Seattle 2016: Dining highlights in Seattle

When you think of Pacific Northwest cuisine, two things come to mind: the iconic salmon and the locavore or local food movement. Seattle, as one of the chief cities of the Pacific Northwest, has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to both.   Most of the restaurants on the list offer lunch as well as dinner; dinner reservations are encouraged.  The conference web site also offers a terrific guide to restaurants within 6 blocks of the conference hotel.

Dahlia Lounge Neon Sign
Dahlia Lounge Sign, Seattle WA Dahlia Lounge Sign (attribution Corey Thompson, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

No one typifies Pacific Northwest cuisine more than local restauranteur Tom Douglas, he of Iron Chef fame and two James Beard Foundation awards for Best Chef of the Northwest in 1994 and Best Restauranteur in 2012. The Tom Douglas family of restaurants offers a host of culinary choices for the conference goer. Both the Dahlia Lounge, nominated four times for Outstanding Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, and the Palace Kitchen, nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award as one of the Best New Restaurants in the United States after its opening, boast locally sourced ingredients and dishes with Asian and Native American flourishes.

As iconic as Mount Rainier and the Seattle Space Needle, Pike Place Market is one of the premier tourist attractions in the city. Beyond flying fish and fresh flowers, the Market offers a number of dining choices.

If you crave French cuisine, try Café Campagne, inspired by the food of Provence and southern France. Café Campagne has been honored both locally and nationally, having received a DiRona (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) award for seventeen years in a row.

The outside of the Pike Place Diner
The outside of the Pike Place Diner

For a more locally-flavored experience at the Market, check out the Steelhead Diner with its view of Elliott Bay and the Olympic mountains. The owners/operators met in Adelaide, Australia but have made locally sourced and sustainable food a mainstay at the Steelhead Diner—with a touch of New Orleans as befitting Kevin Davis’ past experience as Executive Chef at Arnaud’s. The food is flavorful and modestly priced.

As a bonus, if you sit on the north side, you get a view of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Pike Place storefront and cheese making operation. Seriously, if you want to taste “The World’s Best” Mac and Cheese (sorry, Martha), do drop by for lunch and have a bowl.

Interior of Purple Cafe, Seattle WA
Purple Cafe (attribution Nathan LeClair CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In search of a lively crowd and a glass of wine in the heart of downtown? Try Purple Café & Wine Bar on Fourth Ave. Purple’s motto is, “Where a global wine list meets seasonal northwest ingredients.” The tower of wine behind its bar makes for an interesting architectural feature; and while the ingredients are locally sourced, the menu is inspired by a myriad of global cuisines.


Dinner at the Metropolitan Grill, Seattle WA (attribution Lliquidsunshine49, BY-NC 2.0)
Dinner at the Metropolitan Grill, Seattle WA (attribution Lliquidsunshine49,, CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Metropolitan Grill is probably the best known steakhouse in Seattle, boasting it has “the Best Steak in Seattle”. On the corner of Second Ave., four blocks south of the Seattle Art Museum, the Metropolitan Grill offers diners a sophisticated—and expensive—experience. If having a tuxedoed maître D’ prepare hot apple pie tableside is your glass of wine, then the Metropolitan Grill is well worth the walk.

Rounding out our list of well-known dining venues in Seattle is Wild Ginger, a Pan-Asian style restaurant founded over 25 years ago and now located in the historic Mann Building, designed by one of Seattle’s most prominent early architects, Henry Bitman. At Wild Ginger, seafood’s importance in both Pacific Northwest and Asian cuisine takes center stage. If you’re looking for good, spicy food with knowledgeable sommeliers to discuss their award winning wine list, your search has ended.

Thali at Poppy restaurant, Seattle WA
Thali of ten, at Poppy, Seattle WA (attribution sea turtle, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A new rising star in Seattle is Poppy in Capitol Hill helmed by 2016 James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Chef, Jerry Traunfeld. At Poppy, experience small-plate dining where each guest is served a platter of seven small dishes, inspired by the idea of the thali, an Indian 10-dish platter. The dishes are clearly Indian-infused but with a Northwest twist. It’s a bit further than the other venues on the list, but less than a 10 minute cab ride from downtown.

For lists of restaurants and reviews, see:

Angela Weaver
Local Arrangements Committee (and Seattle resident)

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