Despite the Seattle Freeze, the city tends to be good at its relationships with both the Earth and international cultures, and this is best seen through the city’s businesses and, more deliciously, in its food. In a city that embraces and respects its ecological and cultural diversity, here are 12 foods you’ve got to try when in Seattle.
Beginning with the obvious, the port city of Seattle has the freshest seafood. If you don’t want to go to the docks to buy fish directly from the fishermen (though you certainly have that option), there are a wealth of restaurants that will serve it to you fresh (think Ivar’s). Such freshness makes for the best oysters, crab, and sushi (as only a few examples) that you may ever taste. Indeed, Pike Place Chowder is one of the few places outside of New England to win the Great Chowder Cook-Off in Newport, Rhode Island—several times. But, if you’re only going to try one type of seafood while you’re in Seattle, make it the famously incomparable salmon.
Hosting a large Vietnamese community, Seattle has been the happy receiver of a multitude of quality Vietnamese restaurants. The most commonly adored dish is pho, with restaurants popping up all over, such as Pho 99, Pho Bac, and Pho Ba, to meet the demand. A delicious bowl of hot soup is all that the citizens of Rain City really want.
Cream Cheese Hot Dog, a.k.a The Seattle Dog
Yes, it sounds gross. And yes, it’s actually delicious. Wander the streets of Seattle and keep your eyes peeled for a hot dog stand. Cream cheese will be an optional topping. Get it.
Known internationally and famous for being one of Obama’s favorite desserts, Fran’s Chocolates was founded in 1982 in Seattle. The founder and namesake, Fran Bigelow, is actually “credited for sparking the artisan chocolate renaissance in the United States.” So, unless you’re part of the small percentage of people who don’t like chocolate, you’ll want to make sure to stop by one of Fran’s boutiques.
Between the temperate weather, fertile valleys, and rolling plains, Washington State is an excellent place to grow delicious things. From grapes for wine to the well-known Rainier cherries, produce in Seattle is hard to beat. And, of course, don’t forget the apples. Crunchy, juicy, and huge, Washington State apples make up 60% of the nation’s apple production. Try apple picking for a well-rounded experience (#puns).
Hom what? Think pork or curry beef wrapped in a soft, toasted pastry—more like Yum Bow. One of the best-known locations for this Chinese specialty is at Mee Sum Pastry in Pike Place Market, though a few other great options include Jade Garden and Yummy House Bakery in the International District. You won’t want to miss out.
Of course. In the land that brought you Tully’s, Seattle’s Best, and Starbucks, you’ll find that those are the last places locals will suggest for Seattleites’ main meal of the day (coffee). Try non-chain, independent roasters—you’ll have more options than you’ll know what to do with. They’ll tell you where their beans are from and the differences between them. In Seattle, coffee is an art, so find the coffee artists.
This community- and sustainability-minded company was not only the first cupcake bakery in Seattle but also the first to open in the U.S. outside of New York City. Whether you love cupcakes or are impressed with leading businesses and green practices, this is the place to check out. And you might as well try a cupcake or 20 while you’re there.
Vegans and those with lactose intolerance, you will have to miss out on the following. Back to Seattle’s relationship with the Earth, Seattleites are even great with cows! Though there are tons of dairy products to enjoy (probably literally) by a multitude of brands, definitely keep your eye out for Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (and their “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese), Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, and Ellenos Real Greek Yogurt.
If you haven’t picked up on it yet, there’s to-die-for Asian food in Seattle. In the Japanese realm, the art of teriyaki has been perfected in the Emerald City. Though you won’t find bad teriyaki, for the most part, some places that will definitely steer you right include Okinawa Teriyaki, Mr. & Mrs. Wok, Yummy Teriyaki, and Nasai Teriyaki.
Remember the whole produce section above? Well, Washington grows hops too. In a city where “cool” means local, independent, small batch, and artisan (Seattleites are not pretentious, really), you know that craft beer is going to be exceptional. Plus, with the ever-increasing demand, comes the growing supply, so you have lots of options from which to choose. Or just try them all.
Yes, Seattleites are health-conscious, rich hippies who have embraced and expanded the farm-to-table movement. Except Dick’s. Dick’s Drive-In is a local fast-food restaurant chain that is cheap and open late. They’ve been around for so long that they’ve become a Seattle staple, so no, locals won’t turn it down. They’ll just have to go to yoga twice tomorrow.