Bad Albert's Tap & Grill 5100 Ballard Ave NW, 782-9623, $
Consisting largely of what could be called bar food (although there's also breakfast on weekends), everything's got a little something special: The coleslaw's got a nice sprinkling of dill; the black bean soup has big pieces of bacon and is served with a dollop of sour cream (and fresh pepper, if you want); sauces are homemade. The Dock Street Burger is juicy and stacked, and the Ballard Avenue Cheese Steak is a wonderful mess. And then there's the fries. You get a great pile of them with your sandwich, and in this case "pile" is a good thing. They're hand cut, they've still got the peel on, and they're fried to a nice golden brown.
Hattie's Hat 5231 Ballard Ave NW, 784-0175, $$
Hattie's no longer has potroast night (rest its soul), but the buttermilk-soaked fried chicken with gravy (and choice of excellent sides) is still around. Breakfast—biscuits and gravy, huevos rancheros, good pancakes with jam—is no longer served all day and night, but is worth getting out of bed for.
Sofrito Rico 2320 NW Market St, 789-0516 , $
Because we're greedy and want every one of the fried appetizers, we order a mixed appetizer platter. It's a little bit of crispy-fried heaven, and each nugget has its own distinct texture: alcapurrias, or taro dumplings, start crisp, then dissolve into tender mush; the flaky empanada lets loose a tumble of seasoned beef with each mouthful; there are the more stolid tostones (pressed and fried plantains); and best of all is the feathery bacalaito, redolent with aromatic salt cod. Every one of these fritters is made infinitely happier by the ajilimojili, a garlic sauce that walks you right to the edge of overdoing it, but then mellows out with a bit of lemon and oil.
Zagi's Pizza Ristorante 2408 NW 80th St, 706-0750, $
The pie is New York style, and it is satisfaction incarnate. A little cornmeal on the bottom of the excellent crust adds body without giving the gritty sensation that your pizza's been dropped on a cornmeal beach. The cheese evades the mountain-of-mozzarella problem and tastes interesting enough to make a plain slice a pleasure.
El Gaucho 2505 First Ave, 728-1337, $$$
A swank, old school, see-and-be-seen spot to fill up on salty steaks and good martinis. Great for expense-account dinners, or to entertain your parents.
Five Point Cafe 415 Cedar St, 448-9993, $
Another one of Seattle's 24-hour dives, except the Five Point is actually worth going to even if it isn't the only thing open. Get the fries—some of the best in Seattle.
Flying Fish 2234 First Ave, 728-8595, $$
One of the first and still one of the best of the high-end, upscale/casual eateries in Belltown. Whole grilled fish, huge platters of well-prepared seafood, and a happening bar all make Flying Fish a must-eat spot. Pricey but justifiably so.
Mistral 113 Blanchard St, 770-7799, $$$
Mistral is one of a few Seattle restaurants offering an unapologetically haute-cuisine experience. The formal dining freaks out some people, as do the prices, but its young chef, William Belickis, gets consistent praise for his high-minded tasting menus, which are sometimes improvised for individual guests. Be ready to spend $100-plus per person.
Noodle Ranch 2228 Second Ave, 728-0463, $
A stone's throw from the Crocodile Cafe, Noodle Ranch is an ever-so-slight step up from your many alternative between-band options on Second Avenue—pan-Asian cuisine with some of the best green curry in town.
1200 Bistro 1200 E Pike St, 320-1200, $$
A bit of Belltown on Capitol Hill serving grown-up comfort food: a burger with Gorgonzola, pasta with smoked tomato sauce, grilled duck with potatoes. Plus, some really sophisticated-looking drinks.
Ballet 914 E Pike St, 328-7983, $
Under vigorous new ownership, the once-spotty Ballet has reemerged as Capitol Hill's underdog champ of routinely delicious food. Offering an array of Asian, pan-Asian, and Pacific Rim delights (including a much-celebrated pho), Ballet's key asset is shockingly fresh, expertly prepared vegetables—if you're trying to bed a vegetarian, take 'em here and you're a shoo-in.
