Our Go-To Seattle Dinner Spots...For Date Night or Any Night!
After more than two decades spent living in Seattle, we feel pretty confident in saying that we know some of the best eats in the city. It’s pretty rare these days to find people that actually grew up in the city + didn’t live in a suburb/neighboring city, move here for college or relocate for a job (looking at you, Amazon!) Most of the places on this list are staples that we’ve grown up with, celebrating our childhood birthdays or our old high school haunts. While they may not be the latest culinary hot spot, they’re all tried + true restaurants that have survived our childhood + the ever evolving Seattle scene. The fact that most have been around for our entire lives is a true testament to their quality. Because we grew up in the Central District, most of these places are in Capitol Hill, Central District, or Madison Park, with just a few outliers! Everywhere on this list is an absolute must eat - you can trust us on that! Also - in case you missed it - we previously published a list of our top 10 romantic dinner recommendations in the city HERE. It’s still one of our most popular pieces to date!
1) Tacos Chukis
Kelda first came here in high school when the only location was a little hole in the wall on Broadway. Tacos Chukis has since grown to include locations in the Central District (literally dangerously close to our apartments), Beacon Hill, + South Lake Union. While the street tacos are delicious, the baby burrito is Kelda’s favorite item on the menu. If you’re looking for a yummy taco + a price that can’t be beat - Tacos Chukis is your place. It’s super unassuming, fast + easily under $10.
We went to school a block up from Monsoon’s Cap Hill location + now that Kelda works at the same school as a teacher, we continuously return to this Vietnamese restaurant. Seattle is known for having pretty incredible Asian food, + Monsoon is no exception. They manage to expertly blend Vietnamese cuisine with a taste of the PNW. Their happy hour food is a great deal, + their ample outdoor seating + rooftop patio make it a great spot for the summer months! Our must orders are the Crispy Imperial Rolls, the Claypot mussels + the Sayulita cocktail.
3) The Walrus and The Carpenter
As much as Seattle is known for its Asian food, it is equally as well known for its seafood. As a die hard oyster fan, Lauren’s absolute favorite spot is The Walrus and The Carpenter. The restaurant is super quaint + always crowded. They don’t take reservations, so be prepared to wait upwards of 90 minutes. Luckily, due to its prime Ballard location, there are plenty of spots to grab a cocktail + an appetizer while you wait. Our favorite places are Percy’s, Bastille + Marine Hardware.
4) Toulouse Petit
Located in the Queen Anne neighborhood, next door to another fave of ours - Peso’s- Tououse Petit is an incredibly delish Creole/Cajun inspired restaurant. We would most recommend stopping in for the brunch. Added bonus - if you’re visiting on a weekday or happen to take the day off work, they have a breakfast Happy Hour every weekday from 9-11 that you can’t miss! Another always crowded spot that doesn’t take reservations for breakfast. Be prepared to wait, but know that it will be so worth it!!
We’ve been coming to the original Madison Park location for well over a decade (Kelda used to love to imbibe in the cocktails sans alcohol after a beach day in middle/high school). The Mexican inspired food has never disappointed, the service is consistently exceptional, + the bustling environment always makes for a great dining experience. Since they opened their Madison Park location in 1990, they’ve since opened up all across the Seattle area in Alki + SLU, + have even branched out to Bellevue, Kirkland, + Tacoma! Random fact - Cactus was apparently the last place that Kurt Cobain dined in Seattle. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but we love the Cactus marg, the street tacos (specifically the potato one), the nachos + the shrimp salad.
6) Cafe Presse
Our parents are 100% trendier than us + first introduced us to this little Capitol Hill French cafe in 2008. Since then, it’s consistently been at the top of our brunch + lunch spots in Seattle, Kelda even hosted her 13th birthday here (we promise Kelda was just a mature tween + it’s not actually a place where children frequently host their birthdays). Whenever Kelda is dying to return to Paris, a Croque Madame from Cafe Presse is enough to tide her over until her next visit. All of the food is so yum + if you’re a soccer fan, this is a great place to catch any of the European games, especially from the bar area. Bonus - it’s a fairly affordable dinner option.
This tiny ramen restaurant is just down the street from where we grew up, at the point where the Central District suddenly turns into Capitol Hill. If you’re looking for traditional Hakata-style Ramen, this is your spot. It’s a great casual place to stop in solo + sit at the bar while you watch the chefs prepare your meal, or with a friend or date. If you’re looking for a Ramen spot that can hold more people, Ramen Danbo around the corner is another favorite of mine.
From 2003 - 2008, if there was a birthday in our family you would find us at Palermo. It’s by no means a romantic Italian restaurant, but it hasn’t changed in YEARS. You can taste the love in the food + there’s always enough food for leftovers the next day. Before Lauren went gluten/dairy free, the tortellini alla blanca was her favorite, whereas I typically opt for a calzone. Last year, I lived around the corner from Palermo + Elliot + I would frequently find ourselves strolling up here for some delicious pasta + a nice glass of wine (bonus: they pour heavy glasses)! There is a second location in Ballard as well, but the Cap Hill location has a soft spot in our hearts.
9) Mr. West
Lauren first discovered Mr. West years ago when she started working downtown at Nordstrom. It’s since become a staple for us as a happy hour spot (we love the charcuterie board), for brunch (the avocado toast is drool worthy), or for their events (oysters + bubbly, anyone??). We also love that they’re siblings with our all-time favorite Seattle spot, Bottlehouse (featured on our Top 10 Best Seattle Date Spots…duh). Even better? Mr. West just opened up a U Village location in August!
10) Ba Bar
Another spot that our parents introduced us to…I told you they’re trendier than us + sister restaurant to Monsoon. We felt it was fair to include both here because to us, Ba Bar + Monsoon have very different vibes. Ba Bar is the cool, younger sister of Monsoon. Ba Bar wants you to be a little loud + is willing to get a little more creative with their food. If we want a cozy bowl of pho ga we’ll head to Ba Bar + enjoy it with a cocktail. They also have macarons to go, as well as coconuts for when you had a little bit too much fun the night before + need an electrolyte boost. We may or may not have taken advantage of these a few times. Ba Bar has since branched out from their Capitol Hill location to include spots in SLU + U Village. We’ve tried them all, but still think there’s something about the chef at the Cap Hill location that make the food just a little bit better.
Well - there you have it! A true local guide to the best places to eat in Seattle!! There are, of course, so many more than just 10 great restaurants, but these are a few of our absolute favorites!! Let us know if you visit any of these spots + what you ordered!!