The growth of Seattle's restaurant scene is showing no signs of slowing down. From a Pioneer Square spot that's hoping to reinvent what diners expect when it comes to Indian cuisine to a high-end cheese bar in Capitol Hill and from a trio of spots from Renee Erickson to expert sushi Downtown, the culinary landscape looks as lush as a farmer's market smack in the middle of summer. Here are the latest and greatest to launch, with plenty more on deck.
A modern Indian stunner from chef Nirmal Monteiro, this spot scores with vibrant, upscale dishes and five-course thalis from diverse regions in the old country for lunch and dinner. The eclectic Pioneer Square room smartly mixes sleek contemporary decor with the century-old building’s exposed brick walls and gleaming wood floors.
- Pioneer Square
Must-Order: The vegetable thali, available at lunch or dinner, comes with a pappadum, soft naan, four savory dishes, rice and a dessert.
Insider Tip: Don’t get too attached to any of the dishes on the menu at Nirmal’s, as they change daily. Chef Monteiro has more than 200 curries in his repertoire, meaning it will be quite a while before anything makes a repeat showing.
Grass-fed beef, including ample porterhouses and house-butchered cuts, stars at Eric and Sophie Banh’s (Monsoon, Ba Bar) hip Central District spot. Named for a celebrated Vietnamese seven-course beef dinner (offered in both meaty and vegetarian versions) the Vietnamese-French menu features classic and modern dishes, and the vibe of the stylishly industrial room mixes pleasingly with the urbane food on your plate.
- Central District
Must-Order: At just $40, the Bo 7 Mon dinner is the best bet, featuring beef prepared seven ways. Finish it all off with a foie gras macaron.
Insider Tip: Not a big beef eater? Never fear, there’s still plenty of choices for the red meat averse. Ask for the Seven Beet, a vegetarian version of the beef tasting menu.
When a craving for oysters hits, this cool First Hill bar offers fresh bivalves both raw and cooked, as well as seasonal plates (frites with aïoli, smoked lamb) and inspired drinks. Those in the know look to the chalkboards for the day’s oyster roster, and settle in to chat in the upbeat room with its energized vibe and rich green tiles the color of the sea.
- First Hill
Must-Order: The menu is divided into plates from the sea that are cooked or raw, and snacks from the land divided by garden and meat. Go with a friend and fully immerse yourselves in dishes from each section.
Insider Tip: Erickson runs this and two other nearby spots, Bateau and General Porpoise Coffee and Doughnuts, and her pastry chef at the donut shop, Clare Gordon, also creates the desserts for Bar Melusine. Whatever you do, don’t skip dessert.
Renee Erickson’s Vashon Island farm provides proteins for this First Hill New American steakhouse where diners order meat by the pound (see the sides of beef hanging in an inside window), choose from sauces like brown butter or bone marrow and then complete their meal with a selection of trendy sides. The handsome room resonates with soft, glowing colors, so it’s great for dates or just dropping by.
- First Hill
Must-Order: Sold à la carte by weight and served with just a pat of compound butter, beef is the way to go at this French-inspired steakhouse.
Insider Tip: The service staff knows absolutely everything about the meat — right down to what the cows ate and how that affects the final taste. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by choices, don’t hesitate to talk it through with your server.
This Ballard gastropub from Ethan Stowell highlights “quality” with an elevated bar menu that presents a “diversity of options” including housemade sausage, a “satisfying” burger and small plates aplenty; warmed by booths and denlike decor, the natty space has a hardwood bar pouring hyper-local craft beers, wines and ciders.
Must-Order: The whole Mad Hatcher fried chicken, served with vinegary collard greens and creamy grits. It takes a bit longer, as it is fried to order, but the crisp, slightly spicy chicken is worth the wait.
Insider Tip: Tables usually get snagged by reservations, but there are loads of seats both at the bar and at a standing rail just behind it where it’s comfortable to hang out and grab a snack.
From the much-lauded The Calf & Kid shop’s Sheri LaVigne, this artisanal cheese cafe offers flights and pairings with local wine and craft beer as well as luxe macaroni 'n' cheese dishes for curd nerds who seek exceptional foods and flavors. The cheese selection mirrors that of The Calf & Kid, and the contemporary Capitol Hill space, next door to the Outer Planet brewery, exudes warm colors and an easygoing vibe.
- Capitol Hill
Must-Order: Although the flights are a great way to get exposed to new and interesting cheeses, there is no other place using $30-a-pound cheddar in their mac 'n' cheese, a win for anyone who loves pasta drenched in creamy cheese.
Insider Tip: Although it’s also a bar, the front part of the space is all ages, so don’t hesitate to bring your cheese-loving kids.
Shiro Kashiba’s hot spot in the Pike Place Market draws crowds for omakase from the master himself, exactingly prepared in the Edomae (Old Tokyo) style. Trained under Jiro Ono (of the "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" film), Kashiba transformed the former Marche space into a posh, contemporary room with one of the city’s most sought-after sushi bars, as well as views of Elliott Bay and the Pike Place Market.
- Pike Place Market
Must-Order: Order omakase style, leaving all the decisions in the capable hands of master Shiro Kashiba.
Insider Tip: Everyone wants to sit at the sushi counter in front of the master himself. Unfortunately, it’s not available for reservation and lines often form prior to the restaurant’s 5 PM opening time. The key to getting a seat here is to go later at night, showing up for dinner around or after 9 PM (it closes at 10:30 PM nightly).
Sophisticated, contemporary vegan dishes made with mostly organic ingredients (some grown in the garden out back) are the standout in the set-price, single-seating dinners from the owners of the former Sutra. The amiable Wallingford restaurant radiates health and hipness, from composting its scraps to the recycled decor and eco-friendly paint on the walls.
Must-Order: Every night there is only one option, the five-course vegan feast. It's a menu that changes daily.
Insider Tip: There is only one scheduled seating each night at 7 PM, but try to arrive early to get a seat at the highly coveted chef's counter.
This Bothell comfort-food specialist features a brewery in the basement and their own Wildwood Spirits distillery next door. With pizza, sausages, homemade breads and thick, juicy burgers, everything is made in-house from local ingredients, and the convivial pub takes upcycling seriously with tables made from wood harvested from the property.
Must-Order: Everything — from the pizza dough to the gin in your cocktail — is made in-house at this Bothell hot spot. Make sure to get an order of the grilled kalbi pork meat candy paired with a smooth Widow Maker Wit.
Insider Tip: Ask for the secret menu offering called Fries Bigfoot-Style: fresh-made pomme frites covered with smoked Gouda sauce.
Chef-owner Maximillian Petty, who has cooked with celeb chef José Andrés, fields a seasonal menu of share-worthy plates at this inventive New American in upper Queen Anne. The chic, 24-seat space has window tables overlooking the street, and the cozy vibes are suitable for date nights and casual outings.
- New American
- Queen Anne
Must-Order: The pig-head candy bar, a crisp slab of housemade headcheese placed upon a bright chilled champagne and pear soup and finished with crunchy pickled cabbage and serranos. It's a dish that hits wonderfully upon each taste region.
Insider Tip: The menu might not look too veg-friendly, but chef Max Petty has so many vegetable components going into other dishes, he's more than willing to whip up something off-menu to accommodate.