Pie maestro Chris Porter spent his first years creating pies for delivery only, before opening a first iteration of A La Mode on Phinney Ridge and soon expanding into this slightly larger location in West Seattle. Porter has built a reputation for exquisite pie—tart key lime, the apple and ginger and pear, the coconut-kissed blueberry—all encased in careful, glorious, buttery crusts. The West Seattle cafe adds a lineup of savory pies and tarts, housemade ice creams (boozy shakes!), and dinner service.
North Admiral’s all-day cafe is white and serene with ample greenery and bulbs that dangle over concrete floors. And yet, this meticulously styled space has everything a neighborhood might need: roomy booths, lots of light, an inviting bar area with a long list of wine and beer and cocktail choices, $5 happy hour plates, abundant sandwiches on hearty toasted bread. But Arthur’s really shines in the morning hours with hearty egg bakes and other dishes more mindful than gutbuster; the avo smash is an herbaceous standout in a dining landscape littered avocado toast. The classic Australian breakfast and other down under nods (pavlova on the dessert menu, a proper flat white) are in honor of the owner’s Melbourne-born father. Food orders can take a while, but in the kitchen’s defense, most people seem to want to linger.
Laminated croissant dough reaches its highest expression with the twice-baked almond croissant, a luxury upgrade from the already-stellar traditional version at this three-outlet bakery. The crescents are sliced lengthwise here and spread with a rich filling that incorporates, among other things, almond meal, powdered sugar, and rum, then soaked in simple syrup and re-baked. Owner William Leaman has branched out into fine chocolates and other treats since opening in West Seattle in 2006. His desserts are all notable, but this croissant, over-the-top without toppling into excess, is a reminder that Leaman was once on the winning team at the World Cup of Baking.
Low light, vermilion walls, and wood filigrees that delicately evoke ancient Siam make this enduring West Seattle favorite one of the loveliest Thai restaurants around. But the crispy garlic chicken devotees—you know, the ones who order it for takeout three times a week—don’t need the place to be beautiful. They just need their fix: tender morsels of fried chicken, sauteed in garlic, fired with chiles, and served over crisped basil alongside jasmine rice.
The food is good, at times outright great, with a list of tacos, salads, soups, and the Mexican tapas called antojitos. Entrees hail from the American Southwest and the plains and playas of Mexico, eschewing standard-issue anything in favor of thinking eaters’ novelties like ahi tuna tamales with polenta cakes. Though the kitchen will occasionally rest on laurels—producing a mushy this, an overcooked that—one can always count on the succulent tamales (which sell out early)…and did we mention the margaritas?
The kitschy Chop Suey–typefaced signage just off California Avenue recalls evenings in front of the TV plucking beef and broccoli and chow mein from cardboard containers. Takeout is what you get, even if you’re dining at the snug counter that seats maybe eight. Orders arrive in plastic boxes in lieu of plates, hiding hearty dumplings like the kimchi mandu, the size of a Hostess fruit pie and filled with intensely savory pork. Or maybe the pork and chive dumpling, thick as a hockey puck and pan fried. There’s nothing subtle on the menu. But the people waiting in line don’t want subtle. They’re looking for the unctuous comforts of street food.
You may recognize Frankie and Jo’s from its ever-present lines spilling out of both Capitol Hill and Ballard locations. Or its calming pink color palette and smattering of cacti and other leafy friends that dwell inside its shops. But mostly the freshly churned frozen treats—brown sugar vanilla, chocolate date, salty caramel ash, gingered golden milk, mint brownie, beet rose sorbet, “three aggressively seasonal monthly flavors,” among others—remain the shop’s tastiest, Instagrammable achievements. Well, for this summer at least, the vegan scoop shop has graced West Seattle with a popup along Alki Beach through Labor Day. Find it at 2758 Alki Avenue Southwest, right around the corner from Mike Easton’s recently opened restaurant, Il Nido. It’s practically a Seattle expansion mode beach party. Indeed, Frankie and Jo’s is considering a permanent West Seattle location down the not-too-short road.
Husband-and-wife power couple and pastry pros Keiji Koh and Etsuku Minematsu supply their beloved bakeries—four in all across Seattle—with many a Japanese-inspired pastry, among them yuzu macarons, azuki bean mini bars, and black sesame tea cookies.
The kind of treasure every neighborhood should have, Husky has kept West Seattle in rich housemade ice creams (oh, the licorice!) since 1932. Fat deli sandwiches and gourmet foodstuffs round out the offerings, but it’s the historic sense of community here that keeps ’em coming.
Most people know Il Corvo as the Pioneer Square lunch destination where the line is a given—as is the conclusion that those bowls of pasta were well worth the wait. So chef Mike Easton's first foray into dinner service with Il Nido is an automatic big deal, even before you factor in the uncommon space, a 1904 log cabin now known as the Alki Homestead, which underwent a multiyear restoration process after a fire in 2009. A dual effort with his wife, Victoria Diaz Easton, the West Seattle restaurant focuses (unsurprisingly) on hand-formed pastas—the sort of labor-intensive stuff that won’t fly at Il Corvo given the volume—with a handful of secondi, vegetable dishes, and small starters.
