaves. For $5 you get a steaming mountain of meat served over corn tortillas and—even better—a bowl of rich, deeply flavorful consommé made from the drippings.

Naked City Brewing & Taphouse

8564 Greenwood Ave N, 838-6299

Lunch, Dinner

Greenwood's Naked City Brewery & Taphouse, named for the slow-moving 1948 film noir, sports a rotating selection of great draft beers and ciders, many of them house-brewed or regional—as well as a menu of very good made-from-scratch salads, sandwiches, and entrées.

Oliver's Twist

6822 Greenwood Ave N, 706-6673

Dinner

Delicious cocktails and a small but well-curated menu of bar snacks cooked in a kitchen that's little more than a few burners: garlic truffled popcorn, lacinato kale with chili flakes, and tomato soup with a fancy grilled cheese.

International District

Greenleaf

418 Eighth Ave S, 340-1388

Lunch, Dinner

That the fresh spring rolls at Green Leaf are superior to any other fresh rolls in the city is simply fact. Inside are tiny sprigs of mint, a giant hunk of lettuce, a few vermicelli noodles, and, if you're into meat, some shrimp and/or pork (or, if you're not, tofu and/or no tofu). There is also a long stick of crunchiness inserted for extra texture. It's the size of a cinnamon stick, and crunchy like lightly fried dough, and it seals the superiority of Green Leaf's fresh rolls for eternity.

King Noodle

615 S King St, 748-9168

Lunch, Dinner

Formerly known as Homestyle HK Cafe, King Noodle may or may not have changed ownership when it switched over to its current format, which allows diners to build their own bowls of soup. Choose from a variety of noodles (thin or wide, rice, wheat, or egg), veggies, meats, and dumplings. You also can't go wrong with congee here, which arrives bubbling in a hot stone pot.

Maneki

304 Sixth Ave S, 622-2631

Dinner

In its 100-plus years of existence, Maneki has only had one major interruption to business: when it shut down because the US government sent Japanese Americans to internment camps during World War II. After the war, in 1946, internees returned to the city and reclaimed their belongings from a space in the NP Hotel that has since been the restaurant's home. Maneki is pure comfort, serving izakaya and very reasonably priced sushi six nights a week. Do everyone a favor and call ahead for a reservation.

Mike's Noodle House

418 Maynard Ave S, 389-7099

lunch, Dinner

The best thing about Mike's isn't actually the wonderful, warming bowls of noodle soups and congee (and it's certainly not the completely indifferent wait staff), it's the chance to peer from the dining room through the big picture window into the kitchen, watching the cooks work efficiently among cauldrons of bubbling broth and simmering noodles, and assemble dishes with as much focus as they do ease.

Phnom Penh Noodle House

660 S King St, 748-9825

Lunch, Dinner

The Fishermen's Bowl at Phnom Penh Noodle House contains a mix of seafood that is just right—not too much of any one thing, but a lot to look forward to, including prawns, tender calamari, fat slices of spiced fish cake, and springy fish balls (the hot dog of Asia). It's topped with green onion, cilantro, and roasted garlic; add the house-made roasted chili and a squeeze of lime to spice it up. Plop some bean sprouts on top for a fresh crunch. Slurp the perfectly balanced herbed broth, chew the perfectly cooked slender rice noodles, and revel in the sea bounty.

Saigon Deli

1237 S Jackson St, 322-3700

Lunch

All cheapo foodsters know about the $2.50 banh mi sandwiches from Saigon Deli. But what about all those non-white-people foods on the counter? They are strange and unfamiliar and oddly beautiful, and if you're ready to try something new, here's an easy first step: Try the little rolls that look like fat white slugs with colorful things inside. They are rice-flour wraps that contain shrimp, green onion, and carrot—and they cost $1.75. They're called a banh bot loc. Kind of like softer, gooier spring rolls, they're served at room temperature with a side of sweet dipping sauce.

Sichuanese Cuisine

1048 S Jackson St, 720-1690

Lunch, Dinner

If you're rolling with a group of friends, you'd be wise to order Sichuanese's hot pot, so you can share the joy of boiling lamb slices and napa cabbage in a fiery broth right at your table. If you want the kitchen to do the cooking, you can't go wrong with the hand-pulled pork chow mein, pepper chicken, and stir-fried lamb.

Thai Curry Simple

406 Fifth Ave S, 327-4838

Lunch

The food at Thai Curry Simple is simply great (and very reasonably priced). The green curry is the standout, with generous amounts of shredded chicken, lime leaves, and big hunks of bamboo shoot.

