Without a doubt, Seattle is a food lover’s paradise. With Washington being a coastal state with easy access to fresh seafood and so much land dedicated to agriculture, there’s an abundance of farm-to-table dining in the Emerald City, not to mention cuisine from all over the world.
It’s hard to narrow down the best restaurants in downtown Seattle, especially since people’s preferences and budgets vary — but there’s no denying that locals and tourists alike tend to flock to a few select spots and for good reason.
Some downtown Seattle restaurants are hard to find, while others may require a bit of a splurge or making reservations weeks in advance.
Still, if you’re willing to make the effort, you’ll be rewarded with some incredible meals. These are the best places to eat in downtown Seattle, with a few more top eateries in other Seattle neighborhoods and culinary experiences thrown in for good measure.
Best Restaurants in Downtown Seattle
1. Enjoy Acrobatics and Fresh Italian-American Food at The Pink Door
Address: 1919 Post Alley, Seattle, 98101
Located in Pike Place Market’s elusive Post Alley, The Pink Door has been dazzling diners since 1981. The space was renovated several years ago, allowing for more sweeping views of the Seattle waterfront and a more authentic Italian vibe. But in spite of its new additions, it still has the look of an old-fashioned eatery.
The food here is consistently fantastic, featuring classics like lasagna and spaghetti along with some seasonal specials, most made with locally sourced ingredients. But what really sets this place apart from other restaurants is the entertainment. The Pink Door’s lounge features nightly acts ranging from trapeze artists to cabaret and Tarot readers.
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2. Plan for Happy Hour at Japonessa
Address: 1401 1st Ave., Seattle, 98101
This trendy upscale sushi spot describes itself as featuring “a Japanese core concept with hints of Latin flair.” They’re certainly doing something right, because Japonessa is one of the most popular restaurants in downtown Seattle, and their second Bellevue location is always packed as well.
Their locally famous happy hour offers deals on classic rolls, calamari, chicken karaage, and creative cocktails.
3. Take in the Views at Aerlume
Address: 2003 Western Ave. Suite C, Seattle, 98121
Perched above Elliott Bay and nestled next to Pike Place Market, Aerlume is a cozy escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Seattle despite its prime location. There truly isn’t a bad seat here, as patrons can all enjoy sweeping views of Puget Sound and the sky.
But as lovely as the views are, it’s the dinner menu that will impress you here. The small but carefully curated selection includes plenty of seafood, meat, small plates, and the occasional pasta. If you have a large group with you, you can rent out the large, lavish private room and dine together with some of the city’s best views.
4. Try the Legendary Pike Place Chowder
Address: 1530 Post Alley, Seattle, 98101
It all started in 2003 when Larry Mellum opened a small cafe in Seattle’s Pike Place Market with the goal of making great chowder in as many variations as he could think of. In a city with some well-established seafood and chowder spots, it wouldn’t be easy to stand out — but he made it happen.
Pike Place Chowder has attracted visitors from all over the world, won numerous awards, and created line after line around the block. And still, all these years later, everything is made fresh daily in small batches so as not to compromise on quality. The best part is, all the seafood in the chowders is 100% sustainable.
5. Have Fun With Pizza at Serious Pie
Address: 2001 4th Ave., Seattle, 98121
Serious Pie is owned by Tom Douglas, an executive chef and restaurateur who has won two James Beard Awards. While the pizzeria has three locations, the downtown restaurant is definitely the most popular. Since its opening, Serious Pie has amassed a serious cult following, and it’s well worth the hype.
When you bite into this pizza, you’ll notice something different about it. That’s because the dough is hand-crafted through a complex process that takes several days, then blistered in a 60-degree oven until it’s lightly browned and topped with delicious locally sourced toppings. Serious Pie also serves salads and other small plates, including the tastiest tomato soup that will warm you up on a cold day.
