Cascadia Restaurant, 2328 First Ave. (tel. 206/448-8884): Chef Kerry Sear can do wondrous things with local produce and fresh Northwest ingredients. Throw in martinis made with Douglas fir sorbet, a variety of tasting menus, and, in summer, beautiful light filtering in through the restaurant's front wall of glass and you have the quintessential Seattle eatery.
Salumi, 309 Third Ave. S. (tel. 206/621-8772): Squeeze your way into this Pioneer Square hole-in-the-wall, stand in line, and then savor the finest, freshest artisan-made salami in the Northwest. The fact that this place is owned by celeb-chef Mario Batali's father guarantees that the lines are always long.
Rover's, 2808 E. Madison St. (tel. 206/325-7442): Want to feel like you've just discovered the best little hidden gem of a restaurant in Seattle? Book a table at chef Thierry Rautureau's Madison Valley neighborhood restaurant. Rautureau combines his love of local ingredients with his classic French training to produce his own distinctive take on Northwest cuisine.
Elliott's, Pier 56, 1201 Alaskan Way (tel. 206/623-4340): The Northwest produces an astonishing variety of oysters, and locals are almost as obsessive about their bivalves as they are about coffee and beer. Elliott's almost always has the biggest and best selection of oysters in the city. Just remember that local oysters are less available in the summer than in other months.
Dahlia Lounge, 2001 Fourth Ave. (tel. 206/682-4142): You can't say that you've "done" Seattle if you haven't eaten at one of Tom Douglas's restaurants, and for my money, the Dahlia Lounge is the place to go if you're only going to dine at one of Tom's places. A dinner of crab cakes followed by coconut cream pie captures the absolute essence of this place.
The Herbfarm Restaurant, 14590 NE 145th St., Woodinville (tel. 425/485-5300): The Herbfarm is actually 30 minutes north of Seattle, but it is so famous and serves such unforgettable meals that people plan Seattle vacations around dinner here. This place is an absolute must for foodies, but be sure to make your reservation months in advance.
Best Waterfront Dining: While the Seattle waterfront has plenty of touristy, in-your-face restaurants, you'll find the best waterfront dining experience in the Edgewater hotel. Six-Seven Restaurant & Lounge, Pier 67, 2411 Alaskan Way (tel. 206/269-4575), can claim not only superb food, but also a very cool decor, a fabulous little deck, and one of the best views from any restaurant in the city.
Best View: There's no question here. SkyCity at the Needle, Space Needle, 400 Broad St. (tel. 800/937-9582 or 206/905-2100; www.spaceneedle.com), has the best views in Seattle -- 360 degrees worth of them. Sure it's expensive, but there's no place in town with views to rival these.
Best Outdoor Dining with a View: Located across Elliott Bay from downtown Seattle, Salty's on Alki Beach, 1936 Harbor Ave. SW (tel. 206/937-1600; www.saltys.com), has a gorgeous view of the Seattle skyline. You can even get here by water taxi.
Best Budget Eatery with a View: Of course, you could shell out big bucks to dine at Salty's, but you can get the same view at a fraction of the cost at the adjacent Alki Crab & Fish, 1660 Harbor Ave. SW (tel. 206/938-0975). Okay, so the menu is pretty limited and none too memorable, but that view -- wow!
Best Hole in the Wall: Matt's in the Market, Corner Market Building, 94 Pike St. (tel. 206/467-7909), is so small that you have to wonder how the customers and the staff manage to fit in this closet-size restaurant. The kitchen, in full view, is just as small. Rest assured, however, that the meals here are big on flavor.
Best Value: While Wild Ginger usually gets all the accolades for its Pan-Asian cuisine, Belltown's little Noodle Ranch, 2228 Second Ave. (tel. 206/728-0463; www.thenoodleranch.com), is every bit as good and much less expensive. The menu, however, is more limited.
Best Service: Canlis, 2576 Aurora Ave. N. (tel. 206/283-3313; www.canlis.com), is a Seattle tradition, the perfect place to close a big deal or celebrate a very special occasion. When you want to feel pampered, this is the place to dine.
Best French Cuisine: Hidden away in a quiet courtyard in a secluded corner of Pike Place Market, Campagne, Inn at the Market, 86 Pine St. (tel. 206/728-2800; www.campagnerestaurant.com), is a casually elegant little restaurant that makes the most of fresh market produce, meats, and fish. There are even views of Elliott Bay.
Best Northwest Cuisine: Chef Thierry Rautureau at Rover's, 2808 E. Madison St. (tel. 206/325-7442; www.rovers-seattle.com), combines his love of local ingredients with his classic French training to produce his own distinctive take on Northwest cuisine.
Best Seafood: Chef Tom Douglas seems to be able to do no wrong, and at Etta's Seafood, 2020 Western Ave. (tel. 206/443-6000; www.tomdouglas.com), he focuses his culinary talents on more than just his famed crab cakes.
Best Place to Slurp Down Raw Oysters: The Northwest produces an astonishing variety of oysters, and locals are almost as obsessive about their bivalves as they are about coffee and beer. For the best selection, head to Elliott's, Pier 56, 1201 Alaskan Way (tel. 206/623-4340).
Best Sushi: If the sight of all that fresh fish in Pike Place Market has you craving sushi, then head up to the north end of Belltown to Shiro's, 2401 Second Ave. (tel. 206/443-9844). All the Japanese businessmen here should give you a clue that this place is the real deal.
Best Steaks: Metropolitan Grill, 820 Second Ave. (tel. 206/624-3287; www.themetropolitangrill.com), in downtown Seattle, serves corn-fed, aged beef grilled over mesquite charcoal. Steaks just don't get any better than this.
Best Burgers: We all have our own ideas of what constitutes the perfect burger, and here in Seattle there are plenty of worthy contenders. I split my vote between the burgers at Two Bells Bar & Grill, 2313 Fourth Ave. (tel. 206/441-3050), and those at the 74th Street Ale House, 7401 Greenwood Ave. N. (tel. 206/784-2955; www.seattlealehouses.com).
Best Desserts: The Dahlia Lounge, 2001 Fourth Ave. (tel. 206/682-4142; www.tomdouglas.com), has long been one of the best restaurants in Seattle, and while the food is reliably tasty, the triple coconut cream pie is absolutely divine. The rest of the desserts are pretty good, too.
Best for Kids: Ivar's Salmon House, 401 NE Northlake Way. (tel. 206/632-0767; www.ivars.net), is built to resemble a Native American longhouse and is filled with cool stuff that will fascinate your kids. In sunny weather, the waterfront deck has a great view of Lake Union and the Seattle skyline.
Best Late-Night Dining: Palace Kitchen, 2030 Fifth Ave. (tel. 206/448-2001; www.tomdouglas.com), is an urbane palace of food that serves tasty specialties from the grill and rotisserie until 1am. The bar here is also a happening place.
Best Espresso: Everyone in Seattle seems to have an opinion about where to get the best espresso drinks. My vote goes to Caffe Vita, 813 Fifth Ave. N. (tel. 206/285-9662), and 1005 E. Pike St. (tel. 206/709-4440). The lattes served here have beautiful little works of art drawn onto the foam with espresso.
For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed restaurants, visit our online dining index.
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