Tsukushinbo

515 S Main St, 467-4004

Lunch, Dinner

A diminutive, unpretentious Japanese joint serving old standbys and unusual delicacies with very little fuss, Tsukushinbo is one of the best sushi deals in town. Note that from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays, a stellar shoyu ramen is served. They usually run out by 1 p.m. The rarity of this ramen—the brief opening of this ramen-window—makes it all the more precious.

North End/Aurora

Aloha Ramen

3004 NE 127th St, 838-3837

Lunch, Dinner

Aloha Ramen has a classic Japanese ramen-ya menu: noodles, fried rice, gyoza. Some dishes are tweaked island-style, like the deeply gratifying kalua ramen: a tangle of eggy, spaghetti-thick noodles (imported from Hawaii) topped with smoky braised shreds of pork and silky cabbage. Owner and chef Lorenzo Rangel makes only enough chicken and pork stock each day for 100 bowls—a sign on the door apologizes profusely for this fact, a reflection of the sweetness of this family-style joint. Does Aloha make the best ramen in town? Plenty of people say hell yes.

Burgermaster

9820 Aurora Ave N, 522-2044

Lunch, Dinner

Yes, there's Dick's Drive-In, but it's a fraud compared to Burgermaster, where you can actually pull in to the parking lot, order a fantastic, cooked-to-order burger (onion rings too, while you're at it), and eat it, all without ever leaving your car. Burgermaster rules.

El Camion

11728 Aurora Ave N, 367-2777

Lunch, Dinner

Yes, there's a brick-and-mortar El Camion in Ballard now, but before that (and before the two other El Camion trucks), there was the original El Camion parked next to the Home Depot up north on Aurora, which built its reputation churning out tasty tacos and tortas.

Pop Pop Thai Street Food

13242 Aurora Ave N, Suite 104, 695-2858

Lunch, Dinner

Pop Pop feels warm and personal—almost defiantly so—in spite of its sterile, strip-mall surroundings. The owners' vision is to "bring home-cooking to our customers," including excellent, hard-to-find dishes such as braised pork leg and red sea noodle soup.

Pioneer Square

Bar Sajor

323 Occidental Ave S, 682-1117

Lunch, Dinner

Bar Sajor (pronounced sigh-YOUR) is brought to you by Matt Dillon (Sitka & Spruce and the Corson Building, and James Beard Best Chef Northwest 2012). Sajor serves food influenced by North Africa, Portugal, and Spain. It has a wood-fired oven and a wood-fired grill and rotisserie for lots of Stokesberry chickens—no stove and no range. Also: flatbread, simple roasted vegetables, house-made yogurt, excellent seafood, and "lots of naturally fermented goodness," like whey-fermented pickles. It is really, really good.

Berliner Doner Kebab

221 First Ave S, 838-0339

Lunch, Dinner

Long ago, a Seattleite named Victor Twu met a German woman while traveling in Thailand. Romance ensued. During their courtship, Twu also fell in love with the German doner sandwich, a sort of Turkish gyro made from lamb, and decided to share that love with the city. Berliner's doner is a fine specimen of a sandwich: not-too-thick flatbread, marinated lamb, spicy mayo, a tangle of fresh veggies, and pickled red cabbage.

Damn the Weather

116 First Ave S, 946-1283

Dinner

Bryn Lumsden (who has tended bar at Rob Roy, Vessel, and Vito's) teamed up with Jay Kuehner (beloved from Sambar) and Eli Dahlin (who's cooked at the Walrus and the Carpenter) to open this spot, named after an old-time cocktail. The classic Pioneer Square brick space looks just right, and the drinks and food are delicious, with just the right mix of classic and unexpected elements. Think chicken fat fries with lemon and ras el hanout, a Caesar salad sandwich, and beef heart tartare.

E. Smith Mercantile

208 First Ave S, 641-7250

Dinner

The front half of E. Smith is the mercantile part, where you'll find things like expensive denim and facial products for sale. But tucked away in the back is a charming, horseshoe-shaped bar where they make lovely craft cocktails and serve snacks such as smoked trout crostini and lamb meatballs. Keep an eye out for evening dinners, when E. Smith invites a chef to take over the space and cook a one-night-only dinner served at communal tables.

