The best bets for lunches to savor in and near Bellevue

The Bellevue culinary scene offers an abundance of options from quick takeout snacks and food truck treats to sit-down, luxury-style feasts. The downtown area boasts hundreds of restaurants, ranging from casual sandwich spots to four-star chef-owned destinations (and of course we can't forget about those national chains, most of which can't be found within Seattle city limits).

While seafood reigns at kitchens across the Pacific Northwest, Bellevue also features a bounty of globally-inspired eateries, with Asian cuisine often stealing the show. (The Northwest may be known for salmon and Dungeness crab, but cultural foodies from across the region often trek to Bellevue to explore and expand their mealtime horizons.)

And for the carnivores out there, a selection of steakhouses serves up top-quality beef and unique dining experiences. When the sun shines, Bellevue diners flock to countless outdoor dining options that pop up on patios and along sidewalks. For a quick lunch, stop by one of the many food trucks scattered throughout downtown Bellevue during the week or frequent a fun, whimsical spot like Lunchbox Laboratory


Lunchbox Laboratory
Photo courtesy of Courtesy Visit Bellevue

LunchBox Laboratory (which also offers options for takeout and delivery) got its start in a 400-square-foot building in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood "by the MacGyver-like culinary vision of Food Alchemist Scott Simpson. The original concept was born of Scott's love for his mother." The quirky venue mixes nostalgic Americana comfort food with an off-the-wall twist, and menu items here include the "As Seen On TV Dork burger," the "Burger of the Gods," the "Astronauts Mimosa" and items such as: "Hong Kong Buffalo Wings," "Goldfish Mac and Cheese" and the "Drunken Elvis" liquor-infused shake. Be sure to check out items on the weekly "experimental" menu. Enjoy daily happy hour specials from 3 to 6 and 9 p.m. to close.

Recommended for Bellevue's Best Lunch because: LunchBox Laboratory currently also pickup and delivery of sandwiches and burgers with a twist (and creatively kooky names!), plus boozy shakes and other unexpected treats.

Corinne's expert tip: Check out items on the weekly "experiment" menu like past gems –the "Bahn, James Bahn" (Dork Patty, pickled daikon and carrots, fresh sliced jalapeños and English cucumber with a sweet chili mayo) or the "Psychedelectable" (signature beef patty, grilled onions, sautéed mushroom blend, Swiss cheese and a black garlic truffle-mayo).

Read more about Lunchbox Laboratory →

If zesty food, full-flavored and rich, constantly tempts you, Cactus (the Bellevue outpost) stands poised to satisfy the craving. Offerings are consistently good and inventive at this bright, welcoming venue. The menu is full of well-prepared delights, such as carnitas, tamales, fajitas and pork steak adobo. You'll also find a great selection of tapas items, which could satiate your appetite on their own. The festive atmosphere adds to the good mood, and the staff is helpful and friendly too. While you wait, try a mojito! This eastisde outpost is now open for lunch, dinner, weekend brunch and daily happy hour, too.

Recommended for Bellevue's Best Lunch because: In its Eastside location, Cactus brings the enticing flavors of the American Southwest and Mexico to Bellevue Square.

Corinne's expert tip: Curbside pickup and delivery are available from here too. Looking for a beachier location? Try the West Seattle local at Alki Beach.

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Carillon Kitchen
Photo courtesy of The Woodmark Hotel & Still Spa

Just across the plaza from Kirkland's Woodmark Hotel, you'll find Carillon Kitchen, where "healthy and homemade" is the name of the game for this inviting venue with courtyard seating (and water views!). The casual cafe features counter service and friendly staff. If you're craving breakfast food, try the avocado toast with eggs and bacon for hearty sustenance, or the housemade granola with local Elenos yogurt for something lighter. At lunchtime, enjoy the turkey confit club, spicy chicken Caesar wrap or Cascade Countryside salad. Grab a juice or latte for the road, and consider having the friendly team pack you a to-go picnic lunch if you're staying at the Woodmark and want to borrow a beach cruiser for a cycling adventure.

