Best of Seattle

The Most Delectable Cafes, Take-Out, and Restaurants in the Region

Seattle Weekly readers share their favorite food destinations.

Best 24-Hour Eats

North Star Diner Read Casey Jaywork’s report on the diner’s 2 a.m. crowd. 8580 Greenwood Ave N, 457-5794. First Runner-Up: The 5 Point Cafe Second Runner-Up: Lost Lake Cafe and Lounge

Best BBQ

Jack’s BBQ Jack Timmons, proprietor and pitmaster at Jack’s BBQ, discovered Seattle’s taste for central-Texas BBQ with his “Brisket Experience” pop-up series, which eventually led to the founding of Jack’s BBQ in 2014. Located in SoDo, where the unfettered smoking of meat vibes well with the industrial landscape, Jack’s is the kind of mecca where your waitress may very well be a five-time Washington State Chili Cookoff champion (Erin Wilkey). The style of barbecue dates back to the late 1800s and focuses on beef and pork prepared with a salt-and-pepper rub, smoked long and slowly over hard wood (like mesquite or hickory), and served on butcher paper. Sauce optional. 3924 Airport Way S., 467-4038. First Runner-Up: Pecos Pit Bar-B-Que Second Runner-Up: Wood Shop BBQ

Best Brunch

Cafe Flora No former critters in this egg-’n’-tofu paradise—just good food, hulking servings, friendly staff, and lots of sunlight emanating through the windows that line the cafe’s perimeter. Located in a trendy neighborhood at the southern terminus of the Japanese Gardens, Cafe Flora sells shirts that say “Turn up the beet” and has been known to blast Phil Collins. Try the breakfast greens. If you need to burn off calories afterwards, you can hike uphill on Madison Street to reach Capitol Hill or hike northwest through the Arboretum to eventually reach the Montlake Bridge. 2901 E. Madison St. First Runner-Up: Geraldine’s Second Runner-Up: (tie) Can Can, The Bridge

Best Burger

Dick’s When Dick’s this year held a contest to see where it would open its next location—South Seattle or the Eastside—Seattle just about lost its mind, with people rushing to their computers to cast a ballot. With six locations already in the area, generating so much excitement for the seventh speaks to just how big a following the drive-in still has. In the end, South Seattle won, making us love Dick’s even more. Various locations. First Runner-Up: Red Mill Burgers Second Runner-Up: Li’l Woody’s

Best Chef

Renee Erickson Renee Erickson is known for her skills with seafood that comes right from the depths of Puget Sound. The owner of Sea Creatures, a parent company that nurtures five local eateries, including a doughnut shop, Erickson doesn’t just want you to eat good food, she wants you to get to know it, too. To wit, last August she hosted a “Tide Dinner,” inviting guests to eat their food fresh from the shore. First Runner-Up: Ahmed Almukhtar Second Runner-Up: Ethan Stowell

Best Chocolatier

Theo Chocolates Theo chocolate combines global consciousness with a love for its home, and Seattle loves it right back. Fair trade is rare in the chocolate industry, but here in Seattle, Theo is ubiquitous. The company has partnered with other Seattle staples such as Molly Moon’s and Caffe Vita, and even produced a special-edition bar for KEXP. Last January the company launched its new chocolate clusters, containing high levels of iron, fiber, and, in the case of the turmeric cluster, a good number of antioxidants. 3400 Phinney Ave. N., 632-5100. First Runner-Up: Fran’s Chocolates Second Runner-Up: Dilettante Mocha Cafe

Best Cupcake

Cupcake Royale Are you bold enough to challenge a dangerously rich Triple Threat? Or perhaps a seasonal favorite—Raspberry Lemonade, anyone?—will sate that summer sweet tooth. No matter the cupcake, each bite resonates at Cupcake Royale, which since 2003 has been whipping up a taste only scratch-baked cake can guarantee. All ingredients are local; they’ve donated more than 40,000 cupcakes to local nonprofit fundraisers; and they have been making waves in a new frontier: ice cream. Look out, Molly Moon’s. Various locations. First Runner-Up: Trophy Cupcakes Second Runner-Up: The Yellow Leaf Cupcake

Best Dim Sum

Din Tai Fung A giant map of Din Tai Fung locations in the University Village restaurant’s waiting area has a way of making you feel special. The chain has restaurants in all the hot spots across Asia—Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore. But stateside, it’s only we and Southern California who have the opportunity to eat their housemade dumplings until we’re sick. It’s little wonder that at all four of Din Tai Fung’s locations—including two that opened within the past year, in Southcenter and Pacific Place—long lines form with people eager to avail themselves of the privilege. Various locations. First Runner-Up: Harbor City Restaurant Second Runner-Up: Jade Garden