La Bodega

100 Prefontaine Pl S, 682-2175

Lunch, Dinner

Manuel Alfau used to make his Dominican sandwiches on a grill in front of Capitol Hill bar Montana. At his tiny, vibrant place in Pioneer Square, what you want to get is the puerco asado: a slow-roasted pork shoulder sandwich, topped with chopped cabbage and pickled onions, served on a Macrina roll. The marinated pork is so soft and juicy, you could practically spread it with a butter knife, but the secret weapon is chimichurri, which is oily and vibrant with a garlicky kick.

The London Plane

300 Occidental Ave S, 624-1374

Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

The lovely, airy London Plane is a cafe, bakery, wine bar, and groceries-and-flowers-and-sundries shop brought to you by Katherine Anderson (Marigold and Mint) and Matt Dillon (Sitka & Spruce, the Corson Building, and Bar Sajor). The bread is so good, you might freak out, and you can pretty much bet that you will get an excellent breakfast, lunch, or snack here.

Rain Shadow Meats Squared

404 Occidental Ave S, 467-4854

Lunch

In opening a second location of his butcher shop featuring locally sourced cuts of meat and house-made sausages and charcuterie, Rain Shadow owner Russel Flint (who cooked for years at Renee Erickson's Boat Street Cafe) wisely added counter seating and a menu of salads and beautiful, meaty sandwiches.

Salumi

309 Third Ave S, 621-8772

Lunch

Armandino Batali's narrow storefront in Pioneer Square is world famous (his son is kind of a big deal, too) and duly mobbed (and rightfully so). At Salumi, you'll find fantastic house-cured Italian meats (various salamis, coppa, pancetta, prosciutto, tongue, cured lamb), along with hot and cold sandwiches. The sandwiches are delicious models of balance, designed to showcase the meat without giving any of the other elements short shrift.

Tat's Delicatessen

159 Yesler Way, 264-8287

Lunch

There's nothing scientific or precise about Tat's enormous, sloppy sandwiches; they're just slapped together with the belief that more is always better. And at Tat's, that's right. Here you will find authentic cheesesteaks, Italian subs and grinders, hot pastrami sandwiches, roast beef, roast turkey, soups, and salads.

Taylor Shellfish Oyster Bar

410 Occidental Ave S, 501-4060

Lunch, Dinner

It's easy to serve great seafood when you happen to be your own supplier. At the Pioneer Square location of Taylor Shellfish, there's no retail shop, just a full bar and a full menu of fresh oysters, geoduck, mussels, and Dungeness crab, as well as hot entrées like chowder and oyster po'boys.

Ravenna/University District

Agua Verde Cafe and Paddle Club

1303 NE Boat St, 545-8570

Lunch, Dinner

Begin by paddling away from the Agua Verde Paddle Club with someone you like. Proceed in tandem to marvel at the water, at the Montlake Bridge as seen from beneath, at the beauty of our fair city, and at the richness of life itself. Upon paddling back, toast each other and it all with Agua Verde's margaritas, made with fresh juices, whilst enjoying excellent fish tacos. Yes!

Aladdin Gyro-cery

4139 University Way NE, 632-5253

Lunch, Dinner

Aladdin Gyro-cery's falafel and gyro sandwiches are perfect student food: cheap, fast, filling, portable. That the gyros happen to be delicious is an added bonus. If you're drunk and hungry on the Ave, they're open until 2 a.m. (3 a.m. on Saturdays)!

Cafe Racer

5828 Roosevelt Way NE, 523-5282

Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Dinner

Cafe Racer is a hodgepodge of mismatched furniture, weird stuff on shelves, and, of course, the OBAMA (Official Bad Art Museum of Art). The menu is simple, with Racer Dogs being the clear favorite. Cafe Racer is an embodiment of the triumph of the human spirit.

Chiang's Gourmet

7845 Lake City Way NE, 527-8888

Lunch, Dinner

Chiang's has four menus: an Americanized Chinese menu, with all the usual suspects; a traditional Chinese menu, full of authentic dishes that you probably didn't know even existed; a secret vegetarian menu that you have to ask for; and an especially wonderful weekend Taiwanese made-to-order dim-sum menu. Or you can just let them bring you things you will like (hint: YES). It is all very, very delicious.

Chili's South Indian Restaurant

5002 University Way NE, 412-0874

Lunch, Dinner

Chili's stands out—and not just because it serves South Indian cuisine, which you usually have to drive east to Bellevue to find. Its dosas—large, thin crepelike pancakes made from a fermented rice and black lentil batter—are always perfectly toasted, crackly and thin at the edges. Also, the owners are possibly the nicest people in town.

