Statewide

The Best Restaurants in Washington State

Our food and travel editors compiled the very top meals outside Seattle, from far-off islands to creative cuisine in cities east of the mountains.

By Allison Williams and Allecia Vermillion

The quintessentially Washington setting at Hama Hama Oyster Saloon.

Image: Amber Fouts

Ferry rides, weekends on the coast, and winding drives through the Palouse's rolling plains all beg the same question: Where to eat along the way? Seattle Met's food and travel editors spent a year traversing the corners and byways of Washington state to assemble our picks for meals whose memory stays with you long after you've returned home. These are tasting menus and taco stands, comfort food and outdoor oyster saloons.

For the sake of semantics: We struck out for destinations beyond Seattle's immediate metropolitan area (which, for our purposes, includes King, Snohomish, and much of Pierce County). If that's the list you seek, try our Seattle's 100 best restaurants article instead. This time around, we found compelling cocktail programs in Pullman, transcendent pizza near Mount Rainier, and accomplished Seattle chefs who relocated closer to their ingredients.

Even more semantics: Many spots take a well-earned seasonal break this time of year. Check before you go, but consider this list a tool for planning adventures in the coming months. And a reminder to eat well, no matter where your travels take you.


The Coast /  Western Washington /  Eastern Washington


The Coast

San Juan and Whidbey Islands and the Olympic Peninsula.

Ursa Minor 

Lopez Island 

Local sourcing is a given when surrounded by seafood and pristine produce. But Nick Coffey reps the region’s flavors down to the housemade vinegars and lack of citrus behind the bar (“Acid is always on our minds,” he says). The technique in his food forces you to slow down and admire the beauty of pressed cucumber ribbons beneath perfectly cooked albacore. In the lightly fried gnocchi of fermented potato, a gourmet carnival food stepped up with squid and kimchi. You’d be thrilled to find this menu in any Bay Area bastion of fine dining. But it feels just right with a view of Fisherman Bay, a smart wine menu, and warm hospitality.

Squash season at Ursa Minor looks like this.

Matia Kitchen and Bar

Orcas Island

The San Juans draw visitors who want to experience each season at its apex; this most definitely includes chef Avery Adams’s menu. It shifts just a bit every week, never to repeat itself. His kitchen specializes in culinary handsprings, like a savory tomato tart topped with piles of corn and ikura, or an astonishingly great dessert parfait…flavored with oregano. As conventional wisdom and Coco Chanel’s famous edict might suggest, these are very busy dishes. But damn, if the kitchen doesn’t pull off every one. Diners can take in these acrobatics either in the glowing front bar, or a dining room that gives off cozy parlor vibes, complete with glowing hearth and old upright piano in the corner. Landing on The New York Times’s best restaurant list was a coup indeed. But this hyperseasonal oasis didn’t need national accolades to draw crowds. UPDATE: Matia has closed as Adams and a partner plan a new spot.

Matia beverage director Spencer Verkuilen.

Image: Teo Crider

Inn at Langley

Whidbey Island 

Given that the hotel-adjacent dining room hosts only a single seating of 24 guests, no one can spoil the night's surprise course. Sometimes a hanging decoration turns out to be a dessert, or the server may pour oil from the table's coconut candle directly on a dish. Chef Matt Costello, who also owns the 26-room inn with his wife, thrills at what he calls bells and whistles (or "a little mind fuck") to pepper the three-hour meal. Ingredients served in the glassy pavilion tend toward the familiar, particularly local sea life and Whidbey-grown vegetables; the theatrical flair cements the meal in memory.

Koko’s Restaurant and Tequila Bar 

Pacific City/Seabrook 

A few Canlis expats may have upped the dining scene recently in this vacation haven. But Koko’s has long carried the banner for careful, heartfelt food on this stretch of the coast. Owners and partners Gibran Moreno Ventura and Alexi Torres combine their roots in Veracruz and El Salvador for a menu of fried plantains, poblano-cashew enchiladas, and fresh, straightforward tacos. Ventura used to work at Cactus in Seattle; this menu shows a similar ability to wield American influence (kale salad, a chorizo burger) without dumbing things down. The drinks are similarly great, from margaritas down to the Mexican hot chocolate at brunch. 

