The prettiest of plates at Harry's Beach House. Photograph by Amber Fouts.
While the past few years has seen a surge of high-profile restaurants in West Seattle, residents know this corner of the city also harbors some longstanding favorites, many with vast waterfront views. Scroll down for Longtime Favorites and New Arrivals, plus Brunch and Lunch spots, a Wealth of Pizza, and various Sweets, from morning croissants to ice cream. Reminder: These are crazy uncertain times for restaurants; check their websites or social media to confirm the current status of dine-in and takeout.
Chicken in decadent saffron-cream sauce. Pillowy pizzas topped with housemade lamb sausage. The high likelihood you—and your family, and your favorite dishes—will be remembered on the next visit. Phoenicia is ostensibly a neighborhood spot, but does so many things right, even an impromptu dinner has a way of feeling special. The family-owned, Lebanese-inspired restaurant has survived 45 years, three previous locations, and founder (and father) Hussein Khazaal’s death in 2009. Now his picture gazes out from the dramatic, dark walls of Phoenicia’s new address in the junction; daughters Nadia and Sonia are the warmest of hostesses, and their mom, Inaam, might drop in halfway through the evening with freshly picked mint for cocktails.
Low light, vermilion walls, and delicate wood filigrees 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.
At Jak’s the burgers come with a steak knife. A nice big one. You won’t necessarily need it; the kitchen knows how to 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, a gleefully unhip, Sinatra-on-the-stereo, brass-and-polished-wood, martini-glass-neon-sign steak house. The bilevel West Seattle outpost, on California Ave, has a patio.
On a quiet beachside corner near Alki Point, Janie and Giulio Pellegrini have built a neighborhood favorite in a dining room layered with mottled walls, gilt-framed mirrors and a bevy of lamps. Earnest Italian food completes the picture—bruschettas, pizzas, pastas, a robust toss of gnocchi and housemade sausage, and a deservedly renowned lamb shank special; all served with herbed garlic bread. The patio, compact like the dining room, drips with charm and flowerboxes.
The food is good, at times outright great, with a list of tacos, salads, soups, and antojitos. Entrees hail from the American Southwest and the plains and playas of Mexico, eschewing standard-issue anything in favor of thinking diners’ novelties like fried chicken in chorizo gravy or butternut squash enchiladas. One can always count on the succulent tamales (which sell out early)…and did we mention the margaritas? Alki’s outpost of this six-location local chainlet leans into its water-facing locale with roll-up garage doors, patio seating, and lots of margaritas.
Back in 2012, Mark Fuller transformed his high-end Spring Hill Restaurant into Ma‘ono—more casual, more affordable, way more Hawaiian. Now it’s hard to imagine Seattle’s dining scene before his saimin noodle bowl and kimchi cheese–topped burger on a King’s Hawaiian bun took center stage. But the fried chicken that prompted Fuller to shift his whole concept—all-natural birds brined, soaked in buttermilk, then thrice fried—remain the best thing about this place. Fuller has since parlayed Ma‘ono’s golden tenders into a few chicken sandwich counters around Seattle, but full birds, and full menu, only happen on California Ave. (Well, in our current Covid reality, the kitchen does a limited menu for takeout, but it centers on fried chicken.)
In 2009, Hajime Sato thrust his West Seattle sushi bar into unfamiliar, more tenable waters, making Mashiko the city’s first all-sustainable sushi restaurant. These days, three longtime employees own and run this tiny dining room, with its avocado walls and friendly hodgepodge decor, and continue its essential presence in the neighborhood. The menu—a lengthy compendium of sashimi, rolls, combo options, and cooked dishes—remains a rigorous ode to sustainable seafood. But the kitchen has added more housemade ingredients and, even better, online reservations.
Chopped brisket, shredded pork. Brioche sandwich buns and burn-your-lips-off sauce. Barbecue purists might scoff at these smoked meat sandwiches, which bear more than a passing resemblance to a sloppy joe, but legions of local fans lined up at the counter aren’t here to parse barbecue semantics. They’re here for various iterations of smoked meat, drenched in sauce, and accompanied by classic barbecue sides. The location at 35th and Fauntleroy is a franchise of the original institution in SoDo, and step one in Pecos Pit’s plans to go big.
The former chainlet has settled into a single location on Fauntleroy, with a ton of catering business and a walkup counter where regulars can swing in for lunch specials or hot link sandwiches. Barbecue options are vast and versatile, from meat by the pound to combo meals, all liberally doused in a house sauce more tangy than sweet—no wonder Jones sells it by the enormous jar. Ribs and brisket are more homestyle than high-concept, and the corn bread is as indulgent as any dessert (though that’s no reason to skip the pie).
