Seattle's Culinary Gurus Keep Food Local, Sustainable, Fresh & Fun

Seattle sits at the forefront of foodie culture, so options here are endless when it comes to finding local flavor. This proves excellent news for residents and visitors alike, especially those who are particularly fond of seafood. In order to direct travelers toward sure-bet eateries, 10Best narrows the options to those places with the most appeal and the best reputations. In case time is of the essence, we present our Best Restaurants list, a special selection of 10 places that promise a stellar experience and a taste of the city that represents the essence of Seattle dining.

While some venues showcase the region's local bounty of seafood, meats, cheeses, produce, wines and more, others bring exotic ethnic cuisines to this corner of the States. Whether you are an adventurous diner or one who likes to stick within your comfort zone, you will find options that suit your fancy. Master chefs here introduce us to flavors ranging from sushi and curries to barbecue and jambalaya, and restaurants offer ambiances that run the gamut from casual and chill to fancy and fine. Wherever you land or whatever the occasion, just be sure to bring your appetite!


The Whale Wins
Photo courtesy of The Whale Wins

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.

Photo courtesy of RN74

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.

Shiro's Sushi

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.


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.


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.

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.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Atkinson/Kirsten Graham PR

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.'

Herbfarm Restaurant

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.

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.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Price/The Walrus and the Carpenter

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.


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