Fast-casual poke joints stormed Seattle this year, but this International District spot serves a classic island-style version of Hawaii’s raw fish salad. Brothers Bayley, Michael, and Trinh Le take their family’s commercial fishing background seriously: Fresh-tasting cubes of ahi, salmon, and tako in a sesame-soy marinade, then heaped with fixings constitutes one of the best offerings in the city’s crowded poke field.
Sunchokes and Brussels Sprouts
Just try to define the food now served beneath the Pushkin-inspired murals in Capitol Hill’s Loveless Building. Mashups like the broccoli dip made with Cheetos get more attention, but a spray of brussels sprouts and sunchokes with bacon (obvious) plus medjool dates and salt cod cream (notsomuch) cast chef Zac Reynold’s rule-breaking tendencies in their most tasty light.
In a city where memorable sandwiches generally involve a half pig’s worth of meat, a South Lake Union newcomer shot straight into the pantheon of the best on the strength of tender lobster—with enough knuckle and claw to sustain a decent back-alley scuffle—and a soft, white split-top roll. Any other kind earns the ire of Bar Harbor owner and Maine native Ben Hodgetts.
Dateri e Prosciutto
Brendan McGill’s hardware store–turned–Bainbridge pizzeria takes three potentially dominant flavors (sweet dates, salty prosciutto, and a generous amount of balsamic) and coaxes them into sublime cooperation on top of a wood-fired crust that customers cut into slices with scissors.
Brisket Breakfast Taco
The popular barbecue truck now has a restaurant in the Central District, and the kitchen capabilities to put generous cubes of masterfully smoked brisket inside a flour tortilla, with layers of spicy pinto beans and scrambled egg nestled on top. Though they appear only on weekends, the breakfast tacos help make a case that Wood Shop’s the heart of Jackson Street’s fledgling restaurant zone.
Uncle Sau Pizza
Your senses need a minute to catch up with the Uncle Sau—with the jalapeños that supplant peppers, the shreds of pork suffused with caramelized fish sauce in lieu of sausage. Is that…coriander in the pesto? In less capable hands, Vuong Loc’s minimalist pizzeria—which also specializes in dumplings and flavors borrowed from his native Vietnam—would be a fusion punch line. Instead it’s like that pizza, confounding and great.
Double Grilled Cheese
Fans will tell you grits are the big thing here. But it’s hard to stray from American and pimento cheese pressed to peak melting between slices of bread on a hot griddle (above). Pimento cheese may be a staple of the South, but a meal at this homespun breakfast and lunch counter has become a fundamental Pike Place Market experience.
Tatsuta-age Sweetbread Risotto
Risotto was Italy’s game, until Mount Baker’s understated new destination restaurant took it international with a bright combo of mizuna, dill, parsley, and chervil—a UN summit in a sunlit herb garden. The fried sweetbreads on top recast a badass Japanese drinking snack as a crunchy crowning achievement.
Stone Way’s much-heralded new bakery takes laminated croissant dough to creative new places, but not in that novelty cruffin-cronut-crookie kind of way. The cinnamon rolls—raisins, no icing, still plenty sticky—began as a weekend-only special, but now appear whenever the staff has a free moment, and a free oven.
Don’t let all the monochrome fool you; John Sundstrom’s combo of roasted garlic, smoky mozzarella, and parmesan over white sauce is a complex vegetarian triumph; the Lark chef’s 12th Avenue pizzeria even sells it by the quarter pie.
Guay Tiow Khaek
Pestle Rock was the best Thai restaurant in Ballard. Until its owners opened a megacasual Southeast Asian noodle bar next door, where so much happens inside each fortifying bowl. This seafood soup with fat, square noodles looks lighter than the rest of the meaty, brothy lineup. But that’s before you dive into the rich coconut curry broth that sparks and snaps with chili oil.