Ever on trend, Seattle’s latest restaurants prickle with pickles, crackle with kale and pig out with pork. From a new Pacific Northwest taco bar to a modern Korean dining room, we’ve rounded up several of the most interesting places to eat in Seattle right now. Here’s what’s on the city’s tables this spring.
What if tacos came from the Pacific Northwest? That’s chef Shannon Martincic’s simple concept behind this window-lined downtown lounge serving inventive tacos and other Mexican-inspired creations with ingredients sourced entirely from Seattle’s surroundings. Martincic makes her tortillas from corn grown on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, serves a distinctive venison crudo topped with fried onions and fermented almonds, and concocts a creamy eggplant “guacamole” that she pairs with chips made from locally grown wheat berries.
When you fill your tacos with fresh halibut, grilled lamb or delicately salted broccoli florets, adding pickled peppers or drizzles of magenta-hued beet salsa, it’s definitely not your abuela’s taqueria, but the results are muy delicioso.
Shaker + Spear
Executive chef Carolynn Spence ran the kitchen at Hollywood’s legendary Chateau Marmont before taking the helm at this modern seafood restaurant in the revamped Palladian, the newest of Kimpton Hotels’ downtown Seattle properties. Her straightforward, brightly flavored dishes range from roasted arctic char with olive tapenade and meaty seared scallops atop spring asparagus to snapper served whole and sauced with basil, garlic and lime.
Despite the fish focus, the burger slathered with Taleggio cheese, caramelized onions and garlicky aioli is a crowd-pleaser, too. Tip for couples or solo diners: sit at the chef’s counter to enjoy the open kitchen’s sizzle.
Girin Steakhouse & Ssam Bar
If you prefer your meat with an Asian accent, book a table at this contemporary Korean-inspired steakhouse, a high-ceilinged, wood-crafted space next to CenturyLink Field south of downtown. The kitchen crew grills hefty portions of hangar steak, pork belly, sausages, even a whole mackerel, which are all served ssam style — do-it-yourself roll-ups that you slather with chili sauce and wrap in lettuce leaves and herbs.
Though the grilled dishes, accompanied by a selection of banchan (sides), are the stars, don’t overlook the smaller plates, like the refreshing bibim guksu (chilled buckwheat noodles topped with kimchi, pickled mustard seeds and a quail egg) or the gungjung tteokbokki (soy-glazed rice cakes sauced with pea shoots and roasted mushrooms).
The freshly cut wood stacked at the entrance hints at the specialty of this hip nose-to-tail meatery: steaks and other proteins seared over the wood-fueled flames on a custom-built, nine-foot-long grill. You might opt for Niman Ranch rib eye, Washington-raised filet or Pacific halibut, paired with generous sides of Brussels sprouts, sautéed kale or grilled cauliflower steak.
It’s not all big meat plates either, particularly during the popular weekend brunch. The chicken topping the hearty Cobb salad has a delectable char, and the fresh-baked biscuits served with savory bacon jam ensure that you’ll start your day in a Southern-style swoon.
Fresh seafood with a water view continues to draw diners to this laid-back fish house — Westward is part of executive chef Josh Henderson’s local restaurant empire, which includes the aforementioned Bar Noroeste — on the north end of Lake Union. Settle into an Adirondack chair for a cocktail or microbrew around the lakeside firepit, while inside, you might kick off your meal with a platter of Pacific oysters or house-cured salmon gravlax. Look for seasonal seafood like pan-roasted black cod paired with caramelized leeks and squid-ink vinaigrette. Book a window table, if you can; as the sun goes down, watch the city lights twinkle across the lake.