The tempting double-chocolate figs at Fran's Chocolates. (Courtesy Fran's Chocolates)
What do Anthony Bourdain, Guy Fieri and Adam Richman have in common? With cameras in tow, these TV food fanatics all come to Seattle to satisfy their cravings for the best food in the world. Seasonal ingredients start overflowing in March—making it the perfect time to dine at one of these can’t-miss hotspots.
Locals have long known our Emerald City as an under-the-radar foodie paradise. But the secret on these winners is out, thanks to hit shows like “Layover,” “Man vs. Food,” “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” and “Unique Sweets.”
Voula's Offshore Café
Voula Vlahos’ family-run Greek diner has stuffed regulars in the U District for decades with traditional dolmades, buttery egg scrambles with salmon smoked in-house, and homemade blueberry pie. But its signature dish has to be the mess of onions, mushrooms, Greek sausage, hash browns, feta and egg they call the Greek Hobo. No less of an authority than Guy Fieri called it the “best breakfast scramble” he’d ever had.
Bizzarro Italian Café
Few restaurants live up to their name like this quirky Wallingford joint famous for its funky artistic interior and dedication to traditional Italian cooking, spiked with local flourishes. Choice dishes include the ouzo-soaked drunken clams and the Fieri favorite—a tender, savory elk Bolognese.
Wallingford eaters know that one of the best cures for Seattle’s gray skies is the exotic spice and heat served up at this Trinidadian restaurant owned and operated for more than 10 years by Pam Jacob. Dhalpuris (a traditional flatbread) stuffed with jerked chicken or curries—called roti—will have you seeing Caribbean blue in no time.
Rain Shadow Meats
Seattle is known for seafood, but on a “Layover” at Rain Shadow Meats, Anthony Bourdain learned that the Emerald City remains a carnivore’s paradise, too. The house-cured charcuterie is spectacular, but the slow-roasted porchetta or anything on the daily special chart might be the best way to sample founding butcher Russell Flint’s dedication to high-quality, local meat.
Anthony Bourdain knows his French bistros: he named Jim Drohman and Joanne Herron’s Belltown institution “one of the best in the country.” You can rely on immaculate quiche and other regional specialties, but what really puts Le Pichet over the top is the while-away-an-hour-or-three ambiance hard to find this side of the Atlantic (never mind on the Pacific).
The Crab Pot
At this floating seafood smorgasbord located right on the pier near downtown, servers pour fresh-cooked seafood right on the table, where bibbed seafood lovers grab a mallet and tear into it with bare hands. Richman tackled the Alaskan Seafeast on his own: five pounds of steamed Dungeness crab, snow crab, Alaskan king crab, Andouille sausage, corn, mussels, clams and shrimp. We recommend bringing a buddy.
From "The Today Show" to Food Network’s "Best Thing I Ever Ate" and "Unique Sweets," Fran’s European-style chocolates keep turning up on TV. Visit the Georgetown location to see dedicated artisans create award-winning salted caramels and take tours of Seattle’s own chocolate wonderland.
The Walrus and The Carpenter
By now, Renee Erickson has earned her place as Seattle’s culinary doyenne with spots dedicated to steak and even donuts. But her original effort is a must-visit—a mecca for clever seafood and expert cocktails served on a marble bar tucked into a charmingly cozy spot in Ballard. As for the oysters: As Bourdain learned, they remain diamond-perfect.
Salty's On Alki
This West Seattle institution sports perhaps the best view in the city: a sweeping panorama of Puget Sound crowned by the city skyline and the Cascades beyond. Classics like chowder and fish and chips are solid, but smart diners should pull a Bourdain and grab a window seat at sunset for happy-hour discounts on food and cocktails.
Sitka & Spruce
Simultaneously elegant and earthy, Matt Dillon’s ace take on Northwest local and seasonal cuisine defines what’s best about Seattle cuisine. Just-plucked produce and day-of seafood meet expert preparation and a low-key luxe vibe. Dillon and Co. work magic with everything from mushrooms to nettles to lardo—much of it supplied by his Old Chaser Farm on Vashon Island.
The 5 Point Café
Diner, dive, and café all rolled into one best describes this 24-hour favorite. The 5 Point goes beyond three squares to provide filling fare like chicken-fried steak at any hour (though it seems especially popular post-party and the morning after). Proof: None other than legendary partier Bourdain called the 5-Point’s 6-9 am breakfast happy hour “hardcore.”
Red Mill Burgers
As In N’ Out is to Angelenos, Red Mill is to Seattleites—but we think Red Mill’s 11 different burgers are better than any at In N’ Out (even animal style). Best bets include the two-patty monster double bacon deluxe and the Verde, which is topped with smoky Anaheim chiles, jack cheese, and bacon blue cheese. “Man vs. Food” host Adam Richman tried all three and onion rings—consistently voted the best in the country.
Famed restaurant impresario Tom Douglas’ take on the artisanal bakery is famous for sweets like doughnuts and pie, but savory fans should stop in anyway for the best breakfast sandwich in town.