Readers and friends of The Infatuation constantly demand, “Tell me where I should be eating in Seattle right now. Tell me, or else.” We don’t really want to see out that threat, so we’ll just make this easy. You’re in the right place. The Infatuation Hit List is your guide to the city’s best new restaurants.
And when we say “best new restaurants,” we mean it. Because we’ve vetted every single one of these places - and we’ve also left off other new spots that simply aren’t as worthy of your time and paycheck.
The Hit List is our record of every restaurant that’s opened in the past year and a half that we’d highly recommend you try. We’ve arranged it in chronological order with the newest places at the top, and the oldest at the bottom. Happy exploring.
New to The Hit List (as of 1/14): G.H. Pasta Co., By Tae, Deep Dive, Esters Enoteca, Kin Dee, Willmott’s Ghost, Engimono Ramen
Finding By Tae is kind of like finding the tiniest Russian doll inside of all the others. Once you get through the random doorway at Chophouse Row on Capitol Hill and into the lobby, you’ll find a little seven-seat counter. Behind it, there’s miso soup boiling on a hot plate and a man who tends to it. By Tae is his lunchtime sushi spot. You’ll find only one thing on the menu, and it’s a handroll tasting that involves three handrolls for $25. You never know exactly what you’re going to get, but the fish is extremely fresh, and if you tell the chef in passing that you’re into seared salmon, he’ll probably whip up something special on the house.
It’s fun to eat excellent Roman-style pizza in a giant glass orb, which is a lot of the reason why we like Willmott’s Ghost. It’s located inside one of the Amazon Spheres, which means you’ll circle the block looking for parking for 15 minutes, overhear snarky jokes about Bezos, notice that the bathroom is more beautiful than yours, pay a little more for everything, and ultimately, have a very corporate time. We’re in the process of making a bingo game. Anyway, the thick and crispy crust here has a tangy sourdough taste to it, and the toppings range from fennel sausage and mozzarella to mortadella and sesame seeds. While you can order slices during lunch, we prefer coming for dinner when the pizza is only available as whole pies. Also, the olive oil cake deserves its own symphony.
Next in the boxing ring to compete with Il Corvo (who currently holds the title of inexpensive, lunchtime-only pasta champion) is G.H. Pasta Co., a counter-service spot from the same team behind Le Messe and Raccolto. G.H. has substantial bowls of incredible pasta that cost less than $10 each. Some of our favorites are the gemelli with braised pork, cacio e pepe, rigatoni all’amatriciana, and bucatini with shrimp. It’s all amazing, down to the side order of garlic bread covered in parmesan and chives. We can’t say this is the best lunchtime pasta in the city, but do they have Il Corvo beat on convenience - you can walk right into this Denny Triangle spot and get outstanding pasta without waiting for hours in the rain.
Imagine a dinner party hosted by a friend who owns a lifestyle and wellness blog - that’s Homer in a nutshell. There’s a huge brick oven firing up pita bread at all times, patterned wallpaper, and soft serve ice cream that comes in earthy flavors like fig leaf and elderberry cardamom. Food-wise, the Mediterranean dishes are on the healthier end of the spectrum and range from mezzes like hummus and lamb ragu to things like grilled pork with spicy tomato and lentils. Use Homer for a date spot when you want some fresh small bites and a couple of cocktails.
Deep Dive is an underwater grotto-themed cocktail spot where the bar snacks will tempt you to ditch your other dinner plans. Beware that there’s typically a substantial wait involved with a visit here that could be upwards of two hours (invite your most patient friends along). But, once you’re eating a hazelnut-smoked, caviar-topped hot dog while sitting inside a classed-up version of Ariel’s treasure trove in The Little Mermaid, you’ll see what we mean when we say this is about as great as a bar experience gets.
Sawyer serves upscale comfort food. It’s the perfect place for when you want to have a nice dinner, but you also want to just eat some ribs. It’s clear from the shell of this place that it used to be a sawmill, but the HGTV “after” photo interior sets the scene for any kind of special scenario. The menu sounds just about as all over the place as an episode of Adventure Time, but we really like the rotisserie porchetta, the oxtail nachos, and the animal-style burger. Always end things here with a cookie dough semifreddo dilly bar.
Discovering Engimono feels like winning some kind of ramen lottery. The broths are very comforting whether you keep it classic with miso or go for a spicy option, but what sets this place apart from other spots in the city are the pieces of sliced pork that come on top. They’re perfectly tender soup rafts that have a nice char. You won’t want to skip the appetizers either, which range from katsu and dumplings to loaded fries covered with bonito flakes and chicken karaage. Unlike all of the things you’ll impulse-buy at Target next door, you seriously need this ramen.
Plenty Of Clouds is a Sichuan spot in Capitol Hill that replaced Anchovies And Olives, and we’re pretty excited about it. The space is just as perfect for early-in-the-game dates and group dinners as it used to be, and the Chinese small plates here are all excellent, ranging from pork dumplings in chili oil that we could eat by the pound to lamb meatballs with a tangy fermented tomatillo sauce for dipping. We’d pop in for a cocktail or two and some of the appetizers before going out to the bars, but the stir fries and noodles here are also great if you’re looking for a full dinner.
