No dinner at JuneBaby is complete without biscuits or the superb pimento cheese.

JuneBaby

Southern

Chef Edouardo Jordan cemented his fine-dining cred at Salare, but his second restaurant is far more personal: A thoughtful telling of southern food, from crowd-pleasers like biscuits and Sunday-only fried chicken to more culturally nuanced fare like chitterlings and oxtail. A few seasonal dishes hint at Jordan’s high-end training, while desserts like bourbon dark chocolate bread pudding and hummingbird cake make you want to hunt down pastry chef Margaryta Karagodina and hug her tenderly. There’s a reason this restaurant is on the national radar.

Delancey

Italian

This Ballard haunt has been open for nearly a decade, and still people wait upwards of an hour for simple combos of carefully sourced, often seasonal toppings on char-bubbled crusts. While Delancey’s name and pizza style nod to New York, chef Brandon Pettit’s pillowy-crackly crusted pie with untempered tomato brightness and toppings of Zoe’s bacon, cremini mushrooms, maybe squash blossoms or basil, have become a Seattle institution. Impeccable seasonal salads and those bittersweet chocolate chip cookies dusted with gray salt only seal the deal.

Joule

Global/Korean

One of Seattle’s genuinely electrifying culinary adventures is Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi’s Korean-fusion steak house—close quarters buzzing with loud music and a lively vibe—where the humblest cuts of beef (chuck steak, short ribs) get draped in chili sauces and fermented tofu and served with sides like rice cakes with greens and chorizo or Chinese broccoli with walnut pesto, all with admirable consistency. The room is swank and modern; weekend brunch, with its serve-yourself lineup of salads and pastries is legitimately fascinating.

Il Corvo

Italian

Don’t underestimate this order-at-the-counter, lunch-only joint; its pasta is legitimately transcendent, and quantum leaps ahead of the field in creativity. On weekday mornings pasta geek Mike Easton blogs photos of that day’s handful of seasonal choices—maybe creste di gallo pasta with braised Treviso, garlic, chilies, and olives; maybe gnocchetti with sweet corn and sage—which pulls Pioneer Square office workers in droves. Easton’s repertoire is bottomless, his seasonality admirable, his passion winning. A couple of salads and a dessert round out the offerings, making this ticket to Italy no more than $20. Arrive early; lines can be epic.

Lark

American/New American

John Sundstrom relocated his fanatically beloved Lark to the warehousey flank of Pike/Pine off Madison, spinning out a starlit space—deep blue banquettes, white linens, a welkin of pendants overhead—as elegant as any in town. Out of the rafters he carved a casual lofted upstairs dining room, downstairs a proper bar area with plenty of bitter cocktails. But Lark, once the upstart that pioneered small-plate dining, has become the noble elder; grown-ups come here for that disappearing species—relaxing high-end dinners—assembled from a combination of mains and Sundstrom’s famous grains. The menu is long and speckled with old favorites (the eel with saba, the skillet of mascarpone-creamy farro) and executed, as in the crisped pork belly with farro grits and a rye whiskey glaze, with Sundstrom’s reliably able hand.

Marination

Global/Hawaiian

First there was the award-winning truck introducing us to Marination’s signature collisions of Korean and Hawaiian flavors. Then came the brick-and-mortar takeout, Marination Station—with another, simply Marination, now a lunchtime staple at Sixth and Virginia downtown. But the city’s favorite is Marination Ma Kai, just off the foot ferry on the West Seattle shore, which peddles pork katsu sandwiches, Spam sliders, fish-and-chips, Hawaiian shave ice, and booze—with a side of full-frontal Seattle skyline on the house.

Canlis balances modern fare with classics like the Peter Canlis prawns.