Recommended for Bellevue's Best Lunch because: In nearby Kirkland, just across from the Woodmark, you'll find Carillon Kitchen, where "healthy and homemade" food reigns at an inviting cafe with courtyard seating.

Corinne's expert tip: If staying at the Woodmark, pick up a to-go picnic for the road, along with helmets and chic beach cruisers (with baskets) from the hotel's front desk.

Read more about Carillon Kitchen →

LifeCafe Bellevue
Photo courtesy of LifeCafe Bellevue

Lunchtime diners on the Eastside love popping into Bellevue's LifeCafe (connected to Life Time's spacious health club). Here it's easy to pick up fresh and healthful items that are made using only real, wholesome ingredients–, all free of artificial additives. Enjoy fresh grab-and-go goodies from the fridge, or sit in the sleek cafe to leisurely enjoy your meal on-site. Build your own shake or smoothie (the Vegan PB & B Shake is wildly popular!), or dig into a variety of health-conscious bowls, sandwiches, salads and flatbreads. For a surprisingly filling lunch, order the Chef Dodge Bowl, –a delightful combo of garlic-herbed chicken, grilled artichoke, roasted yellow tomato, squash, zucchini, red and yellow peppers, red onion, broccoli and cauliflower rice with citrus-garlic aioli.

Recommended for Bellevue's Best Lunch because: Enjoy a fresh, healthy and speedy lunch at Bellevue's LifeCafe, connected to Life Time's spacious health club.

Corinne's expert tip: Although the cafe is open to non-members, too, the venue is connected to Life Time's spacious health club. Stock on up on healthy, ready-made meals while you're here!

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Expertly prepared Vietnamese cuisine consistently draws a hungry crowd to this family-run restaurant. The menu changes seasonally and offers an extensive selection of delicious dishes. Vegetarians relish the lemongrass tofu, while omnivores delight in the rich flavors unleashed in banana leaf-wrapped halibut and tamarind soup. Efficient service and reasonable prices add to the appeal, as does a weekend dim sum brunch (Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). When the restaurant first opened in Seattle in 1999, wine was the beverage focus; when a second location opened in Bellevue, with a full bar, inventive and inspired cocktails became a main draw. Perks here range from free parking behind the restaurant to a heated patio.

Recommended for Bellevue's Best Lunch because: Expertly prepared Vietnamese cuisine consistently draws a hungry crowd to this family-run restaurant, especially at lunchtime.

Corinne's expert tip: Find free parking behind the restaurant. Find more details here:

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Ascend Prime Steak & Sushi
Photo courtesy of Suzi Pratt/ Ascend Prime Steak and Sushi

Looking for a lunch experience to stand out above the rest? On the weekends, indulge by snagging a seat in the soaring spaces of this elevated restaurant, and get ready to drink in the views of a lifetime, and no doubt the best view in all of Bellevue. On a crystal-clear day, Mt. Rainier shows her mighty peak on one side, as Seattle's skyline rises in front of the distant Olympic Mountain peaks. While many loyal fans returns for full steak and sushi dinners, brunchtime brings delights like the avocado crostino, Dungeness crab avocado crostino Benedict, chicharron chicken and waffles and a rendition of steak and egg fried rice you'll be talking about for some time to come. Unparalleled service in this stunning environment is enough to elevate any weekend in Bellevue.

Recommended for Bellevue's Best Lunch because: There is no better place to grab a weekend brunch than at this elevated Bellevue restaurant, where the service and panoramic views are unparalleled.

Corinne's expert tip: Also enjoy happy hour specials here Monday through Sunday, from 3 to 6 p.m., and reverse happy hour from 9 p.m. till close.

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This simple, elegant bistro offers an appealing mix of American favorites with a menu showing influences from France, Italy and South America. The minimalist decor is serene and upscale with white tablecloths, neutral colors and candlelight. Start with a bottle of wine from a list of more than 300, and then try an entree such as roast duck with cranberry sauce and veal sirloin in wild mushroom sauce. The dessert selection changes daily, but look for the highly recommended pecan pie. Reservations recommended. While the venue is open seven days a week, lunch is served Monday through Friday. (Bis on Main has received accolades like "Bellevue's Most Romantic Restaurant," and it's also a perennial recipient of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.)