Broadway New American Grill 314 Broadway E, 328-7000, $$
Open early, open late, the Broadway Grill offers a good menu of perfectly okay renditions of American standards. Very popular with the gays and those who love them.
Cafe Septieme 214 Broadway E, 860-8858, $
Places all over town have copied Cafe Septieme's trademark blood-red walls, but no place in the city can capture Septieme's ambience. At lunch, have the chicken club or the Septieme salad. At dinner, the schnitzel, the spaghetti carbonara, and the strip steak are all worth the calories. Breakfasts are awesome—and can take the edge off any hangover. Lattes are served in a bowl at Septieme and you're free to sit as long as you like.
Frites Belgian Fries 925 E Pike St, no phone, $
What better late night food is there than Belgian frites, those kosher-salt-flecked, thick-cut, crispy-limp fries that derive their texture from a cooking process that involves blanching the potatoes in oil, cooling them completely, then frying them yet again?
Globe 1531 14th Ave, 324-8815, $
The ideal destination for a healthy vegan lunch. The biscuits and gravy are addictive—especially with the salty little kick of broiled tofu on top. Should you need a little color in there among the browns, there are collard greens, which have a tangy, vinegary smack that is exactly right, and whole-corn grits.
HoneyHole 703 E Pike St, 709-1399, $
Serving the biggest and sloppiest hot sandwiches in Seattle, HoneyHole will quiet any grumbling stomach screaming for comfort food as the temperature drops and the rain starts to fall.
Hopvine Pub 507 15th Ave E, 328-3120, $
A relatively warm alternative to a lot of the Hill's drinking establishments, the Hopvine features a lot of local fare, with Northwest brews and sandwiches.
Osteria La Spiga 1401 Broadway, 323-8881, $
The foods of Italy's super-blessed Emilia-Romagna region (whence come Parma ham and Parmigiano cheese). Pastas, especially noodles with truffle butter, are lovely, and the sandwiches—a few excellent ingredients in a chewy, griddle-cooked flatbread called piadina—are just heavenly.
Piecora's 1401 E Madison St, 322-9411, $
Sure, there's an Italian menu, but Piecora is a simple destination for one thing: pizza by the slice, made to order.
Saigon Pearl 1430 Harvard Ave (upstairs in Harvard Market), 322-2081, $
Crouching above QFC in the Harvard Market, this small, clean room packs in a lunchtime crowd with meticulously fresh Vietnamese standards. Less crowded at dinner; just as delicious.
CC's Gourmet Burgers 2600 E Union St, 324-2119, $
No chutney relishes, mayonnaise referred to as aioli, or fried cheese sticks. No nonsense. CC's does provide a "fishwich," and chicken and garden burger options, but to be sure, these things sway from the mission: an honest-to-god hamburger.
Ezell's Fried Chicken 501 23rd Ave, 324-4141, $
The best fried chicken in the country, dished out over a low-key neighborhood counter. Oprah has it FedExed directly to her mouth.
Hidmo Eritrean Restaurant 2000 S Jackson St, 329-1534, $
The heart of Eritrean cuisine is injera, the spongy, slightly sour pancake bread that serves as serving platter, sauce sopper, and utensil. I find injera-eating one of the most collegial ways to share food, much better than the frenetic passing of small plates, or the vague menace of forks reaching across the table to try someone else's meat. Instead each person wraps their hand in a hygienic hunk of flatbread and grabs a morsel of whichever preparation looks appealing. Double dipping is nearly impossible.
Meskel 2605 E Cherry St, 860-1724, $$
The menu at Meskel extends beyond the standard wots (stews rich in berbere, an Ethiopian chile-based spice blend), tibbs (cubed-meat sautes), and veggie combos, and there always seems to be something special simmering up in the kitchen. Here the injera isn't just a floppy, edible utensil, but a lively flavor unto itself, lending a cool, pleasantly sour counterpoint to all the slow-cooked stews.
