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Eat your way through the Emerald City with restaurant recommendations you can trust. Because life’s too short to eat bad food.
From Belltown to Pioneer Square, the area that is considered “downtown” Seattle has a truly remarkable collection of restaurants. We created this guide to the best downtown Seattle restaurants with a goal to provide a variety of cuisine but still focus on the best that downtown Seattle has to offer.
Whether you’re a local or visiting for the first time, we know you’re going to love our recommendations for the most delicious food experiences downtown. Get hungry and set your sights on the best downtown Seattle restaurants. Happy eating!
At Jerk Shack, you will find warm hospitality and the best Caribbean food amongst downtown Seattle restaurants. Their specialty, jerk chicken, is truly out of this world. The best way to eat their jerk chicken is in burrito form—stuffed alongside Caribbean slaw, sweet plantains, rice, and cheese, all encased in a crispy toasted tortilla. The restaurant staff treat you like family here and take genuine pride in the food they are serving. We love the outside patio seating for a tropical vibe that pairs well with the incredible food.
$$$$ Caribbean, Cocktail Bars, Sandwiches
On the days that the sad, soggy sandwich you packed in your lunch just won’t cut it, treat yourself to the sandwich you deserve at Salumi. You won’t find better-cured meat anywhere else, which makes this the best spot for lunch on our downtown Seattle restaurants guide. They claim the secret to Salumi’s incredible texture and flavor is developed in their innovative curing process and by using vegetarian-fed pork that has never been treated with antibiotics. After browsing their selection of uniquely spiced salami, you’ll definitely want to purchase a couple of packs to use on that next charcuterie board of yours. Your go-to order here will be the Salumi Cubano. You may not have thought to pair salami with slow-roasted pork shoulder, but it’s a magical combination! If you’ve eaten your way through our guide to the best bakeries in Seattle, you’ll recognize the Macrina Bakery Giuseppe bread used on most of the sandwiches here.
$$$$ Italian, Sandwiches, Meat Shops
SEE ALSO: 16 Best Burgers in Seattle
Vietnamese cuisine is all about fresh herbs, crispy pickled vegetables, and beautifully tender meat. The Pacific Northwest is blessed with an abundance of Vietnamese restaurants, but if you can only visit one, we recommend Tamarind Tree. If you’re lucky enough to be there on a warm day, sit on the patio next to the stone waterfall and enjoy this hidden sanctuary in the International District of downtown Seattle. And we do mean hidden. Tamarind Tree is tucked at the back of a parking lot off of Jackson Street, which makes the constant crowds all the more impressive. We love a steaming hot bowl of Phở as much as you do, but don’t be tempted by your usual/safe order. This is your time to try an authentic
$$$$ Vietnamese, Noodles
Few things are more comforting than a bowl of soul-warming curry served with freshly made garlic naan. Nirmal’s is the best downtown Seattle restaurant for upscale Indian cuisine. The restaurant is modern with lots of brick—a characteristic unique to the Pioneer Square neighborhood. If you aren’t in a rush, we highly recommend waiting the 30 minutes needed to cook their biryanis. Layers of basmati rice, meat, vegetables, and sauce are cooked in a sealed pot. The depth of flavor and incredibly aromatic spices are well worth the wait.
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Whether you find yourself here for dinner or weekend brunch, Cafe Campagne is our favorite spot for French cuisine, and one of the best downtown Seattle restaurants. White linen napkins on rustic wooden tables surround the restaurant, which exudes an air of the historic significance to be found at Pike Place Market. Just a few steps away from the market, Cafe Campagne offers a peaceful escape where you can people watch and relax. An absolute must-try here is the crab quiche, which is only available on Saturday or Sunday during brunch hours. It is generously woven with Dungeness crab, sweet onion, and Comtè cheese. It is typically served with a green salad in a sherry vinaigrette, but ask your waiter for other side options if you’re in the mood for something more indulgent.
$$$$ French, Breakfast & Brunch, Cafes
Presentation is everything at Noi Thai Cuisine in downtown Seattle, but the food tastes every bit as spectacular as it looks! Dishes are delivered to your table in a variety of theatrical and impressive displays. Waiters will pour steaming hot curry into serving bowls, lift smoke-filled glass lids to unveil crispy garlic chicken, and present fried rice in a hollowed-out pineapple adorned with meticulously arranged flowers. Even the design of the restaurant will make you feel like royalty with large columns, golden accents, and regal archways. Start with the crab wontons and spring rolls for appetizers, and then order family style so that you can enjoy all of their other show-stoppers. We love the previously mentioned crispy garlic chicken and pineapple fried rice, as well the pad thai and signature green curry beef.
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Did you say Seattle? All we heard was sushi. It would be a crime to visit Seattle and miss out on the sushi scene that’s bursting with fresh, local, and delicious fish. Perhaps this city’s best-kept secret is the happy hour at Japonessa (pronounced “hap-on-essa” due to their Japanese-Mexican influence), where you can get incredible sushi rolls and sashimi for half the price. Order the Wicked Sensation roll for a taste of their unique Latin flair, and cool off with the Sweet Seduction roll featuring a tropical coconut glaze. A fresh sashimi set is a must when you can see the ocean from your seat. Sleek black ceilings and modern chandeliers create a relaxed vibe for anyone looking to enjoy an evening downtown.
$$$$ Japanese, Sushi Bars, Cocktail Bars
The Metropolitan Grill is a popular spot amongst business professionals for lunch meetings, but is also a great pick for a classy dinner date. This isn’t your typical experience with steak and potatoes. The Met grills their USDA Prime beef over imported mesquite charcoal, searing in all that juicy flavor and tender meat. Aside from the wide selection of beef, our favorite menu item is the Dungeness and king crab cakes served with apple slaw and citrus butter sauce. These crab cakes are addicting! Each bit is warm and crispy, and the accompanying slaw provides a satisfying crunch. Allow yourself to be waited on and enjoy the superb customer service at this timeless restaurant.
