Seattle’s idiosyncratic restaurant scene reflects the Pacific Northwestern city itself: It’s laid-back, unconventional, and relentlessly innovative.
In Capitol Hill, a decorated chef pioneers a sustainable riff on the classic American steakhouse. A Madison Park pizzeria boasts an exceptionally inclusive business model. A seafood spot in Fremont serves up some of the most eco-friendly fish in the country. Sure, restaurants from coast to coast embrace the farm-to-table movement—but Seattle takes it to another level, with chefs partnering with plant breeders to grow their own experimental produce.
Much like the boundary-breaking tech companies that call Emerald City home, Seattle’s restaurants sit on the cutting-edge of American dining. To sample that creativity, book a table at one of these six unique spots now.
Bateau (Capitol Hill)
Bateau is a sustainably reimagined steakhouse from James Beard Award-winning chef Renee Erickson. Erickson’s innovative approach avoids the waste and environmental damage typically caused by the meat industry. Focused on whole-animal butchery, Bateau buys an entire cow carcass each week, plus one-to-three supplemental slabs of beef, which a staff butcher then cuts into steaks. Those cuts, sold by weight, are listed on a chalkboard in the dining room; once a diner orders their steak, it’s crossed off. The list features a finite supply of the prime cuts that are the bread and butter of most steakhouses, along with unique cuts typically considered too tough or small. Nothing is wasted—even trimmings that are usually scrapped are re-integrated into Bateau’s menu through inventive accompaniments such as the beef fat brioche.
Rasai Progressive Indian Kitchen (Fremont)
Executive chef Gaurav Raj takes traditional South Asian flavors and gives them a contemporary twist at this progressive Indian spot. Raj’s hybrid approach uses advanced gastronomy techniques honed during his time at celebrated San Francisco restaurants August (1) Five and Rooh, plus home-cooking skills he learned while stirring up treasured family recipes. The delicious results include culinary mashups such as paneer cactus rolls and jackfruit bao. Raj’s pantry is truly global, incorporating everything from togarashi (Japanese chile pepper) to ricotta into Indian cuisine.
Barking Frog (Woodinville)
This fine-dining restaurant at the Willows Lodge (just 30 minutes from Seattle) redefines farm-to-table cuisine. Executive chef Dylan Herrick, who worked his way up from a dishwasher, partners with Row 7 Seed Company to grow experimental potato, carrot, and pea varieties, often debuting them at his restaurant before other farmers and chefs in the state. Herrick works with the company to enhance certain natural flavors and textures already found in seasonal crops. Other produce at Barking Frog is sourced locally from producers that strictly adhere to regenerative agricultural practices. While a close relationship with farms is common for smaller fine-dining restaurants in Seattle, it’s rare for concepts as comprehensive as the Barking Frog, which dishes up breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily to guests of the lodge.
Takai by Kashiba (Bellevue)
Staff at this Bellevue sushi spot channel omotenashi, or bend-over-backwards Japanese hospitality. This requires servers to be personable but unassuming—a significant contrast to the service that’s offered at many Seattle restaurants, where individual expression comes first. Harman Thabel, who oversees the dining room and beverage program, is certified in omotenashi, an accreditation he earned while working at MICHELIN-starred Narisawa in the Japanese capital. Chef Jun Takai (a former apprentice of local sushi legend Shiro Kashiba) also adheres to traditions, using lesser-known dry-aging techniques on many of the courses on his ornate omakase menu. Takai’s menu stands out for its edomae-style sushi, one of Kashiba’s trademarks, made with seafood caught near Tokyo Bay.
RockCreek Seafood & Spirits (Fremont)
Executive chef Eric Donnelly, a Seattle native, champions seafood that’s known as “trash fish” at this airy, cabin-like restaurant. The term is a reference to edible but less desirable (though no less plentiful) fish found in the waters of nearby Neah Bay. Seattle’s got no shortage of excellent seafood spots but RockCreek stands out for its sourcing: Donnelly pads his menu with sustainable native and non-native catches such as rockfish, which is typically relegated to bycatch status, and wolf fish, an ugly but delicious white fish.
The Independent Pizzeria (Madison Park)
This beloved neighborhood pizzeria not only serves some of the best wood-fired pies in Seattle (the Norwalk, with sliced prosciutto, mozzarella, grana cheese, and arugula, is a must) but also boasts one of the city’s most progressive restaurant business models. The Independent is entirely worker-owned and -operated, with equal pay, profit-sharing, and cooperative decision-making. After sibling restaurant Dacha Diner closed in 2022, employees were folded into the pizzeria staff rather than laid off. Shortly after, when the 12-year-old pizzeria restructured itself, the employees became equal owners. It’s now a queer, trans, women, Asian, and Jewish-owned business thanks to an inclusive model that places it in a league of its own.
Alana Al-Hatlani is an assistant food editor for Southern Living in Birmingham, Alabama, but is a born and bred Seattleite recently transplanted to the South.
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