2011.09.30.seattlemet.revel.brent 25 cvrgdy

Revelers.

Image: Olivia Brent

Omigod, the outrage. The backlash. I can feel it even as I write.

There will be blowback for this because everyone has their list of Seattle’s indispensable restaurants—and if those restaurants are indispensable to them, then indispensable they are. Make no mistake: I’m not calling these the best, necessarily, or the best looking, or the places in possession of the best service.

I’m simply saying that these restaurants fill a need in this town that nothing else quite satisfies.*  They are places that, if they didn’t exist—someone would’ve had to invent them.

Disagree with my list? (You don’t say!) Let me know what you’d pick, and what niche you’d argue it fills that no place else does.

Un Bien

Every city has its cult favorite with long lines, low prices and, for bonus points, a legendary origin story. This is ours.

Matt’s in the Market

If guests are coming to town, you take them to Matt’s, period. It's where very good food meets very Northwest vibe meets quintessential Seattle view.

Cafe Presse

You can linger with a magazine from 7am to 2am. Great coffee by morning, oeufs all day, wine and cocktails after the party, and roast chicken to make you weep. Café Presse’s quotidian appeal coexists beautifully with the fact that there’s simply no more atmospheric place for a starving artist to impress a date.

Revel

Hipster Asian fusion got invented in this industrial room with the smokin’ bar.

Walrus and Carpenter

The simplest contemporary riffs on the Northwest’s signature bounty—our seafood—are happening here, along with electrifying cocktails. Don’t even try to question this one: 38,000 patrons a night are not wrong.

 * In the spirit of…I don’t know, something…I’ve removed the highest- and lowest-end indispensables from this list, mainly because it is a requirement of living in Seattle to know them already. Let’s say them in unison now, shall we? Canlis! Dick’s! 

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Editor’s Pick

The Walrus and the Carpenter

$$ Oyster Bar, Small Plates 4743 Ballard Avenue NW

No mortal restaurant can really live up to that national hype…right? Well, Renee Erickson’s merrily jostling oyster bar on Ballard Ave remains the gold stand...

Editor’s Pick

Cafe Presse

$$ French 1117 12th Ave

Le Pichet’s sibling on 12th Avenue captures Parisian bar–cafe culture in the form of international magazines, beautiful espresso, egg dishes by morning, and ...

Editor’s Pick

Matt's in the Market

$$$ Northwest, Seafood 94 Pike St, Ste 32

Dan Bugge’s restaurant on the second floor of Pike Place Market is the closest thing Seattle has to an essential restaurant. Named for its original owner, Ma...