Best Seafood in Seattle

Savor Seattle's Bounty of Regional, Fresh Seafood

Seattle gets well-deserved kudos for its bounty of fresh seafood. The region’s topography of protected bays and mountain-fed rivers leads to excellent homegrown seafood, including the iconic Northwest salmon and world-renowned shellfish (harvested at popular Washington spots like Hama Hama Oysters, Taylor Shellfish Farms and Fjordlux).

As if local fisheries didn’t already provide enough for chefs here to work with, Seattle’s Pacific Rim location also makes it close regional neighbors with Alaska and Japan, equally known for their abundance of quality seafood. Once all of this briny goodness arrives at port and gets distributed to local restaurants and fish markets, some of the best seafood chefs in the world get down to the business of filleting, slicing, grilling and sautéing.

In a city brimming with sushi joints, though, a healthy portion of the fish consumed in Seattle makes it to the table raw, at places such as Shiro’s. But whether delivered in the form of a humble but delicious fishwich handed over a counter in Pike Place Market (Matt’s in the Market) or a stunning lobster presentation set on white linen (Aqua by El Gaucho), Seattle seafood proves as varied as the city itself.


The Whale Wins
Photo courtesy of The Whale Wins

The Whale Wins is a 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 shoudl be sure to order the Hama Hama clams, halibut pate and Matiz sardines on toast.

Recommended for Seafood because: This popular Stone Way restaurant features the freshest fare found on regional beaches, gardens and farms.

Corinne's expert tip: Recent venue additions have included summer subscription CSA boxes. Craving a coffee treat before or after your meal? Pop next door to the welcoming Stone Way Cafe.

Read more about The Whale Wins →

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 below. St. Jude's albacore tuna and fischwich sandwiches are much-coveted at lunch, and dinner calls forth such delicacies as tortilla-crusted Alaskan halibut, pan-roasted wild salmon and mussels steamed with chorizo, charmoula and cava. In the evenings, the atmosphere is candlelit and romantic, although tables are at a premium. Don't leave without treating yourself to finales like the chocolate pot de creme, a signature dessert that's a perfect ending to the fantastic cuisine.

Recommended for Seafood because: Matt's in the Market promises delicious local dishes and iconic views in the heart of Pike Place Market.

John's expert tip: For the most simple and authentic local lunch, get a grilled salmon sandwich, a portion of smoky, delicious pure protein and omegas tucked gently between a flaky bun.

Read more about Matt's in the Market →

Otium Grill & Greens
Photo courtesy of Astra Hotel

Inside South Lake Union's brand-new Astra Hotel, part of Marriott's Tribute portfolio, there's a welcoming restaurant where hours can easily pass among the friendly staff in this beautifully-designed space. The menu showcases Mediterranean influences with some fresh, regional twists, and sharable dishes make the communal dining experience all that much more memorable. While seasonal veggies and locally-sourced meat dishes no doubt delight diners, the seafood options seem to steal the show; don't miss those starring fresh salmon, albacore and tuna crudo, too. Complementary cocktails and an enticing roster of Washington wines top off a sensational yet laidback dining experience for all.

Recommended for Seafood because: At a welcoming restaurant inside South Lake Union's brand-new Astra Hotel, enjoy Mediterranean-influenced fare with fresh and regional twists.

Corinne's expert tip: Beginning in late summer, don't miss the chance to also savor a drink-with-a-view at the hotel's ALTITUDE Sky Lounge®, being billed as Seattle's newest rooftop bar experience. Think stunning panoramic views, craft cocktails, locally sourced charcuterie and a live DJ on a weekly basis.

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Ray's Boathouse
Photo courtesy of Ray's Boathouse

A quintessential Seattle experience consists of having a meal at Ray's. Views of the mountains and the water, especially in sunset's glow, thrill diners almost as much as the cuisine. Located close to Golden Gardens, this venue makes the perfect dining spot after a windswept or sun-tinged day at the beach. While many dishes have Asian flair (like pan-seared scallops in green curry or kasu-marinated black cod), others revel in simple preparations, like oysters on the half-shell, crab cakes and grilled wild salmon. The downstairs venue offers upscale dining; the cafe upstairs is a bit more casual. A wonderful wine list ensures that you'll have a terrific vintage to complement the food.

Recommended for Seafood because: For more than four decades, this Seattle landmark has served fisherman's seafood, offering fresh, straightforward fare in a casual setting.

John's expert tip: For a more casual option than the fine-dining room, head upstairs to the bar area or to grab a window-side table. Views might even be a bit more sensational up here, too. This restaurant proves the perfect finale after a day at Golden Gardens beach.

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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; for example, take the Monkfish Bourguignon, which proves comforting hearty with parsnip puree and red wine jus. Other great dishes include the whole grilled Sea Bass with roasted cauliflower and Marcona almond romesco or the Icelandic Char with bacon and lentil ragout and a poached egg. Loyal guests return regularly for the friendly vibe, the savory stew dishes, the creative cocktails plus the cozy-chic decor inside this urban-industrial, two-story 'fishing lodge.' A covered patio is the venue's latest draw.

