The Whale Wins is the Stone Way gem of 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. Seafood lovers should be sure to order the Hama Hama clams, halibut pate and Matiz sardines on toast.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The Whale Wins is the Stone Way gem of award-winning chef Renee Erickson; expect locally-sourced fare in a light-filled, converted warehouse space.
Corinne's expert tip: Enjoy weekend brunch and the "Whale Call Happy Hour" Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m.
Locals and visitors alike flock to RN74, Michael Mina's downtown outpost, known for "creative, modern, yet simple interpretations of regional French cuisine," often presented in the most beautiful manner. In the chic lounge area, visitors enjoy delectable treats like chilled tiger prawns, oysters and duck fat fries. Talented Chef Shawn Applin recently joined the team, bringing menu standouts like the Anderson Ranch Lamb Loin (with charred eggplant puree, mustard seeds and mustard greens), the Ora King Salmon (with truffled lentils, crispy sunchokes, fines herbes) and the Coffee-Crusted Torchon of Foie Gras. For the grand finale, do not miss the hand-cut warm beignets (with Macallan butterscotch custard and confectioner's sugar). But perhaps, most importantly, patrons return for RN74's extensive wine list. From boutique Northwest wines to extremely rare vintages from Burgundy, RN74's collection of more than 2,200 bottle selections makes this a mecca for wine lovers from near and far.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Urban-style Korean comfort food shines in this welcoming, art-filled Fremont space.
Corinne's expert tip: RN74 Seattle made the 2018 list for Top 100 Wine Restaurants in America from Wine Enthusiast; friendly and knowledgable sommeliers will happily take you on a beautiful journey during your meal. (Check out the discount wall for last bottles with incredible price tags.)
If the crowd a restaurant draws is a measure of its standing, Shiro's reputation is assured. The unadorned space is one of Seattle's premier sushi spots, often filled with loyal local patrons, including sports stars, business executives and the rest of the city's ravenous raw-fish fans. White tablecloths drape the tables, but the prime spot can be found at the sushi bar, where the blade-wielding chefs slice fresh fish with utmost skill. Sitting here, you never know what kind of extra treats might come your way. The understated restaurant also features an extensive and well-chosen sake list. Shiro's sets the bar for fresh fish and friendly hospitality, even in a town overflowing with top-notch sushi venues.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Shiro's Sushi (the first Edomae-style restaurant in Seattle) draws loyal fans to its Belltown space, one of the city's premier sushi spots.
John's expert tip: Shiro's is known for offering samples that aren't on the menu. Each of the chefs here learned the essence of "Edomae" sushi preparation, which was developed and localized by original founder Shiro Kashiba.
While there are no wolves being braised here, just the thought â" How would one cook a wolf, where would you start? â" gets to the core of chef-owner Ethan Stowell's philosophy for this branch of his Seattle foodie empire (Tavolata, Staple & Fancy, etc). He breaks things down to their base elements, deconstructing dishes to the bare essence of their perfectly-chosen ingredients. Stowell achieves this through a simple and rustic take on Italian-inspired plates, served in a sleek, urban-lodge space, outfitted in rough-stacked stone and unfinished vertical wood paneling. Start with the some Sea Wolf sourdough, soft-cooked eggs and seared cauliflower before moving onto mains like the sea scallops, potato gnocchi and roasted lamb leg.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Ethan Stowell "wows" crowds at How to Cook a Wolf, where rustic, Italian-inspired plates steal the show.
John's expert tip: You won't learn how to cook a wolf here, but you will enjoy the food of one of Seattle's most innovative chefs. Check out Ethan Stowell's many other gems around town, like Tavolata and Staple & Fancy.
Expertly prepared Vietnamese cuisine consistently draws a hungry crowd to this family-run restaurant with locations in Bellevue and Seattle. The menu changes seasonally and offers an extensive selection, ranging from fresh, rotating oysters to crispy vegetarian rolls and barbecued Carlton Farms pork spare ribs. Vegetarians relish the lemongrass tofu, while omnivores delight in the rich flavors unleashed in banana leaf-wrapped halibut, lemongrass clay pot chicken and crispy, Washington-grown drunken chicken (a true show-stopper). Efficient service and reasonable prices add to the appeal, as does a weekend dim sum brunch. If you enjoy the welcoming outposts of this flavorful restaurant, be sure to also visit its local "siblings," Central Smoke and Ba Bar.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Monsoon features traditional Vietnamese cuisine made with Northwest ingredients, served in a contemporary setting that's ideal for a cozy weekend brunch or celebratory group dinner.
Corinne's expert tip: If you enjoy the Seattle and Bellevue outposts of this delicious restaurant, be sure to visit its local "siblings", Central Smoke and Ba Bar.