Koko's fuels beachgoers with easy plates like this avocado salad.

Rising Tide Tavern

Pacific City/Seabrook 

The founder of Seabrook plucked two alums of Canlis’s wine program to open a casual restaurant on the coast that translates polished hospitality to an audience heavy on fleece and flip-flops. Thus, a menu both straightforward and prepped to perfection—smash burgers, clam chowder, decadent dips with housemade chips. All seafood, from the fish and chips to the seasonal catch entree, comes from the nearby Quinault Indian Nation. Just as impressive: any dish that involves the crispy, curlicue sidewinder fries. The kids menu is immensely well received, as are the cocktails.

Finistère

Port Townsend 

The combined resume of chef Deborah Taylor and her husband Scott Ross reads like a best-of for both New York City and Seattle: Per Se and Canlis for her, Txikito and Tilth for him. Still, what the couple brought to the almost-too-precious Victorian town comes delivered without fuss: local oysters and albacore crudo, then a pleasantly rich housemade mafaldine with duck confit. The dining room recalls Scandinavian minimalism with rotating local art on the walls, a break from the townwide dollhouse-meets-industrial mashup. Next door, the linked Lawrence Street Provisions sells the restaurant's croissants and bread, plus those signature sauces and pastas.

Chef Deborah Taylor brings an impressive background to Finistère in Port Townsend.

Image: Amber Fouts

The Wandering Goose 

Tokeland

Capitol Hill's loss was the Southeast's very lucky gain when Heather Earnhardt fully decamped to the historic Tokeland Hotel she purchased in 2018, closing Seattle's mostly breakfast Wandering Goose. The big, buttery biscuits and crispy fried chicken made the trip, but the hotel's expanded restaurant went broader to add fried oysters from nearby Willapa Bay and local fish given a cornmeal treatment with grits. Cozy brunch might be the highlight, especially with a backdrop of funky farmhouse tchotchkes and antiques to warm this damp stretch of rural coast. Still, dinner maintains Earnhardt's commitment to Southern style; most plates sport an element from east of the Mississippi, from Jefferson red rice to pimento cheese.

Fans of the Wandering Goose can fly south to recapture the magic (and the cocktails).

Hama Hama Oyster Saloon 

Lilliwaup

In the middle of a working oyster farm, a formation of wooden A-frame structures overlook Hood Canal tidal flats. Each one protects a picnic table (and a heater) and delivers a meal you can’t replicate anywhere else in the world. The fifth-generation oyster farm’s longstanding outdoor restaurant recently added those A-frames and a reservation system (the $75 fee includes pre-payment on two dozen oysters). The supporting menu—crab cakes, hearty clam dishes, a sourdough grilled cheese—has more culinary intent. Yodelin Broth Company’s Dan Fiske comes regularly to make big batches of soup. But oysters remain the draw, in packed summer months as well as winter, when the scene is quiet and half-shell season is at its peak. Some tables don’t require reservations, and even on the most crowded days, the Stump Bar dispenses beer, wine, and buckets of you-shuck bivalves. 

No surprise, shellfish star at this outdoor restaurant plunked down in the middle of a working oyster farm.

Image: Amber Fouts


Western Washington

Beyond the water, but west of the Cascades

Carnal 

Bellingham

The origin story feels cinematic. Music and film producer turned Bellingham booster Skip Williamson tapped a popup in Brooklyn to help him build a business. Thus, three chefs with NYC fine-dining cred moved across the country to run a dining room defined by old brick and rugged fixtures—and a kitchen fueled by fire. Carnal does right by meat; the bone-in short rib has been a fan favorite since the popup days. Other dishes, like wood-fired ruffles of maitake mushrooms achieve carnal satisfaction minus any animal (and with lots of help from elaborate sauces and textural crunchy bits.) You’ll not find a better jerky in the entire state of Washington—and it’s available by mail order.  

sidenote: The Carnal team also runs next-door burger shop, Accomplice, and a new restaurant called Estelle inspired by the French Riviera. 

Carnal finds the elegance in Paleolithic slabs of meat, like these spring ribs.