Best Ethiopian

Saba Ethiopian Cuisine Get an authentic taste of Africa at Saba Ethiopian Cuisine. Since 2000, this restaurant has been serving a full menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner out of a nondescript hole-in-the-wall in the Central District. The modest facade doesn’t accurately represent Saba’s charm: The menu is a delight, but the atmosphere promises a dining experience sure to make a repeat customer out of you. Make sure to stay late on a weekend to catch live DJ parties from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 110 12th Ave., 328-2290. First Runner-Up: Cafe Selam Second Runner-Up: Jebena Cafe

Best Food Truck

Off the Rez Off the Rez’s bright-blue food truck is hard to miss, especially with a long line of eager customers trailing out from the service window. When it opened in 2011, Seattle’s first Native food truck was a huge hit, serving sweet and savory fry bread with options for meat lovers and veggies alike (and some of the best fries around). Since then the menu has expanded, adding two new burgers this year. One, the Powwow Burger, is served on a fry-bread bun. Various locations. First Runner-Up: El Camion Second Runner-Up: Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max

Best Hot Dog

Cycle Dogs Ever find yourself biting into a hot dog and thinking, “Other than being poor, why am I stuffing the processed cadaver of Wilbur the Pig into my maw while staring blankly into the dark void of my microwave-oven door, when I could be gobbling delightful vegan street food run by bike punks in a beer garden?” Yeah, us too. Great minds think alike, and the meat-computers which carry them eat at Cycle Dogs. Various locations. First Runner-Up: Dante’s Inferno Dog Second Runner-Up: Matt’s Famous Chili Dogs

Best Ice Cream

Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream If the charming atmosphere of Molly Moon’s ice-cream parlors isn’t convincing enough, keep in mind that any guilt you might feel about the size of the cone(s) you consume is easily redeemed by Molly Moon’s mission: community engagement, local ingredients, fair wages, and employee benefits (including a record label specifically for employee musicians). To top it all off, the shop now operates in a total of eight locations, adding Columbia City to the list in June. Various locations. First Runner-Up: Full Tilt Ice Cream Second Runner-Up: Frankie & Jo’s

Best Indian

Annapurna Cafe All right, so Annapurna isn’t exactly Indian—it’s menu includes a blend of Indian, Nepalese, and Tibetan dishes—but the caliber and range of the regional fusion, from piping-hot momos to stuffed naan, aromatic lamb curries, and creamy vegetable kofta, result in both a delicious meal and a clear determination to come back. Intriguing cocktails grace the menu, too (saffron-infused vodka, anyone?). A couple of years ago, the subterranean restaurant opened its street-level Yeti Bar, which means that after you’ve put your name in, you just bring a buzzer upstairs and nurse a lychee martini and some dumplings or crispy lamb rolls from the truncated menu until your table’s ready. 1833 Broadway, 320-7770. First Runner-Up: Taste of India Second Runner-Up: India Bistro

Best Italian

Pizzuto’s Italian Cafe Red-and-white checkered tablecloths. String lights crisscrossing the ceiling, the bulbs casting a dim romantic glow. Pizzuto’s Italian Cafe has all the charm you’d expect from a small family-owned restaurant. The wild card? The food. Cory Pizzuto, head chef and owner, whips up dishes that are anything but quaint. As a Seward Park community staple since 1984, Pizzuto’s reminds us that in Seattle’s ever-evolving and innovation-first atmosphere, there are still places where everybody knows your name. 5032 Wilson Ave. S., 722-6395. First Runner-Up: The Pink Door Second Runner-Up: Volterra

Best Mexican

Señor Moose Café Known for its brunch but also delish for its dinners, Ballard’s Señor Moose has long ranked among the city’s best Mexican fare. The colorful spot—check out those tablecloths—specializes in comida típica from Mexico’s central plateau, the kind of homey, grandmother-stirred recipes beloved in small kitchens and holes-in-the-wall near open-air markets: Oaxacan mole negro, slow-simmered pork with zucchini and corn, roasted poblano chiles in cream, or, at brunch, huevos cooked a dozen ways and slathered in homemade sauces, black beans, cotija cheese, and sliced avocado. 5242 Leary Ave. N.W., 784-5568. First Runner-Up: Fonda La Catrina Second Runner-Up: Tacos Chukis

Best Outdoor Dining

Marination Ma Kai Marination has expanded since 2009, when the only place to get a kalua slider was out of its food-truck window. Thankfully, it now boasts three brick-and-mortar storefronts. Its most popular is Ma Kai in West Seattle. Post up on the patio overlooking Puget Sound to eat Seattle’s favorite Hawaiian/Korean fusion. With Seattle as a backdrop, Marination Ma Kai is the perfect place to grab a bite and a view. 1660 Harbor Ave. S.W., 328-8226. First Runner-Up: Ray’s Cafe Second Runner-Up: Westward