Recommended for Seafood because: In Upper Fremont, RockCreek Seafood & Spirits proves a popular venue that welcomes diners to its airy, inviting neighborhood space and covered patio.

Corinne's expert tip: Enjoy happy hour from 4 to 5:30 p.m. daily.

Read more about RockCreek →

Bamboo Sushi
Photo courtesy of Charles Koh

Seattleites are thrilled to see the return of the University Village outpost of Bamboo Sushi (founded in 2008), the world's first certified sustainable sushi restaurant. The sleek and welcoming eatery's Japanese-inspired menu includes nigiri, sashimi, crispy rice, signature and traditional rolls, small plates, bowls, Wagyu beef burgers, sake, wine, beer and cocktails. With delicious offerings that are sustainably caught, humanely raised and naturally grown, dines can feel good about their choices as they enjoy one of the best meals they've had in a long time.

Recommended for Seafood because: Seattleites are thrilled to see the return of the University Village outpost of Bamboo Sushi (founded in 2008), the world's first certified sustainable sushi restaurant.

Corinne's expert tip: Enjoy happy hour Monday through Friday, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Read more about Bamboo Sushi →

Bar Sur Mer
Photo courtesy of Bar Sur Mer

This hip new hangout in Greenwood comes from award-winning Executive Chef Eric Donnelly, and has already attracted eager locals. His third location, Bar Sur Mer is a hub for fresh seafood and regional veggies that's located next door to Donnelly's Flint Creek Cattle Co. and not far from his RockCreek Seafood & Spirits in Fremont This airy, much-anticipated space seats 35 and features oysters on the half shell plus a mix of sharable plates like jamón ibérico, wood-fired Spanish mackerel, wood-fired mushrooms, charred Mediterranean octopus and the not-to-be-missed beef tartare with quail egg. Beverage accompaniments include a variety of cocktails, Spanish wines, bubbles, beer and seltzers, too.

Recommended for Seafood because: This hip new hangout in Greenwood, from award-winning Executive Chef Eric Donnelly, is a friendly hub for fresh seafood and wood-fired veggies

Corinne's expert tip: This local hangout doesn't take reservations; grab a seat at the counter to chat with members of the culinary team and watch the action behind the bar.

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Aqua by El Gaucho
Photo courtesy of AQUA by El Gaucho

At Aqua by El Gaucho, bright, open spaces with sculptural lighting and barrel-backed chairs invite guests to check out great views and a wonderful, seafood-based menu. Although options change depending on what's fresh, you may find oven-roasted Manila clams to start or Northwest oysters served with grapefruit tequila sorbet. Main courses include lobster risotto, Thai seafood stew and sesame-seared sea bass. If you prefer meat, there's rack of lamb, pork tenderloin and grilled steaks. Vegetarians are pleased by plank-roasted vegetables, and desserts are eminently rich and satisfying no matter what you choose. Live music is a nightly treat from 5:30 p.m. on.

Recommended for Seafood because: Aqua by El Gaucho offers bright, open spaces, waterside views and seafood dishes that show off the splendor of the Northwest.

John's expert tip: On a clear day, views of the Olympic Mountains across Elliot Bay are unbeatable, especially from the deck. Passing ferries and other maritime activity are also on display, and sunsets from this vantage are spectacular.

Read more about Aqua by El Gaucho →

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 others from her trusted team 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 still 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 Seafood because: Award-winning Chef Renee Erickson delights at this buzzing spot that perfectly blends the elegance of France with the casual comfort of a local fishing pub.

Corinne's expert tip: There is nearly always a line at this walk-ins hot spot, so arrive early and be prepared to perhaps grab a leisurely drink in a nearby venue like Little Tin Goods & Apothecary Cabinet, Percy's & Co., Macleod's Scottish Pub or The Gerald.

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Sushi by Scratch Restaurants
Photo courtesy of Adahlia Cole

Chef Phillip Frankland Lee recently brought his Michelin-starred Sushi By Scratch Restaurants concept to Seattle's South Lake Union neighborhood. This theatrical and unique experience, found in an unexpected downtown space with true "speakeasy" vibes, includes a 17-course omakase meal that begins with a welcome cocktail in the hip whiskey bar. The group of 10 diners then progress into the intimate dining room, where an unforgettable, interactive meal awaits with the attentive team. The beverage pairing option features a delightful array of sake, cocktails and beer. Recent sushi standouts showcased ingredients like local albacore out of Washington, blue fin tuna out of Baja, Mexico, weathervane scallops out of Vancouver and ribeye Japanese wagyu. The mission statement according to Chef? "Elite-style food that's more affordable, accessible and fun."

Recommended for Seafood because: Chef Phillip Frankland Lee recently brought his Michelin-starred," speakeasy" concept to Seattle; the theatrical and unique experience features an unforgettable 17-course omakase meal.

Corinne's expert tip: With the coveted venue's reservation wait list currently tens of thousands of diners long, it's advisable to add your name as soon as possible.

Read more about Sushi by Scratch Restaurants →


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