Xian street foods, Ethiopian cafe’s, Indian Pizza parlors… Seattle’s got it all and these are my favorites!
FYI: These foods could be VERY adventurous depending on what you’re used to. Be ready to get out of your comfort zone and be surprised! These are loosely ordered in how frequently I visit, and I will continue to add and edit to this list! The COVID-19 pandemic may impact some of the info here.
- ⭐ = A special Seattle gem that I would bring a visiting friend to
- 🌶️ = Food might be spicy, and cause (harmless) pain to your taste buds. Ask about spice level!
- 🥬 = vegetarian friendly!
- Xian noodles “Shee-on” (Seattle) ⭐🌶
- The BEST Chinese hand-cut noodle place in Seattle. I first went there with my coworker from Xian who insisted that I go with her because it was just like the food she had in her hometown. Can confirm — super good.
- Get their spicy lamb or beef biang-biang noodles, cold noodles (🥬 )are good too in the summer: these come with strong and garlicky sauce with thin wide noodles!
2. Cafe Selam (Seattle) ⭐🌶️ 🥬
- My absolute FAVORITE place for Ethiopian food
- Get their lamb tibs, meat combo, veggie combo (🥬). The stewed meat and veggies/salad are served on an injera (pancake sort of) and you eat by using injera to pick up the stewed food. AMAZING. A Seattle must-try.
- Ask for their fresh spicy green chili sauce — on side, for dipping.
3. Sandwich House Tres (Bellevue) ⭐ 🥬
- BEST Japanese sandwiches to-go, great for lunch take-out, to take on your weekend hike/picnic etc.
- My favorites are miso katsu (savory) and Exotic Japan (sweet)
4. Yang’s Kitchen (Bellevue) 🌶️
- Sichuan Chinese food — SPICY. Good for take-out: you can cook your own rice to save money (they charge $2 for rice I think)
- Sliced fish in hot & spicy gravy, chow-mein (hand shaven noodles) with beef, Szechuan Crispy Chicken are what I normally get.
- If adventurous: fried pork intestines with peppers — DRY version
- Eat everything with rice — it will be SPICY unless they judge you to be spicy-intolerant…haha
5. So Tasty (Bellevue)
- This new place opened during the pandemic and has been my new go-to lunch place! My personal favorites are their spicy fried chicken, combo meat/rice plates, and roasted milk tea + pudding!
- Their website is easy to order from online, and when safe to do so, their restaurant space is very beautiful too! The plants and Chinese paintings really create a great ambiance!
6. Menya Musashi Tsukemen & Ramen 🌶️
- My favorite ramen place of late. The pork slices in their ramen is so tender and flavorful! I usually get miso ramen (has pork in it) and then I add pork katsu if I feel like it! Adding pork katsu to dip in the ramen is my personal favorite.
7. Kanishka (Redmond)
- This place has the BEST garlic naan. And muttar paneer. And curries in general. Yum! Orders over $50 come with free delivery (in a certain radius) and I’m so down because I can eat their food for days.
8. Paseo (SoDo Seattle) ⭐
- Caribbean sandwiches. Their grilled onions are so juicy. I don’t remember what I usually get here but their sandwiches are truly tasty. Slightly messy, be ready to wash your hands afterward!
9. Pho Bac (Seattle) ⭐ *There is another Pho Bac in Rainier/South Seattle that is supposed to be more authentic*
- The only place I know where you can get pho with Chinese donut for dipping (Hanoi-style!)
- I always get Pho Dac Biet (“the everything pho”) with Chinese donut. You put basil leaves and fresh bean sprouts in the soup to let it cook, then dip Chinese Donut in it. Put some oyster sauce and sriracha 🌶️ on a small plate, dip meat in the sauce (more traditional way). Some people put sauce in the pho — less traditional.
- EDIT: There is another Pho Bac in Rainier/South Seattle that my Vietnamese colleague will drive through snowy conditions for. According to her, the Rainier one is the most authentic pho you can find in Seattle.
10. Taj Palace (Bellevue) 🌶️ 🥬
- Best Indian food lunch buffet that I know of. Their fresh garlic naan is the best (free with lunch buffet). Be sure to ask for some! And dip in sweet tamarind (red) sauce and mint (green) sauce.
- Also decent for dinner: I like to get saag/palak paneer (Indian goat cheese, tofu-like texture), butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, goat curry, muttar paneer (peas and Indian cheese in curry with rice).
11. Cedars (U-district Seattle) 🌶️ 🥬
- Great Indian food in Seattle. Saag/Palak (spinach) paneer is my favorite, coupled with garlic naan: yum. Same as above for recommended dishes.