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6. Get a Taste of the Mediterranean at Petra Bistro
Address: 2501 4th Ave., Seattle, 98121
One thing you’ll notice when you dine at Petra Mediterranean Bistro is the lack of daily specials, which is not a mistake. The team puts a lot of effort into maximizing the flavors of each appetizer, soup, salad, and entree, creating an entire menu of specialty items. Add in a warm, welcoming ambiance, a colorful dining room, and the occasional belly dancer and you’ve got yourself one amazing restaurant with some serious staying power.
Petra Bistro’s flagship location is on 4th Avenue, and they have a lunch-only cafe in the Westlake area. The owner and co-founder, Chef Khal Beleh, was born and raised in Amman, Jordan, and brings all the universally-loved flavors of the Mediterranean to this charming bistro. The hummus here is downright addictive, and for a real flavor explosion, you can’t go wrong with the Petra Royal. But whatever you do, don’t skip the Baklava.
7. Say “Oui” to Le Pichet
Address: 1933 1st Ave., Seattle, 98101
Le Pichet opened in 2000, over a decade after co-founder Jim Drohman left a career as an Aeronautical Engineer to train at l’Ecole Superior de Cuisine Français Jean Ferrandi in Paris. The other owner, Joanne Herron, spent extensive time touring the wine-producing regions of France. Their dedication paid off because stepping into this 32-seat cafe feels like being transported to the French countryside.
Le Pichet serves pastries and charcuterie from opening until lunchtime. The lunch and dinner menus offer an assortment of authentic French creations, right down to the decadent desserts. Le Pichet has earned countless local and national praise, even ranking highly on the “23 Best Dinners in Seattle” list by Seattle Magazine in 2019. Whether you’re a French food novice or it’s your preferred cuisine, you’ll find something to love here.
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8. Feast on the Authentic Sushi Kashiba
Address: 86 Pine St. Suite 1, Seattle, 98101
After years of challenging apprenticeships in Tokyo, Chef Shiro Kashiba came to Seattle in 1970 and opened its first sushi bar. Kashiba is now known as the “grandfather of Seattle sushi,” this three-time James Beard Award nominee has trained countless local sushi chefs and has cooked for Japanese Prime Ministers, celebrities, star athletes, and countless tourists who are lucky enough to find Sushi Kashiba.
Be prepared to go on a little scavenger hunt to find this place. It’s located at Pike Place Market, right around the corner from the Inn at the Market. If you do discover it, prepare to be blown away by the simple but stunning space and the course dinners, which include 12 pieces of nigiri, a special roll, a house special appetizer, seasonal salad, miso soup, and a traditional egg finale.
9. Nosh on Northwest Favorites at Goldfinch Tavern
Address: 99 Union St., Seattle, 98101
Seattle’s Four Seasons Hotel is quite a sight to behold, and its on-site eatery, the Goldfinch Tavern, is no exception. Owned by local celebrity chef Ethan Stowell, the focus on local Northwest cuisine is certainly no coincidence — Stowell is a Seattle native who believes in simplicity and using fresh, local ingredients.
Since this is a hotel restaurant, you’ll have the option of having breakfast, lunch, or dinner here daily, not to mention the upscale weekend brunch that will set you back a substantial amount but includes three courses (including dessert) and bottomless mimosas. And while the menu isn’t exactly budget-friendly, it’s also quite unpretentious — one of the best sellers is the Goldfinch Burger.
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10. Try a Taste of Russia at Piroshky Piroshky
Address: 1908 Pike Place, Seattle, 98101
In 1992, a small bakery opened at Pike Place Market with the intent of bringing some classic Russian favorites to the Pacific Northwest. The main focus was always on Piroshkies, hand-held pies with a range of delicious fillings.
As it turns out, the Pacific Northwest was extremely perceptive to Piroshkies. The bakery’s popularity has exploded, with long lines of both tourists and locals forming daily. The Beef and Cheese Piroshky and the Potato and Cheese Piroshky are top sellers, but this place bakes plenty of sweet treats as well. The Cinnamon Cardamom Braid is out of this world.
11. Go For Old School Italian at Il Bistro
Address: 93 Pike St. Suite A, Seattle, 98101
Tucked away down a small cobblestone alley in Pike Place Market, Il Bistro is a hidden gem that’s hiding in plain sight. This cozy, romantic bistro has been serving incredible Italian food for over 30 years, and it’s one of the best date night restaurants in Seattle.