Philadelphia Fevre 2332 E Madison St, 323-1000, $
The sexy sandwiches at Philadelphia Fevre are filled with fistfuls of shaved meat and creamy melted American cheese.
Alibi Room 85 Pike St, 623-3180, $$
Located underneath Pike Place Market, the offhand chicness of the Alibi Room makes it a great place to hang out for drinks and board games or to have a simple, tasty dinner. Beloved by local cineastes.
Campagne 86 Pine St, 728-2800, $$$
Unlike its casual cousin downstairs, Campagne is a full-on special-occasion restaurant serving French-style food adapted to Northwest ingredients (with the Pike Place Market right outside their door, they've got a lot to work with, after all). You can watch the staff professionally sidestep each other in the tiny box of a kitchen (their window looks out on Post Alley) as they whip up some of the finest food in the city. Don't embarrass us—dress nicely, please.
Cherry Street Coffeehouse 2719 First Ave, 441-5489 , $
Khoreshe fesenjan is a favorite of mine, made with tangy-sweet pomegranate molasses and thickened with ground walnuts. At Cherry Street, it's made with chicken and it was very thick and satisfying (made with duck, it's a near-miracle), hitting a lot of the same notes as a good Oaxacan mole.
El Puerco Lloron 1501 Western Ave, 624-0541, $
It means "the crying pig," ostensibly because the food is spicy but perhaps because life can be pretty colorless if you haven't been to this hot-pink-and-blue cafe for a while. The food is dished up cafeteria-style, and until you've had a tamale there, you haven't had a tamale. And yes, those are homemade corn tortillas.
The Green Room 1426 First Ave, 628-3151, $
Housed within the Showbox, the adjacent bar features a fresh and vibrant menu of American cuisine.
Ibiza Dinner Club 528 Second Ave, 381-9090, $$
Dining here isn't too far from the maddening bar crowd—separated by just a futuristic metal mesh drape—but the expansive space feels fabulously decadent. Table settings are immaculate and considering the pomp and the circumstances, prices are bizarrely low. Three courses for three might set you back a hundred bucks—not bad for feeling like you've Arrived. (A bottle of wine might, of course, make your bill arrive at half again as much.) As for the food, it's often great, otherwise valiantly good, and always beautiful.
Il Bistro 93-A Pike St, 682-3049, $$
Off the cobblestones that run under Pike Place Market, Il Bistro is a nice spot for a cozy date or to get away from the bustle and savor some tippy-top-shelf scotch. Bowls of pasta and zesty cioppino are satisfying choices among other Italian fare.
Library Bistro 92 Madison St, 624-3546, $$$
The food is a miracle at this restaurant in the very nice Alexis Hotel. It's unfussy but sophisticated, with excellent ingredients.
Oceanaire Seafood Room 1700 Seventh Ave, 267-2277, $$$
Oceanaire has a kind of Titanic glamour, without the doomed feeling—although people were suspicious of this spiffy, expensive seafood restaurant opening when our economy was at its lowest. But Oceanaire has somehow proved them all wrong. Could the lobster cobb salad have something to do with it? The oysters Rockefeller? The insanely fresh fish? Dunno.
Palace Kitchen 2030 Fifth Ave, 448-2001, $$$
Expensive but worth it—if you can get a booth along the wall. The tables along the windows are cramped and the glare from the streetlights can be annoying. Terrific, hearty food, apple-wood grill, and awesome appetizers. The pork chops are terrific, the drinks are strong, and the monorail zips by overhead.
Pink Door 1919 Post Alley, 443-3241, $$
It's good to know the restaurant's name because there's no sign outside, just the damn pink door. Inside, you can sit in the rosy dining room (where the light makes everyone look good) or out on a nice deck with a view of the water. The atmosphere is so lovely that even if the food (mostly your basic Italian, dressed up a bit for fun) misses the mark (which occasionally it does), you probably won't mind.