12. Chaat House, Dosa House — 100% Vegetarian (Bellevue) 🌶️ 🥬
- These are really similar: both vegetarian, with Indian snack foods.
- At Chaat house, I get a chaat (cold yogurt dish) with some other stuff (I really can’t remember the names sorry).
- At Dosa house, I get a dosa with some other stuff.
- This food should be super authentic because every time I go, I suspect that I’m the only person who’s not Indian/Indian American…I’m still figuring out what to order!
13. Huong Binh “hung bing” (International District Seattle) ⭐
- The best non-Pho Vietnamese food place I know of. Get the combo with everything (#11 Banh hoi thap cam). It’s a whole bunch of fragrant grilled meat with fresh herbs that you wrap with circular rice paper dipped in hot water
- Ask for rice paper, spin it in hot water (they’ll provide) until the whole thing has touched water. Stretch it out on a plate: now wrap meat, rice noodles and herbs in it and roll, dip in fish sauce, eat!
- Watch this video from 1:30 to see how to wrap: https://www.vickypham.com/blog/vietnamese-spring-rolls-goi-cuon
14. Tamarind Tree (International District Seattle) 🥬
- More Vietnamese food. Their Banh-Xeo “Bon-Say-Oh” appetizer, savory pancake) is pretty good. Grilled pork with lemon grass platter is pretty good, if you have a Vietnamese friend, they might have a better idea of what to order here.
15. Looking for Chai (Seattle, Bellevue locations)
- Authentic Taiwanese food: again, cook your own rice to save money. Chinese/Taiwanese dishes traditionally go with a bowl of white rice, unless it already has rice or noodles in it.
- Recommend fried chicken with special sauce, fried oyster mushroom with salted egg, mapo tofu, spicy garlic eggplant, lamb with green veggies (forgot what it’s called)
- More adventurous: salted egg with bittermelon.
16. Boiling Point (Seattle, Bellevue locations) 🌶️
- Taiwanese personal hotpot — caution, not very kid-friendly in my opinion, very hot soup is present. Each person orders one hotpot
- I always get the Beef hotpot, mild spice level with rice. Sometimes I get it two days in a row!
- If you are VERY adventurous — get the House Special or Taiwanese spicy: you might be blown away by the unique flavor…or traumatized 🤷🏻♀️
- Lunch comes with free black or green tea
17. Southgate Garden (Bellevue) 🌶️
- General Korean food restaurant with KBBQ option
- I usually get LA galbi “L. A. kai-bee” (beef) or the Pork Tofu Soup (with rice, SPICY), seafood pancake (appetizer) to share.
- Comes with hot tea and many small dishes “banchan” — free refills. Service here can be *variable* when it comes to friendliness, but the food is always solid!
18. Top Gun Seafood Restaurant (Bellevue)
- Weekend only: Best cart-style dimsum on the East side. Servers push carts around, you ask them to give you desired dishes. Traditionally a brunch meal with family, always eaten with Jasmine tea. I come here a lot!
- Savory dishes: the siu-mai (pork), cha-shao-shu (sweet pork pastry), har-gow (shrimp dumpling), zha-liang (rice/Chinese donut roll), steamed tofu rolls, radish cake, football-shaped fried taro (hot inside beware).
- Sweets: egg tart, sesame balls, tofu flower(dou-fu-fa) with syrup, bo-luo-bao (pineapple bun).
19. Jade Garden (International district, Seattle)
- Same as above for recommendations. They also have late-night food (different menu). Get dim sum to-go, and eat at the little gazebo or tables at the park nearby during the COVID-19 pandemic.
20. Kau Kau “cow cow”
- Best Hong Kong-style BBQ: take-out usually. Usually comes with rice — that’s how you normally eat it. Cook your own veggies to make it a healthier meal! I usually get the classic barbecued pork, roasted duck,
21. So Moon Nan Jib (Federal Way) 🌶️
- farther south but I make the trip at least twice a year because wow their bbq is good
- Need to go in a group if possible because their combos are best. Get the combo meal…comes with salads with unlimited refill. “Marinated” combo has more flavorful meat, but I suspect “fresh” combo has fresher meat, how much flavor is up to you (they’ll give you salt and sesame oil). Up to you.
22. Loxicha Authentic Oaxacan food (Seattle) ⭐
- the BEST tacos, taco stand only, no dine-in
- I usually order 4–5 tacos Al Pastor, Cabeza, Tripa, Pollo, Lengua are my favorite
23. Carmello’s tacos (Seattle)
- pretty solid tacos: al Pastor especially
- Same as above for recommendations
24. Din Tai Fung (Seattle, Bellevue)
- World famous buns/Taiwanese food. Google their history!
