Keeping a mindful eye on your health but also wanting to truly experience this city's thriving culinary scene? Seattle seems to have a healthy balance figured out, which makes dining at restaurants a very doable feat. (No need for post-indulgence guilt here!) This proves excellent news for those who have refined tastes but also like to keep a watch on how they fuel their bodies.
In this forward-thinking, health-conscious city, most chefs pride themselves on using seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients, many of which are organic and devoid of preservatives and other questionable additives. Diners will find a plethora of eateries, ranging from those that more "mainstream" to those that have gained a following for serving strictly vegan, raw or vegetarian fare.
In our roundup, we've featured fine-dining establishments offering some of the best service in the region (hello, VIP status), but we've also included lower-key cafes with intimate settings that are the perfect spot to enjoy a healthy lunch or afternoon snack. While some restaurants draw crowds for their magical outdoor spaces, others can be the perfect destination on a cozy, drizzly afternoon. Regardless, the food will be delicious and–more importantly–you'll walk away feeling full of energy and effectively "fueled."
Heartwood Provisions brings a bounty of contemporary, health-consious American flavors to the 1st Avenue culinary zone. In the heart of downtown Seattle, a brand-new concept centers around an intricate pairing program that matches innovate dishes with equally creative cocktails. Examples of healthful fare include the Raw Albacore Tuna (aji Amarillo, pear, basil, crispy quinoa), Lacinato Kale Salad (quinoa, jamon serrano, parmigiano, olive, lemon vinaigrette), Yellow Corn Soup with Dungeness crab, Roasted Scallops and Roasted Cauliflower Pasta. Inside the sleek yet welcoming, wood-centric space at Heartwood Provisions, Chef Varin Keokitvon and Beverage Director Amanda Reed have thoughtfully crafted complementary menus. "Everything we have done in creating this restaurant has been to bring a kitchen and bar together as it has never been done before," says Reed. Heartwood Provisions boasts an open kitchen concept, with 88 seats in the main dining room and 11 at a kitchen counter. The latter option puts diners in the thick of the action, allowing them to observe and engage with Chef Keokitvon and his team. (206.582.3505)
Known as Seattle's top vegetarian spot, this restaurant's menu is innovative and flavorful enough to win over even the most ardent carnivores. Have brunch in the sunny atrium and enjoy the soothing sounds of the indoor waterfall. Dishes such as cornmeal pancakes in pomegranate sauce or beignets with berries and ginger cream anglaise are served with complimentary fresh-squeezed orange juice. You'll also find plenty of specialty teas and juice blends to choose from as well. The venue accepts reservations for parties of six or more, and special events designed for more than 15 guests will enjoy a prix-fixe menu. (206-325-9100)
The Whale Wins
The Whale Wins is the latest restaurant from award-winning chef Renee Erickson and partners Jeremy Price and Chad Dale (renowned throughout Seattle, thanks to their other masterpiece, Ballard's acclaimed The Walrus and the Carpenter). At this welcoming Fremont venue, the culinary team draws inspiration from the cuisine of some of Erickson's favorite places in southern Europe and England, and they promise their "wood-fired, vegetable focused menu will feature the very best foods from local beaches, gardens and farms prepared simply and served casually in a lively, light filled, cottage-like space." Diners should expect ripe, seasonal vegetables, wood-oven fired meats and fish, and pickled treats in a bright, beautiful setting. ((206) 632-9425)
Flying Apron bakery celebrates good health by using gluten-free, vegan ingredients; whole grain wheat-free flours and non-hydrogenated oils. Diners can use alternative methods to sweeten items with such ingredients as agave, maple syrup and stevia. The best news? There's no guilt involved when sampling the cafe's goodies that range from salads and soups to the sweet (muffins, cupcakes, cookies) and the savory (personal pizzas and shepherd's pie). Chefs get creative with the mock rye bread, tofu scrambles, pepper peanut quinoa, pesto tapinade pizza and delectable veggie lasagna. A few sidewalk tables give diners a nice outdoor-dining option for when the Seattle sun shines. ((206) 442-1115)
A fairly recent addition to the Capitol Hill restaurant lineup, Omega Ouzeri whisks diners away to the rich flavors, welcoming vibes and cool hues of the Mediterranean, and it's an experience you won't want to miss. Executive Chef Zoi Antonitsas (Food & Wine's Best New Chef 2015) fills the menu with delectable Greek fare (authentic and contemporary), and the venue aims to "redefine traditional Greek recipes from earth and sea, around the long-standing tradition of mezedes � small portions, of exceptional food, to be shared by everyone around the table." Some of chef's favorite shareable dishes include Fava Santorini (fava: red onion, capers, evo, lemon), Kolokithokeftedes (zucchini fritters: graviera, mint, Aleppo aioli), Horiatiki (Greek salad: tomato, cucumber, pepper, feta, Kalamata olive, oregano), Keftedakia (grilled lamb meatballs: ouzo tomato jam, lemon yogurt, parsley, red onion, sumac) and Lavraki (whole, grilled Mediterranean sea bass: oregano-grilled lemon dressing). Diners will quickly fall for the welcoming venue's family-run feel and flavorful, inspiring dishes. ((206) 257-4515)