This once-tiny restaurant, greatly expanded in 2007, offers incredible views of the Market and the Puget Sound, courtesy of huge, semicircular windows. Flawless seafood is the name of the game, and it's collected fresh from vendors set up in the market below. Oyster sandwiches, often eaten at the counter, are much-coveted at lunchtime, and dinner calls forth such delicacies as tortilla-crusted Alaskan halibut, pan-roasted wild salmon and mussels steamed with chorizo, chermoula and cava. In the evenings, the atmosphere turns to candlelit and romantic, although tables are at a premium. Don't leave without treating yourself to a Candy Bar Square or scoop of the daily sorbet.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Matt's in the Market brings mouth-watering fare to a welcoming space above Pike Place Market.
John's expert tip: For the most simple and authentic local lunch, grab a seat at the bar and enjoy a halibut fishwich or grilled St. Jude's albacore tuna sandwich.
In Upper Fremont, RockCreek Seafood & Spirits proves a popular restaurant and bar that welcomes diners to its airy, inviting space every day of the week. Here Chef Eric Donnelly perfectly prepares unexpected fish alongside the classics. Donnelly does a great job of transitioning fish between warmer and colder seasons; take examples like the Whole Roasted Grecian Branzino (with warm roasted eggplant purée, pickled onions, mint, sumac) and the Neah Bay Rockfish (with caramelized onion jam, pickled leek, pistachio, sherry gastrique and parsley). Other great dishes include the Hawaiian Tombo Tuna Tartare, the Barbecued Spanish Octopus, the Fresh Campanelle Pasta and Braised Oregon Rabbit. Loyal guests return regularly for the friendly vibe, the savory stew dishes, the creative cocktails, the killer brunches, plus the cozy-chic decor inside this urban-industrial, two-story 'fishing lodge.'
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: One of the city's newer "hot spots," Westward & Little Gull is a water-inspired restaurant and bar on the northern edge of Lake Union.
Corinne's expert tip: Check out the happenin' hip-hop brunch the last Sunday of every month; think live DJ and MC-inspired dishes (like pancakes galore)! No reservations; first come, first served.
Dining at The Herbfarm is an event. In fact, just getting in can be a process, since this culinary jewel is booked months in advance for its legendary prix fixe feast of Pacific Northwest fare. The nine-course meal plays out over four or five hours, with perfect regional wine pairings poured along with each dining selection. According to travel guides, this is diamond-level dining. With a strictly regional focus, each meal is seasonally themed, whether Copper River salmon in spring or root vegetables in winter. The greens and herbs that augment main dishes come from the restaurant's own garden, picked by one of your servers. Along with each course comes dialogue from the chef, who informs diners about the specifics of what's on their plates. Finish off with Douglas Fir sorbet, a standby standout at The Herbfarm.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The Herbfarm, which books up months in advance, serves delectable prix-fixe feasts that showcase Pacific Northwest fare.
John's expert tip: This is probably the most detailed and extravagant multi-course dining experience in a three-state radius, and it should be on the bucket list of any true foodie. If you want to make an evening out of it (and fully indulge in the venue's alluring wine pairings), book a room at Willows Lodge, located a stone's throw from the restaurant's front door.
No Seattle food guide would be complete without a mention of Canlis, for generations a stalwart standby for special occasions and memorable dining experiences. The traditional, white-tablecloth dining room lets visitors take in serene views of beautiful and busy Lake Union below. Such stunning surroundings only enhance the phenomenal gustatory experience, which includes offerings of stuffed chicken, lamb shank with pureed mint and garlic, plus delectable cuts of beef and fresh seafood. For diners who can't decide, a great option is the fixed price menu; each of the five courses gets paired with the appropriate glass of wine from the spectacular Canlis cellar. In fact, Canlis is one of only 85 restaurants worldwide to have received the "Grand Award" for its wine collection.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: Canlis has become an institution, beloved for its fine fare, impeccable service and stunning views of Seattle, Lake Union and the Cascade Mountains.
John's expert tip: After dinner at Canlis, you will have enjoyed wine from one of the most awarded wine collections anywhere (as proven by its win of the 2017 James Beard Outstanding Wine Program Award).
Award-winning Chef Renee Erickson (The Whale Wins, Bateau, Barnacle, Bar Melusine) partnered with Business Manager Jeremy Price and Developer Chad Dale to realize her longtime vision for an oyster bar. It makes perfect sense then, that she would do it in her own neighborhood. The Walrus and the Carpenter blends the elegance of France with the casual comfort of a local fishing pub. "The idea is to serve the highest quality food and drink in a space that is stripped of pretense and feels like home." Opened in 2010, The Walrus and The Carpenter proves one of the city's most delicious and popular culinary scenes (and for good reason). Expect tallboys, Muscadet, piles of chubby oysters, a delightful array of local cheeses, meat delights like steak tartare and smart plates served in a lively, approachable space in Old Ballard.
Recommended for Best Restaurants because: The Walrus and the Carpenter blends the elegance of France with the casual comfort of a local fishing pub in a charming Old Ballard space.
Corinne's expert tip: There is almost always a line at this walk-ins-only hot spot, so arrive early and be prepared to grab a leisurely drink or two in a nearby venue. (Tempting watering holes range from King's Hardware and the front bar at Sunset Tavern to cocktail hubs like The Gerald.)