Whether you grab a seat at the candlelit bar or the cozy dining room, prepare for a culinary adventure. The extensive wine list includes both Italian favorites and Northwest vino, and the classic cocktails are perfect for a nightcap. The pasta melts in your mouth, and the pizza is divine. But for a real treat, order a hearty entree like the Cioppino or the Bistecca (Grilled New York Steak).
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12. Savor Fresh Seafood at Elliott’s Oyster House
Address: 1201 Alaskan Way Suite 100, Seattle, 98101
Elliott’s Oyster House opened in 1975, becoming an instant classic. You’ll find this beloved seafood spot on the historic Pier 56 on the Seattle Waterfront — and the views are as stellar as you’d imagine. Elliott’s has earned national recognition from USA Today, Wine Spectator, Gourmet, and more, and they’re known for only using sustainable seafood.
Oysters are obviously a must when you’re here, and you’ll have your choice of an extensive oyster list (and a pan-fried option). Come with a small group and order a Celebration Platter or a Smoked Seafood Platter (or both) for a tantalizing taste of some of the tastiest options.
13. Get Your Wine and Cheese Fix at Purple Cafe & Wine Bar
Address: 1225 4th Ave., Seattle, 98101
You’ve got to love a restaurant with a staircase of wine (a stairway to heaven, if you will). But Purple Cafe & Wine Bar really is a wine lover’s paradise — and there’s plenty on the menu (both food and beverage) for those who don’t care for vino as well. Purple’s flagship location is located a block away from the 5th Avenue Theatre and Benaroya Hall, so it’s a great place to stop before or after a show for happy hour or a tasty meal.
As you can imagine, the wine list here is massive, and your server or the sommelier will be happy to help you make a decision in that department. As for the food menu, you’ll see seasonal specials, soups and salads, sandwiches, pasta, and meaty entrees. The baked brie is the real star of the show here, however: it comes with apricot, caramelized onions, candied walnuts, grapes, and house crackers. Order through DoorDash and enjoy it from your hotel room.
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14. Make Brunch Reservations at Tilikum Place Cafe
Address: 407 Cedar St., Seattle, 98121
Located in a building that once housed a print shop, Tilikum Place Cafe started with the idea of serving dinner-quality food for breakfast. After all, it’s the most important meal of the day! Since it first opened in 2009, it has remained one of Seattle’s most popular brunch spots. In fact, if you want brunch here, you’ll likely have to make a reservation due to its popularity.
Tilikum Place Cafe also serves dinner on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (reservations are recommended but not required), but their weekend brunch is still the most coveted meal. The Eggs Benedict is served with cold smoked salmon, the Housemade Crumpets are to die for, and the freshly made soups and warm bread make for a perfect late-morning meal on a cold day.
15. Go for Greek at Lola
Address: 2000 4th Ave., Seattle, 98121
Chef Tom Douglas named this charming bistro after his wife’s grandmother, Lola, a formidable woman who married a Greek immigrant named Louie at the age of 20. While Louie never made it back to his homeland, Tom always imagined what he would have eaten if he was able to return. The menu at Lola is meant to highlight some of the best Greek cuisine, with influences from all over the Mediterranean and the USA.
The small but enticing dinner menu includes an array of spreads like tzatziki, main dishes like Spiced Rubbed Lamb Chops, and Mezze like authentic Greek salad and Dolmades. Lola also serves breakfast during the week and a beloved weekend brunch, featuring made-to-order donuts and a unique octopus hash.
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16. Bring Paris to the PNW at Cafe Campagne
Address: 1600 Post Alley, Seattle, 98101
Inside the heart of Pike Place Market sits a beloved Parisian cafe that has been charming diners since 1994. Cafe Campagne is prominently located, easy to find, and even easier to love. And if you like French food at all, you’ll want to try all three menus here (breakfast, weekend brunch, and dinner). It’s easy to see why this place has such staying power in spite of its niche menu and Post Alley location.