The name is an homage to a shuttered neighborhood favorite, the exterior a gleefully faux pagoda and gold-painted stone facade. In back, padded stools swing before a dark bar edged in bamboo and illuminated with so many lanterns. Patric Gabre-Kidan, the longtime industry fixture who designed this moody space also created the highly tropical, often frozen cocktails. The bar’s focused food menu—updated honey pecan prawns, barbecued pork, and the best General Tso’s chicken to ever come in contact with disposable chopsticks—is the work of Ma‘ono’s Mark Fuller, clearly enjoying his more casual identity ever since he departed fine dining a few years back. While New Luck Toy didn’t do takeout initially, it’s been all in on compostable takeout containers and utensils since day one, a handy particular when Covid concerns forced bars and restaurants into takeout mode.
Brian Clevenger established his restaurant formula—fish, vegetables, housemade pasta—at his first restaurant, Vendemmia, but just may have perfected it at his second restaurant, a bilevel spot in the Junction. Raccolto centers on accessible pastas, dressed for the season, plus Clevenger classics like spaghetti with anchovy and chile flakes, Hamachi crudo, and a destination-worthy beef tartare. Clevenger also owns nearby Haymaker, where his Northwest-Italian tendencies get tempered with more New American fare.
A merry band from Pike Place Market’s Radiator Whiskey decamped to West Seattle and opened this smokehouse with a serious brown liquor program. The turkey drumstick, a smoked and savory billy club drizzled with lime crema, was an early signature, but Lady Jaye built major neighborhood goodwill with its family meals of smoked prime rib or pork cheeks during the pandemic. Protein prowess reigns here, from the smoked bologna sandwich laced with potato chips to a DIY sandwich platter built around tender pork collar pastrami. As at Radiator, salads pack way more finesse than you might expect.
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 multiple locations around town, including a high-ceilinged, lantern-trimmed outpost in the Junction.
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 here, even before the days of Covid concerns. Orders arrive in boxes in lieu of plates, hiding hearty dumplings like the jumbo 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 panfried. 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.
When one of the town's most talented chefs moved into one of West Seattle’s most beloved landmarks, culinary magic ensued. Mike Easton built an ardent fan base at Il Corvo, his Pioneer Square lunch destination, so his first foray into dinner service was an automatic big deal, even before you factor in the Alki Homestead, a 1904 log cabin which underwent a multiyear restoration process after a fire in 2009. Il Nido focuses (unsurprisingly) on hand-formed pasta—with a handful of secondi, vegetable dishes, and small starters—but will function only as a market until Seattle is farther along in our pandemic recovery process, selling fresh pasta, pesto, protein, and wine.
Roomy digs on a prime stretch of California Avenue give Brian Clevenger, the chef behind Vendemmia and Raccolto, a chance to explore life beyond Northwest-Italian food. That means ribs or Nashville hot chicken sandwiches alongside rigatoni or grilled pork collar with stewed plums and verdant salmoriglio, an olive-y kin to pesto or chimichurri. Kinda all over the place? Yeah, but it works, especially at a restaurant dedicated to feeding the neighborhood. Haymaker also emphasizes the pasta and produce Clevenger does best. Like blistered green beans, showered with grated parmigiano-reggiano atop a bright tonnato—a vegetable dish with all the intrigue of a main course.
A Wealth of Pizza
What Mark Fuller’s pizza bar on California Avenue lacks in proper plates or utensils, or napkins not from a dispenser, it makes 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 famed fried chicken from sister restaurant Ma‘ono, plus kimchi, and slices of American cheese. They all come on a crust rooted in culinary cred, and that finesse bobs up again in seemingly retro side dishes like wings, a caesar, and the cult favorite garlic knots.
A legit Neapolitan-style pizzeria with the credentials to prove it. 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 and sweet Italian sausage, or cherry tomatoes, arugula, and prosciutto di Parma. Also: calzones! Something wholly American though: wood-fired s’mores with melted chocolate and marshmallows bubbly and golden brown from the oven’s flames.
Puffy-edged pies emerge blistered from a wood-fire oven in this compact Junction pizzeria, another outpost in a neighborhood rich in pizza napolitana. Jacques Nawar builds his pies with homemade mozzarella, imported Italian flour, and legit San Marzano tomatoes (it matters). Personal-ish size pizzas come sliced into quadrants, their toppings mostly, but not dogmatically traditional; if it's available, the gluten-free dough option is better than most.
