seattle area food recs

my personal recommendations for restaurants, bakeries, coffee, dessert, and drinks from a southern california transplant to seattle

Kendall Nakai 🌸
9 min readFeb 5, 2024

if you’re reading this, hi! i probably sent you this since you’re visiting seattle or somehow you found my little slice of random medium writing :-)

pictured (in order): azuki, shinya shokudo, kobuta & ookami

some notes

  • recommendations will be categorized in order of my favorites by type and within that by place, district/city, recommended (recs) dishes i’ve tried, any tips or notes. it will be my personal favorites in order and at the end some honorary mentions in order i’ve also enjoyed but might be less prioritized as well as places friends have recommended (friends recs)
  • seattle area food is somewhat pricey so most of these individual restaurant entrees will be around $15–25, bakeries will be $3–7, coffee will be $5–8, and ice cream/boba dessert $5–8
  • these are my personal opinions! a lot of my recs restaurants skew asian cuisine but there are many great places of different cuisines here
  • all links go to google maps
  • assume there is only street parking unless mentioned in notes, then it has a dedicated parking lot
  • most places are accessible by public transit + some walking
  • my beli account
  • apologies for misspelling anything 😭
  • v* = has vegetarian options (just search “v*”)

restaurants 🍜

  1. kobuta and ookami, cap hill — [rec]: katsu nabe or oroshi katsu, [tip]: for dinner arrive at opening or there’s usually a wait even on weekdays, 100% get the nabe if you like soup (it’s also the most filling imo), [note] there is also a location in redmond but haven’t been there
  2. fang’s noodle house, kirkland — [rec]: mala beef ribs biang biang noodles, [note]: has parking lot, veg options, easy to split bill, v*
  3. shinya shokudo, bellevue — [rec]: yaki onigiri, tobiko creamy udon, negima skewers, small dish set [note]: has veg options and parking, has a bellevue location, would try more yakitori if i went again
  4. azuki, madison valley —[rec]: curry udon (tea, pickled sides, and small dessert that come with it and are so cute), [tip]: for dinner arrive on opening since there’s only a few tables, [note]: v*
  5. tarus ox, cap hill — [rec]: lao sausage entree and lao burger (so flavorful), [tip]: don’t get if you are sensitive, the sausage is spicy, [note]: small portions if only ordering one entree,
  6. chengdu memory, international district — [rec]: beef oil and tomato soup bases with beef and pork meat ring [tip]: don’t get medium spice unless you’re ready for it, none of my friends were able to eat anything with it until it was watered down, it was so spicy, [note] haidilao dupe (better broth, worse sauces)
  7. pho bac, international district — [rec]: beef rib pho, [tip]: get something else if you don’t want to eat too messy/struggle, [note]: there is a parking lot but it is so packed and some double parked, there is another location in seattle with a bar called phocific standard time, v*
  8. mirak, federal way — [rec]: kalbi, brisket (standard stuff), all the banchannn (very solid), [note] has parking, witty, caring ummas ❤️, not a lot of seafood options if you go for that
  9. life on mars, cap hill — [rec]: sharable platter (with the cauliflower wings, chick’n tenders, tamale cakes) [note]: life changing wings, better than any american meat wing, mostly a bar, the drinks are good but those wings are better, also they have a record wall where the records are for sale, fully vegan restaurant v*
  10. fogon cocina mexicana, cap hill — [rec]: ceviche, milanesa, traditional marg, ultimate marg, honestly anything is great, [note] amazing happy hour and the strongest drinks ever

special mentions: bangrak market (best hh, rec som tum thai), kamonegi v* (duck tsukune, soba seiro), paju (squid ink fried rice, truffle rib-eye enoki bulgogi, seafood pancake, tteok-bokki brussel sprouts, sujeonggwa bingsu, kinda small portions), un bien (carribean roast and press with extra onions), ohsun banchan deli and cafe (apple kimchi, banchan plate), biang biang noodles v* (mala spicy beef dry mix), modoo korean (juisami pork belly octopus stir fry), aladdin gyro-cery v* (alladin fries), aviv hummus bar v* (pita, eggplant, yogurt spread), tee sud thai rustic and bar v* (grandma’s tofu and fish sauce wings), the boat (garlic chicken rice and soda limeade), yi’s traditional korean beef soup (any seolleongtang, also buy kimchi and radish), maruta shoten (anything, cheap sushi and japanese food), facing east (taiwanese pork burger), musashi’s ($18 chirashi bowl), dick’s (multiple locations, local chain; deluxe burger and kona coffee ice cream), seoul tofu and jjim (braised short ribs, tofu soup isn’t worth), pelicana chicken (it’s a chain but the korean wings and fries are so crispy), ezell’s famous chicken (not even the chicken just the rolls), skalka v* (chicken boat or anything with tomato)

friends’ recs: red bowls restaurant, the pink door, oriental mart, menya mushashi tsukemen, rondo, toshi’s terikaki, kedai makan, maneki, the sushi samurai (all vegan sushi v*)

bakery 🍞

  1. sea wolf, fremont — [rec] get an entire loaf of sourdough and just eat it raw, [note] tried the pizza, date cake, egg salad sandwich, literally everything here is so bomb, they have free sourdough starter if you ask for it, v*
  2. umami kushi, seward park — [rec]: literally everything here is amazing , pumpkin curry pan [note] has parking, v*
  3. fuji bakery, international district— [rec]: beef curry pan, pear croissant, egg tart, katsu sando [note]: they have pre-order cakes, v*
  4. hood famous, international district— [rec]: longanisa pandesol egg sando, use cheesecake, iced americano black, iced vanilla latte, [note] want to come back to try the cocktails, bakery, and pandan latte, v*
  5. cafe hagen, queen anne [rec]: almond croissant, cardamom knot, literally everything looks good, [note] also has a south lake union location, ample street parking, “this is the most legit looking croissant since europe”, v*

