The Seattle Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In Seattle

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 2/5): Westman’s Bagel & Coffee, Fremont Bowl, Pho Bac Sup Shop, Kamonegi

the spots

You’re not going to get a real New York-style bagel in Seattle unless you bring one back from the East Coast on a plane. But while Westman’s bagels don’t quite succeed at replicating what you’ll find in NYC (where bagels are more dense), they’re as close as you’re going to get – this place is certainly serving the best bagels in Seattle. Flavors range from classic, like everything and sesame, to things like Maldon sea salt and cinnamon currant. Nothing’s bad, but the everything bagel with a salty lox schmear is outstanding. Consider coming at the crack of dawn (a.k.a. 7am) when they open, because they do sell out, and be set on potentially paying seven dollars for a bagel. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Sushi is great. But when you’re starving, it can get expensive. Enter Fremont Bowl, a new casual Japanese spot specializing in donburi bowls (high-quality fish on top of rice). Nothing here is more than $15, and you will absolutely not be hungry afterward, making this a good, if small, spot for a lunch or low-key weeknight dinner. The friendly service is also a plus. Two things you shouldn’t miss here: their smoky homemade soy sauce, and the bowl with seared salmon that cuts like softened butter.

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.

This tiny Japanese restaurant in Fremont is the perfect place to grab a casual weeknight dinner of noodles and tempura. The homemade soba noodles are excellent – as are other things, like duck meatballs with a sous vide egg in a yakitori sauce (don’t miss these), mustard-stuffed lotus root tempura, and a Japanese curry noodle-dipping broth with fresh mozzarella. You might get some kind of amuse bouche like a potato soup shooter with truffle oil, and you will definitely get a dinner that you’ll be happy with.

The food at this Greenwood spot – like a “risotto” made from kasu (the yeast left over from sake production), a beet salad with pears and pepitas, and a mind-blowing buttermilk and soy brined roast chicken with malt vinegar caramel – is both highly creative and highly delicious. It’s tiny inside, and feels like a cross between a log cabin and an indie winery, with lots of light-colored wood, a chef’s counter, and only a few tables. And if you’re lucky enough to be the last ones in the restaurant, you may even get the exclusive privilege of choosing the Spotify playlist.

The staff at this Capitol Hill Mexican spot doesn’t just feel like one big family – it actually is one. And that gives it a unique, very welcoming feel. Come for huge margaritas poured in clay bowls, nine different types of steak, and excellent garlic butter shrimp tacos. There’s the perfect level of fun-but-not-crazy energy, and the huge fake tree with hanging lights in the middle of the dining room is one of the more striking restaurant decorations in Seattle. This is our favorite new spot for a group hang, and it should be yours, too.

This is basically a funky arcade bar for grown-ups, with vintage light fixtures, pinball machines, and loud-ish, good music. Coming here is way better than eating a lame sidewalk slice in Capitol Hill, and it’s also a serious contender for best New York-style pizza in the city, thanks to pies that have an authentically crispy crust. Topping combinations range from classic (like sausage and peppers) to more creative (like salt cod with yukon gold potatoes and chorizo). Don’t miss the delicious scallion garlic knots with cheese sauce or the root beer float cocktails.

2120 is part classy Latin American restaurant, part Amazon employee dinner HQ. The food is great, as long as you’re willing to throw down for a big dinner out. The seasonally-rotating punch bowl cocktail, topped with a massive ice cube and edible flowers, is mandatory for the table, and food-wise, we like the chile rellenos and seared salmon with salsa verde. It’s also possible to do 2120 in a more casual way, if you split small plates like pork belly and oysters with champagne at the bar. And when you run out of conversation topics, just try to see how many Amazon badges you can count.

Dead Line is a small, sleek, dark bar with a bottle collection so extensive that a massive ladder is used to get to the top-shelf stuff. Not only is it a fantastic space to go for fancy cocktails, but the dinner menu also has some pretty great South American small plates, like arepas with braised brisket and squash al pastor tacos. Take advantage of happy hour, when bowls of plantain/yucca chips, marinated olives, and spiced nuts are all free with a drink.

Going to New Luck Toy is like stepping into a trippy Chinese spy movie dream sequence, and it’ll be the most fun you’ve had at a bar in a while. The whole joint is a bizarre explosion of Chinese paper lanterns and golden waving cat ornaments, along with skee-ball, a private karaoke room reminiscent of a woodland sprite’s grotto, and possibly the last thing you’d expect at such a kitschy place: some truly delicious Chinese food. Make sure the mind-blowing salt and pepper spare ribs hit your table, get cocktails served in all sorts of tiki mugs, and save room for the Rice Krispie Treat soft serve ice cream.

