Whether you’re bringing the fam, are in Seattle on business, hitting the town for a date night, or just all business about the art of fine dining, there are options for every size party and palate. Whether your preference is the city’s signature salmon, Syrian cuisine, or a sexy dinnertime cabaret performance, here’s a guide to Seattle’s most essential restaurants. Not in Seattle? Browse more than 48,000 restaurants on OpenTable to find one that’s right for you.
Most iconic: Dahlia Lounge
About to celebrate three decades in 2019, helmed for one of those decades by executive chef Brock Johnson, the love for Dahlia’s local, sustainable, and organic cuisine blooms eternal between Seattle visitors and regulars alike. If you’re looking to taste quintessential Seattle fare, this is the spot. Expect seasonable entrees inspired by the Pacific Northwest including Dungeness crab cakes, Washington Coast lingcod, and Neuwaukum Valley squash soup. Movie buffs may recall that the original Dahlia Lounge on Fourth Avenue was captured in time in Sleepless in Seattle. Make a reservation at Dahlia Lounge.
Great for seafood: RockCreek Seafood & Spirits
While salmon may be Seattle’s signature staple, there’s way more than that to explore on a globally sourced menu at RockCreek that also features tropical fish like Kona kampachi and Hawaiian ono, or East Coast stalwarts like striped bass. Even Vietnamese flavors like nuoc cam make an appearance in the seared Norwegian mackerel salad with roasted eggplant, mint, basil, and tomatoes. There’s plenty of room to spread out for a spread with an urban-industrial two-story “fishing lodge” setup, a large indoor dining area, oversized patio, bar, and an upstairs loft with a separate private dining room. Make a reservation at RockCreek Seafood & Spirits.
Best for a large group: Mamnoon
The flavors of Lebanon and Syria are brought to the table in Seattle in a vibrant rainbow of colors, flavors, and spices at Mamnoon. Family-style, fixed-price dinners and lunches bring many of the same favorites from the a la carte menu, including harra frites with aleppo, fresno, cilantro, za’atar mayonnaise, and harra ketchup; mahi-ye-sabzi, with herbed stuffed seasonal fish, barberries, local zucchini, almonds, and caramelized yogurt; and salatet fattoush with local chicories, celery, fennel, radish, sweet onion, sumac, olives, herbs, pepitas, and crispy pita. A portion of all restaurant proceeds support civil liberties and refugee organizations so you can feel just as warm about eating here as the freshly made hummus. Make a reservation at Mamnoon.
Best for brunch: Bar Melusine
Green and white tiles evoke the colors of the sea at Bar Melusine, where James Beard Award-winner for Best Chef Northwest Renee Erickson brings French-Atlantic fusion to life in the form of oysters in cucumber and lemon sauce and buckwheat crepes filled with smoked ham and camembert. The lamb, meat, and vegetables served here are from her 30-acre farm, La Ferme des Anes (The Donkey Farm), on nearby Whidbey Island. Make a reservation at Bar Melusine.
Bachelor/bachelorette spot: mBar
Sexy and modern, along with amazing views and outdoor seating for all of the best selfies, Mbar (pictured, top) manages to be both a romantic date spot and one that ups the cool factor for groups of friends bidding singlehood sayonara. Cocktails are clutch for the latter scenario, so squeeze into the stilettos to sip the Weekend Lover featuring gin, honey syrup, lemon, butterfly pea flower, and lavender bitters; or the Love Out Loud with gin, chardonnay, spearmint, orgeat, lemon, orange flower water, and bitters. Small plates are meant for sharing among friends. Make a reservation at mBar.
Best splurge: Salare
The American South, Africa, the Caribbean Islands, and Europe — especially Italy — all come together at splurge-worthy Salare, appropriately in the Italian neighborhood of Ravenna. James Beard Award-winning chef Eduoardo Jordan was introduced to the term “salare” (to add salt to) when learning to make salumi in Bel Paese, and ancient methods for preserving foods is what inspires his menus back in the States. Besides a selection of homemade pastas featuring Trinidad chili curry and local Dungeness crab, for instance, there’s a large selection of international small bites like jerk wings with crème fraîche. There’s even a kids’ menu for adventurous eaters, featuring duck hash or cheesy polenta. Make a reservation at Salare.
Best view: Westward
The Space Needle restaurant is closed for reservations, but there are still plenty of other tempting views at Westward — along with more than a few tempting dishes. Wood-oven-roasted rainbow trout, scallop crudo, and steamed razor clams with harissa are all standouts on a menu that pays homage to “imaginative water-inspired Northwest fare.” The atmosphere is casual and laid-back with views of Lake Union and the city skyline. It’s not just valet, either — guests can pull up to the 100-foot dock via kayak, boat, or paddleboard. Make a reservation at Westward.
Dinner with a show: Pink Door
Finding iconic Pike Place Market is easy, but the Pink Door restaurant nestled nearby it, perhaps not so much. That’s all part of the charm, along with rustic Italian specialties that include homemade pastas and spicy cioppino seafood soup. That’s no surprise given the city’s proximity to the water and seafood markets, but what does raise eyebrows is the rotating schedule of fun entertainment like cabaret, trapeze artists, and tarot card readers. For a date night, consider the intimate dining room, or spend a more casual evening checking out incredible views of Elliot Bay from the deck. Make a reservation at Pink Door.
What are your picks for Seattle’s top restaurants — and on what occasion do you visit them? Let us know here or over on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.
Carley Wade is a travel writer whose experiences eating street food in Japan, English peas in the UK, free-range steak in Argentina, and Brussels sprouts at Estragon tapas in her hometown of Boston have provided unforgettable culinary inspiration. Shout out at firstname.lastname@example.org.