Pomodoro Ristorante 2366 Eastlake Ave E, 324-3160, $$
The menu is divided in two: Spanish tapas on the left and Italian pastas on the right, and my dining entourage veered toward Italy. Inspired by the restaurant's name, we started with a giant slab of beefsteak tomato dressed in balsamic vinegar and topped with a confetti of basil and fresh mozzarella—an appetizer ample enough for three to share. Gnocchi (Italian for "dumplings") are hand-rolled little footballs of boiled dough. Pomodoro's were perfect: wee, dimpled, more tender than chewy, and joined by beer-boiled fennel sausage and mushrooms in a chunky tomato sauce.
Serafina 2043 Eastlake Ave E, 323-0807, $$
A rustic Euro-Italian restaurant in a low, easy-to-miss Eastlake building. Bright, delicious ingredients—fresh peperonata, white Spanish anchovies, tender pea shoots—lift the menu from suffocating red sauces to a variation on Tuscan purity. Even simple dishes such as flank steak (so easy to abuse) are treated with care.
Siam on Lake Union 1880 Fairview Ave E, 323-8101, $
Same great food as the original legendary Broadway location, offered in a snazzier, more expansive setting. Plus, E-Z parking!
Sophie's Doughnuts 2238 Eastlake Ave E, 323-7132, $
Proving Top Pot isn't the only local competition for Krispy Kreme, this sweet shop in an Eastlake strip mall gives the hipsters a run for their money with cake donuts dipped in a fantastically magenta berry glaze, glazed apple fritters as big as your head, and sweet, sweet custard pillows.
35th Street Bistro 709 N 35th St, 547-9850, $
The Girard & Dominique smoked-trout salad dazzles you with its presentation, then kicks you in the shins while you figure out how to eat it. A fillet of smoked trout—like smoked salmon only less briny, with an almost sweet smokiness—sits between a pile of lightly dressed mixed greens and an airy cream concoction, along with triangles of toasted brioche and slices of cucumber.
Brad's Swingside Cafe 4212 Fremont Ave N, 633-4057, $$
This wood-paneled cafe is probably best known for its hearty soups, ranging from seafood chowder to Caribbean-flavored lamb and venison stew.
Chiso 3520 Fremont Ave N, 632-3430, $$
The standard sushi options are perfect here but you should absolutely look at the specials list, where you might find little silver smelt, or monkfish liver, or aji (a kind of Spanish mackerel that's less fatty than the usual kind). Chiso is a serene urban spot hidden away in funk-land Fremont, so it's not often very crowded.
Dad Watson's 3601 Fremont Ave N, 632-6505, $
A part of Oregon's McMenamins empire, Dad Watson's has the usual big burgers, big booths and tables, and big pints of beloved beer, like the Terminator Stout. While Oregon must endure Starbucks, we can enjoy McMenamins, a far more relaxed and less viral corporation.
Fremont Classic Pizzeria & Trattoria 4307 Fremont Ave N, 548-9411, $
Great pizza and entrées in a cozy, friendly neighborhood space.
Carmelita 7314 Greenwood Ave N, 706-7703, $$
Carmelita is the city's highest-minded vegetarian restaurant, with elaborate dishes that set out to make you forget the portobello-mushroom "steak" that passes for a vegetarian meal at so many restaurants.
La Botana 8552 Greenwood Ave N, 706-5392, $
It's less well-known than the nearby Gordito's, but La Botana offers a different kind of Mexican dining experience, with sit-down house specialties like chicken in mole. Takeout food is good too, and includes tacos, tamales, and tortas. (Try one filled with cochinita pibil, tangy long-cooked pork.) La Botana opens early (at 10 am), so it's a good place to catch Mexican breakfast: eggs with shredded beef (machaca), chorizo, and huevos rancheros.