Image: Teo Crider

The Carlson Block

Wilkeson

Don't feel bad if you've never heard of this microscopic coal-mining town northwest of Mount Rainier; downtown consists of little more than a classic dive bar, a coffee shop, and a line out the door for increasingly famous pizza. Ian Galbraith can only make so much sourdough pie crust every day. On summer weekends the kitchen sells out within 90 minutes of the door opening. A brussels sprouts and bacon combo hasn't left the menu since the pizzeria's 2016 debut, and a fennel and housemade sausage version pairs well with a crust that's bubbly but somehow not too filling. Galbraith's newest obsession: homemade ice cream using wild blackberries. It's the kind of lineup that has everyone questioning their choices during the interminable wait—an hour, way out here?—but uttering the words "worth it" as they exit.

La Tarasca 

Centralia

“We don’t do burritos,” Mercedes Zaragoza tells a takeout customer over the phone one afternoon. “Recipes and flavors come from my home region of Michoacán.” The sign on the door—“We don’t serve chips”—suggests she’s had a few such conversations. Instead, La Tarasca presents an introductory dish of pickled carrots and specializes in Michoacán’s signature: supremely tender carnitas. A quarter chicken comes smothered in the region’s reddish mole, more peppery and peanut-filled than the famous style from Oaxaca. Zaragoza’s mother, Margarita Ayala, opened this dining room place in 1997; the kitchen still makes every tortilla, salsa, and adobada taco platter from scratch. Her extended family carries on both the food and the practice of lavishing warm service (and great salsa) on each table. 

Dediko

Vancouver

The Northwest could use more restaurants serving the distinct cuisine of the nation of Georgia. So stumbling on a low-lit den of khachapuri, grilled kebab, and khinkali dumplings in a pocket of downtown Vancouver feels like the best kind of dream sequence. It’s hard to bypass those staple dishes, but Dediko’s menu is filled with dips and grilled meat compositions that deserve your attention. This tiny spot also pours wines from Georgia and caps dinner off with a honey cake that will soothe your I-5 rush hour road rage.

Little Conejo

Vancouver

Vancouver’s evolving restaurant scene feels like its own thing, not a satellite of Portland just across the river. At its heart is this counter-service taqueria (with a sibling food truck up in Ridgefield) that fills corn tortillas and griddled tortas with big hunks of battered fish, lengua, chicken tinga, and a choriqueso that’s not messing around. Each one feels like its own considered dish, especially with the bar’s smart mezcal cocktails. Blame the crowds for a rather convoluted ordering and seating process…then put it all behind you with a taco.


Eastern Washington

From the Cascades to the Idaho border.

Passatempo Taverna

Walla Walla 

Sam Shelton is out to rewrite the narrative around the wine country standout launched by, but long split from, Mike Easton and Jim German. Raised in Walla Walla, she returned home in 2016 just a year after the taverna launched, to serve as general manager. Eventually she also became the executive chef. Housemade pastas reign, sandwiched between classic Italian starters and a short list of pizzas and steaks; house specialty pastas that pull from Walla Walla's rich farm country tend to overshadow classic Roman styles. It's almost a pity the individually baked focaccia is so invitingly soft, since it takes room from crusty handmade gnocchi in local asparagus. Leftovers like these are why hotel room fridges were invented. 

Passatempo pairs rustic Italian with some of Walla Walla's best wines.

Image: Brooke Fitts

Kinglet 

Walla Walla 

Eden Hill chef Maximillian Petty now practices his particular brand of intellectual whimsy on both sides of the state. Kinglet, in the historic building long home to Whitehouse Crawford, does megawatt tasting menus at the chef’s counter, and more traditional entrees and starters in the dining room—not to mention some fun shared snacks. In Petty’s hands, Waldorf salads, gnocchi, and king salmon become articles of intrigue, while the tasting menu delivers bites like aged white cheddar churros and cones of beef tartar. The bar offers yet another vibe, the kind that involves snacks and a secret door to ferry cocktails to anybody waiting for a table. Wine director Chauncey Arkfeld sources intriguing bottles from near and far; pastry chef Courtney Chrisman is a superstar in the making.