There’s a lot of pad see ew in this city, and we’ve found the one that makes us want to stop eating it everywhere else. And that’s a big deal. It’s at Kin Dee, a bright corner restaurant on Capitol Hill that serves flavorful curries, stir fries, crunchy sweet and sour chicken wings, and avocado fresh rolls if eating vegetables is something you care about. Everything tastes incredibly fresh, and the staff is very friendly. It all makes for a fantastic lunch or casual dinner.
After many years of analyzing crust anatomy and spot-treating San Marzano stains, we’ve done it. We’ve found the best slice joint in the city, and it’s South Town Pie. Here you’ll eat very tasty unconventional pizzas (like one with boar ragu, sage, and Funyuns), but even the plain cheese slice is pretty perfect and tastes like what you’d find in New York. Hop in a booth, order a round of cocktails or maybe some meatballs (they’re great), and don’t skip the pastrami pie, which is a thing of beauty.
Meaty Johnson’s is a fast-casual BBQ spot that replaced the long-gone Meltdown Pizza, and we didn’t know how much we needed it in our lives until we tried it. It’s so good, in fact, that they tend to run out of things, so it’s worth showing up at 11am to be sure you’ll get your hands on an incredible brisket sandwich. Add tasty sides like peppery mac and cheese, kimchi potato salad, and jalapeno cornbread.
Breezy Town Pizza is another Chicago-style pizza spot from the people behind Windy City Pie. This one’s inside Clock-Out Lounge in North Beacon Hill, so while everyone else in the house is doing Monday night karaoke, you can be eating some pan-style pies with a tangy sourdough crust that has caramelized edges and toppings like crispy pepperoni and Beecher’s cheese curds. There are rotating slice specials, too (though we recommend doing a full fresh pie), and the same awesome spinach salad with candied pecans and goat cheese that Windy City Pie has. Add a side of caramel and cheesy popcorn and a cold beer, and you’ll be set.
Before Miri’s, Golden Gardens was just a regular beach full of screaming children flying kites and 20-somethings attempting to make charcoal-grilled brats. But now that Miri’s Snack Shack has opened in the concession booth, many food scenarios are possible: an acai bowl for the person who just jogged on the sand, or a round of excellent chicken kebab sandwiches with tahini on homemade flatbread for the gang that’s about to play a volleyball game, or a virgin pina colada slushie for the kid who’s crying about the fact that he’s really bad at sandcastle-building. Most of the food in this colorful little spot is made from scratch, and it’s all delicious. Don’t forget to add harissa to your flatbread sandwich, watch them flip mini Dutch pancakes right in front of you, and end with a seriously good chocolate chip cookie.
Junkichi is a Japanese spot with sushi rolls, sashimi, grilled meat skewers, and an excellent ramen that you can only get at lunch. We’d even eat this ramen on the hottest day of a heat wave, because the broth is just the right amount of garlicky and the noodles are just the right amount of tender. Also of note is the little robot at the bar that will recognize your face if you download an app and become a repeat customer. Tell it we say hi.
This is the first brick and mortar location of a Thai and Hawaiian street food truck. It’s a counter-service spot in Beacon Hill with a space that’s nice to spend some time in, plus a super friendly staff and some delicious plate lunches. Protein options include charred huli huli ginger chicken, garlicky shrimp, and spicy pork, all of which come with a tangy slaw and some excellent creamy macaroni salad on the side. There’s also a very good pad thai. Whatever you order, be sure to add a Thai iced tea and a slice of coconut cream pie.
Tapas Lab is a fast-casual, Asian-Spanish-fusion tapas spot and wine bar, and it’s the kind of place that will make you realize you’ve always needed bulgogi pinchos with parmesan cheese and garlic aioli in your life. The counter-service situation works perfectly for a weeknight dinner with friends who are chronically late or just on slightly different schedules, and even though a truffled steak is only $14 and the spicy chorizo-stuffed meatballs are only $6, these dishes are on the fancier side for the low price. Grab a glass of cava or a graduated cylinder full of beer (it is a “Lab,” after all) to go with everything else.
Wa’z is a truly special dinner experience that works well for any occasion where you want to pull out all the stops without it seeming like you pulled out all the stops. You can choose between the standard five or eight-course dinner, which each consist of small Japanese bites. The menu rotates every month, but the food is extremely fresh, simple, and cleansing. Some standouts from recent meals are the rockfish with grilled eggplant, the cod with mushrooms and geoduck, and homemade buckwheat tea ice cream. If you have anyone you need to impress and don’t mind spending a few hours in one room, bring them here.