At JaK’s the burgers come with a steak knife. A nice big one. You won’t necessarily need it; soy and Worcestershire sauces make the ground, corn-fed Nebraska beef extra tender and insanely moist, but the sharp, serrated blade is a nice touch just the same. JaK’s is, after all, an honest-to-gosh, Sinatra-on-the-stereo, brass-and-polished-cherry-wood steak house, and chances are good that your dining companions will be carving up filet mignon.
America’s ramen obsession generally centers on the blow-it-out porky tonkotsu style. But when three locals sought a Japanese ramen chain they could franchise in Puget Sound, they wanted one equally fluent in the charms of clear, chicken broth ramen styles like shio (salt) or shoyu (soy). The chain (previously known as Kukai) now has three locations around town, all of them reliably crowded.
When a fire temporarily shuttered this ristorante, West Seattleites acted like they’d lost their own homes. Their kitchens and dining rooms, anyway. La Rustica is the kind of place all its neighbors (and a few of its not-so-neighbors) regard as a home away from home—so much that its size is no match for its fan base. Whether they praise the undersize place as “cozy” or pan it as “cramped,” they generally agree that the mottled walls, interior streetlights, and dripping grapevines cast an appealing Roman luster over the room. Straight-up Italian food completes the picture—bruschettas, pizzas, pastas, a robust toss of gnocchi and housemade sausage, a deservedly renowned lamb shank special with risotto and grilled vegetables; all served with pillowy fingers of herbed garlic bread.
Chef Mark Fuller transformed his high-end, award-winning Spring Hill Restaurant into the more affordable, more Hawaiian Ma‘ono. The mood now is lighter, as if the West Seattle storefront is suddenly more comfortable in its skin. The menu’s down-market superstars, such as the beef burger and the saimin noodle bowl (with the richest smoked pork and ham broth in town), feel like the heart of the menu, with plates of Hawaiian fusion in the form of a burger with kimchi-imbued cheese on King’s Hawaiian sweet buns or Spam musubi. But here, best is the succulent chicken for which they changed the concept: Every night (reserve early!) about 30 all-natural birds are brined, soaked in buttermilk, dredged in flour, battered, floured yet again, fried in soybean oil—and, yes, fried one more time. The result is, well, perfect.
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.
Earlier this year, Hajime Sato sold his bustling West Seattle sushi joint to three longtime employees, but the restaurant retains an essential presence in the neighborhood—and its deeply traditional and thoroughly modern charm. Since phasing out Atlantic salmon, Southeast Asian shrimp, and other endangered and at-risk seafood, demand for Mashiko's seats and bar stools has only increased. With reusable chopsticks made from wheat products in hand, environmentally conscious eaters pout, just a little, about the soft-shell crab and black cod liver that no longer make the cut, and cheerfully inquire about the domestic catfish that replaces off-limits freshwater eel. (It’s marinated to almost the exact same sweet and buttery effect, without the hairy, sort of scratchy texture of unagi). Making sustainability seem sexy and slathering just a little cream cheese here and there? Only in Seattle, folks.
Wooing the Mount Baker neighborhood with its light-drenched space and its wood-fired pizza from the moment it opened in 2006, Tia and Jeremy Hardy's West Seattle location delivers a similar vibe. It’s just the kind of come-as-you-are-for-just-what-you-feel-like joint that raises community fellowship—and appetites. By morning there’s egg dishes, buttery pastries, and plenty of Caffe Vita espresso, followed by pizzas, sandwiches, and salads all day. At dinner there’s table service for the same menu of simple Italian eats. Blue-ribbon toppings generally best crusts in the execution department, but that stops none of the families who cram the joint from toting their doggie bags out the door.
The owners will insist this kitschy riff on old-school Chinese American dining is a bar, not a restaurant. Even though Ma‘ono chef Mark Fuller is the guy behind the menu of updated honey pecan prawns, barbecued pork, and the best General Tso’s chicken to ever come in contact with disposable chopsticks. Actually all the food comes in compostable takeout containers, even though the bar doesn’t do takeout. It’s all in the name of crowd control; this place gets busy. Cocktails are highly tropical, often frozen, and come in elaborate tiki glassware.
The Pacific Room is, in some ways, exactly what you’d expect from a freshly minted upscale spot with a great view of Alki: The space is minimalist and clean, with a fireplace or two scattered amongst brick walls and white-clothed tables. Those same clean lines show up on the menu: Pacific rockfish finished with butter and served with risotto, seared wild Alaskan salmon with asparagus and chermoula, and, of course, halibut and chips. Friday through Sunday, all dishes come with live jazz from the restaurant’s modest stage.
At this SoDo legend you order a shredded barbecue beef sandwich at a takeout window, sit in the parking lot, burn your lips off—and love every goopy minute. Firephobes: Order it mild; it tastes like a sloppy joe. A second location debuted in West Seattle back in 2016, but the barbecue joint has since opened a headquarters in Kent and is eyeing a much bigger goal: a nationwide franchise.