Mr. Gyros 8411 Greenwood Ave N, 706-7472, $
Mr. Gyros turns out the solid standards of quick Middle Eastern food: falafel, schawerma, kabobs, baba ghanoush, and hummus. The chicken schawerma stands out: It's scented with a hint of cinnamon, slathered with tahini, and wrapped in a thin pita.
Phad Thai 8530 Greenwood Ave N, 784-1830, $
As its name suggests, this is a popular neighborhood place that turns out reliable Thai favorites at however many stars you'd like.
House of Hong 409 Eighth Ave at Jackson, 622-7997, $
Top-notch food and fast-paced dim sum. Hesitate too long over a dish in the cart and it's gone.
Huong Binh Restaurant 1207 S Jackson St, 720-4907, $
A neat Vietnamese restaurant serving traditional Vietnamese combos.
King Cafe 723 S King St, 622-6373, $
Never too full, never too empty, and furnished with rather cheap chairs and tables, the King Cafe serves some of the best dim sum in Seattle. Their shrimp balls are unmatched, as is their sticky rice, which is huge and wrapped in large blue-green lotus leaves. The dim sum, offered from 11 am to 5 pm, arrives at the second-floor dining room on a mini-elevator, down the shaft of which the casually dressed Chinese waiters send their orders. Sadly, the King Cafe is closed Wednesdays.
Maneki Restaurant 304 Sixth Ave S, 622-2631, $
The sushi bar is a nutty accumulation of all kinds of kitsch, both Japanese and not. Maneki is a sort of secret sushi hangout for the not-so-wealthy: good food, decent prices.
Mike's Noodle House 418 Maynard Ave S, 389-7099, $
Congee, a salty porridge made from rice, is the perfect comfort food. Dip into the wide selection of congees at Mike's—the rock cod is a particularly satisfying choice.
Szechuan Noodle Bowl 420 Eighth Ave S, 623-4198, $
A no-nonsense source of fabulous Sino-starch, The Bowl specializes in all things doughy, from bowls of ropy noodles to hand-pleated gyoza to scallion pancakes. Nearly everything served there possesses a deeply satisfying chew.
Tamarind Tree 1036 S Jackson St, Suite A, 860-1404, $
There are a plethora of beefy delights here. They play fast and loose with the notion of courses here; it's more like a stampede, as very shortly your table is covered with upwards of a dozen elegant dishes.
Arosa: The Waffle Cafe 3121 E Madison St, Suite 101, 324-4542, $
Arosa's snack waffles are what Eggos hope to be in the afterlife. More or less round, these $1.50 bargains are self-sweetened, with balls of pearl sugar that melt on contact with the iron and turn into a half-crispy, half-sticky glaze.
Cafe Flora 2901 E Madison St, 325-9100, $$
A mecca for vegetarians desiring a night out as first-class culinary citizens. From drinks to dessert, the Flora experience is intoxicating enough to stun even the hoariest carnivore into submission, at least for an evening.
Crush 2319 E Madsion Park, 302-7874, $$
Crush is a sexy, sexy spot with sexy food. My wild mushroom and duck confit tart was topped with an oozing poached egg (topping things with oozing poached eggs is a trend I wildly salute), and it was stacked and smoky and offered little peppery pockets among the general greatness. A salad of grilled asparagus with goat cheese was tarted up in a pretty pile; the textures (including chips of crisped prosciutto) took to each other instinctually. The third dish—tender cauliflower-filled agnolotti ("priests' caps" of pasta; no comment) with delicate pieces of smoked sturgeon, currants, and walnuts—provoked the remark, "I never want to eat anything else ever again."
Harvest Vine 2701 E Madison, 320-9771, $$
In a perfect world, you would never have to eat anywhere else. Each tapas dish is perfect in some way: aged Spanish cheeses, lovely anchovies, seared sea scallops, mushrooms sautéed with leeks and scrambled eggs, a whole pan-fried trout, Spanish ham... you could sit at the counter and have one amazing dish after another slide right by you. That would be heaven indeed.