Image: Olivia Brent

Canlis

Northwest

The only restaurant in the city to legitimately rate as mythic has been perched out over the vertiginous eastern edge of Queen Anne Hill since 1950. That makes it about as classic as it gets around here—right down to the midcentury split-level architecture, the dress code in the dining room, the noblest mixed drinks in town, the fathoms-deep wine list, the perfectionist standard of service (where the valets remember your car without aid of a claim ticket), and the whole breathtaking sweep of Lake Union twinkling just beyond the windows. Because the third generation of Canlis family restaurateurs insists on culinary relevance, the food is every bit as grand: Both the warhorses (yes, the Canlis salad is still on the menu) and chef Brady Williams’s more experimental, rigorously Northwest multicourse dinners are genuinely impeccable. Service has been updated as well, to a most intelligent and nimble brand of affability.

Matt's in the Market

Northwest

This spendy upstairs aerie in Pike Place Market effortlessly combines Seattle’s winningest charms: views over market rooftops to the bay, freshest seafood, straightforward friendliness. Dishes are globally tweaked and chefs (and bartenders) are master executors. Lunch is not overlooked; sandwiches (particularly the catfish) are brilliant.

RockCreek Seafood and Spirits

Seafood

Chef Eric Donnelly built his casual raw-beamed fish house as a Montana fishing lodge smack in the heart of upper Fremont. And if the deep menu seems overambitious—a dozen each of small plates and large ones, and that’s just the seafood—Donnelly has navigated his share of long menus in corporate restaurants, with startling success. Here, his wild prawns over grits is a sure-handed and bright Napa Valley–style plate; his mad variety of finfish preparations, often topped with handfuls of leafy herbs, are exact and supremely satisfying. Affable service completes the picture; a perfect place to bring your out-of-town guests when they say they want fish. Open late. 

Dick's

Burger

Nothing soaks up an evening’s intemperance better than a Dick’s deluxe burger with fries and a shake, served till 2am every night of the week. The original Wallingford drive-in debuted in 1954 and has since hatched six more locations, each with the same streamlined menu, eye-catching signs, and 5-cent surcharge for ketchup.

Salumi

Italian

Yeah, this is the place you keep hearing about: the sliver of a Pioneer Square salumeria where the Batali clan drew on old family recipes and Armandino Batali’s Tuscan butcher training to create a product quite unlike any other in town. Salumi is only open at lunch—after nearly 20 years, there’s still a line every day waiting for them to unlock the doors—for gloriously unwieldy porchetta or prosciutto or aromatic meatballs, and much more. You may eat at a communal table; probably you’ll have to take it to go. You can also carry out the coppa or prosciutto or fresh sausage that’s available only on Fridays.

Sitka and Spruce

Small Plates

It’s a food lab, it’s an artist’s garret—it’s genius chef Matt Dillon’s sun-drenched farmhouse dining room, where you can spy the food merchants of Melrose Market through vintage panes. Sit at the butcher’s table to watch Dillon’s crew assemble plates which satisfy at an unusually elemental level—simple constructions, like sweet whole carrots over chickpea puree with harissa and fried mint, strike global, even tribal notes, and as tone poems of Northwest place and moment, they may take your breath away.

Shiro Kashiba holds court at his extralong sushi counter in Pike Place Market.

Image: Sarah Flotard

Sushi Kashiba

Japanese/Sushi

Shiro Kashiba is a verifiable sushi legend in this town; a half-century after he arrived from Japan to become Seattle’s first sushi chef, Kashiba opened this serene restaurant in the heart of Pike Place Market, where people queue up for a spot at the 14-seat sushi bar and perhaps the most pristine sushi experience Seattle has to offer. If you’re more into reservations than long waits, the dining room offers the same omakase menu as the counter, plus classic Shiro dishes a la carte. To clear up any confusion: The chef is no longer affiliated with his previous more casual restaurant, Shiro’s in Belltown, though it still bears his name and is still worth a visit.

Un Bien

Latin

The sons of the original Paseo founder opened Un Bien with their dad’s recipes—which makes this Caribbean roast sandwich the legendarily messy original: pork shoulder, caramelized onions, pickled jalapenos, all on an aioli’d Macrina roll. A blast to eat, especially with a cob of slathered grilled corn—but have multiple napkins handy. Two locations bookend Ballard.