Escargot, Calamars, Beef Bourguignon, and Cassoulet are all standard at Cafe Campagne, but rest assured, this is not an overly pretentious menu. The Beef Burger and Pommes Frites are phenomenal. And if you’re lucky enough to get a table for brunch, the Housemade Chicken & Pork Sausage will win you over. Try the Oeufs en Meurette, poached eggs with a red wine foie gras sauce with pearl onions, bacon, and champignons on garlic croutons. It’s absolutely delicious, and better yet, it’s served with fries.
17. Eat an East Coast Style Sandwich at Tat’s Delicatessen
Address: 159 Yesler Way, Seattle, 98104
Sometimes nothing but a good old-fashioned sandwich will do. When the urge strikes, head to Tat’s Deli, located in Pioneer Square. Founded by two East Coasters who moved to Seattle in 1996, Tat’s brings the East Coast Deli experience to the West Coast. And the West Coast seems to love it.
From Philly Steaks to Hoagies and Hot Subs, the menu here will appease any sandwich lover. The Tat’s Grinder is a popular pick, and the Pizza Steak is a bold choice for the adventurous. If you don’t feel like standing in line, you can always order your lunch on DoorDash.
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18. Feast on Fresh Pike Place Produce at Matt’s in the Market
Address: 94 Pike St. #32, Seattle, 98101
Located on the second floor of Pike Place Market, Matt’s in the Market has become an iconic eatery. The views of Puget Sound are unparalleled, the food is as fresh as it gets (most of it comes from the market itself), and the service has a reputation for being stellar.
Matt’s was named after its original owner, and its current Executive Chef also happens to be a Matt! Chef Matt Fortner has worked for an impressive number of Seattle’s top restaurants, and he’s clearly found his home here.
19. Try Izakaya-style Tapas at Umi Sake House
Address: 2230 1st Ave., Seattle, 98121
You might assume Umi Sake House is simply a sushi restaurant, but it’s so much more. This unique Japanese restaurant in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood serves soups, salads, udon noodles, and a lengthy list of hot plates, or Izakaya-style tapas. From several versions of fried tofu and Garlic Short Ribs to Chicken Karaage and 7-Spiced Grilled King Crab, the menu is quite diverse, and it’s made to complement the 60+ imported bottles of sake.
That being said, the sushi menu here is definitely worth exploring. Between classics like Salmon Skin rolls and all the creative options like Mr. Perfect, Moonraker, and Belltown Barbie, you’ll have some tough choices to make here. Bring a few friends so you can split things and have a family-style feast. Or better yet, have a party at home and order it all on DoorDash.
20. Enjoy a Lively Meal at Dead Line
Address: 114 1st Ave. S, Seattle, 98104
The theme and concept of Dead Line is quite fascinating to those who know Seattle’s history. The name pays homage to the history of Yesler Way (its cross street) in Pioneer Square, which once separated the more privileged folks from “Skid Row” (if that’s at all possible) to the south, which is where the prostitutes, addicts, and “grifters” used to hang out. The founders don’t look down on those outcasts — in fact, the name represents the space where people from all walks of life interacted.
In spite of its ominous name, the vibe at Dead Line is spirited and lively. The Latin-inspired dinner menu has enticing items like Lamb Barbacoa and Seafood Pozole, while the Hammered Potatoes on the shareable menu are always a hit. A classic brunch menu is served on weekends, and the daily happy hour features discounts on some of their best food and drinks. Note that Dead Line is primarily a cocktail bar, so you’ll have to be of legal drinking age to dine here.
BONUS! Eat MORE in Seattle
Because of its foodie credentials, we’d be remiss if we didn’t stray from downtown and delve a little deeper into Seattle’s food scene. Check out what else is in store!
Book a Seattle Food Tour
If you have limited time in Seattle and you’d like to try as much delicious food as possible while you’re in town, you’re in luck — there are some fantastic local food tour options that will help you sample your way through the city.