Nishino 3130 E Madison St, 322-5800, $$$
Nishino, considered one of the premier places to get sushi in a sushi-crazed town, offers its top-quality fare in lively surroundings. Open since 1995, the sushi bar is always bustling, and the room rings with exclamations of delight from ecstatic diners. The service is leisurely and friendly. Because of Nishino's popularity, it's best to book reservations in advance. They also offer a variety of other dishes, if raw fish isn't your cup of tea.
Cafe Soleil 1400 34th Ave, 325-1126, $
Breakfast here is American, while dinner is Ethiopian by way of Madrona (with a few pasta dishes as well). The stews are delicious, with greens not cooked unto limpness but fresh and light. It's all served with the traditional sour injera bread, but you might be tempted to use a fork.
Hi-Spot Cafe 1410 34th Ave, 325-7905, $
Two words: Pint-size mimosas. So much better than those dinky champagne flutes that are gone three times before your breakfast arrives. Even the hearty toast and good-as-Grandma-makes jam is yummy, and that's not just the mimosa talking.
Madrona Eatery 1138 34th Ave, 323-7807, $$
Offering a mixed bag of pub food and finer cuisines, Madrona Eatery is a family-friendly, early-to-bed local watering hole.
Canlis 2576 Aurora Ave N, 283-3313, $$$
Fancy folks, businesspeople, and retirees love this atrium-like dining room that serves upscale surf-and-turf and specialties like wasyugyu tenderloin. Take your parents. Make them pay.
Malena's Taco Shop 620 W McGraw St, 284-0304, $
If you get tired of the showier restaurants on Queen Anne Avenue, Malena's offers relief in the form of a small, spare dining space, a no-nonsense white board of a menu, and tasty tacos and burritos filled with homemade salsa, carne asada, and carnitas.
Racha 537 First Ave N, 281-8883, $$
So you're in the Queen Anne neighborhood and you want a safe bet for some pad thai? Go to Racha. It's littered with yuppies, but the food's delicious.
Shanty Cafe 350 Elliott Ave W, 282-1400, $
Your basic coffee-shop breakfast, in a sort of lumberjack atmosphere. The Shanty actually looks like a shanty, but never mind. Here are sympathetic waitresses who are brisk, but keep your coffee cup full.
Tup Tim Thai 118 W Mercer St, 281-8833, $
We've never heard an ill word spoken about the comfortable yet convenient Tup Tim Thai. Maybe that's why its lunch and dinner hours are consistently bustling and its regulars refuse to eat Thai anywhere else.
Rainier Valley/Beacon Hill/ Mount Baker/Columbia City
Jones BBQ 3216 S Hudson St, 725-2728, $
BBQ enthusiasts have said that Jones BBQ in Rainier Valley has the best ribs and the best Arkansas-Texas-influenced sauce in town. It's one-stop shopping for barbecue fans.
Judkins Barbecue 2608 S Judkins St, 328-7417, $
Good, cheap barbecue in a comfortable setting.
La Medusa 4857 Rainier Ave S, 723-2192, $$
Authentic Sicilian food in Columbia City: Note the presence of sardines and anchovies, as well as more Middle Eastern touches like pine nuts and raisins (the legacy of Sicily's invasion by the Moors).
Pho and Banh Mi Saigon Restaurant and Deli 810 Rainier Ave S, 323-5570, $
The tofu sandwiches are deservedly famous and go for two dollars. Dine-in options are vast and delicious. There's papaya salad with beef jerky, and 13 varieties of pho. It's all good, and it's all cheap.
Pecos Pit BBQ 2260 First Ave S, 623-0629, $
If you're trapped in South Seattle, and your mouth won't stop watering at the thought of tender, smoked meat, hit up Pecos.
