The Michelin guide may not visit the Pacific Northwest, but make no mistake, Seattle is a big food city. It has easy access to water, sits within a huge agricultural state, and has seen incredible population growth among people of all cultural backgrounds.
Over time, there have become certain famous foods in Seattle thanks to this melting pot of unique ingredients and perspectives. A trip to Seattle wouldn’t but complete without trying them.
Since I’m obsessed with finding the best places to eat so I can share them in my self-guided Seattle food tours, I’ve created this checklist for eating your way through these famous foods. If it’s your first time visiting Seattle, get ready for an epic trip eating like a local by trying Seattle’s famous foods.
This is a guest post by Adria from The Emerald Palate.
Seattle’s Famous Foods to Try
Here are some of the most famous food in Seattle that you have to try next time you’re in town!
Washington farms the most oysters in the US, so getting this famous food in Seattle is a must. Some of the most popular producers are Hama Hama Oysters and Taylor Shellfish Farms, both of which offer farm tours out on the coast.
If you’re looking for a foodie adventure that makes a great day trip from Seattle. Keep an eye out for their name on restaurant menus around town (including Taylor Shellfish’s very own Seattle restaurants).
My favorite place to get oysters is The Walrus and the Carpenter. It’s a beautifully-designed French restaurant owned by James Beard-winning restaurateur, Renee Erickson.
They host a happy hour from 4-6 pm Monday – Thursday, which is worth going to because the oysters are cheaper. Make sure to get there right for 4 pm so you can get the first seating or use their online waitlist if it’s available (sometimes it goes offline).
If The Walrus and the Carpenter isn’t in the cards, other good options for oysters include Westward or White Swan Public House for views of Lake Union, Vinnie’s Raw Bar for a convenient downtown location, and Bar Melusine for Renee’s Capitol Hill oyster spot.
Oysters are in their own category, but Seattle has access to some of the best fish and shellfish in the US. Salmon and crab are our most obvious gifts to the world, but we also have a ton of geoduck.
Geoduck is a shellfish that’s basically like a monster clam with a sea slug-looking thing hanging out of its shell. I never had it until I moved to Seattle, so if you haven’t heard of it make sure to give it a try! I love the geoduck butter dish at Shiro’s, a sushi restaurant in downtown Seattle.
If you want a more traditional seafood restaurant, my two favorites are Manolin and RockCreek. Manolin (pronounced “mawn-oh-leen”) has a Caribbean-inspired menu in a beautiful space designed around their grill where they execute a lot of their dishes.
Make sure to get the mussels on Sea Wolf bread (the amazing bakery next door) and the rockfish ceviche. You’ll quickly see why these are some of the most famous foods in Seattle.
RockCreek is a 2-story restaurant with a chic camping vibe. They have a lot of fabulous dishes, but their black cod entree is consistently excellent. I hadn’t had much black cod until I moved to Seattle, so if you haven’t tried it either this is a great place to get it!
There are some great sushi restaurants in Seattle, but my favorites are Sushi Kashiba or Wataru. Both source fish from Japan as well as locally, but they’re both authentic.
Sushi Kashiba is owned by the previous owner of Shiro’s, chef Shiro Kashiba. It’s delicious but quite expensive, so I prefer Wataru slightly more for the cost-to-quality ratio.
Another popular option for sushi when you’re downtown is Japonessa Sushi Cocina. You’ll want to make a reservation in advance for dinner, but it’s well worth it. They have an extensive menu of appetizers, sushi, sashimi, and more, in addition to cocktails that pair well with them.
The Seattle Dog
Cream cheese has become a thing associated with Seattle. You usually see it on sushi menus around the US as part of the “Seattle roll” that has salmon and cream cheese.
However, I’d say the most famous use of cream cheese in our city is actually putting it on a hot dog. It sounds crazy, but the heat of the hot dog and grilled onions melt the cream cheese slightly and creates the most irresistible street food that is one of Seattle’s famous foods.
Hot dogs are the traditional way it’s served, but I prefer it with sausage. My two favorite places to get a Seattle dog are Dante’s Inferno Dogs food truck at the Ballard Farmers Market and Jack’s BBQ in South Lake Union.
You can only get Dante’s on Sundays and Jack’s BBQ’s on Friday during their happy hour, but both are worth the effort.
I never knew I liked coffee until I moved to Seattle. It’s serious business here. You’ll find local coffee roasters or shops on seemingly every block throughout the city.