Frank's Oyster House & Champagne Parlor

2616 NE 55th St, 525-0220

Dinner

Ravenna favorite Frank's atmosphere is upscale-ish eclectic, and same with the menu—mini Maine lobster rolls, fried free-range chicken, and, of course, oysters.

Thai Tom

4543 University Way NE, 548-9548

Lunch, Dinner

If you sit at the counter, you'll have to avoid flying grease from the grill and cram elbow-to-elbow with the other sweating customers, but that's a small price to pay for watching the genius chef gracefully manipulate seven burners simultaneously. It's all incredible. Go at lunchtime and you might just get a seat.

Pies & Pints

1215 NE 65th St, 524-7082

Dinner

Pies & Pints offers not pizzas or mom's apple pie, but made-from-scratch savory pies stuffed with meat, veggies, and cheese, in a comfortable, laid-back setting. A pint of beer is the natural addition.

South End

Huarachitos

4219 S Othello St, 568-3019

Dinner

Chef/owner Jose Luis Pantiga-Flores and his wife Ana are ready to welcome you. The family-owned Mexican place is especially beloved for its namesake huaraches—corn cake "sandals" smeared with beans and topped with cheese, meat, and veggies. But don't skip over the excellent platos fuertes, including a terrific cochinita pibil.

Loretta's Northwesterner

8617 14th Ave S, 327-9649

Lunch, Dinner

This South Park bar is comfortable to a degree that could be hazardous to your liver's health. Drinking at Loretta's is like drinking in a cabin in the woods, or maybe inside a wooden cigar box. The burgers are great, and so are the fries.

Muy Macho

8515 14th Ave S, 763-3484

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Damn good tacos—and the price is right. The array of meats includes tripe and brains and such—but for the less daring, the pork variations are all delicious, as is the deep-red, fiery pozole.

Rainier BBQ

6400 Martin Luther King Jr. Way S, 760-1090

Lunch, Dinner

It's not on Rainier, and it's not barbecue—it's on MLK, and the food is Vietnamese. Excellent Vietnamese, which enjoyed 15 minutes of well-deserved fame when Anthony Bourdain visited and featured it on his television show The Layover. The extensive menu is more than enough to satisfy, but if you ask for the "other" menu, you can try cobra, deer, alligator, or curry rabbit stir-fry.

West Seattle/White Center

Bakery Nouveau

4737 California Ave SW, 923-0534

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

You'll know you're near Bakery Nouveau before you see it—the smell of buttery dough baking, the line leading down California Ave. You'll find everything from breads to sweet pastries, delicate cakes, confections, and macarons, as well as savory sandwiches on croissants that shatter when you bite into them.

Buddha Ruksa

3520 SW Genesee St, 937-7676

Lunch, Dinner

A West Seattle (and possibly citywide) obsession. People come just for the crispy garlic chicken (dubbed "crack chicken" by many)—fried chicken sautéed in plenty of garlic, with dried red chilies and crispy basil leaves.

Harry's Chicken Joint

6032 California Ave SW, 938-9000

Dinner

Tiny, zero-pretense Harry's is the neighborhood chicken joint you always wished for, and the chicken—soaked in buttermilk for 24 hours, double-dredged in a spicier-than-normal mix, then smoked before being fried in big-ass cast-iron cauldrons—is just great.

Proletariat Pizza

9622-A 16th Ave SW, 432-9765

Dinner

White Center's Proletariat—"By the people, for the people"—is sandwiched cozily on the main drag. Pies topped with the usual suspects, as well as more bourgeoisie stuff (prosciutto, egg), are $20 and less. The hand-mixed crust is New York thin and pliable, nicely retaining its crispness.

Queen's Deli

9808 14th Ave SW, 767-8363

Lunch, Dinner

Queen's Deli serves wonderful Khmer food in an unsuspecting little joint just off the main part of White Center: fragrant, grilled lemongrass beef skewers, briny and tart green papaya salad, wok-charred wide rice noodles. If you have trouble navigating the menu, just follow the owner's suggestions or point to dishes at one of the nearby tables, no doubt packed with families enjoying massive feasts.

Salvadorean Bakery

1719 SW Roxbury St, 762-4064

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The pupusas here—hand-formed corn tortillas stuffed with cheese and other fillings—are awesome. Top them with the house-made curtido, a pickled-cabbage concoction (briny, spicy, lively) that falls somewhere between salsa and kimchi. recommended