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Rand's Restaurant & Bar Guide to Seattle

Posted by randfish

Many, many folks in the technology, startup and marketing fields come to visit Seattle each year for big events like SMX, Mozcon, SIC and Techstars Demo Day. And in the past, plenty of you have emailed members of our staff asking a critically important question: "Where should I go to eat and drink?"

Being craft-cocktail-hipster Northwest foodie snobs, many of the Mozzers are obsessed with dining and boozing to the very best of our ability. We have weekly beer nights, take out tons of visitors to restaurants and bars across the city and are constantly trying the latest and greatest of what Seattle has to offer. If you follow any of the Mozzer FourSquare accounts (e.g. Jamie, Aaron, myself), you'll see what I mean. Hence, it's our solemn duty to make sure you eat phenomenally well while in the Emerald City. To do that, I've assembled this guide.

A few caveats - since most visitors to Seattle stay in the urban, downtown core, I've tried to keep everything in walking (or very short cab-ride) distance. From the downtown hotels, nearly everything on this list is within a 25 minute walk, and much is under 15. From the waterfront (where SMX is held), the distance is a bit greater for the Capitol Hill locations, but still do-able (and so worthwhile). Below is the Google Map I've created, featuring all the restaurants and bars along with some personal notations on each.


View Moz's Seattle Food & Drink Guide in a larger map

Note that you can click on each location and get a brief description, too.

I'll also list each of the restaurants/bars, with a link to Urbanspoon so you can see more. These will be roughly (but not precisely) in order of how much I like them, so if you trust me completely and need to narrow down your selections, you can just pick from the top few :-)

Let's start with the downtown core & Pike Place Market:

  1. Black Bottle (blasted broccoli is all you need to know)
  2. Bisato (shockingly good Venetian tapas)
  3. The Upstairs (ask the bartender for Upstairs' history, but only if you're not squeamish)
  4. Daily Dozen Donut Co. (crack)
  5. Michou Deli (Mozzers' favorite sandwich spot)
  6. Li'l Woody's (fig+chevre+bacon on the best burger I've had in the city)
  7. Local 360 (everything's local, even the music they play)
  8. Spur Gastropub (molecular gastronomy that's not too-over-the-top)
  9. Cafe Yarmarka (awesome Russian pelmeni & perogi)
  10. Matt's in the Market (upscale lunch + dinner overlooking the market)
  11. DeLaurenti (Italian deli w/ good pizza and panini)
  12. Il Corvo (Only two pastas each day, but they're awesome)
  13. Lola (Tom Douglas' foray into Mediterranean is quite solid)
  14. Le Pichet (go during happy hour; marvel at the liver pate)
  15. Pink Door (sit on the amazing patio)
  16. Fonte Coffee & Wine Bar (coffee, beer, even flatbreads are good)
  17. Shiro's Sushi (one of Seattle's best traditional sushi joints)
  18. Serious Pie (flatbread-style pizza that's very tasty)
  19. Le Panier (phenomenal macaroons)
  20. Branzino (comfy Italian seafood & pasta)
  21. Lecosho (all things pork)
  22. Long Provincial Vietnamese (solid Vietnamese w/ great hot sauce)
  23. Pike Pub & Brewery (great for groups, try the "Kiltlifter")
  24. The Brooklyn (fancy-pants seafood, oysters + steak)
  25. Barolo (fancy-pants Italian)

And then go up to Capitol Hill, which is a slight bit more of a walk, but features many of my favorites:

  1. D'Ambrosio Gelateria (most authentic Italian gelato in the US)
  2. Tavern Law (they make literally the best cocktail I've ever had)
  3. Barrio (upscale Mexican)
  4. Canon: Whiskey & Bitters Emporium (speaks for itself)
  5. Montana (my favorite dive bar)
  6. Marination Station (Korean+Hawaiian sliders & tacos)
  7. Anchovies & Olives (Northwest+Italian)
  8. High 5 Pie (obviously, they make amazing pie)
  9. Knee High Stocking Company (speakeasy-style drinks and surprisingly good food)
  10. Momiji (great sushi, particularly the rolls)
  11. In the Bowl Noodles (It's so good, it's vegetarian and I'm still recommending it)
  12. Terra Plata (great Northwest fusion)
  13. Oddfellows Lodge (excellent for breakfast and late night)
  14. Cupcake Royale (Geraldine's favorite cupcakes; 'nuff said)
  15. Stumptown Coffee Roasters (maybe the best coffee in a coffee-obsessed city)
  16. Big Mario's Pizza (Only place I've ever found w/ true NY-style slices)
  17. The Unicorn (super-insane, clown themed bar with fried snickers)

I also wanted to provide a few places NOT to go in the downtown area, because they're sadly overhyped/overpriced and not worth it (or, in some cases, they're just not "special," e.g. you can find something like Met Grill anywhere in the US) - Canlis, Wild Ginger, McCormick & Schmick's, Metropolitan Grill, Steelhead Diner, the "Original" Starbucks (which, FYI, is not the original, just the oldest one still around), Palomino, Blueacre Seafood, Icon Grill, Lowell's (unless you're just going to get a beer upstairs and for the nostalgia of Sleepless in Seattle).

And finally, if you're willing to travel a bit outside Downtown/Cap Hill for something special, here's my top 10 (note: these aren't on the map; sorry):

  1. Joule (brilliantly done korean+french fusion w/ no pretention)
  2. Phnom Penh Noodle House (awesome Cambodian; get the beef la lot)
  3. La Carta de Oaxaca (their mole is literally the best I've ever had)
  4. Revel (korean+northwest that's over-the-top tasty, but prepare for a long wait)
  5. Serafina (maybe my favorite Italian in the city)
  6. Rover's (super fancy, super pricey, but actually worth it)
  7. Sichuanese Cuisine (truly traditional Chinese, just be cautious in ordering  if you're squeemish)
  8. Pam's Kitchen (curry/roti from Trinidad and Tobago; shockingly tasty, but very spicy)
  9. Bitterroot BBQ (possibly the best BBQ in Seattle with a definite hipster twist)
  10. Ocho (consistently excellent tapas & drinks in Ballard)

There you have it! My personal recommendations on where to eat and drink while in the downtown Seattle core. If you visit any of these (or anything else you love), please tweet at me (@randfish) and let me know how it goes!

p.s. This list doesn't include a ton of amazing places I LOVE in all sorts of other Seattle neighborhoods. Maybe I'll assemble something like that in the future. It also probably isn't exhaustive in the area I did cover and it reflects my personal taste, so if you like Applebee's, this list is almost certainly not for you. :-)

p.p.s. Please feel free to add your own favorites below (and don't feel constrained to keep it to the downtown core, but do provide location links so others can see where they'd need to go). Thanks!

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