For example, Viator offers a two-hour Pike Place Market food tour, led by a local chef. You’ll get to stop at almost a dozen iconic spots in the market, like Beecher’s Mac & Cheese and Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt. If you’d rather venture out on your own, Adria at The Emerald Palate offers self-guided food tours of several Seattle neighborhoods — and she’ll even customize one to your specific tastes. Savor Seattle food tours are so popular that even the locals love them…in a city this size, it’s impossible to know where all the hidden gems are without a little help.
Get Out of (Down)town
The downtown Seattle area has a great selection of world-class dining and casual restaurants alike. But any local will tell you that some of the best places to eat are found in the city’s quieter areas. If you’re venturing out of downtown Seattle, try one of these neighborhood gems:
1. Raiz (Phinney Ridge)
For a tiny restaurant that opened right before the world shut down in 2020, this place has some serious staying power. All it takes is one meal here to see why. Chef Ricardo Valdes brings the flavor of Mexico City to Seattle with the help of his equally talented friend, Kenny. Go for the weekend brunch, then come back for dinner.
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2. Flint Creek Cattle Co. (Greenwood)
If you love meat but don’t love the inhumane way animals are treated, Flint Creek Cattle Co. is a dream come true. With a focus on meats sourced from small-scale farms and ranches, you can savor a steak (or pork chops, wild venison, or chicken) guilt-free here.
3. Copine (Ballard)
If Copine was located downtown instead of on a fairly quiet street in Ballard, there would never be an empty seat. You’ll pay a hefty price for a meal here, and you won’t regret one bit of it. Chef Shaun McCrain and his team serve a French-focused prix fixe dinner service that leaves guests talking about it for months.
4. Terra Plata (Capitol Hill)
With a focus on locally sourced ingredients — right down to the on-site rooftop garden — Terra Plata is a coveted Capitol Hill dining spot with enviable city views from its rooftop. The rotating seasonal dinner menu offers plenty of seafood, meat, and vegetable-focused options, and the weekend brunch is a quintessential Seattle dining experience.
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5. Il Nido (West Seattle)
Over a decade ago, a fire destroyed West Seattle’s beloved Alki Homestead restaurant. The building sat unused for quite some time until Il Nido finally gave it a home in 2019. This upscale Italian restaurant is a James Beard Foundation semi-finalist, and it’s incredibly hard to get a table. Reservations can be made 30 days in advance, and you’ll want to plan your visit at least two weeks ahead of time.
6. Ray’s Boathouse and Ray’s Cafe (Ballard)
Ray’s is a local icon, and not just because of the breathtaking views of Puget Sound, which can be enjoyed both from the fine dining area and the more casual cafe. Since its 1952 opening, this has been known as the place in Seattle to go for fresh delicious seafood. Ray’s was even the first to introduce Seattle locals to Olympia oysters and the first restaurant to purchase its own wholesale fish buyer’s license.
7. Musang (Beacon Hill)
Musang opened in early 2020, bringing innovative Filipino food to Beacon Hill. Their dynamic and ever-changing menu has something for everyone, from those who prefer to keep things classic to all-out adventurous eaters. Dining at Musang will take some planning — dinner reservations often need to be made weeks in advance.
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8. Ciudad (Georgetown)
Located in the Oxbow Building in Seattle’s historic Georgetown neighborhood, Ciudad is a local icon and a fast favorite of any tourist lucky enough to find it. The menu focuses on meats and vegetables cooked over a charcoal grill with flavors from the Mediterranean region, Spain, Portugal, and Morocco.
9. Pizzeria Credo (West Seattle)
It’s a running joke that West Seattle has way too many pizza restaurants, but Pizzeria Credo has some serious staying power. Since its opening in 2015, Credo has been named one of Top 100 restaurants in the U.S. on Yelp and won numerous local awards. While the wood-fired pizza here is downright addictive, the small plates, salads, and pasta selections are also delightful.
10. Canlis (Queen Anne)
If money is no object and you have a special occasion to celebrate, head to Canlis, Seattle’s landmark fine dining destination of over 70 years. The Canlis family is known for their kindness and generosity, and the service here is absolutely stellar. You’ll enjoy a multi-course dining experience here, but don’t miss out on the chance to try the infamous Canlis Salad.