The Walrus and the Carpenter Oyster Bar

Small Plates

Settle into the whitewashed-and-windowpaned rusticity (dig the enormous, coralesque chandelier) of Renee Erickson’s Ballard oyster bar and nibble a melon and cucumber salad or the house specialty, fresh oysters with champagne mignonette. Or cobble together a few heartier dishes—gin-cured Copper River salmon, perhaps, or breathtaking steak tartare with egg yolk and toast—and call it dinner. Thoughtfully selected Euro wines and a list of Frenchy cocktails lubricate richly. From its position on the backside of Ballard Avenue’s Staple and Fancy (the two share a windowed wall) the Walrus is at once at the center of everything and away from it all; on the back patio you can smell the tide turning.

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In this Article

Editor’s Pick

The Walrus and the Carpenter

$$ Oyster Bar, Small Plates 4743 Ballard Avenue NW

Settle into the whitewashed-and-windowpaned rusticity (dig the enormous, coralesque chandelier) and of Renee Erickson's Ballard oyster bar and nibble a melon...

Editor’s Pick

Un Bien

$ Latin Multiple Locations

The sons of the original Paseo founder opened Un Bien with their dad’s recipes—which makes this Caribbean roast sandwich the legendarily messy original: pork...

Sushi Kashiba

$$$ Japanese, Sushi 86 Pine St #1

Shiro Kashiba is a verifiable sushi legend in this town; a half-century after he arrived from Japan to become Seattle’s first sushi chef, Kashiba opened this...

Editor’s Pick

Sitka and Spruce

$$$ Small Plates 1531 Melrose Ave

It’s a food lab, it’s an artist’s garret—it’s genius chef Matt Dillon’s sun-drenched farmhouse dining room, where you can spy the food merchants of Melrose M...

Editor’s Pick

Salumi

$ Italian 309 Third Ave S

Yeah, this is the place you keep hearing about: the sliver of a Pioneer Square salumeria where the Batali clan drew on old family recipes and Armandino Batal...

Editor’s Pick

Dick's Drive-In

$ Burgers Multiple Locations

Nothing soaks up an evening’s intemperance better than a Dick’s deluxe burger with fries and a shake, served till 2am every night of the week. The original W...

Editor’s Pick

Rock Creek Seafood and Spirits

$$ Seafood 4300 Fremont Ave N

Chef Eric Donnelly built his casual raw-beamed fish house as a Montana fishing lodge smack in the heart of upper Fremont. And if the deep menu seems overambi...

Editor’s Pick

Matt's in the Market

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

Like its surroundings, this second-story hideaway has evolved over the years but remains the market's culinary epicenter–collegial by day, elegant by night, ...

Editor’s Pick

Canlis

$$$$ Northwest 2576 Aurora Ave N

The only restaurant in the city to legitimately rate as mythic has been perched out over the vertiginous eastern edge of Queen Anne Hill since 1950. That mak...

Editor’s Pick

Marination

$ Global, Hawaiian Multiple Locations

First there was the award-winning truck introducing us to Marination’s signature collisions of Korean and Hawaiian flavors. Then came the brick-and-mortar ta...

Editor’s Pick

Lark

$$$$ American/New American 952 E Seneca St

John Sundstrom relocated his fanatically beloved Lark to the warehousey flank of Pike/Pine off Madison, spinning out a starlit space—indigo banquettes, white...

Editor’s Pick

Il Corvo Pasta

$ Italian 217 James Street

Don’t underestimate this order-at-the-counter, lunch-only joint; its pasta is legitimately transcendent, and quantum leaps ahead of the field in creativity. ...

Editor’s Pick

Joule

$$$ Global, Korean 3506 Stone Way N

One of Seattle’s genuinely electrifying culinary adventures is Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi's Korean-fusion steak house—close quarters buzzing with loud musi...

Editor’s Pick

Delancey

$$ Italian 1415 NW 70th St

This Ballard haunt has been open for nearly a decade, and still people wait upwards of an hour for simple combos of carefully sourced, often seasonal topping...

Editor’s Pick

JuneBaby

$$ Southern/Creole/Cajun 2122 NE 65th St

Chef Edouardo Jordan cemented his fine-dining cred at Salare, but his second restaurant is far more personal: A thoughtful telling of southern food, from cro...