$$$$ American (Traditional), Steakhouses
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If you want the best brunch in downtown Seattle, make a reservation at Tilikum Place Cafe. Located in a historic building that once belonged to a print shop, Tilikum Place Cafe is filled to the brim with warmth and charm. Everything on the menu is tempting, but ordering one of their famous dutch babies is an absolute necessity. These take some time for the kitchen to make, so relax and enjoy your weekend brunch time at one of the best downtown Seattle restaurants.
$$$$ American (New), Breakfast & Brunch
If you can’t decide between pizza, burgers, or pasta—you’re in luck! Von’s 1000 Spirits has it all and is the best restaurant in downtown Seattle for high-quality American burgers. True to the name, at the center of the restaurant is a remarkable display of spirits that light up the bar. Their claim to fame is their sourdough, which is featured in almost every menu item. You’ll appreciate that sourdough tang in their brioche buns and in the chewiness of their pizza crust. You won’t want to miss out on any of the menu choices, so order a pizza or pasta dish (or both!) as an appetizer to share, then top it off with a thick 1/2 pound prime hamburger, also featured on our guide to the best burgers in Seattle.
$$$$ American (New), Burgers, Pubs
SEE ALSO: 10 Best Vegan Restaurants in Seattle
Serious Pie is an intimate, upscale pizza tavern. Every seat in the restaurant is in view of the flame from the pizza oven, and the smell of baking bread fills the room. The iconic, oval-shaped pizzas are delivered to your table on a simple black tray. Options at Serious Pie are not overwhelming but offer good variety and, most importantly, incredible ingredients with well-balanced flavor. The mark of a good pizza is always in the crust, which is cracker-thin and crisp on the bottom and satisfyingly chewy along the thick-edged crust. If you want an appetizer to enjoy while you wait to experience the best pizza in downtown Seattle, try their dish with burrata, charred broccoli, meyer lemon, and house focaccia. You really can’t go wrong with your pizza order, but we have a particular affection for their pizza featuring taleggio, garlic, roasted shallot, pancetta, and wild nettles.
Matt’s in the Market is surrounded by stunning arched windows that provide spectacular views of Pike Place Market and the Puget Sound. Enjoy one of the best downtown Seattle restaurants while basking in the soft light of a perfectly overcast PNW day. The open kitchen design encourages customers to feel involved in their entire dining process, from the preparation of the food to that satisfying last bite. Menu items are focused on fish, which is to be expected from a restaurant situated above a fish market. During lunch hours, order the halibut fishwich with thick-cut bacon, tartar sauce, and iceberg lettuce on a brioche bun. It is a best-seller for good reason! For an appetizer, you want the creamy deviled eggs topped with things like housemade kimchi, pickled red onion, scallop, or anything the chef comes up with depending on the day.
$$$$ American (New), Bars
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Tat’s Delicatessen is the authentic East Coast deli experience you’ve been dreaming of. Roll up your sleeves and dig into the Tat’strami sub, piled high with juicy made-in-house pastrami, melted swiss cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing soaked into a toasty Italian roll. Located in Pioneer Square, the energy inside is bustling and service is unbelievably fast. Enjoy a view of Seattle’s historic Smith Tower while surrounded by charming exposed brick, vintage photos, and diner booths.
$$$$ Delis, Cheesesteaks
A seat at Shiro Kashiba’s sushi counter is among the most coveted dining experiences in all of Seattle. It is a foodie’s dream to be served by the trainee of the sushi legend Jiro Ono. Those who are dedicated enough to wait in line at least two hours before opening may be rewarded with an evening at the counter for an omakase dinner that ends when you decide you are full. Your other option for dining at Sushi Kashiba is to call ahead and reserve a table. Attentive and respectful servers will help you select one of the prix fixe dinners or make a selection from the a la carte menu. Regardless of the experience you choose, you will be eating the best fish of your life.
$$$$ Japanese, Sushi Bars
SEE ALSO: 16 Top Desserts in Seattle
If you want a venue to impress your out-of-town guests, Aerlume is our recommendation for you. Whether you are seated at one of their live-fire group tables or in their formal dining room, you will have stunning views of the Puget Sound, the Seattle Great Wheel, and the iconic ferry boats making their way to and from Bainbridge Island. Expect refined service and a relaxing evening visiting with friends while multiple courses of exquisite food are delivered to your table. Start with the citrus-marinated beet salad, crispy cauliflower, and corn soup topped with Dungeness crab toast. For your entree, you simply must order the seared diver scallops. They are a seafood lover’s dream and served over a rich, carrot-butter sauce. The food, views, and dining experience at Aerlume are all unforgettable.
$$$$ American (New), Desserts, Salad
Dining at The Pink Door feels like you have been welcomed into a secret, high-class society within the Seattle food scene. Named after their unique entrance, the simple pink door located down an unseemly alley within Pike Place Market is easy to miss. Once inside, the speakeasy-like ambiance is lively yet elegant. Make reservations if you plan to dine here on a weekend night, and reserve your table well in advance if you are hoping to sit at one of the coveted tables with views of the market and waterfront. The must-order menu item here is the lasagna, and we mean THE lasagna. Layered with tender spinach pasta, béchamel sauce, pesto, and a topping of marinara sauce. After one bite, you’ll be convinced that no other lasagna could ever compete. The Pink Door is, without a doubt, the very best downtown Seattle restaurant.
$$$$ Italian, Wine Bars, Seafood
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