Recommended for Bellevue's Best Lunch because: Enjoy lunch Monday through Friday at Bis on Main, a simple and elegant bistro that serves American favorites influenced by global cuisines.

Corinne's expert tip: They offer complimentary valet parking in the lot behind the restaurant Monday through Friday for lunch, and every night too. The parking lot is directly behind the restaurant and accessible from 102nd Ave SE.

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Cépaé Tasting Room and La Parisienne French Bakery
Photo courtesy of Audrey Kelly

There's a cool wine bar-meets French bakery in Bellevue that's proving a unique destination for a variety of reasons. In the Cépaé Tasting Room (pronounced 'Seh-pay-eh), patrons enjoy the largest selection of wines by the glass offered in the region (with an emphasis on Old-World options). The venue uses the Le Verre du Vin system, allowing capacity for its entire portfolio of 120-plus bottles to be poured by the glass. French owner Julien Hervet is breaking the mold by importing European wines that no one else here sells (the venue represents world-renowned winemaker Bernard Magrez Vignobles exclusively for Washington State). Sharing the sleek, airy space, La Parisienne French Bakery features delicious food that seemingly transports diners as they dive into a delectably authentic croissant, pain au chocolate, quiche and tartine offerings. The lunchtime menu focuses on classic French fare like the Salade Niçoise and Soup à l'Oignon.

Recommended for Bellevue's Best Lunch because: Savor the best of Old-World wine and authentic, fresh fare in Bellevue's Cépaé Tasting Room and La Parisienne French Bakery.

Corinne's expert tip: More than 85 percent of the wines available cost $20 or less by the glass, allowing patrons to try a vast array of varietals. Be sure to pick up a bottle or two in the retail shop before heading home!

Read more about Cépaé Tasting Room and La Parisienne French Bakery →

Kura Revolving Sushi Bar
Photo courtesy of Kura Revolving Sushi Bar

Kura Sushi, which opened its first eatery in Japan in 1977, has launched its newest location in Bellevue, Washington. The bright, vibrant and casual venue features a fun-filled, revolving sushi bar experience for all. Highlights range from a mesmerizing Express Belt (with made-to-order requests), plus a Bikkura Pon Prize System (a short anime plays at the table for every five sushi plates ordered, and prizes are received for every 15 plates consumed). The restaurant offers savory, authentic Japanese dishes made with natural, premium ingredients that are free of artificial sweeteners, seasonings, preservatives and colorings. Try scrumptious rolls from the Seared Scallop with Japanese Mayo to the Umami Oil Seared Beef, or indulge in udon and soup options, bowls of ramen, watermelon cubes, warabimochi, even slices of New York Cheesecake.

Recommended for Bellevue's Best Lunch because: Kura Sushi brings an exciting dining experience to Bellevue (think revolving sushi belt), offering savory, authentic Japanese dishes made with natural ingredients.

Corinne's expert tip: All sushi plates cost $2.95; use the restaurant's app to download coupons and to join the waitlist remotely.

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Din Tai Fung
Photo courtesy of Din Tai Fung

Din Tai Fung was founded in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1958 as a cooking oil retail shop, before transitioning in 1972 into a full-fledged restaurant. It has since become world-renowned for its soup dumplings and noodles, and Seattleites are thrilled to have multiple outposts of this delectable, raved-about restaurant here in their city. (The tradition of Din Tai Fung continues in global locations like Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, China and Thailand.) Guests laud the shrimp and pork shao mai dumplings, as well as other creative noodle and rice dishes. The restaurant opens at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Recommended for Bellevue's Best Lunch because: Din Tai Fung is world-renowned for its soup dumplings and noodles; Seattleites are thrilled to have multiple outposts including one in Bellevue.

Corinne's expert tip: Check out regional outposts in Bellevue as well as in downtown Seattle and University Village. The wait can be long, but it's always worth it!

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Meet 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...  More About Corinne