VARIOUS LOCATIONS, TOSHI’S TERIYAKI GRILL
Comprised of sticky-sweet glazed chicken thighs, mounds of steamed white rice, and that little cup of crunchy cabbage salad in a white sauce, Seattle-style teriyaki is the city’s unofficial comfort food. In 2010, the New York Times declared the local dish the Emerald City equivalent of a Chicago dog. We can thank Toshi Kasahara, who founded Seattle’s first teriyaki restaurant in 1976, for that—Kasahara popularized a sweeter, more syrupy style of the Japanese specialty. Find the ubiquitous staple at any of the teriyaki shops dotting the region, or make a pilgrimage to Toshi’s Teriyaki Grill in Mill Creek to try the original.
With a moniker that inspires countless titters in middle schoolers and has been name-checked by Sir Mix-A-Lot in “Posse on Broadway,” the old-school Seattle fixture might not make the best burgers you’ve ever had, but that hardly matters to the scores of fans drawn like moths to a flame by the nostalgic glow of its orange neon sign. Get the Dick’s Deluxe (a special-sauce laden piece of heaven), their perfect peppermint stick hot fudge sundae (if it’s available—there was a peppermint shortage in early 2023), and/or a hand-dipped chocolate shake for dunking their salty, squishy fries.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese
PIKE PLACE MARKET
You may have seen Beecher’s Flagship cheese in stores around the country, or perhaps you’ve been to their cafe in New York City, but Kurt Beecher Dammeier’s storefront in Pike Place Market is where it all started. The main attraction is peering in the windows and gawking at the cheese-making process in real time, but they also make superlative grilled cheese sandwiches and mac and cheese.
PIKE PLACE MARKET
You know all those terrible yogurt commercials where women are blissed out of their gourds about cultured dairy products? Ellenos Yogurt makes Greek yogurt that’s so good, it actually makes you feel that way. Creamy, dreamy, and dessert-like, it’s guaranteed to be unlike any other yogurt you’ve ever tasted before.
Pronounced “gooey duck,” this long, oversized saltwater clam that’s native to the Pacific Northwest has got to be one of the weirdest-looking things you can eat. If you can get past the undeniably phallic appearance, you’ll be rewarded with a clean, sweet flavor and crunchy texture. You’ll find them on the menu in various preparations at restaurants including Shiro’s Sushi, Sushi Kashiba, and Taylor Shellfish locations.
Tom Douglas’s Triple
Coconut Cream Pie
Local restaurant mogul Tom Douglas’s world-famous triple coconut cream pie, a fluffy coconut whipped-cream confection topped with fat chips of toasted coconut and shards of white chocolate in a coconut-spiked crust, is so coveted that it sometimes commands hundreds of dollars at charity auctions. Luckily for you, you can claim it for yourself at a much more modest sum at Douglas’s Dahlia Bakery.
Rachel’s Ginger Beer
Rachel’s Ginger Beer founder Rachel Marshall tragically passed away at 43 years old in April. Members of the Seattle food and drink community remember her as a warm, devoted friend and businesswoman. Marshall started selling her fizzy, spicy-sweet ginger beer at Seattle farmers markets in 2013, and her beloved eponymous elixir is now available in three locations across the city (plus one in Portland), available in distinctive flavors like pink guava, cucumber tarragon, and caramelized pineapple.
Ivar’s is a local seafood chain known for its idiosyncratic founder (entrepreneur and folk singer Ivar Haglund) and its motto “Keep clam.” Perch outside with some crispy-battered fish and chips or creamy clam chowder at their Pier 54 Fish Bar and feed french fries to errant seagulls (a practice endorsed by signs on the premises).
There’s something quasi-spiritual about the uniquely Northwest experience of ordering a hot dog from a street vendor at 2 am, toasty after a night of drinking or giddy after a live show at Neumos. Slathered with cream cheese and piled with grilled caramelized onions, it’s the apotheosis of late-night food. Look for Monster Dogs or Dante’s Inferno Dogs and load up the condiments of your choosing (sriracha and jalapeños very much recommended).
BALLARD, CAPITOL HILL
Pastry chef Autumn Martin first conceived the winning idea for take-and-bake molten chocolate cakes in mason jars as a side hustle when she was working as head chocolatier at Seattle’s Theo Chocolate. It caught on immediately and started selling like, well, you know. Visit the immensely popular Ballard and Capitol Hill cakeries to plunge a spoon into the ooey gooey delicacy in house or pick up a jar of ready-to-bake batter as a delicious souvenir.
Ezell’s Famous Chicken
This crispy fried chicken is famous for being a favorite of Oprah Winfrey, who’s said to have the chicken flown to her when cravings strike. If it’s good enough for the billionaire philanthropist/mogul, then surely it’s good enough for you.