Bar Bacetto 

Waitsburg 

Fond memories of Mike Easton’s original restaurant aren’t a requirement to enjoy his current one. But fans of his original Il Corvo might shed a few joyful tears when they sample the same astonishing pasta that once built line-around-the-block loyalties. In 2021, Easton and his wife, Erin, traded Seattle for Waitsburg, 20 miles north of Walla Walla. Here, in the history-laden building that once held Jimgermanbar, they engage with nearby farms to take that pasta to new, deeply seasonal places. Except now, it’s for dinner, with Erin’s cocktails and lots of Italian wine (and polenta for any gluten-averse visitors). Tiny Bacetto seats just 12 people, with a mix of reservations and walk-in seats. An adjacent spillover bar, the Cordial Room, plies waiting diners with  bubbles or amaro. 

At Bar Bacetto, Mike and Erin Easton lavish attention, and pasta, on 12 diners at a time.

Image: Amber Fouts

Crafted 

Yakima

When Dan Koommoo and wife Mollie left Orcas Island’s farm-to-table bubble for Yakima, they were baffled. The city’s restaurant scene didn’t reflect the area’s agricultural riches. Today, local producers bring over vegetables that excite them; farmers and foragers might drop by during dinner service with a bunch of honey or a flat of morels. Re-building this agricultural network yields memorable odes to the season, like a summertime heirloom tomato toast with garlic confit. Cooks collaborate to build the menu, so you might see Thai-style crispy rice next to campanelle pasta with asparagus, fava beans, gouda, and cured sausage. This kitchen isn’t one for minimalism, but the many ingredients that go into each dish add up to way more than the sum of their parts. The tasting menu feels worthy of a special occasion, but this is a dining room that doesn't do pretentious.

Tokki-Ya

Yakima

Your typical cucumber salad: Solid, refreshing, not terribly creative. Greg Perrault’s version pairs the crunch of cukes and shaved radish with cubes of perfect avocado, peanuts, and a punch of citrus and gochugaru vinaigrette. It’s entree-level intrigue in a dish many restaurants phone in. When Perrault, a Yakima native, returned home with wife Michelle Kim, they served the most comforting ramen that side of the Cascades. In 2022, they changed their restaurant’s name to lean deeper into Kim’s Korean heritage with ssam platters, salmon bibimbap, and fried rice cakes with cauliflower. Perrault still sources from nearby farms, still makes casual food with flavors that loom large. That cucumber salad, thankfully, remains unchanged.

Chef Greg Perrault and wife Michelle Kim draw on Kim's Korean heritage at Tokki-Ya.

Image: Amber Fouts

Inland Pacific Kitchen 

Spokane

A dining room all but hidden inside a former cracker factory subverts the “old brick and railroad tracks” ambience with tall windows and plush banquettes. Here, chefs Dylan Gilbert and Chong Vang bring a host of seasonal ingredients into impressive harmony—each achievement punctuated with edible flowers. Squid ink ravioli arrives filled with spinach ricotta, atop smoked pea puree, with duck prosciutto and brown butter. A melon and prosciutto salad might also involve fennel, arugula, and pistachio dukka. The creativity is impressive; so is the success rate. Desserts wield these maximalist tendencies especially well.

Cochinito Taqueria 

Spokane

The world is full of cheffy tacos, but Travis Dickinson’s layers of flavor (and the $5 price tag) put Cochinito’s in a stratosphere of their own. Dickinson, the chef and co-owner, applies the techniques and sourcing of his training in higher-end Portland kitchens to a lineup of 10-ish fillings. His ethos: Treat each tortilla like a tiny plate. In this case, plates are made of house-blended yellow and white masa, and might support chunks of steelhead al pastor. Or duck confit, bits of roasted brussels sprouts, stewy mole, and candied hazelnuts. This handiwork comes on metal trays, but you can dignify that fast-casual vibe with a really good margarita. 

At Cochinito, each taco contains an entire meal's worth of flavor.

Gander and Ryegrass 

Spokane

“We do something really crazy here,” servers caution upon your arrival. The craziness in question is the “chef’s marathon” tasting menu—six courses that remain a mystery until they arrive at the table. No disrespect to chef Peter Froese’s other, three-course option, but the real madness would be bypassing this marathon of modern Italian fare. Dinner starts with stuzzichini (aka snacks), then a splay of seasonal vegetables with subtle prosciutto. A particularly brilliant touch: One course of delicate pasta on individual plates, followed by a hearty bowl to share with tongs—both ends of the pasta pleasure spectrum, delivered in one sitting. Wine pairings are also exceptionally fun. The lunch menu centers on share plates, but whatever the time of day, this just might be the best meal in Spokane.