- Fancier, good for a nice date, a little pricier but not too bad ($$).
- Get the Pork Xiaolongbao, Shaomai, pork potstickers, Spicy wontons, beef noodles, fried rice, rice cake, a lot of good things here. Add some sautéed green veggies for a healthier meal!
- Dessert: taro xiaolongbao, sesame bun, or red bean Xiaolongbao.
25. Dough Zone (Seattle, Bellevue, Redmond)
- Most of the same foods as Din Tai Fung, about 70% of the cost
- Din Tai Fung is the most famous and best place for this genre of Chinese/Taiwanese food in my opinion but Dough Zone is a solid cheaper alternative. Dan Dan Noodles, xiao “sheeow” long bao, Q bao, shrimp and pork potstickers are decent, sweet and sour cucumber salad nice in the summer!
26. Little Sheep Hotpot 🌶️ 🥬
- Probably best on a cold winter day: Classic Chinese/Mongolian hotpot, one pot is shared between 2 or more people. You order raw ingredients to cook (by yourself) in fragrant broth of your choosing. I always get the split pot (spicy and non-spicy sides) and get beef, pork belly, lamb, fried tofu, king oyster mushroom, napa cabbage, spinach, and quail eggs to cook in it.
- Satay and sesame sauces for dipping
- Has “all you can eat” option for $25 — only do if you’re ravenously hungry.
27. Taqueria La Estacion (Burien)
- I’m still looking for a go-to Mexican restaurant. I realized there are many many places in Burien and I recently tried this one which was pretty good.
- It has birria (lamb stew) and pretty good tacos. Has many Mexico City -style items that I haven’t tried yet (pulque, michelada, etc)
28. Can Am Pizza (Redmond) ⭐ 🥬
- Indian pizza! Fusion of cuisines at its best. So good. I don’t remember what I got here in the past, but I remember a chicken one being super good. This is special place! They have non-Indian toppings too!
29. Bizzarro (Seattle) ⭐ 🥬
- Amazing pastas, “Forest floor” (the mushroom one) is amazing, also their Bolognese and caesar salad are great! And their bread. My Italian friend told me to go here. Great ambiance, special decor.
30. Santouka Ramen (Bellevue) 🌶️
- Also a great ramen place. I get their kara miso ramen with gyoza combo and salad (for health). I get takoyaki (fried octopus) or karaage (fried chicken) for appetizers. Often busy, be ready to wait.
31. 8oz. Burger & Co (Seattle) ⭐
- Probably the best burgers in Seattle. Great milk shakes too. A little pricy, not terrible for Seattle though. Garlic fries are great.
- Second only to $5 Dick’s Drive-in burgers at 1am (arguably the true Seattle burger experience ⭐).
32. Thanh Vy 🌶️
- My favorite place for Vietnamese sandwiches! I always get grilled prok sandwich with egg.
33. Bai Tong (Seattle, Redmond) 🌶️
- I am still looking for a go-to Thai restaurant. This one is the best I’ve found so far! Please help me find more Thai places!
34. Salumi (Seattle)
- Lunch sandwiches are great, salads too. Recommend the salami sandwiches or the lamb sandwich!
35. Annapurna Cafe (Seattle)
- Per Google: “The traditional dishes of India, Nepal & Tibet are served in a colorful underground room with a bar.” The curry portions are a little on the small side in my opinion but quite flavorful and distinct. Each curry is a little different and not too heavy. A beloved place well-known in Capitol Hill, often has a short wait.
36. Dingfelder’s Delicatessen (Seattle)
- Their pastrami is so good. Also matzo balls. Also latkes. Disclaimer: I’m not that familiar with this type of cuisine, partly because there’s almost none in Seattle! A little more expensive than I expected, but in my opinion well worth it. Quality food.
DESSERT & DRINKS
I would really like to expand this part of my list…this is what I have so far! Hoping to discover beer, wine, cocktails eventually.
- Molly Moon Ice cream (Bellevue, Redmond and Seattle) ⭐
- The best ice cream. Better than Salt and Straw in my opinion (too sweet).
- Favorites are Sweet Cream paired with ANYTHING and their waffle cones are AMAZING: freshly made, warm, smell like…fragrant honey?
- Strawberry with balsamic vinegar topping if you’re adventurous. That was one of their iconic flavors.