Verifiable Neapolitan pizza with the credentials to prove it, this West Seattle pizzeria on Admiral is ultralegit. See, owner Cary Kemp learned the ways of pizza napoletana on Via Tribunali in Naples before launching the local chainlet of Via Tribunalis circa 2004. Then the pizzaiolo opened this Admiral District spot in 2011 and has been sating the neighborhood with hot pies topped with the likes of buffalo milk mozzarella, sweet Italian sausage, and, for a couple of bucks, you can put an egg on it. Something wholly American though: wood-fired s’mores with melted chocolate and marshmallows bubbly and golden brown from the oven’s flames.
Jacques Nawar captains the glorious pizza napoletana situation in the Junction, where loyal diners come for his pies made with homemade mozzarella, imported Italian flour, and legit San Marzano tomatoes (it matters). As for what’s sourced closer to home: Pizzas are fired in an oven that burns applewood from Yakima.
Brian Clevenger still preps pasta the way he learned at San Francisco’s esteemed Delfina—housemade noodles cook briefly in simmering water, but mostly in the saute pan with the sauce, and a few ladles of pasta water for good measure. The difference is subtle, but there’s an almost creamy dimension to the strozzapreti in a ragù of pork shank, an extra richness to the spaghetti that crackles with anchovy and chili flakes. Like its sibling, Vendemmia, the West Seattle spot is all about pasta, fish, and vegetables—with more pasta and more tables. Some dishes, like hamachi crudo or a salad of dungeness crab and snap peas, feel more Northwest than Italian. Then again, isn’t using the best of what’s nearby and in season the most Italian approach of all?
Salty’s multi-level deck serves sweeping views of downtown and Elliot Bay all the way to Magnolia, alongside blackened wild salmon, seafood chowder, or halibut and chips. The yellow-and-white striped parasols provide ample shade while you make your pick from the sizable wine list, and poke your fork into a crabcake or two. On a bad weather day, the floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room ensure the view remains a panoramic backdrop to dinner.
Ma‘ono chef Mark Fuller’s a lot more fun since he pivoted away from Spring Hill’s fine dining expectations. So is his food. What his pizza bars on California Ave and the Ave lack in proper plates or utensils, or napkins not from a dispenser, they make up for with gonzo pizzas, fun frozen drinks, and a blaring soundtrack seemingly lifted from some illicit teen house party on an old WB show. The lineup of white- and red-sauced pies start in familiar Americana territory, like the double pep with ample curled-edge pepperoni, and get ever bolder. One of the best sports bits of Ma‘ono’s famed fried chicken, kimchi, and slices of American cheese. They all come on a crust that hints at Fuller’s culinary cred (and that of his lieutenant, Cam Hanin), and that finesse bobs up again in seemingly retro side dishes like wings, a caesar, and the cult favorite garlic knots.
It may look like a wee courtyard off a West Seattle butcher shop, but it’s actually Holy of Holies for those who want their pig and want it bad. Pulled-pork sandwiches, burgers crafted of pristine grass-fed beef and topped with smoky pork belly, chorizo tacos, bacon dogs—bacon caramels!—every porcophile’s dream is here, served off a grill under an awning to a crowd who doesn’t much miss tables or a roof. (And don’t worry, cows are given their due: the Danger Fries are done in beef tallow.) After, a wander through the Swinery butcher shop is de rigeur if only to see the other parts of the pig—the tongue, the livers, the kidneys—in glorious display in the pates and terrines this whole-animal butcher shop has made its name on. Lunch and brunch only.
It’s a combination pizza joint and swanky singles bar just south of the Junction in West Seattle, where the thin-crusted, sweet-sauced pie is influenced not only by legendary New York establishments like Lombardi’s and Grimaldi’s, but by the Mall of America. Talarico’s one-size-fits-all is a whopping 28 inches, and you can’t have it delivered. You can, mercifully, get it by the slice. Swinging boomers fill the plush, semicircular banquettes watching the game on a high-def, high-volume TV while second-daters slip into a stack of tall wood booths high enough to hide inside. In back: a velvet-draped pergola for you and 75 of your closest friends. Good thing this pizza palace was built to suit the scale of its pie.
Part coffee shop and cafe, part corner store—okay, also part community hub where a burgeoning babysitter’s club might post a glittery flyer for its childcare services—Wildwood Market is essential to a little stretch located deep in West Seattle’s microhood of Fauntleroy. The menu mostly comprises salads and sandwiches (plus hearty burritos for weekend breakfast), and is way better than one might expect: A purple kale caesar salad comes lightly dressed with a serious shower of parmesan cheese shavings and a flat iron steak sandwich on toasted Grand Central Bakery bread with a mild horseradish aioli would satisfy any carnivore. But should you just require a cup of Broadcast Coffee and some pantry staples for home, they have a discerning selection of that too.