How to even explain this particularly West Seattle phenomenon? Part sports bar, part untz-untz boomer cocktail lounge. And yet every inch a family friendly pizzeria that specializes in enormous New York–style slices roughly the size of a small suitcase, and as neatly foldable as anything you might pack inside. Whole pies run a whopping 28 inches, and the roster of non-pizza options (Italian and wedge salads, chicken parm, meatballs, garlic bread) is similarly oversize. Sure, this place is the size of a cheesecake factory, and serves bucket-size cocktails with names like Junction Juice, but great-quality toppings and a thin, but still nicely chewy crust plant Talarico’s firmly in “beloved local institution” territory.
Just like its three other siblings around town, the pizza restaurant in Admiral is thoroughly, lovingly focused on its neighborhood, from the all-day menu of salads, meatballs, and sandwiches to the breakfast favorites (hash, shakshuka, and yes, bacon-and-egg pizza) and coffee served every morning. And of course, the pizza—puffy and flame-blistered, topped with potatoes and fontina and gorgonzola, or sausage, salami, and pepperoni. At dinner, parents order cocktails while kids get their own eight-inch pies.
Brunch and Lunch
Capitol Hill’s infinitely charming Harry’s Fine Foods spawned this sibling on Alki Ave, combining its carefully unfussy menu with a patio that does a credible impersonation of a Southern California surf shack. The dinner menu instills elegance in comfort foods (like borscht or an upgraded pot pie) but also finds the comfort in more elegant plates like lamb merguez. Brunch took on a life of its own the moment doors opened in 2019.
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.
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 sturdy 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 with 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.
Salty’s multi-level deck serves sweeping views of downtown and Elliott Bay all the way to Magnolia alongside blackened wild salmon, seafood chowder, or halibut and chips. This waterside dining room has been a neighborhood go-to for anniversaries, elaborate family brunches, and post-church sustenance since it opened in 1985. Outside, yellow-and-white striped umbrellas provide ample shade, but on rainier days, the dining room’s floor-to-ceiling windows ensure the view remains a panoramic backdrop to dinner. Right now, the restaurant is running a single consolidated menu.
It’s strange to think the Marination mini empire was already well defined when this food truck–turned dining operation opened its West Seattle outpost next to the Water Taxi terminal. Because this beachside shack—officially a concession in Seacrest Park—brings Marination’s aloha sensibilities to life. The menu builds on those signature collisions of Korean and Hawaiian flavors, adding shave ice, fish and chips (a nod to the building's previous occupant), and marvelous beer to the lineup of tacos and spam sliders. The patio is really more of a beer garden, with strings of lights, umbrella-shaded picnic tables, and a panorama of Seattle skyline.
This compact red storefront on California Ave may look like a straightforward butcher shop, its glass case filled with steaks and sausage and guanciale. Locals know it’s so much more than that. Owner Kim Leveille’s culinary background comes through in an unexpectedly transcendent lineup of sandwiches—careful flavors built on the most impeccable of meats. The Spectacular layers pulled pork over ham over pork belly, all beneath melted cheese and the burger qualifies as jaw-dropping both in composition and the actual bodily maneuvers required to bite into it. Daytime hours only.
Since 1932, four generations of the Miller family have made ice cream, assembled tuna melts, and provided West Seattle with all manner of pantry essentials. The deli’s legion of fans generally point to the astonishing 40-odd flavors of house-churned ice cream, or a genuine sense of neighborhood community. But to forget the “deli” part of the equation is to overlook the massive lineup of fat sandwiches and melty panini, all dispensed from the counter at ludicrously reasonable prices.
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 that began here in the Alaska Junction. 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 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.
Husband-and-wife power couple and pastry pros Keiji Koh and Etsuku Minematsu supply their beloved bakeries—four in all across Seattle, including a simple little haven in Delridge—with croissants, danishes, and classic kouign-amann. But the couple’s talents really shine in many a Japanese-inspired pastry, among them yuzu macarons, azuki bean mini bars, and black sesame tea cookies.
Pie maestro Chris Porter spent his first years creating pies for delivery only, before going brick-and-mortar with A La Mode shops on Phinney Ridge and a larger, sleeker outpost in the West Seattle Junction. Porter’s pies, uniformly excellent, split their sensibility between apple or key lime classics, and homey flights of fancy—like Mexican chocolate mousse or the signature “blue Hawaiian” combo of blueberry, pineapple, and coconut. A La Mode will also blend an entire slice of its pie into a milkshake, and toss in booze.