- They do a 12 flavor flight too I believe! I have yet to try it!
- All their locations are in cute areas that are nice for walking around. Bellevue is next to Bellevue park, Redmond is next to Redmond park etc.
2. Happy Lemon Tea
- Best modern Chinese-style teas
- My favorite is Black tea with Rock Salt Crema. Have tried so many other places that serve the same thing, can’t compare. I recommend getting 30% sugar or less unless you have a serious sweet tooth. Matcha mango tea is good too. Their bubble waffles are a delicious snack too!
3. Meet Fresh (Seattle, Bellevue locations) ⭐️
- Taiwanese desserts. Pretty authentic: you can get purple taro balls, golden yam balls, grass jelly, red bean soup…hot, cold, in all sorts of combinations!! Classically, in the summer you get the cold version, hot version in the winter.
- I like getting hot red bean soup with taro balls and yam balls or cold grass jelly+yam ball+taro ball combo. Cream added on top.
4. Black Ball (Seattle)
- Slightly cheaper, solid alternative to Meet Fresh. Same foods and recommendations!
5. Ellenos Yogurt (Pike Place Market Seattle) ⭐
- Their marionberry pie flavor: so good. Get fresh yogurt while walking around Pike Place Market!
6. Nana’s Green Tea (Seattle)
- Get the matcha (green tea) or hojicha (roasted green tea) ice cream and mochi (chewy rice balls) parfait. It’s about $10 so don’t let that catch you by surprise. Worth it all the way. Comes in a nice tall glass. They have a variety of other green tea goods but I always get the parfait! Much higher quality than less expensive counterpart Mako Green Tea in Westlake in my opinion!
7. Hood Famous Bakery (Seattle)
- Amazing cheesecakes with traditional Asian flavors: matcha (green tea) is my favorite
- Closed during COVID, can buy from Seattle Fish Guys: a fish market that helps distribute Hood Famous goods. They have good poke too!
8. Dochi (Tukwila)
Beautifully packaged tasty donuts, a bit pricy but great for special occasions! Airy and slightly chewy at the same time, these mochi donuts are pretty special! Great for sharing too — each donut can be easily broken into 8 bite-sized puffs. Yum!
9. Timeless Tea (Seattle, U district)
- Yellow milk tea: Questionable name, DELICIOUS drink. It has a roasted flavor which goes so well with pudding as a topping! Use reusable straws please :) Still haven’t even tried any other drinks yet! But if I can try one random drink and it’s amazing, it makes me super excited to try their other stuff!
Late night food
Not many options in Seattle, here are the ones I go to!
- Hong Kong Bistro (International District)
- Cantonese/Hong Kong-style food: My favorites: beef chow-fun, house special chow-mein, spicy pork lo-mein, garlic honey spare-ribs, cheese-rice, cheese/spaghetti.
- Open until 2am (?)
2. Tapioca Express (Bellevue)
- Chicken katsu curry is good (fried chicken with curry and rice). Has lots of Taiwanese snack foods: boba milk tea, fried popcorn chicken etc.
- Open until 12am (?)
3. Jade Garden (International District)
- Hong-kong style late night food: chow mein, pork lo-mein, similar to Hong Kong Bistro.
$$$$ Fancy fancy special date night food
- Canlis ⭐
- Probably the most famous and well-known fancy restaurant in Seattle. The only one with a view to match the food. See if you can request a table by the windows. This is the ultimate fancy Seattle restaurant experience.
2. Altura ⭐
- Been here once, great tasting menu. Fancy and tasty.
3. Adana ⭐
- Great tasting menu — Japanese-themed. The owner is Japanese American and I think he does a great job of capturing Japanese flavors in modern and classic forms. The dishes tasted very homey for me (grew up with a good amount of Japanese food).
4. Sushi Kashiba ⭐
- I’ve never actually been, but Chef Shiro was trained by legendary sushi chef Jiro, and my close friends and family swear it’s the absolute best authentic Japanese sushi experience. You may want to look up Omakase: the traditional sushi experience may be completely different from what you’re used to at your typical basic sushi place. In short: traditional sushi is lots of raw fish, and you’re not supposed to have any sauce with it because the chef already flavored it for you.
5. Space Needle Restaurant (Seattle) ⭐
- A special revolving restaurant experience. The food is okay, it’s all about the view. Try and time it so that you can see Seattle light-dark (sunset-past twilight, probably not summer because it gets fully dark at as late as 11pm).
Thanks for reading and please share food recommendations! Let’s keep our beloved restaurants open!
*Photos are from Google and Yelp