As the name suggests, this cozy Belltown outpost is a sustainable restaurant and food producer that fiercely promotes local sourcing. At this popular eatery based in the heart of downtown (at the corner of 1st and Bell), chefs make beautiful, flavorful dishes with fresh and seasonal ingredients, the majority of which come from within a 360-mile radius of Seattle. Restaurant staff members say, "We believe that local produce, meat and grains are more than mere vehicles for nutrients, but vital parts of the intricate system that supports our environment and the good folks who live here." Start with the deviled eggs, PB&J bon bons or a delectable beet salad, before tucking into heartier dishes like braised rabbit leg and vegetable ragout, smoked pork shank or heirloom farro with sugar pumpkin, mascarpone and mushrooms. ((206) 441-9360)
First opened in December of 2008, Thrive set out on a rather defiant mission to tear down the myth that healthy vegetarian cuisine is lacking in flavor. Thrive accomplishes this goal by creating fantastic entrees with a little bit of a southwest kick: tacos, stuffed peppers and a variety of different kinds of chili, to name just a few. They also offer tons of soups, salads and, possibly the biggest draw, a full menu of all natural organic juices. They also offer up a few culinary classes for those who are looking for a little more than just takeout. Healthy eating rules the scene at this gem! ((206) 525-0300, (206) 525-0666)
Award-winning Executive Chef and restaurateur Josh Henderson has done it again, this time bringing an intimate, cozy and welcoming eatery to the ever-expanding business zone of South Lake Union. The full-service restaurant and bar represents an exciting return to the kitchen for Chef Henderson (of Westward and Huxley Wallace fame), who now cooks regularly alongside Chef de Cuisine Andrew Iacono. Vestal's diverse menu concentrates on Pacific Northwest ingredients that ebb and flow with the seasons, and a mesmerizing seven-foot coal-fired hearth inspires many dishes that delight both return diners and wowed newcomers. Be sure not to miss sensational items like the livieto e pepe and roasted cauliflower with romanesco and shaved duck plus vegan options like the compressed melon dish. An extensive bar menu lists handcrafted cocktails featuring spirits from local distilleries and around the world, and an alluring wine lineup emphasizes gems spanning the Pacific Northwest. ((206) 456-2660)
Chaco Canyon Cafe
These vibrant cafes in the U District and also West Seattle feature a warm Southwestern decor; their mission is "to provide delicious organic sustenance for a wide variety of needs and individual tastes." The venue is proudly certified organic--staying 90-97% organic throughout the entire year. The cafes feature a daily raw foods menu, composed of fresh organic produce, organic nuts, seeds, spices and oils; the menu changes often and with the seasons. They also offer vegan sandwiches, several daily hot vegan soups, rice and quinoa bowls and a daily selection of vegan and wheat/gluten-free baked goods. Loyal customers also return for the "living juice," wheatgrass and smoothies. (206) 522-6966)
Urbane in the Hyatt at Olive 8
In a sleek downtown space, Urbane Restaurant & Bar celebrates the beauty of the earth–its open spaces featuring a palette of natural materials that exude elegant simplicity. The eatery offers holistic healthy-eating options, with the hotel's green practices impacting every step of a guest's experience. The kitchen staff take advantage of nearby Pacific Northwest culinary resources, taking great pride in their relationships with local farmers and producers. Some recently-added menu offerings include the Seared Young Chicken (with Walla Walla onion soubise, citrus-glazed zucchini, pickled gooseberries, Tonnemaker apple and pickled shallot slaw), the Pesto Pasta (with sautéed pea vines, toasted walnuts, carrot ribbons and baby pea shoots) and the Albacore and Octopus (line-caught Oregon albacore, braised octopus and Orca bean ragu, sea beans, smoked sea salt and tarragon). Urbane's team of mixologists expertly stir up tasty cocktails to pair with small plate offerings, too. (2066764600)
About Corinne Whiting
Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's backpacked around Australia, taught English in Argentina and explored (so far!) countries from Cambodia and Egypt to Turkey and China.
Corinne served as associate editor at Where magazine for five years; as a freelancer, she now writes for publications like National Geographic Traveler and Amtrak's OnTrak. Here in the lovely Northwest, she's attempting to debunk the rain myths, up her coffee and live music quotient and find her Zen near/on the water.
Read more about Corinne Whiting here.
Connect with Corinne via: Blog | Instagram