Down a nondescript alley near some newly-constructed townhomes in Columbia City is Backyard – a barbecue restaurant/bar and overall enjoyable place to spend a few hours. It has a neighborhood feel, a jukebox, games, and a solid lineup of draught beer. When you don’t want to worry about getting a table or what happens when your friend gets a little tipsy and loud, head here for a couple games of Big Buck Hunter and surprisingly excellent housemade barbeque.

If you’ve been watching too many spy movies lately, the inner secret agent in you needs to go to the speakeasy Foreign National. Every piece of ’70s paraphernalia inside this dark hidden bar – from the massive disco ball to the psychedelic wallpaper to the golden swan tchotchkes – feels like it’s from Austin Powers. Not only is it the perfect place to escape with a date, but it also has excellent cocktails and Asian-fusion bar snacks that are way better than they should be. Two words: cheeseburger bao.

No Anchor is a beer bar with very upscale food, and is probably the only restaurant that can pull off glass displays of fancy nautical memorabilia on one shelf and a mason jar full of creepy baby doll arms on another. You have to make a reservation to get a table, or if you’re feeling lucky, hope there’s space at the bar. Once seated, you’ll find cool beers like blood orange sours and smoked pear weisses, and excellent seaside-style snacks like Dungeness crab rolls on pretzel buns with homemade chips seasoned with ketchup salt. This place is so good you’ll be planning your next visit before you even leave your first.

Junebaby serves the kind of pinkies-up Southern food you could have for a special occasion with a champagne toast. There’s not much else like it in Seattle, and as a result people are pretty excited about this place. The good news is that it actually lives up to the hype. Normally you wouldn’t impress your parents or a date with pimento cheese, but then there’s Junebaby’s pimento cheese, which is probably better than anything you’d find in Nashville (is that where they eat pimento cheese?). The space is classy-tropical and feels like you’re in the good part of Florida, and on Fridays they do a 15-hour smoked brisket dinner that you should consider building your weekend plans around.

If HGTV designed a tiki bar very meticulously down to every last bright blue backsplash tile, it would look like Navy Strength. This place is perfect for casual drinks and light snacking (on potato chips with caramelized onion dip or duck sliders) before some Belltown bar-hopping, and even better for a post-dinner cocktail and dessert (get the root beer-glazed donut holes) when you’re coming from their sister spot No Anchor around the corner. In terms of alcohol, there are tons of options – from fruity tiki drinks and fancy cocktails to large-format stuff for sharing and a few so booze-heavy there’s a limit of two per person.

Windy City Pie’s location leaves a lot to be desired. You have to roll up to an eerily quiet, covered parking area with a lot of concrete and columns, and from the looks of it, you might as well be entering a medical office park. But when you walk inside, it’s like stepping into a dimly-lit speakeasy pizza society filled with fun people, a full bar with reasonable prices, and possibly the best Chicago-style deep dish in Seattle. We would tell you what to get, but as long as you make sure that you order one pie per four people and involve the candied bacon in some way, just listen to whatever the staff tells you to do. They know their sh*t, and are extremely friendly, like if Windy City Pie was somehow certified a Seattle-Freeze-Free zone by the mayor. Unlike a medical office park, you won’t leave with hunger, a frown, or a decade-old issue of Highlights magazine smuggled under your shirt.

San Fermo looks like a rickety old house that got swept away from the countryside by a tornado and jettisoned over the rainbow all the way to Ballard. Except instead of a confused red-shoe-wearing lady, this cottage contains fantastic Italian food. There are well-made brown liquor drinks, a carbonara that will restore your hope in the world, and gelato from D’Ambrosio next door that you’ll want to eat a pint of in one sitting. The vibes are romantic, but not so over-the-top intimate that it would be awkward for a small group dinner. During the summer, the covered side porch opens up and you can do date night outside.

The only thing mean about Mean Sandwich is the fact that we didn’t know about it sooner. This is the sandwich experience that will spike your cholesterol, ruin your white shirt, and unequivocally blow your mind. The space is small and has that old-school deli-counter feel, but the ingredients and flavor combinations are modern – try the housemade thick-sliced corned beef (with mustard, pickled cabbage, and a fistful of mint), or the chicken cutlet (our favorite thing here), and don’t miss the “skins and ins” (baked potato chunks and skins fried and tossed in salt/pepper). Everything’s made from scratch, and there’s a patio for warm-weather sandwiching.

Copine is like a Woody Allen film – you’re not quite sure what genre it fits into, but it’s fun to go along for the ride. The menu is kind of American and kind of French, and there’s some pasta thrown in there too. The space is elegant enough to charm the pants off of a date (literally, if things go well, but that’s none of our business) but also chill enough for a solo dinner at the bar – if you’re the kind of person willing to throw down for a solo meal (it’s pretty pricey here).

This content was originally published here.