Guide

Must-Try Dishes at Seattle's Top-Rated Restaurants

By Leslie Kelly  |  October 6, 2014
Credit: Shirley Karasawa

The people have voted in our survey, shining the spotlight on the top-rated restaurants in Seattle. Bravo to the 10 best, which earned the scores of 28 and 29 out of a possible 30. Here are the dishes you won't want to miss when dining at these culinary gems. 

1) Nishino

​Zagat Food Rating: 29
Must-Order Dish: Put yourself in the capable hands of chef Tatsu Nishino, who started out his U.S. career at the original Nobu in LA. Omakase is the only way to go at this calming oasis in Madison Valley, as the sharp staff serves the very freshest fish with a whole lot of style. Come early or make a rezzie to get a coveted seat at the sushi bar.

2) Il Terrazzo Carmine

Zagat Food Rating: 29
Must-Order Dish: This Pioneer Square icon is unapologetically old-school, making it a must for diving into classics like grilled veal chop and sweetbreads sautéed with prosciutto and peas. But it's the shellfish starter simmered simply in butter and wine that offers the old world meets new experience by putting a laser focus on the region's exceptional clams and mussels.

3) Staple & Fancy

Zagat Food Rating: 29
Must-Order Dish: The seasonal menu changes constantly at this rustically gorgeous space that features a huge window into neighboring Walrus & Carpenter. Chef de cuisine Brian Clevenger excels at putting together a "fancy" meal for $50, a feast that might include foie gras mousse, butter-tender gnocchi and pristine scallops. It's the Italian equivalent of omakase, a relaxing culinary journey with the chef serving as guide.

4) The Herbfarm

​Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: At this lavish destination boasting a long list of awards, chef Chris Weber is genius at keeping the ever-revolving calendar of menus fresh. On the nine-course celebration of Indian Summer that's currently featured, the hard-working crew's great care to make the most of killer ingredients can be tasted in the cured albacore tuna paired with matsutake mushrooms and turnips, with a dusting of green pepper powder on top.  

5) Paseo

​Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: Hard-core regulars willing to wait in long lines typically go for the massively flavorful Cuban, a hot mess of a sandwich featuring the most succulent roast pork, caramelized onions and melted Swiss. Your dry cleaner loves this place.

6) Tat's Deli

Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: At this ever-crowded lunch hangout in Pioneer Square, the menu looks like an East Coast transplant and that's no accident. Owners Brian Tatman and Jason Simodejka grew up in Philly and New Jersey, and customers rave about the authentic flavors of both the cheesesteak (yes, Cheez Whiz is an option) and the fab pastrami. As good as the extensive lineup of sandwiches are, it would be a crying shame to miss out on some of the best Buffalo hot wings in the city. And we do mean HOT. 

7) La Medusa

Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: The menu at this Columbia City charmer is a moving target tied to what's fresh at the nearby weekly farmer's market, with producers often getting a shout-out on the chalkboard. Pizzas are pretty spectacular, but it's the local lamb that's braised with red wine, kale and tomatoes until fork-tender before joining penne in a big bowl that's a perfect expression of the kitchen's talent for creating amazing depth of flavor. 

8) Canlis

​Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: Chef Jason Franey's prix fixe menu puts a premium on artistic presentation of seasonal ingredients, but many diners wouldn't dream of coming to this special-occasion spot without ordering the Peter Canlis prawns. Named for the founder of this landmark restaurant, the sauté is finished in a bath of ultrarich shrimp butter that demands to be mopped up with a piece of bread. 

9) Nell's

Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: Chef Philip Mihalski keeps things interesting by adding and subtracting dishes as the seasons change, but there would be a food riot should the signature calamari ever disappear. Named for the former owner who made this space famous, the Saleh baby squid is a study in fried perfection, finished in a garlicky aïoli that would be right at home in restaurants around France, which is where Mihalski did some of his early training.

10) Spinasse

​Zagat Food Rating: 28
Must-Order Dish: Jason Stratton's traditional-with-a-twist Italian lineup is deep on creations with many layers of flavor, but the most popular dish is the straightforward tarajin. Handmade noodles are the star here, cooked until they're tender yet firm and tossed with butter and sage or a ragù. With one twirl of the fork, you know it's a primo primi.