special mentions: mt. bagel (salt bagel, sesame bagel, scallion cream cheese), farine v* (croissant, pan au chocolate, almond croissant, waffle dipper), piroshki piroshki (chicken curry piroshki, fresh rhubarb piroshky)

coffee ☕

  1. aroom, fremont — [rec] {black sesame, coffee, coconut} vietnamese iced coffee, mango tea with sea salt cream, [note] i hope to try every drink on their menu someday, v*
  2. ghost note, cap hill — [rec] oat nog with espresso, lush life espresso concoction, [note] it’s like coffee mocktails, they sell non-alcoholic spirits (though quite expensive) v*
  3. cafe hagen, south lake union (slu)— [rec] iced vanilla latte and iced americano black, waffles with whip cream, [note] very nice aesthetic / vibes, v*

special mentions: voi ca phe + hello em (egg or coconut vietnamese iced coffee), olympic coffee roasting (iced vanilla latte) , sidekick coffee (iced americano black)

friends’ recs: storyville coffee, espresso vivace

drinks 🍹

  1. tamari bar, cap hill — [rec]: yuzu marg, yuzu slushie, or yuzu highball with karaage special [tip]: come for happy hour!! my fav hh spot (they have late night hh too) aside from fogon, [note] food is good (sushi, sashimi bowls, and hot stone beef) but drinks are the best imo
  2. lucky envelope brewing, ballard — [rec]: pandan almond milk stout, mango berry sour (somewhat) citron ipa, [note]: has ample street parking, lucky envelope lager tastes like tortilla chips imo, if i came back i would try the gingerbread stout (might be seasonal)
  3. rachel’s ginger beer, downtown (pike place) — [rec]: grapefruit ginger beer marg [note] slushies aren’t worth imo, the hot toddy is something else 🍵

special mentions: mr. b’s meadery (any mead flight), schilling cider house (mountain mule), otherworld (natural wine bar), starbucks reserve roastery (espresso martini flight), sugo handroll bar (lychee martini, melona poptail), deep dive (any), rock box (soju sangria), momiji (yuzu stormy,
lychee martini
), unicorn (unicorn jazz)

friends’ recs: canon, provisions, sake nomi, soju anju bar

dessert 🍫

note: there are several royce chocolate stores, a brand from japan, in the area which are really good if you like chocolate or don’t want to pay for shipping

boba 🧋

of course, this needs it’s own categroy! good boba in the seattle area is somewhat difficult to find imo. in any of these, the fruit or milk tea will be good but it’s ranked based on honey boba

  1. tobi’s tea, lynnwood — [rec] anything but i uusually get jmt [note] has parking
  2. happy lemon, redmond —[rec] fruit teas with boba [note] has parking, OK SO HAPPY LEMON MAKING TOP 3…i am usually not the biggest fan of overall chain boba but this place, this place makes it different :-)
  3. atulea, cap hill —[rec]: jasmine milk tea, [note] best boba in seattle proper, i want to try the matcha here sometime

special mention: teaco tea house (mango smoothie), chicha san chen (another chain: jasmine milk tea), yifang fruit tea (another chain: mango sago smoothie i crave everytiem), seattle best tea (any fruit tea),

ice cream 🍦

  1. nana’s green tea, cap hill — [rec]: matcha parfait with everythinggg esp the mochi, [note] another location in bellevue, i’ve always wanted to try the matcha drink but get the parfait every time
  2. baiten, cap hill — [rec]: soft serve with yuzu and matcha, deluxe sundae, panda cotta, [note] a part of tamari bar
  3. snoqualmie ice cream, snoqualmie — [rec]: cherry chip, matcha, multiko mudd, [note]: pints sold at grocery stores

special mentions: sandwich house tres (black sesame sando), hellenika (london fog and lemon curd greek yogurt cream) and indigo cow (matcha soft serve with mochi; milk is from hokkaido cows), salt and straw (honey lavender + olive oil combo or something seasonal but this is a chain in multiple states)

yay you made it through all the recs! bonus here are some places that i enjoy going to. aside from the space needle and pike place, some nice skyline views of seattle are: kerry park, gas works, west seattle (right to left).

other cool places i like are twice sold tales (used bookstore with cats), sunday ballard farmer’s market (and that area in general), cal anderson park (in the summer there are sooo many dogs), interlaken park (cute nature walk), pike place stationary, lake union or lake washington (to kayak), and activities like taking the ferry to one of the nearby islands. there’s also some nice hiking, biking, and running trails all over.

daytime and sunrise/sunset at kerry park, gas works park, and west seattle

vancouver, bc

additionally, if you’re able to make a trip to vancouver, bc, you should! i love to visit at least quarterly to eat as there is so much good asian (particularly east asian and chinese) food. exploring richmond, walking along the sea wall, walking across the lynn canyon suspension bridge, browsing uni and giant strawberries at granville public market, and window shopping on robson brings me joy.

my favorites food in the vancouver area are: kook (kbbq), saku (katsu), and earnest (ice cream), however, these are some i really like as well: sun sui wah seafood restaruant, western lake chinese seafood restaruant, hk bbq master (cad cash only), costco (poutine), tim hortons (many locations).

friends’ recs: lee’s donuts, winter bear dessert and tea house

friends visiting seattle ❤



Kendall Nakai 🌸

👩🏻‍💻 | writing the random things i would write in google docs but **aesthetic**