Los Hernández Tamales

Union Gap 

Felipe Hernández may have scored a James Beard America's Classics award in 2018, but he didn't change much at his humble tamale shop just south of Yakima, a white cinderblock building surrounded by auto dealers. Pork tamales are a bestseller year-round, but in late spring the staff, mostly family, moves into a higher gear for their seasonal signature, fresh local asparagus and sharp pepper jack cheese wrapped in homemade masa. Even with a second location in rapidly expanding Yakima, the asparagus version faces occasional sellouts, though the shop makes them through August. Score two hot with beans and rice—and maybe a chilled Jarritos in a glass bottle—for a meal on tables draped in plastic tablecloths, a simple idea perfectly executed with warmth and flavor. Then add a dozen frozen to go.

Tamale master Felipe Hernández.

Image: Brooke Fitts

The Black Cypress 

Pullman

Roast chicken with bread salad and kale, pork chops, handmade spaghetti carbonara—this menu looks straightforward. But meticulous details make you remember why these dishes became dinner icons in the first place. Owner Nikiforos Pitsilionis keeps the staples consistent, but the kitchen has loads of fun on the fresh sheet, with specials like braised local ram (yes, ram)—processed at the nearby Washington State University’s animal science program meat lab—atop house pappardelle. Pitsilionis’s heritage surfaces on dishes like skewers of properly Greek souvlaki. The cocktail program welcomes all comers, but also makes its own orgeat, not to mention flawless drinks. This combo of humble perfectionism suits Pullman, and charms visitors.

Few places balance adventure and comfort as well as the Black Cypress.

Yodelin Broth Company

Leavenworth

The name has nothing to do with yodeling, despite the Bavarian-themed surrounds; Dan Fiske named his basement-based eatery for a now-shuttered ski resort that used to sit near Stevens Pass. The seafood concept harks back to his years as a private chef in Maui and fish bone broth he remembers from Fiji, creating a bright and cozy combo successful enough to sell in specialty grocery stores in Seabrook and Snoqualmie Pass. The signature soup adds a yellow curry and udon noodles to a base made with wild halibut bone, complete with the subtle sweetness of the fish. Mostly Fiske aims for healthy alternatives to Leavenworth's usuals, though one can pair a soft pretzel with a wild salmon rice bowl. Inside is as casual as any outdoorsy Leavenworth bar, complete with souvenir merch, but the patio offers peekaboo views up to the mountains while waiting for the maritime specialty—as pleasant a clash as anything on the menu. 

Larch

Leavenworth 

Ben Herreid sold his mushroom ravioli at farmers markets a decade before he ever opened a restaurant in downtown Leavenworth. It immediately became a menu staple he can't remove without complaints. But now with the luxury of a dining room in a tourist town, he can switch up the filling for the latest foraged fungi from the surrounding mountains. He's hardly hemmed in, though; with at least a half dozen other pastas on offer at a time, he still gets to venture into campanelle made with a bronze die press or macaroni done Cajun style, heaped onto plates in a volume that leaves tourists wondering what they're going to do with leftovers. Forgoing the German fare around them—"You can only eat so much bratwurst," he reasons—Herreid and partner lean into a mountaineering theme, complete with a mountain goat head mounted above the bar.

Canyon River Grill 

Ellensburg

After sunsetting a mini empire in Seattle—that once included Steelhead Diner, Blueacre Seafood, and Orfeo—during the early pandemic, Kevin Davis downsized into a single 40-seater on the Yakima River just south of Ellensburg. There the avid fisher is back to cooking on the line every service; he fits right in next door to a fly-fishing guide service run by friends. Seafood, naturally, shines the brightest in the rustic lodge (though not fish from the largely catch-and-release river out back). A stream-caught rainbow trout arrives bathed in fermented black bean sauce, the Yakima corn hush puppies stacked on plates painted with casting flies. The china may be a remnant of the old Steelhead, but, like Davis, it feels more at home here. Especially when the patio opens for in-your-face views of the dusty cliffs that drop to the river. 

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