Every local has their favorite, but we all align on one fact: all of them are better than Starbucks. So please ignore the tourist “wisdom” that says you should prioritize visiting the first Starbucks in Pike Place Market (it’s not even true, the first one actually closed!).
There are so many good ones, but here is my shortlist of favorites of some of the best places to get coffee in Seattle:
- Seattle Coffee Works
- Victrola Coffee Roasters (they also offer tours)
Most of them have multiple locations around the city so you can search which one is the most convenient for you to visit.
If you’re looking for bags to bring home or get delivered, my favorite right now is Onda Origins. They don’t have a storefront, but serve in local restaurants or directly to consumers via their online shop.
Seattle has a large Vietnamese population thanks to Governor Dan Evans, who after the Vietnam War in the 70s welcomed Vietnamese refugees being held in a San Diego camp to relocate to our city. One of their gifts to our city is pho (pronounced “fuh”).
Pho is the Vietnamese version of chicken noodle soup. While it’s not always served with chicken, it’s one of their comfort foods often eaten when you’re sick.
You’ll find this delicious soup throughout the city, but my favorite is from Pho Than Brothers. It’s cheap, flavorful, and comes with a cream puff dessert at the end.
Seattle also has a quite large Japanese community. You would think their immigration here after WWII would be the reason teriyaki is so ubiquitous in our city, but the truth is the first spot was opened in the 70s by one Japanese transplant.
Seattle teriyaki isn’t super traditional, but rather a recipe combining flavors from a few Asian cuisines. For example, Seattle teriyaki uses sugar to make it sweeter than traditional recipes.
Admittedly I’m not the biggest teriyaki fan, but my foodie friends recommend heading to Toshi’s to try it from the guy who started it all. Here are other spots recommended by Eater.
Seattle has a pretty serious dessert scene. You can find a ton of spots dedicated to pastries, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, and chocolate.
For chocolate, head to Theo Chocolate, Indi Chocolate, or Fran’s. Theo and Indi make chocolate, while Fran’s is a chocolatier that focuses on confections. Theo was the first organic and fair trade chocolate maker in the US and offers a fun chocolate factory tour.
Indi makes some of my favorite chocolate bars and offers classes in their Pike Place Market space. At Fran’s, you must get the salted caramels.
If pastries, cakes, cookies, ice cream, or other types of treats are your preference, here are some of my favorite treats in Seattle:
- The peanut butter cookie at Dahlia Bakery
- The mackles’more cookie at Hello Robin
- The Wandering Goose or Deep Sea Sugar & Salt for cakes
- General Porpoise for doughnuts (get the vanilla custard!)
- Larsen’s for a traditional neighborhood bakery
- Nutty Squirrel or D’Ambrosio for gelato
Seattle Beer and Wine to Try
Ok, beer and wine aren’t technically food, but the brewery and wine scene are so strong in Seattle that it’d be unfair not to say anything.
Seattle Craft Beer
Washington is one of the biggest hop-producing states in the country. This may be the reason brewing is so popular in Seattle. Seattle has more local breweries than most cities in the US, beat out only by a few cities like Chicago and Denver.
It’s also common for someone you meet to be a homebrewer. Brewing is just in this city’s DNA.
There are so many good ones serving everything from IPAs to Belgian-style ales. Some of my favorite breweries are in the Ballard neighborhood.
You can take a Seattle brewery crawl or visit my favorite, Obec Brewing, for their Belgian Dubbel. Another great place is Holy Mountain Brewing, a place that will impress even the most intense beer lovers.
There are also many kid-friendly Seattle breweries, so make sure to check them out when you’re with the family.
Wine in Seattle
In terms of wine, Washington is the second biggest wine-producing area in the US behind California. Most of the grapes are grown in eastern Washington, but there are urban wineries located right in Seattle doing amazing things with these grapes.
One of my favorite things to do is visit SODO Urbanworks, which houses multiple wineries in a strip mall so you can taste a bunch at once. My absolute favorite one is Structure Cellars, so make sure not to miss them!
Other Places to Eat in Seattle
If you work your way down this list, you’ll have eaten just about all the foods Seattle is famous for. While you eat your way around the city, keep an eye out for dishes that include apples or cherries, two of the biggest crops in Washington that our state is famous for.
Adria Saracino is the founder of The Emerald Palate, a food and travel blog that offers self-guided Seattle food tours and tips for discovering the best flavors, makers, and adventures in the Pacific Northwest.