Pig Iron Bar-B-Q 5602 First Ave S, 768-1009, $
You'd expect a barbecue joint marooned among the warehouses west of Georgetown, just a couple blocks from the worn-looking La Hacienda motel, to be pretty down-home. Not so at Pig Iron: The staff is of the hip, hot variety and the food comes in only medium-huge portions on cool-looking tin trays, with sides nested in matching cylinders. So even though no one's calling you "honey"—the hospitality's still fine, and the pulled pork is almost falling-apart tender, with crisped edges here and there. The house barbecue sauce, slightly sweet and slightly hot, lives in a little pitcher on the table so you can load some more on.
Stellar Pizza & Ale 5513 Airport Way S, 763-1660, $
In this warehousey old space you can get pizzas that tilt between the classic and the nouveau (although we prefer the former), excellent sandwiches such as the meatball and the "Local 174" (Italian sausage, provolone, marinara, and hot peppers), and plenty of PBR on tap. Pretty much the heart of social life in Georgetown.
Wazobia West African Cuisine 170 S Washington St, 624-9154, $$
Unfamiliar components like fufu and egusi melon seeds come together with chicken and spicy okra stew to create a perfect balance of flavor and texture. Also tempting is the Nigerian pepper soup, which, as the menu informs us, is "consumed in great quantities by beer and palm wine drinkers."
Agua Verde Cafe and Paddleclub 1303 NE Boat St, 545-8570, $
If the sun is out, the water will be shimmering behind this cottage-like restaurant that, along with offering yam tacos and mango margaritas and hominy stew, also rents kayaks by the hour. The menu of simple, fresh food—tacos (meats, fish, and vegetables), empanadas, sandwiches, quesadillas, salads, nightly specials, and sublime desserts—recalls the cuisines of Baja, Oaxaca, Tampico, and salt-sprayed Mexican beach towns.
Cafe Lago 2305 24th Ave E, 329-8005, $$
A clean, bright restaurant with big windows that look out onto the leafy Montlake neighborhood. Customers cram the place for the fresh handmade pastas and delicious rustic pizzas. There may be a wait, but don't worry: There's a bar.
Calypso Caribbean Kitchen 7917 Roosevelt Way NE, 525-5118, $$
The hallmarks of Caribbean cuisine—jerk spices, rum, brown sugar, coconut, lime—permeate Calypso's menu, but the influences of other cuisines are at work here as well. The jerk dishes are very good.
Queen Mary 2912 NE 55th St, 527-2770, $$
High tea, for ladies and their friends—pleasingly British, but not coyly so. Take solace in crustless finger sandwiches, scones, crumpets, cookies, beautifully cut fruit, and chocolate tea-cake.
Bizzarro Italian Cafe 1307 N 46th St, 545-7327, $$
Occasionally verging on the cutesy, Bizzarro nevertheless manages to keep it together while seducing devoted diners with good wine, art-bedecked walls, the occasional singing waiter, and damn good food, of the traditional-yet-exciting pasta variety.
Eva 2227 N 56th St, 633-3538, $$
Amy McCray's menu is both worldly and grounded, with good honest cooking. She's got a nice knack for sides like chorizo-bread pudding with sherry-braised rabbit, squash spaetzle with a veal shank, and corn pudding with pork loin.
Luau 2253 N 56th St, 633-5828, $$
Fun and crazy—expect Polynesian ambiance complete with thatched roof and oversized pupu platters.
West Seattle/White Center
Capers 4521 California Ave SW, 932-0371, $$
A gourmet-food-store-slash-elegant-bistro with all the makings for a sophisticated dinner, to eat in the shop or make at home.
Mission 2325 California Way SW, 937-8220, $
The house margaritas are quite good (which figures; the owners are from El Camino). The short but appealing Mexican menu is well priced, and the food looks very pretty on the plate. Order the ceviche. Recently, superfresh halibut (the fish varies) had, extraordinarily, the pillowy texture of scallops. It's excruciatingly, deliciously the tartest ceviche in town and easily the boldest, best thing on the menu.
Sunfish 2800 Alki Ave SW, 938-4112, $
In the summer, Sunfish is one of the best places in Seattle for outdoor dining. In the cold, rainy winter, however, their lightly battered halibut and fries will keep you warm.