Lunch, No Rush

Seattle’s Best Lunch Spots

Our favorite spots for a sit-down midday meal—the kind that doesn’t involve paper wrappers or to-go bags.

Edited by Seattle Met Staff

The Boat serves just one dish, and does it very well.

Image: Amber Fouts

Plenty of great lunches are portable. But some days call for tables and chairs, metal utensils, and drinks that get refilled. As always, restaurants’ hours are a moving target, so it’s a good idea to check with an individual establishment before you plan your next vital business lunch or covert midday friend hang.

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North End | City Center | South End (and West Seattle) | Eastside

Lunch in North Seattle 

Local Tide


The famed crab roll is only available on weekends, which means weekday lunch is wide open for the salmon sandwich, rockfish banh mi, and salads and bowls centered on ludicrously fresh Northwest fish. Local Tide is kind of a seafood restaurant, kind of a sandwich shop, but the food is entirely stunning. For more liquid lunches, the Aslan Brewing taproom next door lets you order from Local Tide’s menu and has a pass-through window into its kitchen. 

It was about time you explored the rest of Local Tide's menu, anyway.

Image: Amber Fouts

The Whale Wins


These days, Whale Wins operates as a market and all-day cafe, where you order at the counter and dine on sardines on toast, chicken liver pate, or a pristine seasonal salad. The dining room and small, semi-covered patio, shielded from Stone Way traffic, feel equally serene and a Renee Erickson restaurant will never judge you for ordering a little wine with lunch. 

Xi'an Noodles

University District

Lily Wu’s original noodle shop on the Ave looks more polished than it did in the early days, thanks to a dining room overhaul. What hasn’t changed: those skeins of biang biang noodles, named for the sound that happens when chefs slap long strands of dough against a counter, creating the fissures that lead to those wide, perfectly chewy ribbons, the specialty of the northwest Chinese city of Xi’an. (A second location in Westlake Center offers these great noodles in a food court setting.) 

Lunchtime biang biang at Xi'an Noodles in the University District.

Image: Sarah Flotard

Kin Len Thai Night Bites


It always feels like last call in this warren of dining rooms, festooned with banners, decorative baskets, and all manner of Bangkok ephemera. But the lunch menu lets you explore some exacting, ebullient Thai dishes by the light of day. The enormous menu spans everything from fried banana blossoms to kra prao (a basil-heavy stir fry), clay pots, and noodle dishes. (Kin Len’s sibling, Isarn Thai Soul Kitchen, serves similarly great Thai lunch in Ravenna, Kirkland, Lynwood, and Queen Anne.) 

Asadero Ballard


It’s a steakhouse lunch minus the expense account overtones: David Orozco’s house of mesquite-grilled meats translates Mexico’s beef traditions in a darkly festive dining room on Leary Avenue. Good luck choosing from the huge array of wagyu tacos, ribeye tortas, and the signature platters of grilled Wagyu (American, Japanese, or Australian) with sides of your choice. The baked potato is a carne asada–sprinkled legend.
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Consisder blocking off your calendar for a post-steak nap after lunch at Asadero Ballard.

Pestle Rock


This many-textured dining room on Ballard’s main drag preaches the pungent, spicy gospel of Thailand’s Isan region, using high-quality proteins, like a nam tok meat salad made extra savory with boar collar, or deceptively fiery Thai sausages. The lunch menu adds a few combos; the house Thai iced tea helps balance a warming bowl of khao soi. 

Cycle Dogs


This vegan restaurant is all about plant-based versions of America’s favorite fast food. New-ish lunchtime hours means it’s even easier to get your hands on a spicy chik’n sandwich, a Dick’s Deluxe–inspired Sir Richard, or an order of animal fries, sans actual animals. The menu has tons of modification options, should you prefer a different sauce, or want to turn your elote dog into a burger. 

Lunch in Central Seattle

A+ Hong Kong Restaurant

Chinatown–International District

Fish balls in curry. Stone pots of rice layered with minced pork and salted fish. Stir-fried rice rolls in spiral formations. Congee, noodle soups, baked pork chops over spaghetti, even oversize tea sandwiches spread with butter and condensed milk. The menu is huge at this busy dining room in the heart of Chinatown–International District, and just about every dish is fabulous. Nearby A+ Hong Kong Kitchen serves a similar menu in a more casual setting.

A+ Hong Kong's lunch menu overwhelms you with great choices.



It’s one of Ethan Stowell’s newer spots, but an archetype of what this restaurant group does well: An Italian menu with dashes of Northwest. Attentive service and hearty pasta. Cortina’s location at the base of Union Square (and its banquettes of saddle-colored leather) puts it in play for business lunches, but the long bar and menu of entrée salads and Italian-style sandwiches keep things from getting stuffy. 