Best Pho

Pho Than Brothers Let’s talk about the cream puff for a second. If you haven’t been to one of the dozen-plus locations of this local chain, the pastry is standard with every meal, and is brought to you before the soup. I long assumed that despite this order of things, one was expected to eat the cream puff after the pho. Nope. As Le-Uyen Than told KIRO Radio a few years ago, you’re actually supposed to eat the puff before the soup; that’s the only way you can be sure you have room for dessert. Seems like strong-enough logic. Another fun fact: In the wintertime, when Seattle is slurping the drear away, Pho Tan pumps out 6,000 cream puffs a day. Wow. Various locations. First Runner-Up: Ba Bar Second Runner-Up: Pho Bac

Best Pizza

Pagliacci Seattle had a new team to cheer for this year when Pagliacci sent two of its employees to the World Pizza Games for the speed dough-stretching competition. While our team may not have come out victorious, the pizza place still manages to win the hearts of Seattleites, this year even including those with gluten intolerance. After a period of test runs, Pagliacci has officially added gluten-free to its menu. Various locations. First Runner-Up: Sizzle Pie Second Runner-Up: Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria

Best Ramen

Kizuki Ramen and Izakaya With six locations in the Seattle area, Kizuki Ramen and Izakaya is providing an authentic noodle-slurping experience all over town. With ingredients brought in from Japan when necessary and broth made by roasting bones before boiling in a style similar to French consommé, expect rich, complex flavors. Online ordering and delivery is now available for lunch and dinner in Bellevue, West Seattle, and Northgate. Don’t forget to try their perfectly boiled egg! Various locations. First Runner-Up: Aloha Ramen Second Runner-Up: Tsukushinbo

Best Sandwich

Honey Hole What makes a sandwich great is a perhaps one of the greatest debates of our time. Wars have (probably) been fought over less. Luckily, Honey Hole on Capitol Hill delivers a sandwich delectable on every level. From perfectly baked bread to a plethora of homemade sauces, only one question remains: Which do you get? Deciding between a “The Dude” and a “Fast Eddie” is a real moral dilemma, but there’s no bad choice on the menu; Honey Hole always hits a sweet spot. 703 E. Pike St., 709-1399. First Runner-Up: Skylark Cafe & Club Second Runner-Up: Paseo Caribbean Food

Best Seafood

The Walrus and the Carpenter For all the national press this restaurant has (rightly) received, and for all the long waits for a seat we have endured, there’s still something about The Walrus and the Carpenter that makes you feel like you’re in on a little secret. It must be the way it’s tucked in the back of its building, away from bustling Ballard Avenue. To sit at the bar and watch servers shuck oysters, and to indulge in Renee Erickson’s other delights—like ferns and mushrooms—is to consume the Pacific Northwest itself. 4743 Ballard Ave. N.W., 395-9227. First Runner-Up: Ray’s Boathouse Second Runner-Up: Runner Up

Best Sushi

Mashiko For seven years now, Mashiko has been committed to sustainable seafood practices. If this seems like an obvious step in eco-conscious Seattle, it’s not. Forgoing non-sustainable fish means depriving picky diners of dishes they may want, like bluefin tuna or eel. Despite an initial dip in sales, we hear that Mashiko is today selling more fish than ever. Good to know there will be plenty more where it came from. 4725 California Ave. S.W., 935-4339. First Runner-Up: (tie) Umi Sake House, Shiro’s Sushi

Best Thai

Araya’s Place People like whatever they like, and there’s no arguing with taste. Still, the taste of well-prepared Thai food is its own argument—one to which Araya regulars will willingly testify. Located across the street from Best Brunch winner Cafe Flora, Araya’s Place similarly offers food free of animal carcasses, but their meatless delights are stoked and stirred with spice combinations so compelling that customers must take care not to suffocate on the panang curry and jasmine rice they will find themselves rabidly shoveling into their mouths. Various locations. First Runner-Up: Wild Ginger Second Runner-Up: Pestle Rock

Best Vegetarian

No Bones Beach Club Seattle’s No Bones Beach Club is proof that being vegan can be fun—especially when it involves a tiki bar and colorfully decorated cocktails. Starting as a food truck, the Seattle business expanded in 2016 to its first brick-and-mortar location in Ballard, and opened a second this year in Portland. The Beach Club is known for its flavorful and creative dishes, along with its refusal to imitate meat—favoring an honest celebration of what plants have to offer. 5410 17th Ave. N.W., 453-3233. First Runner-Up: Cafe Flora Second Runner-Up: Plum Bistro

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