Stampede Cocktail Club has a lot going on. On first glance, it looks slightly old-fashioned, but then you turn a corner and a T-Rex head mounted on floral wallpaper is staring you in the face (quick, someone get Jeff Goldblum in here). It’s wacky and fun and they serve excellent cocktails alongside steamed dumplings from Little Ting’s. Do dim sum with a date while sipping things like a fresh blueberry mule or a riff on a passionfruit-pineapple margarita. Just make sure beforehand that Jurassic Park didn’t give your date nightmares.
Take a space that feels a little bit like a boxcar diner furnished by a tiny house designer, add some all-day breakfast, and you get Seattle Biscuit Company. Food-wise, everything here obviously revolves around biscuits, which is great news because the biscuits are really, really good. You’ll find a lineup of sandwiches like the Gus (our favorite - fried chicken, pickles, sweet onion mustard, an egg, and thyme-y sausage gravy) and the Lunch Pail (peanut butter, apple slices, and berry jam), but also classic non-sandwich dishes like biscuits and gravy. If you’re really starving (or have a bunch of friends with you), you can always get the Bishop Jim Earl Swilley, which is a plate of biscuits, four eggs, bacon, ham, cheese, pickles, gravy, pulled pork, sausage, and grits, all served with a 40 oz. bottle of Bud.
On a not-so-crowded street adjacent to the usual South Lake Union craziness is this little bar with black walls, gold pineapple sculptures, and Latin American snacks. It’s from the people behind Manu’s Bodega, and the food ranges from a limey avocado mash with cotija and shaved radish to some incredible fried chicken bites aptly named “gold nugs” that we’d happily stuff our glove compartments full of. There are also frozen cocktails that change regularly. Use Gold Bar for a quiet weeknight date, drinks and a light bite with friends, or even an impromptu Happy Hour with coworkers. Just make sure you get those nugs.
Standout fresh pasta isn’t hard to find in Seattle, but it was hard to find a particularly accessible version of said pasta until this place came along. Pasta Casalinga is a casual Tuesday-Sunday spot in Pike Place Market serving bowls of handmade carbs for under $10. Their seasonal menu rotates every two weeks, but recent standouts have included spaghettini with kale pesto (one of the better things to ever happen to kale) and rigatoni with lamb and juniper berry ragu. The dessert crostatas are a must.
This place is smack in the middle of the SoDo wine-tasting district. It’s in an urban garage space decked out with hanging lightbulbs, bottles from the adjoining winery, and a lot of Vespa-related things (like photos, miniatures, and helmets). The pies here are New York-style, with a thin crust and toppings that range from classic pepperoni to artichoke with goat cheese. There are also delicious calzones filled with herbed ricotta - definitely get one, and add some soppressata and homemade meatballs. You’ll want a side of their homemade buttermilk ranch for dipping, too. Come here for dinner with the parents, or a casual group lunch before or after visiting the wineries nearby.
Tamari Bar is a Capitol Hill spot specializing in izakaya-style food, and it’s really damn good. Both the lively interior and the outdoor patio are nice spaces for hanging out, eating some snacks, and drinking lemon sours topped with entire shaved frozen lemons. Food-wise, dishes range from seriously delicious spicy dan dan noodles to marinated wagyu beef that you cook yourself on an extremely hot rock. You’ll even get you a new rock if the first one cools off. Definitely try it.
Joining the list of places where you can eat pasta without any drama is Esters Enoteca, a counter-service wine bar and Italian tapas place on a main stretch in Fremont. The beauty of Esters is that they have delicious things like homemade bolognese and carbonara that you can get for wildly inexpensive prices. Plus, the space is a chill hangout perfect for eating elegant Italian food in your finest sweatpants and beat-up Carhartt beanie.
A new Italian restaurant from the team behind Raccolto and the gone-but-not-forgotten Contadino. We like the squid ink spaghetti with plugra butter and chili flakes, and the small plates like crostini and crudo, but the chef’s counter, which overlooks the open kitchen, is where you want to be. You can order anything from the regular menu there, but there’s another special menu exclusively for people seated at the bar. Get a big bowl of parmesan-topped pasta like bucatini with pancetta and egg yolk or strozzapreti with root vegetables, or go for a well-cooked steak.
We were sad when The Atlantic closed and a new spot took its place. However, that new spot is Reckless Noodle House, and we’re extremely glad it’s here. This Vietnamese restaurant serves things like wheat noodles with braised beef cheek in a spicy Sichuan oil (get this) and fried rice with pastrami and cucumber (get this, too). Whatever you order, pair it with a homemade ginger beer cocktail, and use the low-key space (which happens to have an entire wall decorated with fish jaws) for a small group hang or casual date. Don’t leave without eating a duck fat salted caramel.
This place, with its neon signs, photo booth, and endless loop of music videos on TVs above the bar, is a lot of fun. The food is also very good. It’s a relatively casual spot, so you should be able to show up with friends and get a table immediately. Good thing, because there’s really no time to be wasted when you have an appointment with some excellent short rib pho, pork and prawn sausage sliders, and an addicting spicy pub mix made with peanuts and crunched-up fortune cookies.