Kedai Makan

Capitol Hill

New owners moved the fiercely beloved Malaysian to a more easterly corner of Capitol Hill and added lunch service. The founders handed over the original recipes and conducted plenty of training sessions, so classic dishes like roti jala feel like reasonable facsimiles of the original. A waitlist app also helps manage the queue. 

Le Pichet

Pike Place Market

It’s a pathologically good Parisian bistro, but also a time-tested Seattle classic. Here classics spark with nonchalant finesse : a bibb lettuce and hazelnut salad, one of the best charcuterie boards in the city. Pichet’s hallowed roast chicken isn’t available at lunch, but the afternoon array of baguette sandwiches, gratins, bisque, and egg plates feels properly French, with a dash of Pike Place Market.

Le Pichet is ineffably Paris and somehow also classic Seattle.

Image: Kyle Johnson

Bar Solea


Brendan McGill’s trattoria (previously Bar Taglio) combines the art deco grandeur of the Exchange Building with a lineup of antipasti and a lengthy pizza menu. Pies have a slightly fermented crust, puffed and blistered edges, and toppings that hew mostly to Italy—soppressata, house pesto and potatoes, or a pizza version of carbonara. McGill's Cafe Hitchcock across the hall also serves lunch.

The Boat

Little Saigon/Chinatown–International District

The dinghy-shaped building that once housed the original Pho Bac has a new identity as an all-day restaurant that serves a single dish: Com ga mam toi is a garlic-crusted half chicken, fried crisp and sticky with fish sauce. It comes with rice or a sidecar of noodle soup and a great little salad. While the food menu is hyper-focused, the drinks menu is surprisingly broad, filled with cocktails, Vietnamese iced coffee, and a memorable pandan iced tea. It’s also perfectly okay to come just for the pandan dessert waffles.

The Boat turned a Saigon street food into a full-meal platter.

Image: Amber Fouts

Taurus Ox

Capitol Hill

Now ensconced in a new location on 19th Avenue East (the former Vios), Taurus Ox is bigger, more mellow, and open for lunch. The Lao dishes remain, thankfully, the same: nam khao crispy rice salad, bowls of curry, sticky rice and sausage that snaps with lemongrass. The burger, topped with house-cured pork jowl and the condiment jaew, is so good it spun off its own counter over on Madison.

Fat's Chicken and Waffles

Central District

Every weekend, the shrimp and grits, biscuit sandwiches, pimento BLT, and old-school small-square waffles draw lines for brunch. But most of these favorites also surface during the weekday lunch hour, when the vibe inside the midcentury-toned dining room is way more relaxed.

Fat's Chicken and Waffles: not just for weekend brunch.

Image: Amber Fouts

Fogon Cocina Mexicana

Capitol Hill

The family-run neighborhood restaurant of your dreams stays open all day with a broad menu of tacos, enchiladas, soups, and so many margaritas. Lunchtime portions (a half plate of nachos, a single enchilada with rice and beans) might help you justify one of those aforementioned margaritas.

Serious Pie


Tom Douglas’s former Dahlia Lounge is now HQ for Serious Pie and its oval pizzas—crackling, puffed crusts topped with Northwest-friendly combos like potatoes, rosemary, and pecorino (even better if you add lardo). The other end of the room holds an enlarged Dahlia Bakery pastry counter for all your mochi doughnut and coconut cream pie needs.

Damn the Weather

Pioneer Square

This classic old-brick bar (aka no minors) is technically a cocktail spot, but the food menu matches the drinks for care and intrigue. The menu reads like upscale bar fare—a fried chicken sandwich, a burger, duck fat frites—but housemade pasta (with garlic scapes, apples, and pimento cheese) and a salad of spicy pork and kale hint that the kitchen knows its stuff. Interbay sibling Champagne Diner also comes in handy for lunch.

Technically Damn the Weather is a cocktail bar, but the food stands on its own.

Image: Nate Watters


Capitol Hill

In 1985, Bruce Naftaly opened Le Gourmand and edged the term “Northwest cuisine” into our lexicon. He’s still at it over in Chophouse Row, serving a lunch menu that’s far more casual, if no less careful. The seasonal soup, or house broths, unite Bruce’s knack for deep flavors and wife Sara’s elegantly sturdy bread. The rest of the menu is beautifully French and deeply vegetal.

