Savor SeattleĀ'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 and Taylor Shellfish Farms).

As if local fisheries didn’t 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 uncooked protein, as a humble but delicious grilled salmon sandwich handed over a counter in Pike Place Market (Matt’s in the Market) or a stunning lobster presentation set on white linen (Aqua), Seattle seafood proves as varied as the city itself.


Elliott's Oyster House
Photo courtesy of Mike Urban, Courtesy Elliott's Oyster House

True to its handle, this waterfront establishment serves views of bustling Elliott Bay along with its oysters; more than 30 varieties. From the outside, Elliott's looks like little more than a shack, but the interior is cozy enough to accommodate lots of folks, especially if a laid-back, casual meal is on the slate. If you're on your own, sidle up to the 21-foot oyster bar for convivial dining. Menu highlights include the aforementioned oysters (prepared just about any way imaginable), crab, lobster and more. The venue also boasts an excellent wine list, local brews and a highly-desirable happy hour menu.

Recommended for Seafood because: Elliott's Oyster House offers not-to-be-missed seafood in a not-to-be-missed spot--by the water's edge in downtown Seattle.

John's expert tip: The popular "Progressive Happy Hour" happens Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. in the lounge--meaning freshly shucked oysters on the half--shell that start at just 75 cents a piece at 3 p.m.

Read more about Elliott's Oyster House →

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: Less rustic is the restaurant's newer fine-dining room (upstairs). 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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This restaurant, with its island accents and Polynesian-tinged menu, is a great place to applaud a promotion, celebrate an anniversary or treat simply yourself. Views of the city and Puget Sound draw your attention, but the menu has a seductive appeal too. Its emphasis on Northwest cuisine is especially apparent in seafood. Large king crab legs are served on a cedar plank, as is salmon and a number of other entrees. Grilled prawns, Dungeness crab cakes, tuna and mahi mahi are also among the options you'll agonize over. The creamy seafood chowder is an event in itself; make sure to try it.

Recommended for Seafood because: One of Seattle's most lauded fine-dining seafood houses, Palisade is well worth a mealtime visit.

John's expert tip: It's a high compliment that some of the region's finest chefs got their start at this venerable Seattle fine-dining seafood house with a wonderful waterfront view.

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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. Oyster sandwiches, often eaten at the counter, 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 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 →

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, gradens and farms.

Corinne's expert tip: Enjoy weekend brunch and the "Whale Call Happy Hour" Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m.

Read more about The Whale Wins →

Shiro's Sushi

The straightforward decor at this popular restaurant allows taste buds to focus on the culinary adventure. Among the loyal patrons, you'll find sports celebrities, business people and local sushi-lovers. The first "edomae" restaurant in Seattle, Shiro's serves miso soup, seaweed salad, poke and a vast variety of sushi delights to please every palate. In its original translation, Edomae Ā– "Edo", the old name for Tokyo, and "Mae", meaning front, referred to the fish caught in Tokyo Bay. Today the meaning refers to the traditional Tokyo way of preparing sushi ,but using fish from regional waters. Shiro's Tasting Menu includes an appetizer, sashimi, entrees, sushi, soup and dessert.

Recommended for Seafood because: At Shiro's Sushi, the skilled chefs ensure that diners go on a memorable culinary adventure.

John's expert tip: Shiro's is known for offering samples that aren't on the menu, and when it comes to fresh and innovative raw seafood, this Seattle standby can't be beat.

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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.'

Recommended for Seafood because: In Upper Fremont, RockCreek Seafood & Spirits proves a popular venue that welcomes diners to its airy, inviting neighborhood space every day of the week.

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.

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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 piano music is a nightly treat from 5 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.

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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 long-time 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 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 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.

Read more about The Walrus and the Carpenter →

Westward & Little Gull
Photo courtesy of Photo by Sarah Flotard

One of the city's most bustling hot spots on warmer days, Westward is a water-inspired, full-service restaurant and bar that first opened its sails in the fall of 2013 on the north shore of Lake Union. Chef WIll Gordon sends out delectable, innovative dishes that balance contemporary Northwest and Mediterranean flavors with an approach called "natural and continually evolving, reflecting the simplicity of great products, fresh ingredients and the changing seasons. A wood-burning oven anchors the kitchen, and each seat in the restaurant boasts stunning views of the lake and cityscape. Outside, a large deck, fire pit and beach area provide the ideal vantage point for sipping cocktails in the warmer months or to snuggle under wool blankets (provided by the venue) in the winter. A 100-foot dock provides boat parking or a place to tie up kayaks while enjoying servings of oysters or creative cocktails.

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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