Matt's in the Market

Pike Place Market

It’s a local institution for a reason, tucked up on the second floor of Pike Place Market. And while chef Matt Fortner (his first name a happy coincidence) puts on a spectacular seasonal dinner, the daytime menu honors the restaurant’s lunch-counter origins. The cornmeal crusted catfish sandwich is a staple, but even the housemade chips with bacon and onion dip deliver the same level of care.

Matt’s in the Market hums at lunchtime.

Image: Amber Fouts

Lunch in South Seattle



The large open grill drives a menu of impeccable meats by the pound. Diners can tailor their own platters with various sauces and house flatbread, then round things out with small plates that reinforce the broadly Mediterranean flavors, and the commitment to seasonal produce. It’s visceral, it’s elegant, it’s unlike any other place in Seattle.


Columbia City

Jack’s BBQ (another great lunch spot) spun off this Tex-Mex hangout in the heart of Columbia City. A special machine cranks out warm flour tortillas to order and the menu of tacos, enchiladas, benefit from brisket smoked at the mother ship. 

Milk Drunk

Beacon Hill

Seattle has lots of great fried chicken sandwiches, but only one menu devised by chef Logan Cox, who also runs Homer down the street. The half-dozen sandwiches gild double-fried chicken with flavors like whipped garlic and harissa or hot honey and shaved country ham. Additional charms include: sunny cocktails, the soft serve lineup, and a room that whispers of elegant soda fountain. Bonus points for the curly fries and cheffy mozzarella sticks.

A well-balanced lunch at Milk Drunk.

Image: Amber Fouts



Vegans, carb-averse diners, and fans of a really good bulgogi rib eye all descend upon this pocket-size lunchroom in Georgetown. Its bibimbap and other bowls (japchae, yakisoba, kimchi fried rice) pack the sort of rich flavors achieved when a kitchen make everything from scratch. The plug and play mix of proteins, sauces, and grains accommodates a ton of dietary philosophies.


Admiral/West Seattle

Sure, the breakfast menu’s great, but Admiral’s all-day cafe shines just as bright when benedicts and bacon give way to trout salad, bacon sandwiches, and fried cheese curds. Okay, fine, this Australian-inspired spot also serves its breakfast menu all day, just another inducement to visit its white-tiled dining room filled with natural light and a nursery’s worth of plants.

Best Lunch in Bellevue and the Eastside



The facile career waiters, the white tablecloths and exquisite pasta, from grandma-worthy Bolognese to shrimp in pesto. Carmine’s Bellevue outpost is unabashedly old-school, which feels exciting and new in our current counter service reality. You’ll not find a more polished lunch on either side of Lake Washington (well, except maybe the original Il Terrazzo Carmine in Pioneer Square).

Dough Zone Dumpling House

Various locations

This Eastside-born chainlet, known for soup dumplings, crispy-bottomed Q bao, and satisfying dan dan noodles, how has locations in the Puget Sound and even California. Each one is open daily for lunch, and dispenses xiao long bao filled with pork, crab, or chicken to your table seemingly seconds after you order.

As the name implies, Dough Zone excels in all things dumpling and noodle.

Japonessa Sushi Cocina

downtown bellevue

It’s a scene, to be sure, all stark angles and dramatic lighting in the thick of downtown Bellevue. Those crowds come for pristine, riotously fun sushi that introduces Latin flourishes with a surprising degree of success. And because Japonessa has a superb happy hour menu that runs throughout lunchtime.

Mama's Kitchen


This perennial favorite in a Factoria strip mall drapes cheese across seemingly half the menu (on the kimchi fried rice, the crisp seafood pancake, even the tteokbokki) but non-cheesed comforts spark with fresh ingredients and great marinades—like gimbap rolls and chadol jjolmyeon, cold spicy noodles that hide under a salad’s worth of fresh greens and crunchy, shredded vegetables, not to mention a ribbon of delicate brisket.

Supreme Dumplings


This polished house of soup dumplings occupies a glimmering neutral-toned dining room seemingly inspired by those translucent dumpling skins. Each basket arrives with a set of tiny bamboo tongs and instructions to pinch the top of each dumpling when you transfer it to a spoon—testament to how delicate these are. Supreme makes six types of xiao long bao, plus dessert versions, but the noodles, fried rice, wontons, and pan-fried buns display just as much care. That’s probably why reservations are 100 percent essential.

Supreme Dumplings excels at the art if xiao long bao.

Image: Amber Fouts



The Juanita neighborhood harbors a destination restaurant that stays true to the seafood- and vegetable-rich cuisine of South India’s Kerala region, rather than balancing the menu with more familiar Indian dishes. Rare is the lunch here that doesn’t involve a dosa, which are large enough to hang off the edges of the (already oblong) platters.
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